March 02, 2020
“I spent money as I had it and never worried about saving it,” said Henry Benner of his working days.
Now in his 60s, with no ability to drive and limited mobility due to medical issues, Henry was struggling. Money was the only thing going out and there never seemed to be enough to meet the bills. His home was in disrepair and lacked appropriate heating, while calls from utility companies threatening to cut service were a constant source of anxiety and aggravated his poor health.
Henry knew that there were options for support, but with limited education and lingering effects from an old head injury, he found the paperwork overwhelming. He just needed a helping hand.
That helping hand came in the form of financial capability advisor from CEI. As a member of a resident-owned community in Pemaquid (a community-owned and managed manufactured home park), Henry was eligible for CEI’s financial wellness program, a one-on-one service that partnered Henry with Mechelle Given, a certified financial advisor who met with Henry at his home to work to resolve both immediate issues and provide tools to build habits for sustainable, long term economic stability.
CEI identified a number of local resources that could help improve Henry’s quality of life and his financial stability. But CEI’s support didn’t stop with a list of phone numbers, Mechelle scheduled appointments, helped Henry complete paperwork, mailed forms and followed up with organizations as needed until results were clear:
An overdue electric bill was paid off and communications with the Public Utilities Commission ended the threatening calls.
Habitat for Humanity stepped in to repair a broken bathroom floor, update lighting, and provide weatherization.
The local Community Action Program (CAP) office qualified Henry for heating and electric assistance and MaineHousing’s Central Heating Improvement Program (CHIP) installed an adequate heating system.
At the time Mechelle began working with Henry, CEI was unable to offer a ROC-resident matched savings program, since his current income and expenses would have made it a burden for him to save. With the new resources reducing his monthly expenses, Henry no longer needed to rely on a food pantry and was able to put $800 of his own money, no match needed, into savings.
Of Mechelle and CEI’s financial wellness program, Henry said: “It’s changed a lot of things for me. She’s been a godsend, a guardian angel.”
No-Cost Financial Wellness Counseling for ROC Residents
As part of our mission to build more broadly shared prosperity, CEI has developed a financial wellness program specifically for members of Maine’s Resident-Owned Communities. This no-cost, confidential, in-depth service is designed to meet you where you are and get you where you want to be.
Counseling sessions are scheduled at your home or location of your choice at a time convenient for you and your family. A certified financial wellness coach will help you identify financial goals and develop a plan to meet them. Need extra help? We can help you access resources and programs to reduce costs, make needed repairs/improvements, and meet basic needs.
CEI’s financial wellness coaches are certified by the Financial Counseling Association of America (FCAA). To learn more about this programming visit: https://www.ceimaine.org/advising/housing/housing-counseling/financial-wellness-program/