Debi Bisgrove will never forget the first time she adopted a family in Charlotte, North Carolina 18 years ago. At the time, she was unaware that this small effort would later be one of the largest low-cost housing initiatives for Habitat for Humanity.
Bisgrove’s successful real estate career has always been touched by her love for building healthy communities. One of the first female graduates of North Carolina State’s Homebuilding Institute and one of the first women to hold a North Carolina Contractor’s License, Bigrove’s professional career has been inspired by nonprofit organizations. Today, Bisgrove continues her efforts to find quality low-cost housing for communities. Moving to Paradise Valley, Arizona in 1991, she did not know that her efforts would touch the lives of hundreds in the Valley.
As a trustee for the nonprofit Stardust Foundation set up by her husband Jerry, Bisgrove spent a great portion of the past 10 years actively involved with the Habitat for Humanity and the development of Phoenix’s South Ranch Community. South Ranch, conceptualized and initiated by the Stardust Foundation has emerged as one of the most successful communities in the nation and has been called a “blueprint for the American dream.” The 40-acre South Phoenix property with 196 houses provides decent, affordable housing for more than 1,000 residents who would otherwise have been left without shelter.
Bisgrove believes she has been put in the right place at the right time to help break the cycle of poverty among the working poor. Despite being blessed in many ways, she has always felt the need to give back. At South Ranch, the efforts have reaped huge benefits. Teen pregnancies are low, people feel safe and the cycle of poverty has been nipped in the bud. This prompted the Stardust Foundation to initiate Villa Esperanza, another low cost housing project with 100 houses.
Bisgrove and her husband’s love for all things living made Stardust Foundation donate land for the The Arizona Humane Society’s Nina Mason Pulliam Campus for Compassion, the first animal shelter and welfare facility of its kind in Arizona. The 6,500-square-foot adoption center at the new Campus for Compassion can house up to 250 formerly unwanted, abused or stray dogs and cats at any one time, as well as “little critters” such as rabbits, guinea pigs and other small animals.
The campus also includes an innovative Stardust Equestrian Therapy program which pairs “troubled youth” with horses, with the goal of teaching responsibility, and increasing self-esteem and empathy for other living creatures. Recently, Bisgrove and her husband launched a $20 million grant from the Stardust Foundation for the Arizona Family Housing Fund. One of the largest individual givings in the state of Arizona, the grant will provide money to community development organizations to build low-cost, quality housing for the needy.