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Joshua Schwartz isn’t the only person who came to San Francisco on a visit and loved the city so much he decided to stay. He also met and fell in love with his husband Joel Villalon here, and 32 years later, the two of them are proud and happy to call San Francisco home.

Things haven’t always been easy, financially speaking. Joshua’s dream was to get his PhD in clinical psychology and offer therapy to children, adults, and families. By the time he graduated from The Wright Institute in Berkeley, his student loan debt had climbed to over $200K. Joshua credits Hebrew Free Loan with helping him pay for his education and keeping that debt from growing even higher.

“The interest-free student loans I received helped me afford a degree that launched my career. I’ve gone from living paycheck to paycheck to being in a position to pay it forward. Ever since Joel and I paid off the loans, we’ve been making ongoing donations. We love knowing that the money goes toward helping others, no matter what their need.”

Joshua had a private practice in Noe Valley for many years and currently works for the Social Security Administration. Joel is an architect, and the two of them had long fantasized about becoming homeowners in San Francisco, but thought it was beyond their means.

When their long-time landlord passed away, this sad event brought the unexpected opportunity to buy the apartment they’d been renting. Their landlord’s sister offered it to them at well below market value, out of appreciation for their kindness to her brother. Even so, Joshua and Joel didn’t have enough to cover the down payment and closing costs, so they turned to us for a first-time homebuyer loan.

“Hebrew Free Loan literally changed my life twice. After I paid back my student loans, we received another loan that helped us purchase a home in the city we love. We feel lucky to be part of this exceptional community that is always here for each other.”

Giving back has always been a core value for Joshua. He learned about tikkun olam (repairing the world) as a child growing up in an observant household in New Jersey, and later when he spent his junior year abroad in Israel. Even before he was as financially comfortable as he is now, Joshua helped to support his disabled mother and an elderly aunt. And he and Joel recently made it possible for the woman who’s cleaned their home for years, and is dying of cancer, to travel back to Mexico and be with family for her remaining days.

For Joshua, supporting Hebrew Free Loan as a member of the Full Circle Club is just one more expression of tikkun olam. He doesn’t take his good fortune for granted, and he wants to make sure that others have a helping hand when they need one.

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