Our Daily Bread is excited to celebrate the graduations of our Matched Savings Program participants! Over the past year-and-a-half, Natasha Holmes, Miriam Elias, Priscilla Williams and Nikki Mack – all working single moms – have taken classes and worked with financial mentoring volunteers over the last year to develop and implement budgets that helped them save $500 toward a purchase that would help them improve their financial stability. Once they reached their savings goals, ODB matched their nest-egg, so they each had $1,000 to spend! Natasha, pictured on the right with her volunteer financial mentor Valda Brown, received her matched savings check on August 27, 2012.
ODB began its Matched Savings Program in May 2010 through a $2,500 grant from the Community Foundation for Northern Virginia and the help of Virginia Commerce Bank and Citigroup. We have been able to continue the Program through generous donations from the community, including members of the Adult Discipleship Class at Vienna Baptist Church and Financial Literacy Program volunteer Kristen Carter.
The program is designed to encourage savings and improve personal financial planning to help moderate- to low-income individuals build productive assets and self-sufficiency. Participants, with their mentor's guidance, choose a tangible goal to save for, such as a new (or used) car, rental security deposit, weatherizing their home, large home appliance or job training. Matching funds are provided to encourage saving and to help individuals build savings more quickly. To complete the program, participants must save $500 over a 12-month period, be continuously working with a volunteer financial mentor, and have taken Our Daily Bread's Basic Budgeting Class and developed a household budget and financial goals and action plans.
The Commonwealth of Virginia offers a program like this, but most Northern Virginia residents, though struggling to make ends meet, earn too much to qualify. ODB staff was excited to have the opportunity to bring this program to Fairfax County residents, and we hope to find the resources to expand it so that it will be available to more families in our community. We have three savers working toward graduation right now and are in the process of recruiting new participants.
Natasha began working with her financial mentor in April 2012 and received additional support from Our Daily Bread as she worked toward saving to buy a car. Though she reached her Matched Savings goal, she continues to work with Valda to build on her success and secure her family's financial future. Natasha said recently, "I have found that talking with Valda and having to have a financial plan makes me more accountable. My financial status has improved since I started this program and I now feel like I have some direction and some control over what I felt was an overwhelming, financial nightmare. I still have a long way to go to reach my goals but I am moving in the right direction."
Miriam has four children and works full-time for Fairfax County. Like many of our clients, she has been struggling to make ends meet due to the high cost of living in our area, the expense of raising kids on her own and credit card debt. Miriam used her Matched Savings funds to make major repairs to her car so she can get to work and transport her kids.
Priscilla is a working mom with a teenage daughter. She is using her Matched Savings funds to put a downpayment on a more affordable apartment so that it will be easier for them to live within their means.
Nikki has two children and went back to school at the age of 35 to earn a Dental Assistant certificate. She is using her Matched Savings funds to obtain a Virginia x-ray certificate to help her improve her earning power and also to purchase a reliable used car so she will be able to get to work.
Miriam said the Matched Savings Program is an "excellent program. It helped me so much. I'm treating my money with respect now that I know about tracking my spending and how to avoid debt."
ODB is proud of our Matched Savings Program graduates for their hard work and dedication, and we wish them every success in the future. We are also grateful to their Financial Mentors for volunteering their time to help the women achieve their goals.
And thanks to the Community Foundation for Northern Virginia and our supporters for making this program possible! Our Daily Bread needs Matched Savings Program sponsors so we can help more hardworking people like Miriam, Priscilla and Nikki! Contact Lisa Whetzel if your company or organization can help!