Karen Cabrera’s life is her family. As a mortgage lender, she helps other families own homes so they, too, can live their best lives with their own families.
Karen was on the real estate side of homeownership in 1986 when a mortgage lender suggested she move to lending. With that change, she says she had the opportunity to learn mortgage lending from the best of mentors. That was May 1990.
Karen recently joined INB to work out of our Peoria office. She calls Galesburg home, having moved there with her family at age 5. Again, with families in mind, her work as a lender gave her a chance to take part in both the Knox Country Habitat for Humanity chapter and Project Rebound. While Habitat is primarily involved in new home construction, Project Rebound is a program spearheaded by the University of Illinois Co-op. The program’s mission is to restores abandoned or distressed homes for first-time home buyers who have fair credit and employment history, but haven’t saved enough for a down payment.
Project Rebound, Karen says, struggled to get a foothold in Galesburg until a customer of Karen’s called. “He said he had some NFL friends who wanted to make a large donation to use in his hometown to help the poor and underserved! He also did home rehabs with his twin brother. And that is how we got our start. I sit on the board, and also the selection committee.”
50 and Counting
Karen has also served as Habitat for Humanity board president three times and has been on the Family Selection Committee from the beginning. Through both programs, she estimates she has been involved with helping at least 50 families afford homes.
By serving these organizations, Karen says, “This is another way I get to help buyers achieve the dream of homeownership that they would not get to with any traditional mortgage.” She notes that, as a lender, she often works with families struggling with a poor credit score and not being able to save for a down payment. She revels in being able to see them find their way to homeownership, too.
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But at the end of each day, Karen is most proud of her family. She’s been married almost 50 years to “her hero.” She says, “He makes me crazy at times, but he cares for us no matter what.”
Traveling with her family is one of Karen’s favorite past times. She notes travel is a bit easier for her than others thanks to her son’s 24-year career as a flight attendant. “One day my son is taking me to Europe -- Ireland and France,” she says. But she more proudly points out that her son is a drag queen who has built up a huge following. “He is also the LGBQ travel guide for VACAYA and serves as American Airlines LBGQ representative.” But she’s even more proud to report he’s been sober for 11 years.
While her son lives in Dallas, Karen’s daughter lives in Peoria. This busy mom serves as director of student services in Dunlap and is working on her PhD. She has three sons who Nana Karen adores. “My daughter makes me prouder as a single mom then anything.”
INB is proud to have Karen as a new addition to our lending team. Her NMLS # is 742269.