Ana R. is a single mother of three girls ages 16, 12, and 7. She joined Level Up with the goal of reducing her credit card debt. While in an abusive relationship, she accumulated $8,000 in debt on 10 credit cards. She bravely left the relationship and moved to a domestic violence shelter.
Ana approached a local bank for a debt consolidation loan, but they were unable to approve her application. Fortunately, her banker had learned about the Level Up program during a United Way Campaign presentation. She told Ana about the program.
United Way met her where she was.
Debt was only one of Ana’s challenges. Although she had a steady job in a local hospital, she needed a plan to get out of debt and find permanent housing.
United Way is her accountability partner.
The Level Up Family Career Navigator, Talisa Rogers-Hall, encouraged Ana to listen to financial podcasts from Dave Ramsey and Suze Orman. Talisa suggested using the snowball technique to pay off high interest/low balance credit cards first. As Ana paid off each balance she applied that payment to the next credit card. Finally, in February 2020, Ana paid off her debt using her income tax refund. Ana began budgeting, which she had never learned before.
United Way is her advocate.
With her debt clear, Ana and her daughters could move on to their next goal: finding a stable place to live. Ana had been working with a local homeless prevention organization to find affordable housing in East Chicago. Sometimes her caseworker didn’t respond to her messages, and she was in danger of losing a housing voucher because of the communication problem. She was frustrated and downhearted. Without support from Level Up and advocacy on her behalf from United Way staff, Ana would have given up. Ana moved into her apartment in April 2020.
United Way connects her to resources.
Encouraged by her success in the program and inspired by other participants, Ana’s next goals are to save enough for a down payment on a home and find a better paying job. During a Level Up monthly meeting, we invited Northwest Indiana Community Action representatives to explain the Individual Development Account program. IDA’s match a person’s savings $3 to $1 up to $6,000. Ana enrolled, and she is participating in home ownership classes. Ana is using the financial support of WorkOne to pay for a medical coding class, which will help her earn a better income. The class instructor has been able to shepherd Ana through the WorkOne system, and Ana begins class on June 2.
You can help Ana continue on her journey by supporting Lake Area United Way’s work to help ALICE families in Lake County move towards financial stability and self-sufficiency.