Neediest Cases Help Chattanooga Residents Maintain Financial Stability
Yashika Ward, case manager for The Families, Children and Adults Partnership, was recently faced with a decision in which it seemed like every option had a negative outcome. A client needed a car repair to get transportation to work, but spending the money on the repair would prevent her from paying the rent.
“She depends on her car to support her household,” Ward said of the client, who lives with her 18-year-old daughter and grandchild.
Ward turned to the Neediest Cases Fund.
For low-income residents of Chattanooga living paycheck to paycheck, unforeseen circumstances such as a medical bill, reduced work hours, or a needed car repair can leave them in a situation where they have to. decide between keeping the lights on or paying rent.
(READ MORE: Neediest Cases helps low-income workers in the Chattanooga area stay housed in the face of the unexpected)
The Neediest Cases Fund provides ad hoc assistance to people who through no fault of their own face unforeseen circumstances that prevent them from paying their bills. The fund is fueled by donations from Times Free Press readers in an annual appeal between Thanksgiving and New Years.
For people who live in the Alton Park area like Ward’s client, the lack of transportation can be a barrier to getting a well-paying job, as buses stop at a certain time, said Ward.
With help from the Neediest Cases Fund, Ward’s client was able to pay her rent and fix her car so she could get to work and maintain her financial stability.
(READ MORE: Fate can change a life in an instant, and the Neediest Cases Fund helps those with nowhere to turn)
Ward compared the Neediest Cases Fund to the “Community Chest” in the board game Monopoly.
“A lot of our participants who live in this area don’t have access to a loan or borrowing from someone with the intention of paying them back,” Ward said.
Faced with few options, she said many people end up getting payday or car debt loans with interest rates so high that it is difficult for them to get out of debt even if they put everything in. what they have to repay the loan. Then if they don’t pay it back, they can lose their car or ruin their credit, she said.
One-time help from Neediest Cases helps them avoid this cycle, as do long-term programs like Building Stable Lives. Ward’s client’s daughter participates in this program, which is administered through the Partnership for Families, Children and Adults at Bethlehem Center in Alton Park.
Building Stable Lives, which is offered in neighborhoods of Chattanooga, provides life coaches who help participants achieve economic and social independence by setting and achieving goals related to education, housing, employment , health, family and social networks. Participants receive training in job skills, budgeting, and other areas to help them achieve their goals.
(READ MORE: Electricity bill paid by Neediest Cases Fund lightens the load for Kristi Orick’s family)
MaRie Robertson, who also participates in the Building Stable Lives program at Alton Park, said it has helped her with everything from managing her finances to developing co-parenting skills. She will graduate in January after 18 months in the program.
“You learn a lot of different things that your parents maybe didn’t teach you, like managing your finances and just building your credit,” Robertson said. “They have so many resources for people, and I think everyone should learn life skills and the different things they teach.”
She said she had worked hard to build her credit and that her goals for the future were to buy a house and be the best mom possible.
“I was at my lowest point when I started, and now I’m at my highest point,” said Robertson. “I want everyone to know [Building Stable Lives] and know that no matter who you are, where you are from or how difficult your life can be, everything takes time, but if you put the work in it you can survive and go through anything. “
Contact Emily Crisman at [email protected] or 423-757-6508.