More than ten years ago, Frank and Mary Pellegrini began volunteering with St. Giles Parish for the dinner shift at First United Methodist Church PADS Shelter site. They both grew up in the Oak Park and Forest Park area and believed it was important to be involved in their local community. Between their adventures of raising 2 children and now 3 grandchildren, Frank’s cooking passion and a biking trip to Spain, Frank and Mary have managed to run two successful businesses- Prairie Title and Pellegrini & Cristiano. Although no longer active volunteers, Frank and Mary continue to support Housing Forward’s mission to end homelessness. This year, both Prairie Title and Pellegrini & Cristiano were Michelin Star Sponsors for our 15th Annual Progressive Dinner.
How are your businesses unique?
Since its inception in 1983 Prairie has grown from a two person operation in the back of DiFebo Realty at Fair Oaks and North to a 35 person operation with ten offices. However, Prairie works hard to keep its small company vibe with a warm welcome for every buyer, seller and their attorneys, lenders and realtors. Prairie's motto is " We take a personal interest in the success of your real estate transaction." The company has a national and state perspective because Frank has served as President of both our state and national trade associations. Mary currently serves on the board of the Illinois Land Title Association.
DiFebo & Pellegrini is now Pellegrini & Cristiano and counts two other attorneys, Maria Cristiano and Louis Scannicchio on its staff. They are a transactional firm who specialize in residential and commercial real estate transactions. They focus on the housing needs of families and real estate interests of small businesses.
What do you love most about your customers?
Our customers vary from first time home buyers to experienced commercial investors. Each brings a sensibility to the closing table that we try to understand and accommodate. There is nothing more exciting and gratifying than watching the keys get exchanged between excited buyers and sellers at the end of a closing. On the other hand, assisting the greatest economic engine in the world when a commercial investor refinances or purchases property is rewarding as well.
What inspired you to partner with Housing Forward?
We are in the business of helping people buy and sell their homes. It is very satisfying work. The Oak Park River Forest community has been very supportive of Prairie Title for 35 years. When the weather is bad and we walk into our home of 23 years we often think of the folks who for one reason or another do not have a home to go to. We are grateful for our blessings and want to share them with others.
Describe your volunteer experience with Housing Forward.
I started [volunteering] sometime after 2000 and Frank shortly after. We were on the dinner shift so we helped set up the pads, set tables, make coffee, serve dinner and dessert and clean up afterwards. Then we would sit and talk with folks who sat in the dining area until lights out. It was a pleasure to speak with these folks. We always felt we received more from the guests than we ever gave.
Learn more about Prairie Title and Pellegrini & Cristiano.
Interested in becoming a volunteer at Housing Forward? Click here.