Providing Peace of Mind
Gloria*, from Philipsburg, knew she needed help with her finances. “I couldn’t manage my own money,” she says. “When I would get money, I would spend it.”
She was referred to Interfaith Human Services (IHS) and its Money Management Program, which provides people in need with one-on-one money management assistance by a financial care case manager. IHS created the program in 2007, when it became evident that many people in Centre County were struggling through the recession and needed help managing their money. Since then, the program has helped between 50 and 70 people annually, many of whom have an intellectual disability or a diagnosed mental health condition.
At first, Gloria was hesitant to contact IHS about the program. Eventually, she made the call and is glad that she did. Gloria met with a case manager a few times and now reports that, “I have not had any kind of anxiety or stress over money. I don’t fight about money with anybody. I feel great.”
Gloria has recommended the program to others who are struggling financially. Her 16-year-old son has started meeting with the case manager, so that he can get a good start on personal money management.
“…they’re just really grateful that someone is able to help them take the stress away.”
Kathy and Henry Weaver have also experienced great relief and peace of mind through the assistance of their financial care case manager, Judy Kennedy. When their family finances became too overwhelming, Kathy and Henry turned to IHS and Kennedy worked with them to become financially stable. “We’ve had people in this program tell us that they’re just really grateful that someone is able to help them take the stress away,” says Wendy Vinhage, Executive Director at IHS.
Some people come directly to IHS, while others are referred by the Social Security Administration, which sends payments to qualified “representative payees.” IHS serves as a representative payee for many clients who have no one else to trust with their finances. These clients rely on IHS case workers, who proactively place check-in calls to ensure that the heat is on during the winter and that the rent is paid to keep the fear of eviction at bay.
Meetings often take place at the IHS State College office or in Bellefonte, where case managers travel to serve clients in the area. Travel costs and time constraints made getting out to Philipsburg more difficult. However, IHS knew that there were people in Philipsburg – like Gloria – who desperately needed this service. So, IHS applied for a grant from Centre Foundation’s Giving Circle. The Giving Circle is a group of community members who pool their resources to make project-based grants. “It’s an amazing opportunity to get in front of a room of all these philanthropists and explain to them, ‘this is a problem in our county’ and make them aware of it,” Vinhage says of the Giving Circle.
In August 2016, Centre Foundation’s Giving Circle members voted to award their $10,000 grant to IHS, expanding the financial care program to Philipsburg. Case managers began going to Philipsburg on a monthly basis in January, then bi-monthly in April, meeting clients at the Moshannon Valley YMCA.
“If we can reach those people and make it easy for them to get that basic financial education, then they’re going to be less reliant on other limited non-profit resources,” explains Vinhage. Clients will have more money available to pay for rent, groceries, utilities, transportation, medical care, and other needs, Vinhage adds. Gloria says being able to meet with a case worker in Philipsburg, where she lives, is “absolutely” a big help.
Centre Foundation is home to an endowment fund, the Interfaith Human Services Fund, which provides a grant to the organization each year. The non-profit also participates in the online granting program, Centre Gives, raising $12,950 through it in 2016 and $16,135 in 2017. Grant money that went to IHS through Centre Gives, the Giving Circle, endowment funds, and donor-advised fund grants totaled $24,762 in 2016.
*Gloria’s name is changed for privacy.