United Way for Greater Austin recently launched a new initiative within our Financial Stability work called CommunityTHRIVE. CommunityTHRIVE provides financial education classes, coaching and community resources in partnership with the City of Austin Neighborhood Centers and Goodwill.
Connie is an engaged community member at the Rosewood-Zaragosa Neighborhood Center who participated in the first CommunityTHRIVE class series we just wrapped up. She also volunteers at R-Z food distributions and serves on the advisory board at the Conley-Guerrero Senior Activity Center next door, advocating for programs and trips for her peers. She is a recent retiree adjusting to living on a fixed income, adding new financial difficulties to her life.
CommunityTHRIVE is a four class series on budgets, debt, credit and saving open to community members at the City of Austin’s Rosewood-Zaragosa Neighborhood Center. Participants are also supported with one-0n-one financial coaching and incentives from the food bank for participation.
In partnership with the Capital Area Food Bank, we are able to offer participants completing the CommunityTHRIVE classes a “food scholarship.” Participants earn a certificate in class which they can redeem for an extra basket of fresh food at several local pantries. We asked Connie about her experience in the CommunityTHRIVE classes.
What was your experience like with CommunityTHRIVE? What did you learn?
“It was a positive experience overall. It gave me a lot of validation. I got lots of tips on how what I’m doing could work better.”
Connie really liked the handouts she received in the class, including sample budget sheets, how to compare wants versus needs, and suggestions of websites and apps for budgeting and money management. She uses the budget form to track spending and identify opportunities for saving.
How has CommunityTHRIVE helped you?
“It’s made it easier to make a transition to retirement from one budget to another.” Connie recently retired and now has to adjust to living on a fixed income.
How has the food scholarship program helped you?
Connie received three certificates since starting to participate in the program, and she says it’s helped a lot. “It really helps to not focus so much on getting fed and frees up money to pay for medicine.” Last month Connie was able to buy three months worth of a medication for $500 at one time, instead of paying for the more expensive month-to-month prescription that she usually has to buy since her monthly budget is so tight.
Connie realized after the class on saving how much she would save in the long run by buying her medicine in bulk. It has motivated her to do more saving so she can continue to purchase a three-month supply of medicine at a time. Even though she has completed one series of classes, she wants to continue attending future classes because she says there is still much more to learn.