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First Home Club: Member Story with Chol Ater

Chol Ater moved to Syracuse in 2002 as a refugee from Sudan. Eager to create opportunities for himself, Chol’s desire to one day buy a home for his family led him to Northside UP’s Green Train, a program that prepares community members for careers in the construction and green infrastructure trade. “I was worried before, if there was something wrong with the house it would be expensive to fix. I decided if you know how to do something, you don’t have to worry, and if you maintain the house the value will go up. It is a very good investment.”

It all started to come together when, as part of Green Train, Chol participated in a Financial Education course taught by Cooperative Federal and learned about the First Home Club. Month by month, he started saving toward a downpayment and getting his finances in good shape to qualify for a mortgage.

Less than 2 years later, Chol reached his $2,000 savings goal – and qualified for $11,500 in matching grants from Cooperative Federal. He then used the knowledge he acquired at Green Train to shop around for a quality house. And in September 2011, he purchased his new home.

Today, Chol has fulfilled his dream to settle his family and raise his children on Syracuse’s Northside, thanks to Northside UP, Cooperative Federal ... and an abundance of determination. “It isn’t easy,” admitted Chol, but “if you don’t knock on the door, nobody will open it.” 

Learn more about our First Home Club.