Portland, Ore., Aug 22, 2018 / 23:34 pm
Catholic Charities Oregon is hoping to expand a program that offers financial classes and coaching for low-income workers in the state.
The Save First Financial Wellness program is part of the Family Success Center, run by Catholic Charities Oregon.
Molly O’Donnell, director of the Family Success Center, told CNA that the goal is not merely to provide temporary assistance, but to give people the tools they need to achieve financial independence.
“It really grew out of our work for those coming with rent and utility assistance, and realizing that that’s not enough to give them that Band-Aid, but if you really want to help a person you want to give them some tools and help move them up the economic latter.”
O’Donnell’s team administers an employee aid program for Providence Health and Services, which is Oregon’s largest private employer. Through the program, they offer financial assistance to low-income workers, helping them maintain housing, pay bills, and balance finances and saving.
The team hopes to expand to other businesses in the coming months, particularly in rural areas. The fees they collect for administering the employee aid programs are used to offer financial help to other clients who come through their doors – who may be homeless, pregnant, recently released from jail, or financially uneducated.
O’Donnell emphasized that the fees from contracting with employers are what allow the model to become sustainable, and to then “serve those people who that cannot afford the service.”
Clients who come to the Save First Financial Wellness program begin with an individualized assessment, which helps identify underlying needs and challenges. These may include wage garnishment, mental health issues, domestic violence, identity theft and immigration status.