Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Lots happening this Spring!

We will be opening a new location in Lockport--at the Dale Association--in May. Stay tuned for more details.

In the interim, read this beautiful piece written by a former client...

When I walked across the stage of New York University to receive my bachelor’s degree, I knew that my life would be forever changed. I believed that my hands held the key to my future and the assurance that my career would sustain me and my future family.

If someone had told me on that day, that many, many moons and a quite impressive resume later, that I would find myself an out of work single mother who was barely able to ensure a solid meal, I would have laughed in their face.

However, when I lost my job that is exactly where I was. I had some savings, and was given unemployment for a specified number of weeks. However, soon after my job disappeared, so did my 14 year old car and many other ways of my formerly employed life. The one thing that remained constant was the barrage of bills in my mailbox. Mail that was tossed on the table in a large pile, for the thought of being reminded of what I owe and furthermore, what I did not have, was much too depressing to withstand on a daily basis. 

Without transportation for myself and my then infant child, nor any reliable, affordable childcare my prospects were dim.

Eventually I received a job offer that was within my reach. It was certainly doable, but not without a great effort. Many parents of young children know all too well the struggle of rising and shining before the sun, to push a baby stroller through the snow with a diaper bag and work briefcase flung across the shoulders, all the while praying that the bus doesn’t happen to come early, or be too crowded, and that you don’t ruin your work clothes while trying to fold the stroller and find exact change for the fare.

Luckily, I found a program--Ways to Work—that was available for working parents. I qualified for the program but first needed to take certain steps, including improving my credit before I could be officially approved. I felt instant anxiety. Not only did I not want people in my financial business, but I wasn’t even sure I was ready to face that demon myself. Not ready to go through the piles of mail that decorated my kitchen table.

However after a particularly difficult day of missed busses and soiled clothes, I decided it was time to slay the dragon. I called the program and was told I needed to take a financial literacy class through Consumer Credit Counseling Service of Buffalo (CCCS). I still had no transportation—but was told I could take the class online. What a relief!

The class was broken up into a variety of segments. Initially I approached it as simply something to do. However, as I moved through the segments, I began to complete the optional worksheets, activities and suggestions. The more I completed, the less afraid I became of the situation and the more empowered I became. Gone was the anxiety in the pit of my stomach and I was eager to log in each day as I worked to rebuild my credit.

With the assistance of the CCCS and the Ways to Work program, I learned to accurately ready my credit report. I learned of several discrepancies that had been dragging my score down for many years, and how to get them removed from credit report. I was able to make arrangements with my student loans and get them out of default. I learned to budget to allow myself to save for a car, while paying off old debt.

I am grateful for the services offered by The Ways to Work program and Consumer Credit Counseling Service of Buffalo to help empower people who are paralyzed by debt or personal situation.  It feels good to finally have my finances in order!

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