A “Credit” to Her Family and Community

written by: Lisa Karel

After enduring a series of difficult life events—including homelessness—Marshelle Woodland was desperate for some hope. She found it, quite literally, after she heard John Hope Bryant, Operation HOPE’s founder, on the radio while she was out driving with her young daughter. What they heard spurred them to attend Bryant’s upcoming seminar together in their hometown of St. Louis.  

“My daughter—5 years old at the time—insisted we sit up front,” Marshelle recalled, “so she could ask Mr. Bryant questions about his journey.” 

Her daughter’s enthusiasm, along with Bryant’s practical advice, marked a turning point in Marshelle’s financial outlook and got her thinking about how she could take steps to become financially free. After the event, she resolved to improve her credit score with the help of an Operation HOPE financial wellbeing coach. 

Through her coaching sessions, Marshelle learned how to make saving a habit and chip away at debt. She also learned how a secured credit card could help her build credit.  

“Operation HOPE gave me a new way to think about money and showed me that a good credit score could support the financial goals I had for my family,” Marshelle said.  

Marshelle was so inspired by what she learned and the difference it made for her and her family that she attended the HOPE Global Forum in 2019. She hopes to return as a volunteer for a future event one day.   

Marshelle has worked in a variety of jobs over the years, including a long stint with the U.S. Postal Service, but her true passion is to perform stand-up comedy. She firmly believes that laughter can heal, so much so that she’s planning a comedy festival to raise awareness of homelessness in St. Louis and funds to help address the issue. What Marshelle has in mind is not just your run-of-the-mill comedy festival, however—her goal is to draw so many people to the event that it breaks the Guinness World Record for attendance at a live stand-up comedy performance. 

While Marshelle’s path to financial freedom hasn’t been linear, the lessons she learned through Operation HOPE has had a lasting impact on her family and the community she loves.  


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