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Money Matter$
December 18
00:00 2012

Financial management program aims to make clients less dependent

There was a time when money wasn’t an issue for city native Marvin “Skip” Skipworth.

[pullquote]“When I was working, I had money. I didn’t think about saving nothing,” said the 61 year-old. “The money was basically endless.”[/pullquote]He landed a minimum wage job as a chef  in a California hotel and little by little worked his way up the corporate ladder.  His hourly wages followed suit, rising from a modest $5.50 per hour to more than $45 over the course of his 16-year career. Skipworth, a Parkland alumnus, admits that he was a little careless with his cash flow.

“When I was working, I had money. I didn’t think about saving nothing,” said the 61 year-old. “The money was basically endless.”

The backsliding economy hit the hospitality industry hard, and before he knew it, Skipworth went from a comfortable living to the unemployment line. Then his wife passed away, and Skipworth lost what little financial security he had left. His monthly income plummeted to about 10 percent of what he had earned at the peak of his career.

“I wasn’t used to living on that meager of an income, so I had to learn to stretch,” related the father of two.

Skipworth left his beloved California behind and headed home to North Carolina to be closer to his parents and take advantage of the lower cost of living. It still isn’t easy living off of a fraction of his onetime salary, but Skipworth said he is learning to make it work with the help of programs like Crisis Control Ministry’s Breaking the Cycle, a six month financial literacy and money management program he recently completed.

Through weekly workshops and independent study, Skipworth and his classmates learned how to make every dollar count, through spending wisely, budgeting and setting something aside for emergencies. Skipworth and three others were feted last week at Crisis Control’s Winston-Salem headquarters for graduating from the agency’s first-ever Breaking the Cycle class. Though the program was formed in 2007 to help clients become more financially solvent so that they would be less dependent on agencies like Crisis Control, Executive Director Margaret Elliott said the program did not initially garner the success that the agency had hoped for.

The revamped Breaking the Cycle is based on a seven-step program from Financial Peace University and requires participants to create an emergency savings fund, which is offered through a partnership with Truliant Federal Credit Union. Crisis Control matched each participant’s contribution to the account dollar-for-dollar. The program is one of several instances statewide where the credit union has partnered with a community agency to help underserved populations reap benefits of belonging to a financial institution, said Truliant Director of Community Services Marjorie Rorie.

Truliant’s Marjorie Rorie (third from the left) poses with Program Manager Bailey Dempsey (third from the right) and BTC graduates (from left): Marvin “Skip” Skipworth, Jo Coltrane, Andria “Nell” Reid and Wiley Vanderburg

Truliant’s Marjorie Rorie (third from the left) poses with Program Manager Bailey Dempsey (third from the right) and BTC graduates (from left): Marvin “Skip” Skipworth, Jo Coltrane, Andria “Nell” Reid and Wiley Vanderburg

Elliott says the newly-tweaked Breaking the Cycle program is taking off.

“I think we’ve finally found a great way, an incentive to get people to participate by helping to set up the savings accounts,” she remarked. “We’re thankful that it’s helping these families to save money so that they don’t have to turn to social service agencies, and that’s the whole point.”

Breaking the Cycle Program Manager Bailey Dempsey spearheaded the creation of the new format after witnessing the power of good money management skills in her own life.

“I had attended Financial Peace University (a Biblical-based plan designed by financial guru Dave Ramsey) at a local church here in town and it really revolutionized how I thought about money,” said Dempsey, a former Crisis Control volunteer. “I thought it would be a great thing to share with the clients here.”

Breaking the Cycle graduate Jo Coltrane said the program, which included 21 online lessons and three hands-on seminars, has made a difference.

“I never could handle my finances. I wasn’t doing it right. I was always wondering where the money went,” admitted the Asheboro native. “…(Now) I’m not running everywhere trying to borrow money or get help as far as paying for groceries and stuff. It feels good.”

[pullquote]“It’ll help me save for things that I want, like I need a new car now,” related the great-grandmother of three. “I need to start over and really buckle down and take better care of my money.”[/pullquote]City native Ciesta Wall started the program this year, but said she needed a little more time to master the concepts, so she has enrolled in the next class, which is set to start in January. Wall, who has been on disability since suffering a stroke in 2005, said she chose to re-enroll because she believes the knowledge she will gain through the class will serve her well in the future.

“It’ll help me save for things that I want, like I need a new car now,” related the great-grandmother of three. “I need to start over and really buckle down and take better care of my money.”

Even though she still has a ways to go, Wall said being a part of Breaking the Cycle has been a source of pride for her.

“It makes you feel good about yourself to know that you’re doing something to help yourself,” she declared. “I was proud to tell my kids I’m going to class.”

Breaking the Cycle is open only to Crisis Control clients who meet certain eligibility requirements. For more information, visit  www.crisiscontrol.org or call 336-724-7875.

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Layla Garms

Layla Garms

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