By Sophie Klein - Grant Writer/Development Coordinator
Clients receive individualized attention
Without a job, it's hard to make ends meet. Not surprisingly, after sustained unemployment, many of the women who come to Women's Employment Network for help finding work also need help managing their finances and overcoming debt. Below is the story of one woman who WEN helped grow both professionally and financially.
Eva's story is a classic example of the learning process women go through at WEN with regard to their finances. When Eva first came to WEN she had stopped even opening bills. She had a $119 assistance check that was supposed to cover her utilities, but had hundreds of dollars of bills to pay. As part of WEN's Employment Preparation and Career Transition Training Program, clients participate in a budget drafting exercise that asks them to assess their monthly income and expenses, an experience that Eva remembers as being difficult: "It was painful talking about money. It was the hard truth that I didn't want to accept. I was crying and so was the woman next to me. We were holding each other."
During WEN's five-week training program she learned about budgeting, saving, and responsible use of credit. Since getting a job and learning to budget, she has been able to buy things that she couldn't afford before, including a lot of things for her children. These things include: beds for the children, cooking supplies, and school pictures. She admits, "it sounds like little stuff, but when you don't have it you really notice. It's big."
Her experience is not atypical of the women who come to Women's Employment Network for assistance. Seventy-five percent of WEN clients report income below the federal poverty line, with the other 25% not disclosing their income at intake. Of those who, starting in March 2013, have opted to work with WEN's Financial Coach, the average credit score is 539 and the average amount of debt in collection is $12,000. Without sufficient savings and with such poor credit, WEN clients are especially vulnerable to predatory lending such as payday loans, which feed into the cycle of poverty.
The Financial Coaching and Credit Building program was added to Women's Employment Network's program model in early 2013 to help WEN clients, graduates, women small business owners, and others in the community in build their credit and achieve their financial goals, so that their career gains are translated into increased wealth. WEN's Financial Coach is responsible for the management of the program, which involves ongoing one-on-one financial coaching, community outreach workshops, assistance with credit disputes and settlements, and rebuilding credit with a secured credit card.
The Financial Coaching and Credit Building Program is a thrilling addition to WEN's services and will undoubtedly help WEN's clients regain control of their financial futures.
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