Mom of 6 regains control of finances through Goodwill program
Cassie came to the Financial Wellness Center at the Fox Valley Technical College Riverside Campus in Oshkosh in 2017 for a referral after her financial aid was suspended.
During that initial meeting at the Financial Wellness Center, Nikki Dahlke, then satellite team leader, determined that Cassie was being garnished for defaulted student loans and had some older debt she didn’t know how to handle.
A single mom with six children, Cassie explained how she had wanted to return to school so she could earn a higher wage and try to get ahead of her bills instead of always feeling behind.
The Financial Wellness Center sees students’ struggles, hardships and hopes for a better future.
Financial Information and Service Center, a program of Goodwill Industries of North Central Wisconsin, opened the Financial Wellness Center in fall 2016. FISC coaches counsel students experiencing financial emergencies, with the goal of lessening their debt and financial strain long term, and coach them toward self-sufficiency.
It’s the third Financial Wellness Center FISC has implemented with its technical college partners. The first FWC was initiated at the Appleton FVTC campus in 2011, followed by one at the Northeast Wisconsin Technical College campus in Green Bay in 2012.
Together, Nikki and Cassie worked on a budget and sent in a form to stop the garnishment so she could get that money back in her paychecks. Cassie was advised to rehabilitate her student loans and established an income-based repayment plan option. This brought her student loans current and in good standing again, allowing her to receive financial aid again to return to school.
Cassie began working on a medical assistant technical diploma at FVTC in fall 2017. She was put on financial aid suspension halfway through after not passing a class.
“Instead of giving up, she paid out of pocket for two semesters by budgeting her tax return,” Nikki said. “She successfully completed the degree and graduated from FVTC in December 2018 all while working part time, getting involved with student organizations on campus and being a hands-on mom to her children. Cassie had to drop her hours at work to keep up with the demands of her classes, but with careful budgeting on her own she was able to make it work by using her tax refund throughout the entire year. Her wages with this degree will increase from $12 to $16-$18 an hour range.”
Cassie expressed that her dream always has been to buy a Habitat for Humanity home for her kids to grow up in. With help from the Financial Wellness Center, Cassie is currently working on building up her credit and recently met with Habitat for Humanity of Oshkosh to discuss the potential of becoming a homeowner in 2020 or 2021.
“Without the Financial Wellness Center, I’m not sure where I would be,” Cassie said.
Cassie’s motivation and determination to regain control of her finances have paid off. She has paid all her bills on time for nearly two years, is debt free and has raised her income while showing her family to never give up on your hopes and dreams.
“Looking back, I am overwhelmed at all that I have accomplished,” Cassie said. “The Financial Wellness Center is hands down the best service, and I wish everyone would use it.”
About Goodwill: Goodwill NCW is a not-for-profit human services organization that believes in Elevating People by Eliminating Barriers to Employment across 35 counties in north central Wisconsin. Goodwill NCW is one of four companies in the nation to be honored with a Platinum Well Workplace Award from the Wellness Council of America, which recognizes our commitment to wellness in the workplace. The organization includes 27 retail stores and training centers in communities from Manitowoc to La Crosse, 24 human services programs, a unique shopping experience at its Appleton outlet store, plus online shopping at www.reStitch.com, a women’s apparel website, and www.shopgoodwill.com. It offers four Donation Express sites and 10 convenient donation bins throughout the Fox Cities. Goodwill NCW is a Platinum Level member of GuideStar.org, the world’s largest source of nonprofit organization information. Visit www.goodwillncw.org.