20November

A Ways to Work Success Story

A Ways to Work Success Story


Imagine your life without a car. Imagine that, starting tomorrow, you are a single parent, a recent college grad or a mature worker who has to find another way to get to work. What if public transportation isn’t an option? Suppose you are at work – after a two-hour bus ride – and the school calls to say you need to come and get your child because of illness. How would you get to a medical facility?

This scenario is an unfortunate reality for tens of thousands of families here in Atlanta struggling to get by without reliable transportation. In metro Atlanta, 65.3 percent of the population is in the labor force, and many in our communities ride a bus, multiple buses or a train as well as multiple buses to get to and from work. According to the Census Bureau’s 2008 American Community Survey, 13.8 percent of Atlantans use public transportation, with 25 - to 44-year-olds as the largest user group and most living at or below the poverty level. Sadly, reduced public transportation—with some counties not even offering bus services—disproportionately affects low-income and other already vulnerable populations.

Now consider Amy and Darren Bryant, parents of five beautiful children. The family resides in the Alpharetta/Cummings area where public transportation is not provided. Before the market crashed, both parents were self-employed as real estate investors and developers. With the crash, they lost everything.  Slowly rebuilding their lives, they have now opened a commercial and residential landscaping business. While the business is reported to be doing well, the Bryants’ credit rating was negatively impacted in the economic downturn. The only lenders that would extend credit were predatory lenders such as the “buy-here-pay-here” car lots.

JF&CS launched its Ways to Work (WtW) program in April 2011 to provide working families with weak or insufficient credit, like the Bryants, with small affordable auto loans and help along the path to self-sufficiency. The loans provided are typically used to purchase an auto that can help the participant access jobs, job training, education and services for themselves and their children. The loan is combined with intensive financial education.  Participants learn to avoid predatory lenders, open bank accounts, improve their credit scores and increase their economic well-being. In concert, these elements have proven to be a powerful formula in helping families move toward self-sufficiency and a brighter future.

The Bryant family was able to achieve the American dream and move toward financial self-sufficiency through the assistance of our WtW program. Amy and Darren actively participated in the financial education workshops, received case management services to improve their day-to-day approach to finances and ultimately secured a low-interest rate, character-based car loan. The family obtained a 30-month car loan at an 8 percent interest rate.  After making 13 monthly payments on time, the Bryants were able to increase their income and pay off their loan agreement 17 months early.  At the same time, they increased their credit score by 70 points!

Do you need help? If you or anyone you know could benefit – and qualifies – from the WtW program, please contact Jackee Curiton at 770.677.9477 or jcuriton@jfcs-atlanta.org.

Ways to work. We’ve got the keys to reliable transportation.

Written by Sheri Panovka, Posted in JF&CS - Hope and Opportunity Happen Here, Career Services

About the Author

Sheri Panovka

Sheri Panovka

Sheri Panovka is JF&CS' Marketing Communications Coordinator. As one of JF&CS' principal writers, writes for the printed publications, enewsletters, synagogue bulletins, website and many of our events.