When my husband and I volunteered as budget counselors at Hillcrest Platte County, we had no idea how much we would get back from the residents.
Gaining Wisdom from Experienced Counselors
As graduates of Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace program, we felt confident we could help the transitional housing residents with budgets. During the training session provided by Hillcrest, experienced budget counselors shared their stories of working with residents. These stories told how we would be doing more than balancing numbers. We would be impacting lives.
Over the years, we worked with married couples, single women, single mothers, and single dads. Each had their own set of circumstances that led them to seek assistance. Each resident had a story.
Listening and Making Connections
We learned the best way to help was listening to their story. And, if they were reluctant to share, we waited until they were ready.
Once a week we met with our assigned resident to review their budget, checking receipts, bank balances and cash. We heard about issues at work or with their transportation. We learned about their children and how they were managing. And, of course, we reviewed their budget and receipts. Often, the budget didn’t balance. Something was off somewhere. Those were the times we talked more. Asking if a receipt was missing or if some of their cash wasn’t included.
We could see their confidence grow as they worked through the program and we shared their joy when the numbers added up.
Opportunities to Give More
We never gave the residents money. But, we did take a single mother out to dinner for our last meeting, in celebration of her upcoming graduation.
If needed, we provided rides to the bank for residents without transportation.
When a resident graduated from the transitional housing program and needed help moving to her new apartment, we sent out a request to our church for volunteers to help. Several men showed up and were able to share in the joy of seeing her excitement.
In the summer, we often shared fresh vegetables from our garden, bringing them to the budget meeting.
What we got from the residents was more than we gave. We walked with them as they paid off debt, learned how to plan meals and shop from the housing food pantry. It was our pleasure to share in their joy as they neared graduation and prepared for their future.
We stayed in contact with a couple of graduates for a while, understanding they would eventually move on. And we prayed for them and their continued success.
About the Author:
The author is Peggy Staver, former budget counselor for HPC. Peggy blogs at her personal site, where this blog was originally published on https://www.peggystaver.com/blog-choose-this-day/.
Click this link if you would like to learn more about Hillcrest Platte County’s transitional housing program.