Choua Wendy Lour can’t be sure what her life would be like today if her family had never lived at Torre de San Miguel, a CommonBond affordable housing community in St. Paul- but she has a pretty good idea. “I’d probably be working at an unskilled job, with more kids than I could support, living in a place where I didn’t want to live,” she says. “But because of our experience with CommonBond, my husband and I have good jobs, a home that we love and a healthy place for our kids to grow up.”
Choua moved to Torre de San Miguel with her husband in 1993, when she was a senior in high school and their first child was an infant. Encouraged by a staff member, Choua discovered her passion and talent for helping others. She volunteered for the resident association, then helped develop CommonBond’s Homework Center and Study Buddy programs. Choua began taking community college classes and eventually transferred to Augsburg College in Minneapolis, where she earned a B.A. in social work.
An advocate for her old community
“When I tell my story, clients are surprised that I’m not just saying I understand what they’re going through,” Choua explains. “I really do understand! I was a refugee who went through the citizenship process, and my family used public assistance. We own our own home in Lino Lakes now, but I lived at Torre de San Miguel. It helps clients understand that my job is to advocate for them, and that it is possible for them to build a better life.”
The most important thing, Choua says, was the knowledge that her family had an affordable home and a stable foundation. For that, she is deeply grateful. “When I graduated from college, I knew that I wanted to come back to the community that helped me and pay back what I received,” she says. “CommonBond helped me and my husband become role models for our kids and our community.”
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