The call came on Thanksgiving Day. Like millions of Americans, James and Kimberly Papillion were preparing to join extended family members for the day’s feast. A call from BLACK ENTERPRISE Chairman and Publisher Earl G. Graves Sr. was a surprising addition to the menu. As Graves’ voice came over the line to greet them, the Papillions thought back to earlier in the week when they first learned they were among eight finalists in BLACK ENTERPRISE’s Own Your First Home Contest. “We were excited about what was going on in our lives,” James recalls. “We were just feeling extra good about being in the final eight.”
Of course, they were even more excited when Graves broke the news that they’d won. “You’re now part of the BE family,” he said over the speakerphone as the Papillions jumped and yelled for joy. “As winners of our contest,” Graves continued, “you now get to join us in sending the message that homeownership is the number one thing African Americans can do to secure their financial future and reduce the wealth gap in this country.”
Later, as James and Kimberly celebrated with family over Thanksgiving dinner at Kimberly’s mother’s house, the day took on a much bigger meaning. “We’ve worked so hard, and this came at the right time for us,” says James. “And for it to come on Thanksgiving Day, you couldn’t ask for a better day to be thankful. It put the icing on the cake.”
Eight days later, after more than two hours and 20 signatures, it was official: The Papillions were homeowners. There were smiles and hugs all around for the Baton Rouge, Louisiana, couple after they closed on their $150,000, three-bedroom, two-bathroom home on Dec. 2, 2005, completing their journey to first-time homeownership. For the Papillions, a new chapter in their lives had begun.
“Kim and I were sick and tired of investing in someone else’s wealth,” James declares. “We wanted to invest in ourselves. It will pay off in the long run, so we decided to do whatever it takes.”
It took a lot of planning, sacrifice, and financial adjusting by the Papillions to reach their goal of homeownership. Winning BE’s first homeownership contest gave them a major boost. As the contest’s first winners, the Papillions received $10,000 toward the down payment on their mortgage. The contest is BE’s newest commitment to helping our readers achieve the No. 1 principle in our Declaration of Financial Empowerment: to use homeownership to build wealth.
“The Own Your First Home Contest is an extension of the Black Wealth Initiative we launched during the 30th anniversary of our magazine in 2000,” says Editor-in-Chief Alfred Edmond Jr. “It is designed to encourage African Americans to adopt multigenerational wealth-building habits. Homeownership is key to achieving that, so we introduced the contest to motivate people to not just dream of owning a home but actually take the steps to make it happen.”
Married for five years, the Papillions, both 30, had dreamed about owning their own home for some time. Now