MANSFIELD, OH—Beat the winter blues by coming to a Beach Party at the Mall! Catholic Charities is hosting the 10th Annual National Consumer Resource Fair, Saturday, March 7, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Richland Mall, in Mansfield, OH.
Catholic Charities and participating organizations will provide free information on such topics as managing money and debt, protecting personal identification, wellness, and avoiding identify theft and scams.
“The purpose of National Consumer Protection Week is to educate consumers on how to make informed decisions when it comes to money and their financial affairs,” said Rebecca Owens, Regional Director for Mansfield Catholic Charities. “We continue to see many people being preyed upon by scams and identity theft while trying to meet their basic needs of food, shelter and medical needs.”
Over 20 organizations will participate in the Consumer Resource Fair, including the Ohio Attorney General’s Office, Ohio Consumers Council, Ohio Department of Commerce, Directions Credit Union, Richland Bank, GROhio Community Credit Union, Civista Bank, First Call-211, Adult Protective Services, local law enforcement, Mansfield City Schools Adult Education, and other social service agencies and financial institutions.
Catholic Charities has partnered with the Ohio Attorney General’s office for 10 years to participate in the annual National Consumer Protection Week to educate and empower the community. This year National Consumer Protection Week is being celebrated March 1-7, 2020.
“My mom was one of the first women realtors in the state of Ohio,” Janice explains as she shared her earliest memories of working with her mom in the Sandusky real estate business.
“I worked with my mom, and we shared her real estate company,” Janice reminisced. “I worked as a realtor for at least 25 years. I would list properties and do house viewings.”
Although she only worked part-time, Janice made enough money to provide a decent life for herself working at her mom’s company.
“The pay was average at that time. I was able to afford a car. I also managed one of my mom’s properties,” she says.
Janice was following in her mother’s path. But life soon took a different turn for the Sandusky native. Due to some bad choices, Janice lost almost everything and developed a brain disorder that left her with a mental illness and an inability to work.
“I really don’t have much of anything now, but I have God’s peace of mind,” adds Janice.
Since then, Janice supported herself with income provided by various government agencies, help from a court appointed guardian and food from various food pantries in town. Her budget and living expenses have left her financially limited and unable to plan for anything outside of her basic needs.
Janice went to Holy Angels Catholic Church for their food services when she received information about the Basic Budgeting Skills workshop offered by Catholic Charities in Sandusky.
“I wanted to go so I could stay educated and up-to-date on budgeting,” Janice says. Janice told a friend about the workshops, and they decided it was a good idea to go together.
Catholic Charities hosts the workshops monthly in Huron County but recently expanded the program to reach more people.
“We started the Basic Budgeting Skills workshop in Sandusky as a way to raise awareness about Catholic Charities and to assess the needs in Erie County,” says Rodney Schuster, Catholic Charities Executive Director.
The Basic Budgeting Skills workshop teaches clients how to manage a limited income by creating a savings and budgeting plan.
“It helped me to stretch my money out and save,” says Janice. “One thing I learned was to make sure that my priorities are put first. I also learned to put money aside every time that I get paid. They even gave us a calculator to use at the grocery store.”
Janice considers saving money to one day own a car, but for now, she is focused on saving for emergencies and joining local donors to help others in her community.
Janice has also managed to tithe to her church and give back to local organizations that have helped her over the years.
“I guess it’s like a pay back to pay forward. God has been so good to me that it is easier to be good to others.”
She thanks the supporters of Catholic Charities for making this possible.
“Thank you for supporting programs to help people who are trying to better themselves,” she says. “We are really striving to be better.”
When Marie lost her job in March, she quickly fell behind in her rent and was evicted from her residence. She began looking for resources to help settle her past due rent and other needs.
“I called United Way’s 211 service line for food and rent assistance. That’s when they directed me to Catholic Charities.”
“When she called us, she was staying with relatives and looking for housing,” says Brian Rome, Family Support and Guidance Coordinator.
Each month, Catholic Charities’ Family Support and Guidance receives over 100 calls from Lucas County families in need of rent assistance. In 2013, Catholic Charities was able to help just a fourth of those callers through distribution of government funding.
Brian knew there had to be a different way to help more people.
“We needed to be more proactive in addressing the eviction problem in Toledo,” says Brian, noting 70% of callers are in the first three months of their lease.
From that observation, Catholic Charities developed the Tenant Readiness program with the help of the Toledo Community Foundation.
“Tenant Readiness works with individuals and families who are looking for housing. We want to make sure they are in a position to afford their housing and maintain it,” Brian says.
Understanding Financial Diligence
Clients meet monthly with Brian to evaluate progress on goals and learn to maintain the responsibilities of a lease agreement. Clients of the Tenant Readiness program are also required to attend a “Managing with Diligence” two-day workshop.
The workshop teaches clients how to become financially stable by managing income and staying current on rent.
“I thought I was saving money and that my methods of saving were ok,” Marie said. “But the way Brian explained it, you have to put money aside for certain situations.”
“Being that I am still unemployed, the little money that I do receive … I put aside. It’s only a little bit, but at least I am saving. That is something I would never have done had I not attended those classes.”
“She had enough unemployment assistance to build a financial cover for herself,” Brian explains. “We sat down and helped her with a budget projection of what she would need to cover her bills and rent.”
With the help from Catholic Charities, Marie is back in her own apartment while she searches for a new job, saves for future emergency situations and plans long-term financial goals.
“Catholic Charities helped me out a lot, and now I am back on track. I am no longer behind on my rent.”
Staying on Track
For Marie, the program helps her to think more about her financial future and prepare for the unexpected.
“You don’t think about this when you’re working,” she states. “You just don’t think you’re going to get let go from your job. But if it does happen and you have set enough money aside for those situations, you will be fine.”
Marie thanks all of the donors who helped make the program possible.
“Those classes are very helpful for someone who wants to do better. Please keep the program going.”
Below is a letter from former client, Nicolle Kelley, expressing gratitude for the help she received to bring financial stability to her family.
Nicolle was a client of the Community Emergency Services offered at Catholic Charities in Norwalk. In addition to providing emergency rent assistance, the program includes a workshop to teach clients about budgeting, identity theft, credit reporting and other useful information to help in making informed decisions about financial issues.
Since attending the workshop, Nicolle has changed her shopping habits, moved into a more affordable house, started volunteering and attends church weekly.
Thanks to you – our donors – we are able to make programs like this possible.
Our family is very thankful and grateful that we were able to receive the assistance that you all so kindly helped us with in our time of need. Marla was the woman that helped us and was wonderful. We thank you all for your help, and the class I took in budgeting helped us tremendously.
So far with what I have learned by coming here, I have actually been able to budget shop and save a little bit of money for extras or emergencies. Thank you all very much and God bless every one of you…
I honestly believe that having needed help and coming to Catholic Charities and being treated with nothing but respect, kindness, and caring, and getting the help we needed, has helped me and my family in more ways than with just the rental assistance.
I feel as if I am a better person inside and out since coming to your facility. We have been able to budget a great deal better than we had before, and it opened us to attending church regularly again, which we are very excited about.
I am just trying to express how thankful and grateful we are knowing that there are good organizations and people left in today’s society …
Thank you all so much! I have learned a lot from this program and am very grateful that it is out there for people in need. I believe this is an excellent program that you have, God bless each and every one of you. I wanted to express to you how much you have helped our family and how we are so grateful for it. It opened my eyes and my heart and now I am doing volunteer work to help out others in need!
God bless and thank you,