Graduating From Poverty

Courtney WaggleUncategorized

Timitheo took the Hacia Adelante class in the spring of 2021 and it gave him the courage to create a study group for the Naturalization Test to become US citizen. He saved up the $1,200 fee, took the test in April of 2021, and passed it. And now two others that were in the class with him who witnessed this are going to take the test this fall. We celebrated Timitheo’s accomplishment at our Bridges Graduation ceremony in May.

Maria hadn’t opened her mail in 7 years, especially bank statements. She had an “If I want it, I deserve it, and I should buy it” mindset. She said “I have always been like this and will never change.” After taking the Money Matters 101 class, she learned that future planning is more important than immediate gratification. After the second night of class, she spent the next week opening all of her mail and saw many fees that she had been charged that could have been avoided or contested had she known about them. Three years earlier she had purchased airline tickets to see her family in California and realized the airline charged her $50 extra per ticket for an upgrade to First Class, but she didn’t fly first class! She had no idea what she was charged. Now Maria has a solid budget, has paid off her credit cards and her car, and saves her money. She is teaching her family to use a shopping list and sticking to it. She is very grateful for the classes we offer.

Jennifer is a felon and a recovering addict, during the class her future story included opening her own halfway house someday. After taking all of our classes, she started her own non-profit organization for her halfway house called Diamonds in the Rough. Over 50 women have gone through her program at her three locations. She recommends the Bridges Getting Ahead classes to all of her residents. She is also now the manager at a local hotel and often hires Bridges graduates who are struggling.

Chris Jones is a “Bridges kid” who saved his money to buy a car after graduation. He received a Choir scholarship to go to college in Mississippi, but his car got stolen right in front of him. A fake tow truck stole his car! His friends raised money on FB to help him get a car before he left for school the next weekend. Muskogee Bridges, Advantage AutoWorks, and Mabrey Bank helped him get that car! The bank gave him a small car loan, put his raised funds in a savings account to be drafted on time every month to make the car payment and will report to the credit agencies upon pay off helping him begin his credit history. Truly a blessing in disguise because this was a way better car than he had.

Our program offers continued support for these families long after graduation. Creating a family culture and encouraging our graduates to help each other is important to the success of our program and each family.