By Maureen Smith
JACKSON – On Tuesday, April 24, Catholic Charities of Jackson and Catholic Charities USA (CCUSA) offered a unique training at Grenada St. Peter Parish with Bobbie Lison of Catholic Charities in Green Bay, Wis. Lison is a national trainer for “Your Money, Your Goals,” (YMYG) a set of financial empowerment tools. The idea is to give some specific problem-solving resources to just about anyone who works with people in need, especially social workers and case workers.
“This program is not meant to turn people into certified financial health counselors, but to provide them with tools and resources,” said Lison. “Say you are a mental health counselor and you can tell a client is stressed. When you ask why, they tell you payday lenders are calling and calling and they don’t know what to do. You can dip into these materials to find what you need to help,” she said.
Danna Johnson, who runs the Catholic Charities Office in Vardaman went to a training in YMYG a couple years ago and has been using the lessons with her clients.
Daughter of Charity Sister Mary Walz works at the Lexington Medical Clinic as a social worker. This may not seem like the kind of place to offer financial advice, but she says YMYG is an amazing resource for her. “I thought I was going to get a specific curriculum to follow, but this is better, because no matter what setting you are in, you can use this workbook to tailor your response.” she said. Sister Walz explained that when people come to the clinic she tries to spend a few minutes with them before their appointment with medical staff. She asks what their top stressors are. Many times the answer is money. “Finances can affect you – including a worry that you won’t be able to pay your clinic bill.”
Rather than try to steer her clients into a class, she can get specific information about their challenge and she and the client can tackle it together. “This program has modules to address different things, savings, repairing your credit, things like that,” she explained. One workbook asks clients to list all their bills and when they are due along with income. Seeing the information on paper can help people prioritize what to pay first, what resources may be available for shortfalls and it may help them see ways they can better manage their money. “This is very practical in helping someone line up their wants and needs. It is done in a very user-friendly model and is sensitive to the reality of people struggling with finances,” said Sister Walz. She said some clinic staff members want to go through the exercise for themselves.
The Consumer Federal Protection Bureau (CFPB) created Your Money Your Goals and partnered with Catholic Charities USA and other community service organizations to get it up and running across the country. CCUSA has three trainers who travel the country offering workshops like this one, usually for Catholic Charities staff members. At the Grenada training, other organizations were invited, including the president of the St. Vincent de Paul conference in Jackson, a representative of CHANGE Amory and someone from Canopy Children’s Solutions in Tupelo. “This gave us an opportunity to network because it brought together people from the Delta and North Mississippi who are in ministry who wouldn’t normally know one another,” said Dorothy Balser, coordinator for Parish Social Ministry for Catholic Charities of Jackson.
Each participant got a binder full of modules with lessons and exercises they can use with their clients, but the CFPB offers even more material on its website. Some material can be downloaded or ordered from the agency. To see the material go to www.consumerfinance.gov and search for Your Money, Your Goals.
By Maureen Smith