Operation HOPE is a bridge-building organization. We help individuals bridge the gap between aspiration and personal fulfillment through financial empowerment. But the work isn’t just for our direct clients only. It extends to our strategic partners and clients, too.
Rowan Helping Ministries, a nonprofit focused on helping move clients out of crisis to healthy living, has partnered with Operation HOPE since 2018. They have always been a champion of HOPE’s work and the services we provide. They refer clients on a monthly basis and have a standing workshop designed to help them take hold of their financial lives in pursuit of a holistic, well-rounded life. Teresa Merriman was one of those clients, and HOPE financial wellbeing coach Alisha Kinney from HOPE Inside Capital Bank Salisbury had the joy of working with her on her journey towards self-sufficiency.
Rowan County citizens face a wide range of personal obstacles that may cause them to become homeless. While holding the weight of her personal obstacles on her back, Army and Marine veteran, Teresa Merriman, worked with Operation HOPE to successfully meet her financial and housing goals.
Like many veterans, Teresa was dealing with trauma from her military experience. “I couldn’t figure out what was wrong with me. I thought, “I don’t do drugs, I don’t drink, what is wrong with me?”, she said. Teresa was officially diagnosed with PTSD and immediately took advantage of prescription medication and therapy to help her cope. “Unfortunately, I was raped in the army while in Thailand, I seek therapy now, I go every week to deal with it.” Teresa was stable and happy living on her own when a dispute with her landlord ended in eviction. “I have never been homeless before, I had to put all of my stuff in storage and face the facts,” she said. Teresa was happy to receive a referral to Rowan Helping Ministries and even happier when she arrived. We are a congregate shelter and to accommodate our Veteran guests we create private sleeping areas for them within the dorm. When Teresa was assigned her bed, she cried with tears of joy. “I was amazed! I felt important, I felt honored, I felt privileged. It was a turnaround for me,” she recalled.
While at Rowan Helping Ministries, Teresa participated in their New Tomorrow’s program. She attended weekly life skills classes and took full advantage of the financial counseling offered by Operation HOPE. She worked one on one with her financial coach, Alisha, and made significant headway. “I just paid off a $3,000 debt and working on another $7,000 one.” Before arriving at Rowan Helping Ministries and working with HOPE, Teresa admitted that her finances were all over the place. She was able to learn a new skill of budgeting and creating a savings goal to help her move out on her own. “I save my money; it is amazing how much money you can save when you are not spending.”
With discipline and the support of her Rowan Ministries family and Operation HOPE, Teresa met the goals outlined in her case plan and successfully moved out on her own. “I was so confident to move. I went from sleeping in my truck to a two-bedroom, two-bathroom apartment,” Teresa stated with excitement. She expressed that she continues to use the budgeting tools she learned through Operation HOPE. “I am working on paying down another loan and saving to move close to the beach. When I pay it off, I will continue to save the money as if I am still paying the bill. ”Because of our shelter services model, Teresa not only found and maintained housing, she learned a skill that will help her for life. She states that she learned so much while attending the classes and encourages all guests to participate.