A former senior executive in the mortgage industry, Lisa Harrington took a step back so she could fulfill what she feels is her purpose in life. In the last ten years, NFM’s Senior Underwriter has fostered hundreds of children, including 35 long term placements in her household. Truly a remarkable and selfless woman, she is the perfect choice to kick off NFM TV’s new ‘I am NFM’ series featuring the incredible men and women who make up the NFM family. See why her passion for fostering children and the work-life balance emphasized by NFM are the perfect combination.

Full Transcript is Below:

– “I am NFM.” It’s a new series featuring the great men and women that work at NFM in the NFM family of lenders. We’re kicking off our first ever “I am NFM” with a very special guest, Lisa Harrington is a Senior Underwriter out of Charlotte, North Carolina. Lisa, thank you for being with us and sharing your story.

– Thank you for having me.

– It is a real pleasure. You are a foster care mother. You have fostered 35 children over 10 years, wow. What made you get into that? And what kind of impact has it made on your life?

– Oh, wow, it’s changed everything about my life. We had some people come from the SS, which was the department of social services at our church and they were looking for people to volunteer as foster parents. So I’ve been fostering for almost 12 years and I’ve had 35 placements. I’ve fostered hundreds more as far as doing respite, which is short term placements, but 35 long-term placements so far. I currently have a teen mom with a five month old infant and she’s been with me for a couple of weeks now. Had a variety of children. Everything from newborns, all the way up to aging out of the system at 18.

– [Greg] What inspired you to get into it?

– I was at a place in my life where I felt like I could start getting back to the community. And I had been working in the mortgage business for a number of years and kind of worked my way up the corporate ladder. At that time, I was an executive in leadership for one of the big five banks and running one of the mortgage centers here in Charlotte. I was working a lot and kind of feeling empty like I, you know, there was more to life than what I was getting out of it. And so, I decided to open up my home as a foster parent. I was single at the time and you know, just slowly took on more and more as you go through the training and learn about becoming a foster parent, you suddenly realize how much of a need there is.

– Lisa, we’re now taking a look at your family tree. Explained to us what we’re looking at. What is the significance of it?

– So this is what I call my foster care family tree. Unfortunately, I had to cover a hall of faces to protect privacy, but it has photos of all of the children that I have fostered over the years. And it has a saying underneath and it just really signifies what I feel about foster care. It also helps new children that are coming into my home feel comfortable because they see the pictures of other children who’ve been here and they get a better feeling for what it’s gonna be like to be in my home. So it’s usually the first stop I make when I have a new child come in to help them feel more comfortable about being in my home.

– For somebody that might be interested in being a foster parent, I’d ask you a two part question here. One, what does it take? What are some of the characteristics of that person and two, what would be the advice you’d give them to get some more information?

– That’s a great question. So anybody can be a foster parent. You don’t have to own your home. You don’t have to be married. So one of the things I definitely wanna make sure I mentioned is that I hear oftentimes that people who’ve don’t understand foster care, feel that they couldn’t do it because they would just get way too attached to the children. It’s not easy. I definitely do get attached to each child who comes and I grieve when they leave just as you might expect, but then the phone rings again. And the next thing I know, I’m picking myself up and dusting myself off and taking on another child and that’s kind of the whole point of this, but there’s plenty of ways to help foster parents and foster children beyond just becoming a foster parent. If that’s not something you’re able to do because you’re just not at the right point in your life where you can, you know, open up your home to have a child come and live with you. You can always give back to foster care, community closets, things like that. You can also send gift cards to the agencies like pizza or arts and crafts to the kids, things like that. So anybody that wants to reach out to me, I’d be more than happy to talk them through it. And you know, the water’s great, jump in. I couldn’t recommend it anymore.

– Well, I know that they must have so much gratitude for your selflessness and for opening up your heart and your home, but on the flip side, what’s it do for your heart?

– Oh, well, it’s so rewarding. I can’t imagine not being a foster parent at this point. It totally changed my life. So how I ended up being a mortgage underwriter is over the course of time, decided that managing at the executive level really wasn’t what I wanted to do. And so, I wanted to have more ability to foster and take in more children and be more active in the foster care community. And so, I made the decision to give up my executive level position and go back down to the underwriting and I specifically sought out the role of remote underwriters, so I could work from home and have a flexible schedule. And truly, this is the best place I’ve ever worked. I am happier here than any job I ever had. Even at the executive level. NFM them has welcomed me in so many ways, I can’t even put it into words. I love my boss, Michele Netefor is absolutely, just the bomb. She is just wonderful to work for. She’s so flexible with whenever I’ve got something going on with one of the kids, of course I tell her in advance, but she’s very flexible with me. She’s very supportive. Cathy Purdham, who hired me, knew going in, but I was a foster parent. And so, everybody knew that this was why I was being an underwriter and it’s just been a wonderful environment. They’ve been extremely supportive and flexible and I love what I do here. So I wanna work for NFM for the rest of my life.

– Wow, those are really kind words. Want to thank for sharing your story and all the great things you’re doing out there to give back, very inspirational and a perfect way to kick off “I am NFM.” Lisa, thank you.

– Thank you very much.

– That’s Lisa Harrington, Mortgage Underwriter for NFM out of the Charlotte, North Carolina office. If you’ve got some recommendations for “I am NFM,” you can submit them to marketing@nfmlending.com. I’m Greg Sher from NFM TV, we’ll see you next time.