lotushouse

Kim Abreu: Senior Vice President at Bank of America

Lotus House (Lotushouse.org); Carrfour (Carrfour.org)

Kim Abreu

Kim Abreu

Background

Abreu’s passion for the community began 25 years ago when the then-credit-analyst at Bank of America took a cue from her employer. “I attribute many of my accomplishments as a philanthropist to Bank of America’s paid volunteer policy, which allows full-time employees up to two workday hours per week to volunteer in the community, something most companies simply do not offer,” she says. After finding inspiration within organizations such as the United Way, Abreu called on her background in real estate to work with Lotus House, Carrfour and the Urban Land Institute. “Giving back grew from there, and through my career, I developed more skills that served the needs of organizations that rely on shoestring budgets to tackle some of our most pressing needs.”

Women on a Mission

As treasurer of Lotus House and chair of Carrfour’s Construction and Development Committee, Abreu is proud to bring her experience in the real estate finance industry to organizations serving the homeless community. And Abreu says the women who led the organizations (Stephanie Berman and Constance Collins), were influential in her own understanding of the issues facing the homeless population in Miami and how to address them. “I was drawn to their belief that it takes more than just food and a bed to truly end the cycle. It takes holistic, customized services, such as physical/mental healthcare, job training, childcare and education, as well as the foundation and the dignity a home provides to allow a person family time to heal and progress,” says Abreu. “Miracles don’t happen on their own—it takes angels—and I am truly blessed to know these two, as they are forever changing the lives of so many homeless in our community.”

Bank of America has been a big believer in supporting our local communities by allowing associates to volunteer a certain number of hours during the workweek and making it easy for all associates to donate from our paycheck to support nonprofits in our community.”

A Place For Everyone

Working with the organizations has also given Abreu a new understanding of the homeless community. She says it was important that there be no stigma to public housing, and that the developments they build look like any other housing development in the community. She also found herself changing the way she interacted with the residents and gaining a deeper connection to their everyday life. “Homeless people are just like you and me. The vast majority want to be able to take care of themselves and their families but need some help in getting there,” she says. “Before getting involved, I used to avoid eye contact or pretend I did not see a homeless person I passed in the street. Now,I take the opportunity to get to know them better. It is great to see our alumni come back to volunteer and share their stories and see the huge smiles on their faces.”

The Future

As a mother of three, Abreu often involves her kids in her work, bringing them with her to Lotus House and encouraging them to donate toys and clothing to children in need. “Kids can teach us a lot. It is touching to see my kids interact with the kids at the developments,” she says. “They have no pretenses like we do as adults and simply jump in and start playing together.” Moving forward, Abreu is excited about the new Lotus Village, a mixed-use “village” with combined state-of-the-art shelter facilities and supportive services such as a health clinic, day care and wellness center. “Lotus Village is truly a public-private endeavor bringing quality housing, childcare, training, and health care all under one roof with open arms to the community that surrounds it to help and be helped so that the entire neighborhood is lifted.”

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