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November Housing Unlimited Staff Spotlight - Lisa Cook

Lisa Cook, Director of Property Development

HUI purchased its 90th home this year, and guess who's been key to all of our purchases and who manages to turn each house into a home? Lisa Cook oversees all aspects of daily maintenance work as well as major renovations of our homes and it was a particularly busy year with the acquisition of six new properties.

Born and raised with her three siblings in Montclair, NJ, Lisa's first “professional” job was as a program assistant for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, Northern NJ Chapter. While there, she learned about nonprofit work and enlisted her daughter to help answer phones or help with mailings. Lisa considers Maryland and DC "like a second home" and even before moving here in the mid-90s, Lisa visited the area twice a month. She started work at the original Progress Place on Colonial Lane in Silver Spring in September of 1996 for what was then Silver Spring Community Vision. She was hired as their office manager and later became an outreach coordinator working directly with clients who were homeless. From 1997 to 2012, Lisa started a second job at the Coalition for the Homeless’ Safe Haven program in Takoma Park working weekends with dual-diagnosed women. In 2002, she left her part-time work with Community Vision and started work at Interfaith Works (then called Community Ministries of Montgomery County) as a case manager for the startup Horizon House program consisting of 5 properties at the time.

Lisa leads a life of giving back and is eager to make her "mom" proud. She recalls going to church every Sunday where her grandmother whom she endearingly refers to as "Mom” was the organist and sang in the senior choir. At age 7, Lisa joined the Cherub Choir and later at age 13, the junior choir. As members of the church, Lisa and her family often participated in service activities including working the food pantry, serving meals following church functions, serving meals at funeral repasses, etc. Outside of church, her grandmother often invited people home for Sunday dinner and holiday meals - people who had nowhere else to go. Helping others and giving back have always been a part of who I am. At 13, I started volunteering for the recreation center where kids, mostly, went to enjoy recreational activities, arts and crafts, help with homework or just hang out. She also helped out at a senior lunch and activity program where she set up projects, signed kids into their activities, answered phones, served lunch to the seniors, and did just about anything that was asked of her. Lisa was rewarded with a youth service award in 1975 at age 14 as shown in the newspaper article clipping (shown above).

We at HUI have no doubt that Lisa has indeed made her "mom" proud.

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