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posted: 3/15/2014 8:46 AM

Terre Haute pulls together to help military family

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Tribune-Star

TERRE HAUTE, Ind. -- To say that Michael Curry was stressed is an understatement.

A service member who has been in the U.S. Army for more than 21 years, he had just arrived in Vigo County with his family -- wife, four teenage children, mother-in-law and two dogs -- when he learned the home loan he had obtained in Texas was denied.

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He was running out of money, feared his family would be homeless and he had to report back to Texas that Friday.

It was Oct. 23, his daughter Caitlyn's birthday.

"I was about 30 minutes from a nervous breakdown," Curry told the Tribune Star (http://bit.ly/1oDf0NF ) on Wednesday.

What happened, though, was a community at its best when a Terre Haute real estate company, title company, hometown bank and others worked together -- and worked late -- to make sure the out-of-town loan went through and the Currys could move into their new, Shrine Hill home.

"I love Terre Haute," said Curry, who will be retired from the military in April and now lives in Vigo County. He grew up and has family here, while wife, Aimee, has family in northern Indiana.

He's been deployed or in the field for about half of their 20-year marriage, said Aimee, and they're both still adapting to civilian life.

She still talks about shopping at the commissary, instead of the grocery, and they still use military time.

He's been deployed twice to Afghanistan and once to Iraq; he's also spent time in Kosovo, Egypt and South Korea. They lived in Germany for nine years.

In Afghanistan, he was an adviser to the Afghan National Army.

And it was while he was in Afghanistan last March that the family began their search for a house; Michael knew he would be retiring from the military.

Online, they saw a Shrine Hill home they liked, but it went off the market and they looked in other communities, too.

"When I came back from Afghanistan (in August), this house hit the market again," he said. The Currys wanted to live on the north side, and the home had several features they liked.

"It had the country look" that included an arched brick feature over the kitchen stove, Michael said.

And for several reasons, including family and job opportunities, they decided to settle in the community and to buy the home. They worked with Natalie Green, Realtor and sales manager at Century 21 Advantage in Terre Haute.

In late summer, the Currys began working with their credit union and its mortgage branch in Texas to secure a loan.

As they left Texas around Oct. 18 to move into their new home, "We got a call that everything was good to go," Michael said. "We left under the assumption we would close two days after we got here."

But soon after their arrival in Vigo County, they learned the loan had been denied.

They thought they had the problem worked out and even put their furniture in the garage of the new home, with the prior owners' approval.

But, again, on Oct. 23, they were told the loan was denied.

Michael was reaching his limit. "I have a garage full of furniture and I'm running out of money because I'm staying in a hotel and trying to feed everybody," he said. His family faced homelessness and he had to return to Texas in two days.

That's when the Terre Haute hometown team went to work, Green said.

Century 21 Advantage, located at 523 Wabash Ave., let the Currys "hang out" in their social area as Green and broker/owner Judi Evelo kept trying to get answers. The family "was devastated," Green recalled.

Evelo decided to pay for the family's dinner and put them up for a night at the Holiday Inn "while we worked on options for them," Green said. She recalls being "frantic" that day as everyone tried to help the Currys.

"We ended up taking our clients over to First Financial Bank and Jim Nichols and Beth Harris, who were simply amazing," Green said. Nichols and Harris are with the First Financial mortgage loan department.

The Currys could have obtained a loan through First Financial, but it would have taken an additional seven days to close. Instead, Harris told the Currys their best option would be to figure out what went wrong with their original loan.

Harris started working on it, conference called counterparts in Texas and discovered problems with some of the numbers related to insurance and taxes, which had been estimated "extremely high" for the Terre Haute area, Aimee said.

The family then secured its homeowners insurance from a Terre Haute company, information was sent back to Texas and re-adjusted -- and the loan went through.

The lenders had to resend all of the documents to Terre Haute, and then Jackie Mitchell of Aames Title worked late, until about 8 or 9 p.m., to get the closing finished so the family would be able to move in the next morning.

First Financial "did it strictly out of the kindness of their hearts," Aimee said. The local bank did not benefit financially.

Because of the lateness of the hour, the family did spend the night of Oct. 23 at the Holiday Inn, where they celebrated their daughter's 15th birthday.

When they moved into their home, it was the first time they had stepped inside, Michael said. All their house-hunting had been online.

After the closing, Michael's reaction was "relief," he said. He spent one day and one night in his new home, and then had to return to Texas. He came back to Vigo County for good around Thanksgiving.

"There isn't enough thanks in the world to tell these people how much we appreciate them and all they've done to get us into this house," Aimee said.

Terre Haute, she said, "is a big town with a small town feel," she said. "They're going to be there for you."

Their oldest child has graduated high school, but three others attend Terre Haute North Vigo High School, where they've adjusted well and quickly made friends, she said.

The family has grown in size and now includes four dogs, Aria, Gizmo, Heaven and Cheedo.

Evelo recalls through teamwork, "We got it done. A lot of people rallied for them and it worked."

First Financial would have loved to provide the loan, said Harris, senior mortgage loan officer, but it was not in the family's best interest. "When you see somebody that needs help, your first inclination is to help as much as you can," she said.

Mitchell, who was able to do the closing that night in October, said that "everybody gave 110 percent because the family needed a home."

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Information from: Tribune-Star, http://www.tribstar.com

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