Working in the mall during the winter holiday season is quite interesting. From navigating the busy parking garages to discovering Santa's secret recharge spot, all the bright lights and hub bub can be quite distracting. Our holiday budgeting seminars encourage us all to be mindful of what the holidays really mean to each of us - often our fondest memories, and most anticipated moments are not so much about receiving things as they are about time spent with people we care about.
Across traditions, be it Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa or Solstice, the common themes of this holiday time are about giving thanks, re-dedicating ourselves to purpose, and the joy of returning to the light. I know I speak for all of us at Innovative Changes when I say we are truly thankful for the blessings of having such inspiring clients to work with, for all the support from our funders and partners that enables us to do our work, and for the leadership of our board of directors as we map our future with courage and determination. We enter 2013 amidst a strategic planning process where we are re-dedicating ourselves to a bright and stable future, and we are ever grateful to be able to walk with people as they take control of their finances and take real steps towards a hope-filled future.
May these holidays bring you peace, hope and light.
All the best,
One day DeOndria came in to our office to inquire about getting a second loan. She had just completed her Associate's Degree in Business Management at Heald College and was working hard to find a job. While there were jobs on the market, she found that because she didn't have previous experience in the field, it was difficult to get hired- a quintessential catch-22. A second loan would help her remain current on bills, cover back to school expenses for her 6 year old daughter and give her a little more time to find a job.
DeOndria had been an exemplary borrower. While dropping off her payments at our office on time each month her daughter would color and delight us with their upcoming adventures for the weekend. Since DeOndria's past loan had been paid off and her payments were all on time, she qualified for a second loan. As we walked her through the reapplication process, a light bulb went off: CASH Oregon, the free tax preparation non-profit that we share office space with, was hiring an Administrative Assistant for the tax season through the Jobs Plus program at the Department of Human Services. This program is meant to give parents receiving Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) the job experience that they need to further their career and become self sufficient. Being the rock star that she is, DeOndria was hired within the week and has gracefully mastered the intricacies of administrative work to help get CASH Oregon ready for the tax season. Plus, we get to see her every day!
Of her experience at CASH Oregon she says, "It's been wonderful. I couldn't ask for a better situation. I am learning very useful things like data entry which is crucial for a career in business administration. I feel confident and helpful here because I know I am appreciated and listened too."
DeOndria did end up taking out the second loan and has since caught up on her bills and is using the loan to build her credit. She originally came to us in Fall 2011 through Proud Ground, a community land trust that helps people of low income become homeowners. Her primary goal was to build her credit so that she could be ready to purchase a home. DeOndria has continued to focus on building her credit, but has shifted her priority to building her career before she buys her first home.
DeOndria reflects, "When I was applying to jobs I saw that they wanted experience. I think that is the most important thing to me right now. I also want to be able to have the time help my daughter with her homework. It was hard to do that while working and going to school. Now that I can focus on building my career, this will put me back on track to buying a home." DeOndria has a clear vision for the future: "I want to be able to have a home for Olivia [my daughter] and I. I don't want to be a statistic of a single mom that can't provide for her family. I want to be a good role model for Olivia, showing her that if you want something, you can get it with hard work and focus."
DeOndria embodies perseverance. She dropped out of high school three times, but eventually finished. Enrolling in school and completing her associate's degree was a testament to herself that she could accomplish what she set out to do. Throughout this time one key lesson that she learned, through life, school, at Innovative Changes and now at CASH Oregon is the value of communication. "Keeping in constant contact and being very open about everything that you're doing" has made her successful at work and she urges IC$ borrowers to follow that mantra for their loans as well.
|Partner Spotlight: Ivana Bohrer-Clancy
A couple months ago we did a referral partner training for over twenty staff at Impact Northwest which jumpstarted an active and mutually beneficial partnership. Impact Northwest is a multi-cultural, multi-service organization that helps people achieve self sufficiency. Their diverse services range from energy assistance, to housing to youth and school programs. We found that many of our clients were already accessing services from Impact NW, so a partnership has helped us connect our programs even more. Through this partnership, we have gotten to know Ivana Bohrer-Clancy, a Program Specialist at Impact NW. We got to visit one of her apartment complexes and see her and her residents in action and she and her residents have come to us to access our services. So this month, without further ado, we bring you an interview with Ivana!
What's your role at Impact NW? What drew you to this work?
I have been working as a Program Specialist with the housing department for over a year now and I currently case manage two programs. One is transitional housing for families living in our facility and the other is a school based program for homeless families or people struggling with their rent payments.
I have been able to enroll families that were either at risk of becoming homeless or were homeless. As I enroll clients into Impact NW housing programs, I am able to work with each client to help them identify and work on their individual goals and skills necessary for obtaining economic self-sufficiency and permanent housing.
I have always genuinely cared for people. I earned my Psychology degree in Europe and worked with clients in a different settings ever since. I am really curious about what makes people who they are, and how they got to the point where they are in their lives.Working for Impact NW is giving me the tools, resources and a team work support to be able to assist people from various backgrounds.
What are the most common financial issues that you see your residents facing?
What I see very often is that our clients have nonexistent, bad or poor credit history. That affects their future possibility to rent their own apartment, obtain credit cards, get the car loan or even buy a house.
They might have unpaid debt or bills from the past. That goes hand in hand with limited budgeting skills and financial responsibility skills. Sometimes, it's just simply really hard to pay your bills, buy food and pay debts off, especially if your only income is coming from TANF and SNAP. In these instances, it is especially important to be able to teach clients good budgeting skills and provide them with different resources that will actually save them money.
How does the work that you do connect with what we do at Innovative Changes?
As I mentioned above, almost all our clients need assistance with budgeting and improving their credit history in order to become self- sufficient in the future. The majority can definitely benefit from the Innovative Changes' workshops and learn how to effectively deal with finances. Additionally, a credit builder loan is a great way of starting or improving a client's credit history.
Some of our clients are going back to school to complete their education and obtain their dream careers or just better paying employment. They might be interested in the IDA program to get some financial support for their educational goals.
The short term loans can be really useful for our clients who are moving to a new place and just need a little bit of assistance for moving in deposits or other housing related expenses.
You recently took out a credit builder loan yourself! What was that experience like?
It was a really great experience. I received a call from Innovative Changes the same day my referral was faxed to you. Actually, it was at the same hour. Meeting with you was a really pleasant experience. Everybody was nice and friendly and you met all my expectations. I enjoyed sitting in your little Welcome Orientation set up in your personal office environment. You even dealt with my two little girls there for almost an hour.
All your paperwork is well explained and clear. I also appreciated your friendly reminder of monthly payments. And I am buying my first house in spring, thank you guys!
Also, this personal experience gave me more confidence and more information about your services in order to provide better support to my clients.
|Financial Education Galore:
Start the New Year off right with some financial household resiliency classes! It's also getting very close to tax time. Learn how you can "Make the Most of Tax Time" at one of our upcoming seminars!
Upcoming Financial Household Resiliency (FHR) Workshops:
January Financial Household Resiliency Series
Tuesday, January 15th, 5:30-7:30 pm: Making Ends Meet
Tuesday, January 22nd, 5:30-7:30 pm: Budgeting and Saving
Tuesday, January 29th 5:30-7:30 pm: Hands-On Banking
Tuesday, February 5th 5:30-7:30 pm: Building, Repairing and Protecting Credit
These classes will be held at our Lloyd Center office on the 3rd floor of the Lloyd Center Mall (between Nordstroms and the food court), 2010 Lloyd Center.The classes can be taken individually or as a series. They are $5 each and $15 for all four classes. Fee waivers are available for those who qualify. To Register: visit our website or call or email Misha at (503)-249-5205/ email@example.com.
Making the Most of Tax Time
Tuesday, January 8th, 5:30-6:30pm, 2010 Lloyd Center Mall
Friday, January 11th from 1pm - 2pm at the NW Library
Wednesday, January 23rd, 2-3pm at the Belmont Library
Tax time brings a window of opportunity. With the added boost to your budget from a tax return you can start paying off some debts that you've been worrying about, check off items from your wish list, or set up a savings account for your child's college education....the possibilities are endless! However, it's important to remember, even with this extra money, planning is key to using it effectively. We will cover topics such as the mechanics of getting a tax return, how to wisely budget and save your tax return, Earned Income Tax Credits (EITCs), Refund Anticipation Loans (RALs) and more!
|Going Back to School Just Got a Little Easier: Enroll in the IC$ Education IDA Today!
The IC$ IDA program offers a 3:1 match for those saving to attend an institution of higher education. Savers must put at least $25 into an account every month, complete financial education requirements and plan to go back to school or already be attending school. Savers can save for themselves or a loved one.
If you are interested in the IDA program, or know someone who may be interested,come to our next orientation which will be:
- Thursday, January 3rd, 5:30-6:30 pm at our office in Suite 2010 of the Lloyd Center.
To Register: visit our website or call or email Misha at (503)-249-5205/ firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information about the IDA program visit our website.
Referring Partner Orientation
Would you like to become a partner of Innovative Changes? Interested in refering clients for our loans, financial education and individual coaching sessions? Want to learn more about our programs? Attend our Referring Partner Orientation webinar.
The webinar orientation will take place on Wednesday, December 12th from 10:30-11:30am. If you or your coworkers are interested in participating please register here: https://student.gototraining.com/r/4198600945265450496
This orientation is required for anyone who would like to refer clients for Innovative Changes (IC$) loans and a great way to get to know more about IC$. During the webinar we will go through IC$ programs and services, walk you through the process of referring a client and discuss what happens after you make a referral.
You Can Help!
You care about helping people achieve and maintain household stability. Now you can join our efforts at Innovative Changes as we expand our reach to serve more clients. Your generous donation will be put to good use!
Whatever amount you can afford, you can set it up for monthly automatic payments to ease your cash flow. If you have bill pay service with your bank you can set up Innovative Changes to receive regular monthly payments. If you prefer, we can process a monthly ACH transaction on your behalf. Contact us at email@example.com to set up your monthly giving program.
Thank you for your support!
As of 12/10/2012
450, averaging $466.06 for a total of $209,874.20
Revolved amount: $153,729.23
Repaid loans: 231
Financial education clients: