Being held "accountable for your own independence" was key for "Tina" to gain the confidence she needed to create and follow a plan for a better future.
Single mom “Tina” was working full time, parenting her four kids and barely making ends meet when she applied to FamilyForward (then known as Faith Community Homes) two years ago. Several recent crises had put her behind on bills, including an illness and a car repair, and she was not earning enough to catch up.
Tina was living in survival mode, trying to get through each day. And when you are in survival mode, it is hard to think about the big picture. When you are barely making it through today, it is hard to make plans for tomorrow.
First steps toward positive change
Tina applied to FamilyForward because she wanted to make a change. She wanted some financial and emotional breathing room so the sense of crisis would not consume her. And she knew she needed to get her finances straightened out if she was going to be able to provide for her children in the long run.
After accepting Tina into our two-year program, FamilyForward began paying a portion of Tina’s rent, directly to her landlord. The FamilyForward rent subsidy immediately eliminated the risk of eviction or displacement. Knowing that she and her kids could stay in their apartment relieved a tremendous amount of stress for Tina. Without stable housing, Tina’s job and her kids’ school success would be at risk.
Working through the ups and downs
Shortly thereafter, Tina began meeting with her volunteer mentors. By looking at bank statements, they helped Tina identify where her money was going. Then they worked together to create a household budget so that Tina knew what she could actually afford. Her mentors helped her sort through her credit card bills and set up a schedule to pay off each one. Simply put, Tina’s mentors helped her create and apply strategy to managing her finances. She had never been strategic in her spending or her savings before participating in our program because she was just trying to survive.
During her two years in our program, there were bumps in the road, of course. Tina and her kids had illnesses. Childcare issues arose. A change in management at work presented challenges. However, through it all, Tina continued working and continued to meet regularly with her mentors. Over time, as their relationship strengthened, Tina came to feel that her mentors were on her team and she began to value their advice and support.
Following a plan builds confidence
With coaching from her mentors, Tina paid off most of her debt, paid off her car loan, and put some money into savings. But, just as important, she also made progress that cannot be quantified. Tina gained confidence. She clarified in her mind what steps she needs to take move forward. She has a timeline for advancing her professional education. As a result, she now feels prepared to move forward on her own.
When asked what she learned during her time in our program, Tina responded, “I learned how to budget and how to do without things that I thought I needed. It made me take a look at myself and the decisions I was making on behalf of my family.” When asked what aspect of the program she most liked, Tina replied, “I like that they keep you accountable for your own independence.”
FamilyForward is grateful to Tina’s volunteer mentors for the time and energy they invested in this local family.