October 22, 2019 News & Features » Cover Story


Carolyn Loftin, 36 

Director of Housing and Family Services, Urban Hope

click to enlarge carolineloftin.jpg

Scott Elmquist

Carolyn Loftin loves her Church Hill neighborhood.

“My fondest memory as a child was here,” she says, remembering her photo hanging in the neighborhood grocery store after she made honor roll. That feeling of accomplishment and belonging is something she’s trying to foster in all her neighbors.

As director of housing and family services for Urban Hope, Loftin teaches financial literacy to clients with limited budgets living in affordable housing.

“There’s a lot you can’t control, but I work with you on the things you can,” she says, even if that’s just budgeting a few dollars for car maintenance.

Finances weren’t her first career focus. “I went to school for a business administration degree, but realized I loved accounting. It was about solving puzzles.” Her clients trust her because “I’ve been where they are, I speak from experience.”

At 12, her parents separated; then her mom got sick. She married young and had five children and was separated before the last child was born. “At my lowest point, I felt like giving up,” she says.

A postpartum counselor told her to get out of the house and volunteer at the neighborhood school her older children attended. It reinforced an early life lesson.

“Support is pivotal, and so many people don’t have any,” she says.

She learned that from her mother, who supported her neighbors and family no matter how tight her wallet was or how bad her health. Loftin volunteers through many avenues, including her church and on the Maggie Walker Community Land Trust board.

“That’s what brings joy to my soul. God loves us so much. He’ll bring even a complete stranger in just when we need someone.”

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