Dreams for the Holiday…
Charity Norman grew up in Farmington, and has dreamed of owning a home in northwest New Mexico since she was a little girl. She works for Human Services in the Child Support Division, and meets single mothers that have the same dream every day. For the past year, she has secretly kept floor plans in her office as a constant reminder of her goal.
Charity and her three sons had lived in a small apartment near a mall for several years when a client told her of a matched savings program offered through ECHO. She had applied and been declined for a USDA loan numerous times, but decided she would go visit the ECHO office to find out what programs were available in her community. ECHO Inc. (Economic Council Helping Others) offers several types of programs, and serves thousands of individuals in San Juan County. It was there she met Rosalyn Fry and learned about an upcoming Financial Education & Home Buyer classes. Charity signed up.
“The Financial Education class was completely full. The class teaches people to create a budget that really works, and encourages savings. My book is on my kitchen table, so I can refer to it.” This class also introduced Charity to a matched savings program called Individual Development Accounts (IDA), a 4:1 savings program for low income families saving to purchase a home.
She was hesitant at first about the program. She had opened a savings account before and just couldn’t find the money to save. “I was already a serious budget person – I was already nickel & diming it. The first few months were the most difficult, just finding $30 or $50 to put into savings.”
“I had to look at my habits, and pick one or two things to put aside to save for my dream. I stopped buying Little Debbie’s. It was only $5 a week, but that’s $20 a month I started saving.”
As a family project, they started to turn the lights off when leaving the house or leaving a room. “I told the boys that if we saw a savings in our electricity bill, I would take them to Taco Bell. We saved $40! We went to Taco Bell and still had money to put into savings.”
When asked if her goals have changed since enrolling in the program at ECHO, Charity responded, “You’re going to make me cry. My dream for 10 years has been to get a home with a yard for my boys, and now I’m doing it. Rosalyn taught me to ‘make my dreams happen.’ I worked a second job for a few months waiting tables at Red Lobster to bring in additional income. I AM NOW TOTALLY DEBT FREE!”
She started the IDA program in September 2011– she saved in just over a year — and moved in February 2013. She and the boys drive by the house they’ve purchased every morning on the way to school to remind themselves that “dreams can happen.”
Help others just like Charity Norman this holiday season. Donate to Homes for the Holidays. Our goal is to raise $10,000 to help match the savings of five families who also have the dream of a home of their own in New Mexico in 2014.