(This is the first in what will be a series of articles featuring mortgage companies and individual professionals who are giving back to their communities.  If you or your company has adopted a school, sponsored a community event, or pitched in to help someone in need, drop us a line and tell us about it.)

Like most mortgage companies, Fairway Independent Mortgage Company's business model involves putting people in their own homes.  But Fairway and many of its employees are putting a new spin on that mission and thanking some of the nation's vets in the process.  

In July the company, partnering with the non-profit organizations, the Military Warriors Support Foundation and The Boot Campaign, donated the first "mortgage free" house to a military war veteran and Purple Heart recipient in Dallas, Texas.  They did it again in Hollywood, California, in August, in Tucson, Arizona in September and are slated to hand over house keys to another military family in Washington, DC in October and two more will be ready next month in Louisiana and Florida.    In fact, Fairway has committed to providing a home a month for one year. 

But the charity is far from being just a corporate thing.  Fairway employees have pledged over $20,000 per month through payroll deduction to the project.  Fairway's involvement with the charity was the brainchild of Louise Thaxton, a producing branch manager for Fairway with offices in Louisiana and Florida.  Thaxton holds Fairway's designation of Military Mortgage SpecialistTM and is director of its Military Mortgage Specialist department.  Last year she ranked number 14 nationally in the origination of VA loans according to Scotsman Guide.  Louise and her professional involvement with military families led her to the Boot Campaign to which she now serves as Fairway's ambassador, and that ultimately served as the catalyst for the Fairway program.  

The Boot Campaign is a non-profit military appreciation and veteran awareness campaign based in Texas.  Launched in 2009 by a group of women known as The Boot Girls, its mission is to express gratitude to the troops, spread awareness of the needs of military personnel and support their transition home.  Through the sale of signature military combat boots, the Boot Campaign donates proceeds to a group of partner charities, one of which is the Military Warrior Support Foundation.  

The Foundation acquires distressed properties (at least some of which will be among the 1,000 homes Bank of America recently pledged to donate to non-profit organizations) and the Boot Campaign and Fairway  provide the funds necessary to repair and rehab the property, along with three years of financial counseling for the veteran home owner. 

Thaxton, a 15 year veteran of the mortgage business, told MND that the endeavor was a natural one for her and for Fairway.  "I am in a military town and I do a lot of VA lending and work with a lot of military families.  And because Fairway does home loans, it seemed special to be able to give away a mortgage-free home."

An early recipient of a Fairway assisted home was Juan Castañeda, Jr., an Iraq War Veteran wounded on August 31, 2006 in an ambush near Ad Dwar.  He suffered a fully collapsed left eardrum and other head injuries and underwent four major surgeries.  Thaxton presented keys to his new home to Castañeda on August 26 during the 2nd Annual Boot Ride and Rally in Hollywood. Several hundred bikers and the cast of Sons of Anarchy joined in celebrating the event.

Thaxton told attendees, "At Fairway, we're dedicated to supporting all American troops, both active military and veterans. Our deepest thanks go to Juan as well as the Boot Campaign for giving us the opportunity to give back and for putting on such an incredible event."  

"Juan Castañeda has made enormous sacrifices for our country, as have so many others before him," said Steve Jacobson, CEO of Fairway. "Juan's strength and perseverance in the face of his challenges are truly remarkable. It is stories like his that have inspired Fairway to help American veterans fulfill their dreams of home ownership. Juan's new home is a reflection of the admiration, gratitude and respect we have for all wounded warriors."