Realtor Supports Families Going Through a Housing Crisis

Daily Point of Light # 7747 Feb 14, 2024

Meet Daily Point of Light Award honoree Susan (“Suzy”) Troemel Read her story, and nominate an outstanding volunteer or family as a Daily Point of Light.

Susan “Suzy” Troemel was born and raised in Philadelphia. The former elementary school teacher switched to real estate in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic when funding was cut for her research-based literacy work. Today, as a Realtor, Suzy finds ways to get involved in the community with Family Promise Montco (FPMontco), located in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania —. and she’s putting her real estate experience to work.

As a realtor, Suzy is passionate about fair housing and supporting folks as they move towards their next step in life. Many people today are struggling to afford housing and if they are stuck in a vicious cycle of poverty, Suzy works to help them find subsidized housing and directs them to resources such as low-cost lenders and steady employment.

Family Promise Montco serves families with children under 18. Whenever there’s a family in need, the organization is contacted by the Community Connections of Montgomery County (previously Pennsylvania’s “Your Way Home”) organization, which helps families that are in imminent danger of losing their home or have suddenly lost their homes due to natural disasters, foreclosure, house fires and other challenges.

Suzy Troemel, a former elementary school teacher turned Realtor, actively supports families facing housing insecurity in Montgomery County, PA, by leveraging her real estate expertise and community engagement with Family Promise Montco/Courtesy Kyla Turbett FPMontco

What inspires you to volunteer?

Volunteering was always expected in my family. Growing up, I volunteered for the Philadelphia Aids Walk and as a teacher, I worked at the book depository at a Philadelphia high school. Today, my volunteer journey continues with a focus on families who are struggling with homelessness in the aftermath of emergencies.

Tell us about your volunteer role with Family Promise Montco.

We provide families with emergency shelter for one month through associated faith-based organizations such as churches and synagogues. The families also have access to Family Promise Day rooms with computers, offering a comfortable space where the families can spend their days. Family Promise Montco also runs a food pantry that serves otherwise underserved families in the community.

I started as an office support volunteer. I answer phones, direct people to resources and help with special events. I also do data entry and review security footage and complete security reports. I’m a fill-in volunteer who helps with the transportation needs for families who are in the temporary emergency shelters, such as giving them rides to work or going with them to pick up their kids from school.

Since I’m a licensed realtor in Pennsylvania, I provide information regarding finding new housing. I’ve toured apartments with families who are looking for affordable housing. Wherever I can, I help families find suitable rentals. Once, an individual in the community wanted to donate her home to Family Promise Montco. The executive director called me as someone with real estate expertise to do a valuation on the house. Helping people find affordable housing is one of my big passions!

What inspired you to get started with this initiative?

Family Promise Montco operates a food pantry. Our family had been donating food, and I asked about volunteer opportunities at the food pantry. The pantry volunteer staff was already large and that’s when I learned about the other needs that FPMontco had.

What are your long-term plans or goals for the organization?

I feel like I’ve found another home with FPMontco. There are so many needs and so many ways to help. For example, I don’t know what day programs or after-school programs are available to the kids at the emergency shelter. I would like to explore that and maybe start or be part of an after-school program.

What’s been the most rewarding part of your work?

I love seeing the plethora of volunteers who are always willing to step up and help. People from diverse backgrounds come together with a common goal.

What have you learned through your experiences as a volunteer?

I can’t assume anything about the volunteers based on their background and I can’t assume anything about the families we serve. We have no idea what other people are going through so it’s important to be kind to everyone. We get so much out of what we’re doing!

Tell us about future partnerships, programs or events that you are excited about.

I hope to participate as a volunteer in our biggest fundraiser of the year, a golf tournament. It’s a huge event; people of all golf abilities come for a day of fun. Some people have never picked up a golf club and others are experts. The spirit of helping brings us all together.

Why is it important for others to get involved with causes they care about?

Those of us who have been given privileges are obligated to help those who aren’t. We need to ask ourselves, “how can we even the playing field?”

Suzy Troemel, Family Promise Montco volunteer, organizes the supply closet. /Courtesy Kyla Turbett FPMontco

Any advice for people who want to start volunteering?

Google whatever you think you want to do based on your interests and skills and then take the leap. People who bring volunteers into an organization will be amazingly helpful and skilled at matching people to their gifts. If you talk to someone, they will guide you.

I’ve always been involved with volunteering through churches; that’s one good place to start.

Also, depending on the type of volunteer work you’re interested in, especially when it comes to working with children, many organizations require a background check. As a real estate agent I tell people to get pre-approval before they start looking for homes to buy. It’s similar to certain volunteer opportunities. Get clearance beforehand so you don’t have to wait to get started. The people at volunteer organizations you’re interested in can help you get a background check done.

What do you want people to learn from your story?

There is no typical way to be a volunteer. We don’t all end up at food pantries or soup kitchens. Start with who you are. Know your strengths and passions and find a way to help. You may want to do something similar to what you’ve been doing, or switch gears and do something completely different. And finally, be friendly to everyone. Being friendly opens doors!

Do you want to make a difference in your community like Suzy? Find local volunteer opportunities.

Jarmila Gorman