THC actively works to build more affordable housing in DC. We are currently redeveloping Weinberg Commons, an apartment complex that combines energy efficient building techniques with affordable and permanent supportive housing for formerly homeless and low income families. Over the next few months, the THC Affordable Housing team will share updates and milestones about this redevelopment on our blog. To get to know them a bit first, we asked Blaise Rastello and Emily Oliver a little more about themselves and their passion for the work we do. Here is what Blaise had to say!
Originally, I am from a small ski-town in Colorado named Steamboat Springs. I have lived in the DC Metro area for five years after moving here from Arkansas in 2009. Currently, I am the Director of Affordable Housing at THC and lead a team that is focused on acquiring and developing affordable housing units for THC’s portfolio. Before THC, I was the Director of the Community Development Finance Lab at The New School in New York City and managed my own consulting company. I came to Washington, DC because of a life transition. A long-term relationship was ending, and I had some family in the area that graciously hosted me for a few months until I was able to find a place and get settled in the area.
What motivates you to do this kind of work?
Honestly, the gospel of Christ is what motivates me to this kind of work. The fact that our Creator moved towards us in our broken and helpless state and gave so freely to us through his Son is incredible. It is this act of love towards broken people, just so that we could have restored relationship with God that motivates me to do this kind of work.
What do you like to do for fun?
A fun time is spending moments with my family exploring the outdoors and traveling. I also like to play an occasional game of hockey, tennis, cycling around my neighborhood on a crisp fall morning, and floating through powder on the ski slopes in the Western US.
Talk about an inspiring or transformative moment in your life.
A little over five years ago I broke down. I had no hope and was destroying my life through horrible choices. I was a slave to desires that were destructive to myself and everyone around me. Then finally it happened……..Everything around me collapsed, relationships ended, I had squandered my live savings, and my desire to live had disappeared. And for the first time, at that moment, I sincerely asked God to show me he is real. A few months later I packed up a car and moved to DC. On this road trip I bought a bible and read it cover to cover. Why, I don’t know. All I do know is that God was moving towards me. Not only did God show me that he was real, but my life forever changed. Since that moment He has blessed me with an amazing wife and daughter, and continues to show me what unconditional love looks like.
What inspires you?
People of great faith. People who stand on what God says, even when it costs them. People who have a vision and can inspire others. People who serve when they don’t need to, but choose to out of love. And most importantly, I am inspired by people who after demonstrating their faith through actions of love, when asked what compels them to action; they respond by pointing to one who gave it all – Jesus.
What does your self-care look like?
Walks through the woods, praying, meditating on God’s faithfulness, and sharing a meal with loved ones are the go-to options. If my heart isn’t filled with gratitude, then I know it is time for some self-care. Sometimes just writing a gratitude list is a good start.
What do you enjoy most about working at THC?
I love interacting with people who are all working towards the mission of creating opportunities for families to see transformational changes happen in their lives. The story we share of the impact our work has on families is what unites us. When we hear a THC family express their gratitude for the work that we are doing, and we can in turn give thanks
to God for making those changes possible, that is a good day!
What is one of your favorite THC memories?
I have two. The day we closed on the acquisition of Weinberg Commons in February, 2013 and the groundbreaking ceremony on October 10, 2014. Looking forward to being part of many of these key milestones and memories in the future.