We’re celebrating one of our co-op participants, Joy, as she shares her life changing successes over the past 3 months. She started in April 2018 with $40,000 in debt payoff, in the red expenses each month, and seeking stability. During her participation she has received a total of $389.77 in food value. Each month she is saving an average of $120.00 in food value from our co-op grocery. This relief of food costs empowers her to redistribute her money towards specific goals established with her mentor Linda.
One specific goal she has achieved has been reducing her monthly expenses by $334. This was accomplished by receiving suggestions from HOGM staff and her mentor on how to reduce her cell phone expense and student loan payment.
After a few months she began to see the importance of cutting back current expenses, managing her income, and being part of a loving community. The knowledge and resources provided by mentors, HOGM staff and other co-op participants have encouraged her to be prudent, thoughtful, and to seek counsel before making financial decisions.
“Over the past year I have struggled with overwhelming feelings of abandonment, anxiety, and stress due to a separation. My debt to income ratio increased as what my husband used to help me with was not coming in anymore and our growing son’s needs were only increasing with each passing day. Unsure of what to do, really only relying on what I was familiar with, I turned to making ends meet with Credit Cards, but I felt like I was drowning in bills and bare necessities and my salary as a public school teacher just was not covering our monthly bills and expenses anymore. Carrying my son on my Healthcare was the biggest hit to my monthly expenses, and after my Husband left, I just couldn’t seem to keep my head above water.
But then, God answered my prayers.
A friend from church told me about Hope of Glory and encouraged me to apply to the co-op program. She forewarned me that I would need to be completely transparent in my finances, but in return I have grown so much in just a short time. It really is a life changing experience.
Although I still have work to do and goals to meet, I don’t feel like I am drowning.
In the past few months, just since March, I went from being in the red in excess of $400.00 a month. In essence I was spending over $400 dollars more a month than I was earning. Talk about sinking. With the help of my Hope of Glory family (Cat, Mandi, and my Mentor Ms. Linda) I have gotten rid of approximately $350.00 of spending a month. They were able to look at my monthly budget and advise me of key things to do to help me make personal goals to reduce my debt: where to “cut the fat”, specific questions to ask companies or collectors that I would not have otherwise known to ask… all increasing my knowledge and making me less naive and more aware of my options… there were things that I just flat out didn’t know I was overpaying for!!!
Although I still have work to do and goals to meet, I don’t feel like I am drowning. I feel as though my head is finally above water and for the first time in a long time the promised land is within my reach. More importantly, I feel thought about… and I can’t begin to describe how incredibly empowering and uplifting it is for that to simply be… the direct opposite to abandoned. The counter to forgotten.
God is teaching me that he has me. I can trust in Him.
Each time I am able to shop in the co-op, it saves me money to build up an emergency fund, pay down debt, and build up a savings account. I couldn’t have done that without Hope of Glory. My son and I wouldn’t have food in our pantry without their incredible ministry. I didn’t ask for what happened to me to happen. Never in my life would I have thought I would be in this place. I am a college educated woman with two degrees teaching in NC Public schools, and I never would have imagined that I would be living month to month worrying about how to pay my bills without the help of my husband.
BUT, (and this is a great BUT!) God is teaching me that he has me. I can trust in Him. He sent me to Hope of Glory, and he is radically transforming the way I see my income and has given me the tools through their ministry to get a handle on my debt. I may not have accrued the debt alone, but with their help I now feel capable of paying it off on my own! I feel like my son and I will make it.
The road ahead of me is unsure… I don’t know where the next year will take me… but I am sure that God is with me and that we will be victorious. Thank you Hope of Glory for lifting my perspective. Thank you for sharing your wisdom, equipping me with the tools needed to get my finances in order, and being there for me along the journey.”
I’ve been working with Joy just a few months and I can already see what a powerful impact the Co-Op Program has made in her life! While feeling loved in a safe environment, she is learning about affordable healthy foods, how to improve finances by setting goals and being accountable. Being a mentor is so rewarding in that I see the improvement in her life as I come alongside her with suggestions, ideas and biblical principles. Joy has learned to set smart goals and she works diligently to attain them! I have no doubt she will be a shining star and her story with be a blessing to others!
Mandi Stewart is in her fifth year as Executive Director at HOGM and deeply loves the three “J’s” in her life; Jesus, Jeremy (husband), Josiah (firstborn), and her precious daughter Faith. Secretly, she wants to be a professional golfer or boxer one day, but is surrendered to the call of serving our community and working with the amazing team at HOGM she calls family!