When Buckhead Christian Ministry was formed in 1987, its mission was to help low-income families and individuals find stability before falling into homelessness.
“As we continued our work, we realized that helping families with one-time financial assistance wasn’t going to work out,” said Helen Cunningham, executive director of BCM. “We went on to create a financial literacy program that could help our clients and also develop roots to manage money, learn finance.”
The money management course, part of the 70/30 Project, provides its participants resources to learn everything from creating budgets, reading credit reports, and making and balancing budgets while paying down debts.
“When I heard about the program, my financial situation was very difficult and I wanted to learn how to manage my money and save more money,” shared Jennifer Ignacio, who learned about the program because her children attend the after-school program at BCM. “ I had never learned how to manage my money from anyone or any place, so this was a new opportunity for me.”
Through the help of volunteer coach Robin Ryder, Ignacio saved and paid down $3,000 in credit card debt. “As an intake volunteer, I could see that many of our clients had not been taught the skills to manage their money,” said Ryder, who helped to take in new cases. “Through the program, it helps break the cycle and the clients can help their children, hopefully get out of debt, and stay out of debt. Keeping the working poor on their feet also helps our community.”
That is the sentiment that BCM has wanted to extend to their clients and the community as it provides for those who need its services. “As long as you can budget and/or balance a checkbook, you can volunteer for the money management program and help someone get out of debt,” continued Ryder.
Through volunteers in all of its various programs, BCM, as a whole, serves approximately 9,000 people a year. The money management program is extended to 20 families per year, and last year, the families were able to pay down $70,000 worth of debt while in the 20-week program.
Cunningham added, “These are people we depend on every day, and if we can help them stay safe and secure in their homes, it can really strengthen our community.”
In other news: On Feb. 6, Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. Inc., and its local dealer, AutoNation Toyota, presented a 2014 Tundra pickup to The Family Health Centers of Georgia. The truck will help FHCGA transport time-sensitive pharmaceuticals and critical medical equipment and supplies to its seven centers across Metro Atlanta. Toyota also recently donated $25,000 to FHCGA to support its youth wellness program which addresses weight reduction.
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