Saving program offers knowledge and opportunity
When Sarah Seller, a single mom at age 21, saw that a friend who lived on low income just like her was able to buy new bedroom furniture and a computer, she was absolutely stunned. “How the heck did she do that?” Sarah asked herself.
Her friend revealed she was a graduate of a money management program offered by SEED Winnipeg (Supporting Employment and Economic Development). Over the course of a few weeks in SEED’s Asset Building Program (ABP), Sarah learned her friend’s secret. Saving. Alongside other ABP clients, including single parents, recent immigrants, Aboriginal clients and people with disabilities, Sarah learned how to budget, manage money, open up a specially designed Matched Savings Account at ACU and save for a dream.
In Sarah’s case, the dream was a bed for her daughter, Kathleen, to replace her crib, which she was outgrowing. “In the Asset Building Program, you open up an ACU account and you have to save $250 in four months. If you do that, SEED will match you $750 and that money can be used for almost anything you need, like furniture or school,” Sarah said.
After scouring furniture stores and doing price comparisons, which is part of the program lesson, Sarah bought a bed for her daughter and had enough for a bed-side table for herself. She is now off to her next saving challenge—a down payment for a house and RESPs (Registered Education Savings Plan) for Kathleen, who is now two years old. “Now I’m in a program with SEED called the Housing Enhancement Program. This program helps you research how to buy a house and get a pre-approved mortgage.
You go house shopping and sit down with a lawyer and real estate agent and do worksheets about inspections. If I save $2,000 within three years, SEED will match it with $6,000.”
In addition to ACU making a corporate contribution by creating special savings accounts for the program, ACU employees have become so supportive that, in each of the last two years, they donated nearly $90,000 for Asset Building Programs through ACU’s employee-led United Way Campaign.
According to Louise Simbandumwe, SEED’s Director of Asset Building Programs, “The program wouldn’t be possible without ACU’s partnership. Assiniboine was involved from the very beginning when we identified what the issues were for people and envisioned how we could help address them.”