Shared success moments of glee
Amy Williamson, Program Officer, Financial Stability Community Impact
My mother did a great job raising me in the vast majority of ways, but one area in which her parental advising turned out to be not so helpful was regarding finances.
One week into my first post-college job, my old Toyota Corolla gave up the ghost while I was driving home from work. With 500 miles between me and my parents, and with most of my close friends having moved away for other opportunities, I had to brave the car dealership on my own.
“Just tell them you’re not going to pay more than $150 per month!” was my mom’s sole piece of advice.
Six years later, I had somehow stumbled into work that involved me facilitating financial learning groups. I had given myself a crash course in smart money approaches, and so when I finally paid off that car and looked at the original contract to find out that I had been paying 18.99 percent interest, I was horrified.
I loved how much my work was helping me get my own financial life in order at the same time I was helping others to do the same. There were so many little moments of triumph that I shared with the group participants. The woman who finally looked at the interest rate section of her credit card bill and successfully called the company to negotiate it down lower, so that she’d have hope of paying off her balance in a reasonable amount of time. Another who finally saved up enough to get a reliable vehicle for work. A third who used her savings to buy equipment for her new manicurist business. Me buying my first home at the same time that some of my participants were doing the same. And on and on.
Three months into my new role as Program Officer for Financial Stability at our United Way, I’m now getting to go out and do site visits with staff at our funded partner organizations, and I’m absolutely loving hearing about them all having these same kind of shared success moments of glee.
It’s such a thrill to be in a position to be able to support others who are doing this good work. The more I learn about their approaches, the more potential I see for collaboration and impact at a greater scale. All those little sparks are gathering, and we’re blazing a trail toward improved financial health for our households, our neighborhoods, and our region as a whole.