North Carolina Homeless Shelter Project Wins Grand Prize in Guaranteed Rate’s Ultimate Neighborhood Give Back Challenge

Guaranteed Rate, one of the ten largest retail mortgage lenders in the U.S., announced that the Haywood Pathways Project in Waynesville, N.C., has won the grand prize in its first annual “Ultimate Neighborhood Give Back Challenge,” a nationwide search for people and organizations who are leading projects that make meaningful impacts in their communities. For winning the contest, the organization will receive $50,000 plus home improvement expert Ty Pennington’s help for a day at their project site.

The Haywood Pathways Project is converting the site of a former prison in Haywood County, N.C., into a soup kitchen, homeless shelter and halfway house. The collaborative project between local government agencies, churches and non-profit organizations, which will remodel old prison dormitories into the shelter, seeks to transform lives by providing food, shelter, and a place to help ex-offenders rehabilitate into contributing citizens.

Five other community organizations will receive a runner-up prize of $10,000 each to help make their projects a reality. The finalists were chosen from among the top 50 semifinalists announced in June, and advanced out of 322 entries received from 49 states. Projects entered in the Challenge received nearly 80,000 votes and “likes” on the contest’s Facebook app since the contest began. Entries spanned a broad range of ideas to make a community a better place, from food pantry renovations and expansions, to new public park spaces, to local arts and gardening programs. All projects needed to have a neighborhood or community benefit to be eligible for consideration.

“The remodeling of the former prison in Haywood County was the project that the judges felt best met the criteria of having the biggest positive impact on their community along with a highly organized and detailed plan to get the project done, as well as winning all three rounds of voting,” said Victor Ciardelli, president and CEO of Guaranteed Rate. “That said, all of the finalists are incredibly worthy projects doing great things for their hometowns, and we were blown away by all the good that is being done by them.”

“I’m super excited to be planning a trip to North Carolina to help the Haywood Pathways Project get to work on this great project,” said Pennington. “It’s been an overwhelming experience to be a part of the first Ultimate Neighborhood Give Back Challenge. To see all of the amazing work that’s being done by community organizations from coast to coast is truly inspiring, and I encourage everyone to visit the full list of the top 50 projects submitted and find one in their area to support.”

“Winning this grand prize is going to allow us to change the landscape of care in western North Carolina,” said Nick Honerkamp, president of Haywood Pathways Project. “We’re so grateful to partner with Guaranteed Rate and Ty Pennington to help tell our story of how government and non-profits can work together to solve social problems in an innovative way.”

The five other finalist projects—who will each receive $10,000 toward their project—are (listed alphabetically by state):


Chicago: Trilogy Behavioral Healthcare – Facility Renovation



Peabody: Haven from Hunger – Community Center


New York:

Rochester: Homesteads for Hope – Phase I Sustainability Center



Harrisburg: Catholic Charities – Interfaith Homeless Shelter Renovations



Vienna: Jill’s House – Indoor Life Skills Development and Play Area for Special Needs Children


Projects in the inaugural Challenge were judged on three criteria: impact to the community, a plan in place to execute the idea, and the number of votes received. Details for Pennington’s on-site visit to the winning project will be announced at a later date. The contest’s app was developed and is managed by Social Leverage, LLC

Founded in 2000, Guaranteed Rate has become one of the nation’s fastest growing mortgage companies by offering low rate, low fee mortgages and superior customer service. The company has approximately 175 offices nationwide, is licensed in all 50 states and Washington, D.C., and funded nearly $16 billion in loans in 2013 alone. 

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