Following a domestic violence incident that resulted in a traumatic brain injury and devastated her family, Davine Manson struggled to keep herself and her children stable. When she heard about The Village’s Family Financial Stability Initiative, “It sang to me. I was struggling financially and knew I needed to get back on track.”
“If your family is not financially stable, it’s hard to make sure you have a healthy home,” said Christine Gaumond, program coordinator.
“Things like eviction, food insecurity and the stress of not being able to pay bills or provide for your family add to the toxic stress that can lead to mental and physical health issues,” said Laura O’Keefe, director of the Initiative.
Creating and sticking to a budget, repairing or building credit, and saving for a specific goal are the three mainstays of the Initiative’s financial services.
“Following a budget is hard, but it’s so important to live within your means,” said Andrea Robinson, a financial coach who is working with Davine.
The Initiative also offers free tax preparation and filing services that help low- to moderate-income tax filers access important credits, and encourages them to save a portion of their refunds. Backed by the United Way Women’s Leadership Council – the Initiative’s largest funder – two new services were added this year: career coaching and housing mobility.
“If your expenses exceed your income, one strategy is to increase your income,” said Daniela Rosario, career coach. “A lot of people were requesting help with their resumes to get better jobs – there was a real need there.”
Eileen Burgos, who has been a financial coach with The Village for many years, took on the housing mobility program, working with families who receive housing assistance. “It’s an opportunity for families to move closer to work or access better schools or transportation. It can make a significant change in their lives.”
“Each of us has a part to do,” said Eileen. “Individuals and families can take advantage of all the services we have to offer to create better opportunities for themselves.”
With help from Andrea and the Financial Stability Initiative, Davine Manson has reached her savings goal and is working toward a more stable future. “I’m different now because I have hope.”