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Mentors instill client confidence, encourage stability

Susie Pierce and Tim Thompson provided the coaching and confidence-boosting their client needed to chart her own path toward financial independence.

FamilyForward mentors Tim Thompson and Susie Pierce
FamilyForward mentors Tim Thompson and Susie Pierce

FamilyForward’s unique two-year program to support low-income, working families in the northwest suburbs is only possible because of our dedicated volunteer mentors. Susie Pierce and Tim Thompson are two of those dedicated mentors. Together, they have been mentoring “Samantha” to support her on her journey toward financial stability and independence.

Susie decided to become a mentor after hearing about FamilyForward (formerly Faith Community Homes) at church and felt it would be a great way to give back to the community where she has lived for over 30 years. A FamilyForward mentor and friend suggested to Tim that he become a mentor as well. Tim has done pro bono work for the Executive Service Corps of Chicago supporting local nonprofits, so FamilyForward seemed like a good fit.

Matching mentor talents makes a difference

FamilyForward provides training to volunteer mentors when they begin, and ongoing support from our professional case managers throughout the two-year period. Susie and Tim were partnered up to work with Samantha based on their individual talents. Susie has a background in managing healthcare workers, which has often involved providing professional and emotional support. Tim’s background includes finance and engineering. Their differing gifts and styles complement each other well and are very much aligned with the ultimate goal of helping Samantha choose healthier behaviors to make better personal life decisions to become more financially independent.

When discussing their work with Samantha, both mentors visibly reflect their supportive attitude of encouragement toward their client. “When Samantha puts her mind to things, she can be very effective at getting things done,” said Susie. “Although she still needs occasional guidance to stay on task, she is progressing toward living more independently.”

Tim added, “Samantha has faced some significant, unexpected financial challenges that, on the surface, seem overwhelming. However, by helping to organize her finances, we were able to create a realistic plan to work through these challenges in a few short months. Susie and I are very proud of her, as she actually has found ways to pay down the debts even quicker than we had expected!”

Support and flexibility yield results

Sometimes a mentor’s role can be that of a cheerleader, providing confidence to a client who may not trust their own abilities. Tim explained that rather than telling clients what they should do, mentors need to coach them, ask questions to guide them through options, and encourage them to chart their own path. “It’s a great feeling when a client is able to achieve goals they did not feel capable of doing.” Susie reiterated that, “with the help of good mentoring and role modeling, and the financial help of FamilyForward, our client is turning her life around personally and professionally.”

Being a mentor does not come without challenges, however. Gaining a client’s trust is vital. Without trust and transparency, this transformative process is difficult. Honest, open communication is critical. It also takes commitment — not only from the mentor, but also from the client. As Tim said, “Life doesn’t always go according to plan and some of the unexpected bumps we’ve encountered with our client have not been insignificant. At the same time, these are all learning opportunities that we can work through together so that our client is better equipped to handle future challenges that inevitably will arise.”

Susie and Tim are huge assets to FamilyForward. Their patience, perseverance and dedication to our mission and their client are remarkable. “Everyone can help someone,” Susie said. “I felt I had the life experience to work with FamilyForward clients to help them become more independent and that I had the skill set to relate and gain the trust of my clients.” Tim echoed that sentiment. “I love working with people to help them achieve their goals. At FamilyForward, I believe we are there for a reason, and that is to assist our clients to build the necessary skills so that they can manage on their own.”

And that is what FamilyForward is all about. Investing in people and transforming lives, one family at a time.


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