Romeo Manzanilla

Romeo Manzanilla

2020 President, Austin Board of REALTORS®

Austin Board of REALTORS Pledges $1 Million to Community First! Village:

ABoR CEO Emily Chenevert, ABoR 2020 President Romeo Manzanilla, Founder and CEO Mobile Loaves & Fishes Alan Graham and ABoR Foundation Chair Carrie Weikert of Coldwell Banker Realty

In February, the Austin Board of REALTORS® announced a $1 million, 10-year partnership between the ABoR Foundation and Community First! Village, an innovative, 51-acre master-planned community by Mobile Loaves & Fishes that provides permanent, supportive housing for men and women coming out of chronic homelessness.

This partnership, which is the largest donation in our association’s history, is ABoR taking action on our deeply held belief in the value of community. We believe that homelessness is experienced by far too many in our community today. Through a profound, catastrophic loss of family, our homeless neighbors have not only lost a place to call home, but also the hope and dignity inherently deserved by every human being.

The work of Community First! Village restores that hope and dignity every day. Currently home to more than 200 formerly homeless men and women, Community First! Village has 100 Park Model RVs and 130 micro-homes, laundry/restroom/shower facilities, outdoor kitchens, gardens and farms, walking trails, a market and a Capital Metro bus stop. The Village’s art house, outdoor cinema, car care center, woodworking shop, forge, event concession and catering and bed and breakfast inn allow residents to practice hobbies, learn a trade and earn income.

Phase Two of Community First! Village, which is underway, will bring another 300 homes, additional outdoor kitchens and facilities, a Community Works Entrepreneur Hub and a 20,000 square-foot wellness and respite center for residents. A donor recognition park uniting Phases One and Two will be named after the Austin Board of REALTORS®.

But the best part of Community First! Village is what it’s like to experience the village itself. The motto of Mobile Loaves & Fishes, “serving goodness,” is apparent at every step, from street names like “Heart Over Pocket” to the kindness shown from everyone you meet. Alan Graham, founder & CEO of Mobile Loaves & Fishes, lives onsite and greets every resident by name and with hugs. (You can read his book, Welcome Homeless, on the people who have changed his life and what he’s learned serving Austin’s homeless over the last two decades.)

As REALTORS®, we not only have the privilege to connect families with their homes but to demonstrate that level of kindness and goodness to those we serve every day. The ABoR Foundation’s partnership with Community First! Village is noteworthy not just because of the size of contribution or the length of the partnership, but because it’s more than just financial support. Our work with Community First! will not just include opportunities to volunteer and support housing projects at the village, but to get to know and spend time with its residents throughout the year.