"I feel a lot of relief with my finance issues. I've been working on my credit because I really want to get my first home. And I feel like I'm closer to that goal."
“My name is Noemi Arzola. I am 25 years old. I grew up in the Heights, and I've lived my whole life here in Houston. I just graduated from the University of Texas in Austin this past May with a degree in Human Development and Family Sciences. I am married and I have a two year-old.
My mom is involved in a church group and they told her that they were going to have some informational classes on different topics on Saturdays, so she invited me. I never really went, until the last two classes, and that's where they introduced us to AVANCE. They had [SER Program Coordinator] Mr. David Fernandez for the finance class. By that time I was already having credit card debt issues. I talked to Mr. Fernandez, to see if he was able to help me or guide me in what to do so I could better my credit, but I was never able to get in touch with him afterwards. I just let that happen.
Later, I was getting really involved with the AVANCE classes; we even had a healthy marriage retreat with them. And they had Mr. David Fernandez again for the finance class! So I thought ‘OK, this time I really need to talk to him and make an appointment.’ I got in touch with him, and he recommended me to [SER Financial Coach] Ms. Carmela Walker.
With Ms. Walker, the first thing we did was set some goals. I didn't have a savings account, so I opened one. We've made a budget of how much I can save. I got my credit score report, saw how much I owed, and figured out which debt to tackle first. So far I've been doing well on tackling debt the way we have planned out. The [credit card companies] sent me some settlement letters, and I went to Ms. Walker. She's the one that helps me see if it will affect my credit report negatively or positively, and she tells me what she'd recommend. She gives me her opinion, but she says ‘it's up to you on how you want to work things out.’
Recently Ms. Walker introduced me to the TWIN account program. We're getting into that, which is also going to help boost up my credit. Also, I'm going to pay in $300, and they're going to match it so at the end I'll have $600. Ms. Walker is giving me different opportunities and ways to boost my credit. Working with her has been great.
I feel a lot of relief with my finance issues. I've been working on my credit because I really want to get my first home. And I feel like I'm closer to that goal.
I told my mom - she has problems with her credit. I said ‘you need to go [to SER] and make an appointment with them. They will help you. They will find a solution to all of your problems with your credit.’
I'm about to start working. Since I just graduated I'm trying to get some type of experience in the field that I want to work in, so I applied to Wesley Community Center as an Early Head Start teacher. Right now I'm just happy that I found a job, and I'll be able to help myself with my finances. At some point I would really like to go back to school and get my Masters' degree.
I'm so grateful and appreciative of all the help that I've received from SER. I really felt like I was never going to be able to fix my credit. [SER] has guided me so much. That's the thing: they listen, they guide, and they help.”
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Working with Ms. Walker has been great.