Hope and power for personal finances

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Salvation Army offers financial management classes.

by Stacy Howard –

The Salvation Army in Seattle, along with support from the Jennifer Beach Foundation, will soon offer a financial management class for domestic violence survivors. The 10-week course, entitled “Hope and Power for your Personal Finances,” begins March 17, 2009 and meets each Tuesday through May. The Salvation Army will provide transportation assistance in the form of gas vouchers or bus passes and onsite childcare.

Economic abuse is one of the biggest tools abusers use to control their victims. Abusers’ tactics include refusing to let a woman work outside the home, not letting her have any control or access to the family finances, not allowing her to have a checkbook or credit card and telling her she is “stupid” and “can’t be trusted” with money. Other abusers take survivors’ benefits, incur debt in the survivors’ names, damage their credit ratings, write bad checks on their bank accounts, cause them to be evicted and interfere with their ability to work by harassing them at the workplace. A woman who is financially dependent on her abuser finds it doubly hard to leave the relationship.

Currently, more than a dozen women are enrolled in the course; The Salvation Army hopes to build the attendance if more classes are added in the future. These classes are not free of charge, but the Jennifer Beach Foundation is covering expenses for this first course. In order for The Salvation Army to continue offering the course, additional funding will be necessary.

The Salvation Army’s short-term expectation is that approximately 80 percent of the women will gain knowledge and skills to manage their own finances, create a budget and set short and long-term goals. Four of the participants will participate in a secured credit card plan; those who qualify will receive a credit card with $150 limit, which they can use, with the Jennifer Beach Foundation as the cardholder, to build up good credit. If the woman manages her credit well, the card will then be turned over to her. The class will also help participants re-build their self-esteem and independence.

The Jennifer Beach Foundation’s mission is to reduce the occurrence of child abuse and neglect. As a child, Jennifer Beach showed empathy to a classmate who experienced abuse. In high school, Jennifer died in a car accident. To honor her memory, her father, Keith Beach, started the foundation to support domestic violence survivors. Beach comes from a corporate background and is experienced in finance. He has designed the Hope and Power for your Personal Finances curriculum based on other effective programs throughout the nation. Now, together with The Salvation Army, survivors will have more of a chance to be safe and financially sound.

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