Voices of AmeriCorps: Good Cents from Wayne Metro AmeriCorps Members

Written by the Corps Support Committee

program-logoCEDAM AmeriCorps members Kimberly Yost and Jael Cain of Wayne Metro Community Action Agency scored a major success for the financial health of their community by hosting two well-attended Show Me the Money Day Events this February. Serving as AmeriCorps members in the Michigan Financial Opportunities Corps, the two are tasked with bringing free financial education classes, VITA tax preparation programs and foreclosure prevention services to the Detroit Metro Area. This effort goes on throughout the year, but rose to a fever pitch February 3rd and 10th when Yost and Cain successfully hosted financial open houses serving more than 200 local residents.

Show Me the Money Day – a CEDAM initiative dating back to 2011 – annually leads dozens financial open-houses all across Michigan during the key tax season months of January and February. These events bring together financial educators, assistance programs, and service providers with the communities they serve to educate and empower local residents, promote free tax preparation services and raise awareness of community resources.

As CEDAM AmeriCorps members, Yost and Cain were asked to plan and execute one Show Me the Money Day Event in their area, but chose to go above and beyond by offering two events in February to allow a greater number of local residents the opportunity to attend. The first, held on February 3 at Jefferson Barns in Westland, Michigan, served over 70 participants. The second, held on February 10 at Northwest Activities Center in Detroit served an even more astounding 137 local residents.

Wayne Metro SMTMDBoth events brought together a cross section of community members, business, and non-profits including DTE Energy, Michigan Agency for Energy, Western Wayne Family Health Centers, the Department of Insurance and Financial Services, No Veteran Left Behind, Garden City Community Center, Detroit Area Agency of Aging and a variety of local banks and credit unions. Classes, prizes and information drew participants through the busy events and explored financial skill building in credit usage, savings, banking, budgeting and the path to homeownership. The events served not only as an opportunity to better equip participants with knowledge for their financial futures, but also as a meeting point for local organizations to share programming, exchange ideas and connect with one another.

Thanks to the commitment and efforts of Yost, Cain and their community planning partners, Detroit residents are more knowledgeable, better prepared and more optimistic about their finances this spring.  “I am grateful for the genuine concern and efforts by WMCA staff to assist everyone,” said one participant. “They are so inspiring!” The same sentiment was echoed in the experience of all event participants who overwhelmingly hailed the events a useful experience. 89% of participants reported that they felt more hopeful about their financial future after having attended the events. Having spent months working towards just that outcome, Yost and Cain’s efforts have proven a roaring success. Their commitment to service and exemplary representation of the goals of CEDAM, Wayne Metro and AmeriCorps continue to empower and enact healthy financial lives in the city of Detroit.

Thank you Kimberly and Jael!

CEDAM hosts the Michigan Financial Opportunity Corps and the Rural Opportunity VISTA program AmeriCorps programs. We would like to thank the Corps Support Committee (Jennifer Tucker, Lily Fossel and Autumn Zywicki) for providing content to the Voices of AmeriCorps series.