The SJC Bridges Financial Management Class is one of our programs designed to help participants build one of eleven resources needed to move out of poverty. The stories of hope are inspiring. At the graduation of our 2016 Fall class, one participant shared, after living a life where she felt overwhelmed by her financial situation, "I can finally breathe!" Read Maria Sanchez's story of taking steps from the tyranny and instability of life to a life filled with hope and stability.
By: Chloe Woggon
Maria Sanchez is a lively woman with a sense of humor. Smiling from the time she walked in until the time she left, she had me laughing the entire time I was interviewing her. An animated personality, she talked to me about her experience in the Bridges Financial Management Class (BFMC) with enthusiasm and honesty.
Maria first heard about the BFMC from her partner, who knew she would be interested because Maria had wanted to buy a house. “It was like a dream come true,” she told me, “I had wanted to become a homeowner, and I knew there were certain steps to take, but I didn’t know how to go about taking them.” I asked Maria if the class helped her with the steps to becoming a homeowner. “Yeah, they did, I’m already in the process,” she said, showing me the paperwork for a HomeBuyers program. “Look, I’ve already been approved!”
Though that is a great achievement so soon after the end of the five-week course, Maria shared with me that she honestly believed everything in the class was helpful. “Learning about credit is so important, but many people do not have the resources or know where to go to learn about it,” she said. Everyone needs a helping hand now and then, and, like many others who have completed programs here at Bridges, Maria shared sentiments of gratitude for discovering resources in her community that could help her.
Maria explained that the Financial Management classes did not teach only lessons in finances, but also provided access to other resources in the community. She told me that her son was going to take the next class and described the class information as something he deserved to have access to.
I asked Maria if she took advantage of the $150.00 microloan offered at the end of the course to help rebuild credit. “Not only did I take it, but I just made my first payment!” she said smiling and doing a mini dance in her seat.
An extra insight that Maria learned was how important communication is when dealing with creditors. She said before she took the class, she had never called creditors or communicated with them verbally. If she couldn’t make a payment or if a payment was too high, then that was just the way it was. But, she emphasized that she learned how to talk to creditors. “If I had to give advice to anyone,” she said, “I would tell them not to avoid the creditors. Keep talking to them. As long as you communicate with them, things can be changed, or your credit may not be impacted as negatively as if you were to just avoid them.” She said that she still does not do this all the time, but she is definitely doing it more often than she would have in the past.
When asked about her dreams or goals for the future, Maria happily said that two of them were already in the works. Before taking the class, building and repairing her credit was a goal, and her credit has already improved since the end of the course. Another primary goal was buying a house, and after becoming a part of the HomeBuyers program, she is already well on her way to owning her first home. The only things left for Maria to achieve now are to bring her father into her home to live with her and to see her son learn more about credit so that he may start his adult life on the positive side of the credit score.
Join us as we create more opportunities for individuals like Maria to realize their hopes and dreams for themselves and for their families.
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