By Alexandra Frisbie
“If you want change, make the change. Put yourself in the game.”
Like many other institutions in America, the real estate system is built on and steeped in white supremacy and racism. Home ownership builds generational wealth and equity, which in turn can pay for things like student loans and other educational and lifetime investments. There is a big disparity between the size and location of real estate available to white people and Black people, which perpetuates a vicious cycle in which it is extremely difficult for Black people to build generational wealth.
Kim Vendryes learned this from the time she was a child, when her mother used to drive around Greenwich, Westport and Black Rock, Connecticut to expose her to other nice neighborhoods and let her know that anything was attainable. As Kim recalls, her mother used to buy houses in Bridgeport for two or three thousand dollars and work on them to sell at a profit. This sparked her interest in real estate at a young age.
Kim became interested in investments and wanted to be her own broker. She originally shied away from real estate because she didn’t like sales. Instead, Kim worked for a large healthcare organization, doing nothing related to real estate, but her interest and passion for real estate never waned. In 2018, Kim “woke up”, in her own words, and decided to register for classes to obtain her real estate license. She took the required sales classes and passed the state test on her first try.
Kim has been in business now for just about three years. Her business is almost 100% referral based. She views real estate ownership as more than a transaction; it is a life experience that should be equally available to everyone. Her strength is helping people who may be afraid of commitment to real estate to understand that it can facilitate them to get what they want. Kim has primarily mentored first-time home buyers and says it is incredibly gratifying to see them learn firsthand that home ownership is achievable.
One experience Kim shared was of a long time friend of hers who was raised by her grandparents and never knew her own mother. She never thought she could be a homeowner. Then, one day, her uncle was selling his house. Her friend was interested, but needed help through the process. She was very nervous, but Kim walked her through it and when she bought the house, it changed her confidence--not only about homeownership but also in so many other aspects of her life.
Kim has conducted several workshops over the past few years to assist with minority homeownership. She is planning to launch a “Main Street Initiative” to teach prospective homeowners about credit and wealth, provide educational empowerment and possibly partner with mortgage companies to provide a product to assist with down payments and closing costs.
Kim wants people to know she is very approachable and happy to answer any questions about homeownership. She can be contacted at (203) 816-1764 or on Facebook. When you call her, mention you read about Kim Vendryes on ShopBlackCT.com!
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By Alexandra Frisbie
People from all different ages and backgrounds are signing up for Duane Hinkson’s pistol permit classes, the vast majority seeking one thing: safety through self-defense.
A self-described “advocate for reasonable gun laws and protections”, Hinkson—owner and instructor of CT NRA Instructor--understands second amendment rights but also appreciates the need for common sense gun laws.
“Guns shouldn’t be a political issue—everyone has the right to own one,” he explained.
A father to three children, Hinkson believes in responsible gun ownership. “I always make sure my gun safe is locked, out of reach, and the kids were never given the code,” he explained. “After you get a pistol permit, if you can’t buy a gun and gun safe at the same time, buy the safe first, because it is more important that you have a safe place to keep the gun before you actually have one. That is responsible gun ownership.”
“Once people learn how to use a gun and have been carrying for a while, most find that their lives aren’t in as much danger as they thought. Chances are they will never need to use [a] gun and they will discover that having the ability to protect and defend themselves and their family is probably the best thing about gun ownership,” he shared.
Hinkson had no interest in guns until 2007, when the Cheshire home invasion happened. He recalled thinking at the time that things like the Cheshire invasion “aren’t supposed to happen in Connecticut,” especially not in a quiet town like Cheshire. He realized that if it can happen there, it can happen anywhere.
His next step was to get a pistol permit. Once he obtained a permit, he wanted to practice shooting with his friends, but they didn't have their firing permits. So he became an instructor so he can teach them. Hinkson expanded his pistol permit instruction in 2008, when he began renting a classroom space in Bristol. Demand was high—more than 345 people signed up for his class in one day. He was the first instructor in Connecticut to work with Groupon. Because of this, he began offering instruction on the weekends and today he has a permanent space to provide classroom instruction year-round.
“Once people learn how to use a gun and have been carrying for a while, most find that their lives aren’t in as much danger as they thought. Chances are they will never need to use [a] gun and they will discover that having the ability to protect and defend themselves and their family is probably the best thing about gun ownership."
In Connecticut, residents without felonies or misdemeanors have several options to get a pistol permit and learn how to properly use a gun. NRA Basic Pistol Course classes do have a fee, and for those who choose to purchase a gun, the prices do vary. According to Hinkson, the best gun to buy is the gun that is best for you. “It’s the one you’re most comfortable with,” he explained.
During his class, he teaches students the knowledge, skills, and attitude necessary to own a firearm safely. Hinkson prides himself in providing the best instruction possible, limiting his classes to 10 people at a time.
“Some instructors run ‘permit mills’, meaning they try to get as many people permitted and make as much money as possible,” he explained. “But with 30 people in one class, not everyone can ask questions and learn how to properly handle a firearm.”
Hinkson is a member of the National African American Gun owners Association, the Black Gun Owner’s Association and the NRA.
To sign up for a Basic Pistol Permit class with Duane, visit CTNRAInstructor.com. Classes cost $150 and are completed in one day and include a classroom portion and a live firing portion at a nearby gun range. Use promo code SHOPBLACK to take $25 off your registration fee! Hinkson also provides weekend, evening and private instruction.
CT NRA Instructor is located at 171 Market Square Suite 203, Newington, CT 06111. Follow CT NRA Instructor on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.
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