Haddon Township Welcomes GRateFest to Haddon Square Saturday, October 26


Organized by a small group of local businesspeople, the fall-themed festival will raise funds to support people in temporary financial hardship through the Guaranteed Rate Foundation.

By Matt Skoufalos | October 25, 2019

The Guaranteed Rate Foundation. Credit: Guaranteed Rate.

Many Americans are just one missed paycheck away from falling into deep financial hardship.

The U.S. Federal Reserve estimates that some 40 percent of the population wouldn’t have the savings to cover an unexpected bill of as little as $400.

Larger economic emergencies—an accident, a medical bill, an emergency repair, or an unexpected loss—can seriously imperil families who depend on their ability to work simply to live paycheck to paycheck.

In 2012, mortgage broker Guaranteed Rate established a charitable foundation to seek out and support those who would be able to rebound from such an emergency with a one-time boost.

Since then, its foundation has granted $3.2 million in financial assistance for more than 300 families facing extraordinary hardship. This year, it’s on pace to grant $1 million to families in need, at an average disbursement of $17,000 apiece.

Haddon Township mortgage lender Nick Mink has participated in the Guaranteed Rate Foundation giving team since joining the company in 2016. In that time, he’s searched for ways to elevate its profile locally, the better to seek out people who could use its support.

Nick Mink and Christy Oberg. Credit: Matt Skoufalos.

On Saturday, Mink, Tricia MaGrann of title insurer City Abstract, and real estate agent Christy Oberg of Weichert Realty will present Haddon GRateFest, their first such event.

“We can use our platform to do good,” Mink said.

“As businesspeople in the community—a real estate agent, a mortgage guy, a title manager—we touch so many local people’s lives.

“If we can use those connections for the greater good, that’s what we’re trying to do.”

What distinguishes the Guaranteed Rate Foundation from other charities is that its parent company absorbs the entirety of its overhead costs. As a result, every dollar raised is provided to families in need, Mink said.

Grants pay for necessities like rent, utility bills, clothing, furniture, transportation, medical equipment, and groceries. Beneficiaries are selected from among people who’ve suffered a life-changing event that triggers a financial hardship, and who have the ability to thrive after they rebound.

“We’re a short-term, bridge-the-gap-to-normalcy program,” Mink said. “There’s other foundations for long-term care; we’re hoping to bridge the gap between that to get people back on their feet.

“The goal is to help those in crisis, give them an opportunity to stop, take a breath, and begin healing,” he said.

The program has supported victims of various tragedies, including domestic abuse, severe medical conditions, natural disasters, and the sudden loss of a family member. Last year, the program helped a pregnant Camden City woman who’d been abused by her partner, and landed in a Volunteers of America-run shelter with her three-year-old child.

“We paid her rent for 12 months, bought her a laptop, gave her $200 in gift cards for groceries, and bought her children some clothing,” Mink said. “At that time, it made a huge difference to her. It helped her get back on track.”

GRateFest Schedule of Events. Credit: GRateFest.

Saturday’s event runs from 2 to 10 p.m. at Haddon Square (50 Haddon Avenue in Haddon Township). For a suggested donation of $5, attendees can enjoy live entertainment from The Way Outs, The Rocket Band, and Sleep House.

Amenities for children include a magic show, pumpkin painting, and face painting. Drink tickets will be sold, and all proceeds from the event will be donated to the Guaranteed Rate foundation.

GRateFest organizers hope not only to raise money for the foundation to continue its efforts, but also to elevate the profile of the foundation to seek additional nominees for its aid.

“The money being raised is important, but it’s the idea of seeing people coming together as a community,” said organizer Christy Oberg. “It’s bringing people together from these great small towns and seeing people connect for a purpose.”

“We don’t just sell here, we live here, and we love bringing people together for a good cause,” she said. “Anybody, with just a little kindness, can go far.”

“We’re a community, we’re a family,” said organizer Tricia MaGrann. “It’s nice to be able to help.”

GRateFest will be held Saturday, October 26, from 2 to 10 p.m. at Haddon Square in Westmont. To nominate someone for aid from the Guaranteed Rate Foundation, visit gr-foundation.org. All applications may be made anonymously.

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