United Way of East Central serves groups and individuals in Benton, Cedar, Iowa, Jones, Linn and Washington counties. We focus on impacting health, education and financial stability issues.
The Financial Stability area includes shelters and housing assistance, food pantries and meal sites, tax help or legal aide, childcare assistance or transporation and adult education such as English as a Second Language or work skills for employment.
Everyday United Way, local businesses and community partners are working together to help individuals like Jennifer reach long-term financial stability.
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Jennifer Barnett, Cedar Rapids Resident
I’m a single mother and I didn’t think that I would own a home within the next five years let alone have a brandnew home.
Every day United Way, local businesses and community partners are working together to help individuals like Jennifer reach long-term financial stability.
My year last year was pretty hard. I had some troubles that I was going through and it was just kind of a dark time for me. I had seven credit cards that were maxed out; I had two personal loans. This year I decided to talk to my consumer credit counselor at Horizons and I told her I had a five-year plan and I wanted to have a house. She got me to get out of a lot of debt and I’m currently down to one credit card with a zero balance.
I also met with Cory Hutchinson from the Affordable Housing Network and he then told me about a Wells Fargo grant for single moms. Wells Fargo is giving us a $15,000 grant. Along with that, I applied for the Cedar Rapids Roots Program and I qualified for that so they will be paying 25 percent of my mortgage over a five year period.
My contractor, Hunter Skogman from Skogman, he met with me and we went to one of the model homes and I was able to pick out everything—siding, shingles, carpet color, doors, countertops, sinks. Everything that’s in the house I was able to pick out, and it was a very good experience because I was overwhelmed. I didn’t even know that singles were different colors. That was kind of fun to be able to go through that process.
I dreamed about having a home but this is more than I could ever expect. Being a single mom can get kind of rough, but I think with the help along the way, Horizons was a big help for me, Affordable Housing Network, Wells Fargo.
For me it’s a place to call home. I’ve never been able to call Cedar Rapids home because it didn’t feel like home going from apartments and it just didn’t feel like that to me, so I’m ready to be able to call Cedar Rapids my home.
Jennifer has moved into her new home and is still on track to maintain a ZERO balance on her credit card. She is excited to finally have a backyard for her daughter, and a washer/dryer of her own.
Oct. 3, 2012: Video originally published
Jan. 11, 2013: Transcript added