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  1. 1. counseling agencies have worked with us for decades, and we felt it was appropriate to salute their efforts and honor those agencies providing the highest level of customer service.” PHFA works to provide affordable homeownership and rental apartment options for older adults, lower- and middle-income families, and people with special housing needs. I CCCS staff members display the “Best Agency Award,” presented by the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency. Pictured are (from left to right) Ryan Realpe, Liz Greenwood, Jeff Baldwin, Jamilah Lawry and Stephanie Bittner. Consumer Credit Counseling Service of Delaware Valley (CCCS) is extremely proud to have been selected by the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency (PHFA) as a recipient of the “Best Agency Award.” Presented to only six private housing sector agencies in the state, this award recognizes exemplary work in providing vital services to residents with issues regarding home ownership and foreclosure. At a special awards ceremony in Harrisburg on October 25, more than 160 housing counselors – representing nearly 100 counseling agencies – gathered for the presentation. In addition to the six agency awards, PHFA recognized the contributions of six individual housing counselors. Attendees were acknowledged for their remarkable efforts during a time when the housing marketplace is in a state of dramatic change. “The work of these counseling agencies is critical because we have found that the best defense against such factors as predatory lending is a well- informed housing consumer,” stated Brian A. Hudson, Sr., executive director and chief executive officer, PHFA. “Many of these This edition of the Community Exchange newsletter is sponsored by PECO. Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency Honors CCCS with “Best Agency Award” We hope you will plan to join us at the Hyatt at The Bellevue for our annual A Credit to Greater Philadelphia Community Awards Luncheon on Friday, March 25, 2011 at 12:00 noon. We are pleased to have Albert L. Lord, Vice Chairman and CEO of Sallie Mae, as our keynote speaker. Look for sponsor and event information in January. Save the Date!
  2. 2. In 2010, CCCS was presented with a grant from the Certified Financial Planner (CFP) Board of Standards, launching a collaboration between CCCS and the Philadelphia Tri-State Chapter of the Financial Planning Association (FPA). Through this partnership, the FPA’s Pro Bono Group is supporting the FinanciallyHers program at CCCS through expanded education and counseling. The CFP grant funded two major “Women on the Move” events in 2010, featuring educational workshops that extend beyond the five core workshops typically offered through the FinanciallyHers program. Sixty-five women attended our June event at the Hilton on City Line Avenue in Philadelphia, where the focus was on estate planning and saving for retirement. In October, 25 women gathered at Community College of Philadelphia for informative workshops about medical insurance and tax returns. Attendees at both events were offered the option to schedule a free, personalized counseling session with a Certified Financial Planner. “Our partnership with the FPA allows us to provide additional resources and learning opportunities for the women who participate in the FinanciallyHers program, without CCCS recreating the wheel,” states Joy McManus, program manager, FinanciallyHers. “The CFPs have significant knowledge in so many areas – from life insurance to student loans. In addition to the expertise CCCS brings in budgeting and credit, the CFPs can conduct a holistic review of a woman’s finances. We fit together like a perfect puzzle.” “CCCS is one of our most valued partners, as our pro bono mission aligns so perfectly with the mission and goals of CCCS,” says Sharon Bonnem, CFP, vice president-elect, Pro Bono, FPA Philadelphia Tri-State Area. “The events and the subsequent one-on-one counseling sessions have been such a great experience for our planners. In fact, our volunteers decided that instead of the one-time counseling sessions outlined in the grant agreement, they wanted to offer the women follow-up sessions on a quarterly basis to assess their progress and break through any roadblocks. They’re really enthusiastic about this program.” “The FPA’s local Pro Bono Group is phenomenal,” adds Joy. “The CFPs all have busy and successful practices with their own clients, but their real joy is giving back and offering their services to the women of FinanciallyHers.” Both organizations hope to continue their collaboration, and recently submitted a grant application to the CFP Board of Standards to fund four major events and continued one-on-one counseling in 2011. I Pictured at the FinanciallyHers “Women on the Move” event in June are (from left to right): Joy McManus, CCCS; Dave Hoyer, director, Pro-Bono, FPA; Sheila Jacobs, FPA volunteer; Danielle Rothberg, FPA volunteer; Sharon Bonnem, vice presi- dent-elect, Pro Bono, FPA; Marsha Rubin, FPA volunteer; and Kim Cooper, CCCS. Celebrating FinanciallyHers This spring, CCCS will host our third annual recognition event to honor the achievements of the dedicated women who participate in FinanciallyHers, sponsored in part by Citi, and to celebrate the success of the program – now 900 members strong. Please contact Joy McManus at (215) 563-5665, ext. 3307, or send an e-mail to financiallyhers@cccsdv.org for information regarding event sponsorship and program partnership opportunities. The Financial Planning Association Brings New Expertise to
  3. 3. 3 CCCS dedicates significant resources to conducting financial education workshops, covering a wide range of topics for a variety of audiences. We’re proud to report that as of October 31, 2010, CCCS has conducted 412 workshops, reaching 5,912 individuals. emergency funds and investments to take care of his family. As we went around the room, a common theme emerged. No one had filed for bankruptcy because of financial mismanagement. These were smart, financially- savvy, hard-working people who were primarily the victims of an economic downturn they could not see coming. When people file for bankruptcy, it’s not uncommon for them to feel a sense of failure. Since society tends to judge our success or failure by our financial standing, our self-worth can decrease when we find ourselves in positions we did not choose. As the participants talked about their lives before and after the bankruptcy filing, the tension eased, and the atmosphere became more relaxed. Smiles replaced stony stares, and conversation was easier. Being an educator gives me the chance to personally connect with the audience and convey a sense of hope. After sharing stories, we discussed the opportunities for a fresh start that bankruptcy can bring. Several participants talked about what they’re doing to move forward in their lives. I stated, “Now that we know that no one has given up on life, now that we know that everyone is hopeful that things will get better, let’s talk about credit.” I resumed teaching the material from the three-hour course, which covers the basics of Budgeting & Money Management, Savings & Investments, Credit & Lending, Credit Reports, Insurance, and Avoiding Predatory Loans. The Certificate of Completion, which attendees receive after the workshop, fulfills the mandatory education requirement for bankruptcy discharge. The workshop ended on a high note; participants were laughing, hugging, and exchanging contact information. I The Human Side of Bankruptcy A Perspective by Florence Cheek, Education Program Manager, CCCS As education program manager, one of the workshops I conduct is Personal Financial Management after Bankruptcy. Bankruptcy is a life-changing event. I see firsthand how it affects people of all ages, races, and income levels. One source describes bankruptcy as the process by which consumers can eliminate or repay some or all of their debts under the protection of the federal bankruptcy court. However, no definition can explain the emotional and psychological factors that can affect a person who has been through or is currently going through the process. At one recent session, I was having some difficulty engaging the audience. Trying to involve the group, I directed my attention to a woman who looked as though she had something to say. “Everything you’re saying makes sense, and we know that you have a job to do,” she began, “but I’m not here because I gambled away my money in Atlantic City. I was working at the same job for over 20 years before I got injured, and for the past two years, I’ve been fighting to get my Worker’s Compensation benefits. Now I’m trying desperately to save my home. I’ve written to the president, my state representative, and everyone I know, trying to bring attention to my case. I’m at the point now where I have to choose between buying medication and paying my utilities.” The entire class nodded in agreement as they identified with the speaker, and I quickly realized that I needed to alter the flow of the workshop. The individuals in the room were not cases with numbers, but people whose lives were transformed by circumstances over which they had no control. Everyone had a story to share. A well-dressed baby boomer told the group that she lost her job and her husband in the same year. Now, she’s looking after her mother and son, who has a disability, while working part time. She had been on several interviews and was not optimistic that she would find a job comparable to the one she had lost. One man informed us that he was earning six figures before he was laid off; he was forced to use his Making the Connection Life Goes On Kudos!... CCCS congratulates our partner, the J. Lewis Crozer Library in Chester, Pennsylvania, for earning AARP’s 2010 Award for Library Services for Older Adults. The library has hosted a series of financial education workshops for seniors on such topics as social security, savings, budgeting and credit, with future workshops planned to address money management, loans, and identity theft protection. CCCS is proud to partner with the J. Lewis Crozer Library in this successful endeavor.
  4. 4. present an overview of CCCS services to a group of 30 counselors, representing 30 senior centers throughout the city. At the October presentation, the counselors were especially interested in reverse mortgages. They receive countless questions from their clients regarding this particular subject. CCCS hopes to work directly with these clients to address reverse mortgages and other financial matters, and we are collaborating with the PCA to establish contact with those in need of guidance. Senior Advisory Committee In July, Kathleen visited with the Montgomery Township Senior Advisory Committee, representing more than 2,000 seniors, to provide an overview of our services. Kathleen returned in November to present to the general membership a newly created workshop about budgeting for the holidays. CCCS will present a second workshop to this seniors group in 2011. The group invited CCCS to one of its monthly meetings to impart educational information that the volunteers could then share on their companion visits and, of course, utilize for their own benefit. In July, Kathleen presented a budgeting workshop to an extremely receptive group of 60 senior companions. “I was more than surprised by the dedication of this group,” says Kathleen. “Some came on walkers. Some traveled by SEPTA; others drove. They are deeply committed to their volunteerism. It’s an extraordinary initiative, and I was proud to be a part of it.” CCCS has since scheduled three workshops for the Philadelphia Senior Companions program, and is exploring relationships with senior volunteer groups in other counties where workshops can be presented. Educating Senior Center Counselors Kathleen also received an invitation from the Philadelphia Corporation for Aging (PCA) to Kathleen Bryson, seniors program manager at CCCS, has been visiting several unique settings to share knowledge and information with organizations that interact directly with the senior population. These outreach initiatives have received tremendous feedback, and CCCS looks forward to identifying similar opportunities in 2011. Forum Reaches Service Providers In June, CCCS hosted our first- ever forum for community partner organizations providing services to the senior population. The networking and educational event brought together 30 service providers from across Philadelphia and Delaware counties to discuss and share information and resources specific to seniors. Planning is under way for three forums in 2011, targeting additional counties in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Seniors Helping Seniors In Montgomery County, a group of active seniors has dedicated themselves to helping other seniors in need. Each volunteer commits at least 20 hours a week to the county’s Senior Companions program, serving as a companion to home- bound seniors, making their day a little brighter, assisting them as best they can, and helping them to remain safe and independent in their homes. In June, CCCS held its inaugural forum for organizations and individuals providing services to the senior population. Three similar forums are planned for 2011. Older adults face a unique set of financial challenges – from fixed incomes to rising healthcare costs to financial predators. In addition to our one-on-one counseling services, CCCS offers six core workshops to equip seniors with the tools they need to better understand and manage Financial Smarts for Seniors Reaching New Audiences Addressing the Unique Needs of Seniors their own finances, make informed decisions, and live independently and safely. Workshops include: N Money Management N Understanding Credit N ID Theft & Scams N Loan Smarts N Credit Reports N Reverse Mortgage To learn more about Financial Smarts for Seniors, including event sponsorship and partnership opportunities, please contact Kathleen Bryson at (215) 280-2703 or kbryson@cccsdv.org. I
  5. 5. CCCS and Beneficial Bank marked National Protect Your Identity Week (PYIW), which occurred October 17 to 23, with a day of activities designed to help consumers understand and protect themselves against identity theft. Members of the community were invited to visit CCCS partner organization Beneficial Bank at its Cherry Hill, New Jersey, campus to collect educational materials, participate in workshops, and talk with experts in identity theft protection. Special workshops were held for both the Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts of America. National PYIW partner Cintas Corporation was onsite with its Mobile Shredding Unit, inviting consumers to drop off their unwanted personal financial documents for secure shredding. A total of 3,200 pounds of paper was shredded at the Cherry Hill event alone. Cintas submitted the nationwide initiative, which included more than 175 shredder events occurring across the U.S., to the Guinness Book of World Records for the most paper shredded in a 24-hour period. “Throwing outdated, yet intact, financial documents in the trash can easily result in identity theft,” explains Patty Hasson, president and executive director, CCCS. “We want people to be proactive in taking the necessary steps to protect their financial futures. Partnering with 5 CCCS Helps Safeguard Against Identity Theft at “Shredder” Event Gathered at the Protect Your Identity Week event at the Beneficial Bank campus in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, are (from left to right): Bob Juliano, Beneficial Bank; Esmeralda Cabrera, CCCS; Kevin Brady, Cintas; Hope Katz, CCCS; and Stephanie Bittner, CCCS. CCCS joined forces with the New Jersey Association of REALTORS (NJAR) to deliver two information-rich webinars in 2010. The first – a 60-minute, live session focusing on mortgage foreclosure – was created by CCCS for NJAR’s members. The second – a 90-minute webinar for the general public – was developed to help New Jersey residents save their homes. “Today, consumers really need to educate themselves when it comes to homeownership,” says Stephanie Bittner, community outreach manager, CCCS. “Unfortunately, we’ve seen what happens when there is not enough knowledge and understanding in the marketplace.” The consumer webinar, held in October and now available on the CCCS website, reviews federal, state and local programs; provides guidance for managing the mortgage delinquency process; and reveals common mistakes made by homeowners. Members of the community can access the webinar by visiting the home page of our website at www.cccsdv.org, and clicking on “Free Webinar: Afraid of Losing Your Home?” in the “Popular Resources” section. “We’re so pleased to be working with NJAR,” says Stephanie. “We have a lot of information and insights we can share with their members – information they can then share with clients. On the flip side, the realtors can refer potential buyers to CCCS for pre-purchase counseling. Most importantly, we’ve been able to reach out to a greater number of consumers who are in immediate need of foreclosure prevention and mortgage default counseling. It’s a win-win partnership, and we hope it continues to expand in new ways moving forward.” Through this collaboration, CCCS has developed an article regarding the importance of credit in homeownership for an upcoming edition of NJAR’s magazine, and is exploring the opportunity to conduct a series of educational workshops with NJAR in 2011. I Collaboration with NJ Association of REALTORS Takes Learning to the Web Beneficial Bank and Cintas Corporation for this event provided an outstanding opportunity to bring CCCS education and counseling services directly to the community, and we’re thrilled that area residents came out in such significant numbers.” I
  6. 6. Financial Education: Making a Lasting Impression CCCS Seniors Education Program Manager Kathleen Bryson enjoyed a wonderful surprise recently when she received an e-mail message from a CCCS partner she hadn’t corresponded with in several years. From 2004 to 2006, Kathleen had collaborated with Mansura Karim, then an assistant program coordinator in Workforce Development with the Center for Social Policy and Community Development at Temple University, to deliver more than a dozen women’s welfare to work seminars. Apparently, Mansura was listening along carefully with the audience, which was comprised of women participating in Temple’s Working to Unite Families program. In her e-mail to Kathleen, Mansura writes: “I want to thank you again for all of the workshops you presented to our classes at Temple. I thought you would be happy to know that I listened and took notes and benefited from your knowledge. It took me a little time to grab onto the message, but I finally stopped spending and paid off all of my credit cards a few years ago, and now sleep much better. The hardest part was to stop spending. Who knew? Once you get the hang of paying off your bill monthly, it becomes a new habit. And once you do that, you can’t go back to the old ways.” Says Kathleen, “This certainly drives home the point that the message CCCS is sending applies to everyone! Thank you, Mansura, for your wonderful note!” I CCCS Growth Continues As the challenges of the current economy continue to mount, so too does the need for the critical services provided by CCCS. Most indicative is the increasing number of one-on-one sessions conducted by CCCS counselors. In 2008, CCCS provided 17,000 sessions, and in 2009, that number increased to 23,000. In 2010, the organization expects to deliver close to 30,000 individual sessions to consumers in need of financial guidance and support. “We’re in unchartered territory,” reports Jeff Baldwin, counseling director, CCCS. “This year, we’re averaging 2,300 sessions each month. In August, we saw our busiest month in the history of CCCS; we conducted 2,847 individual counseling sessions in that month alone.” Jeff attributes the growing need for CCCS services to the ongoing issues plaguing the housing market. “We’ve seen a significant uptick in housing counseling given the foreclosure crisis, and with the unemployment rate still hovering close to 10 percent, more and more homeowners are feeling the strain,” explains Jeff. “Approximately 62 percent of our one-on-one sessions are housing-related.” To meet the demand, CCCS hired four new counselors in 2010, and intensified our presence in the counties we serve throughout Southeastern Pennsylvania and Southern New Jersey. In May, we opened the doors to a new office in Burlington County at United Way in Rancocas, New Jersey. And in November, we opened a CCCS site in Colmar, Pennsylvania, in Montgomery County at the office of Carson Valley Children’s Aid (pictured above). Our existing office in Coatesville, Pennsylvania, expanded its operating hours from one day a week to five days. “We continue to take a good, hard look at where our services are most needed, and what makes the most sense in terms of expansion,” says Jeff. “The housing crisis certainly has prompted us to build our presence in critical areas of need, but most importantly, CCCS remains focused on our core, overall objectives – helping people manage their debt and balance their budgets.” I 6 The Bank Bank of America Bank of America Charitable Foundation Beneficial Bank Boeing Company Boeing Employees Community Fund Brook J. Lenfest Foundation Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards Charming Shoppes Chase Card Services Chester County Community Foundation Chester County Department of Community Development Citi Cards Citi Foundation Citizens Bank Conestoga Bank Council for Economic Education Delaware County Ethel Sergeant Clark Smith Memorial Fund Fox Chase Bank Goldberg McKeever Haddon Savings Bank HSBC HSBC Women’s Forum Leo Niessen Jr. Charitable Trust Lincoln Financial Foundation M&T Foundation New Jersey Coalition for Financial Education New Jersey Department of State, Office of Faith Based Initiatives OMG Center for Collaborative Learning PECO The Pew Charitable Trusts The Philadelphia Foundation PNC Bank PricewaterhouseCoopers Radian Guaranty Inc. RCH-MS, Inc. Sovereign Bank St Joseph’s University State Farm Stradley Ronon Stevens & Young Susquehanna Bank TD Charitable Foundation TD Charitable Foundation – Nonprofit Training Resource Fund United Way of Chester County United Way of Salem County United Way of Southeastern Pennsylvania Wachovia Foundation CCCS extends our deepest gratitude to the businesses and foundations that have supported our work between January 1 and October 31 of this year. It is your commitment that allows us to make a difference in the lives of people across the Delaware Valley. Thank You to Our Funders
  7. 7. Managing the Changing Times appliances, and heating and air conditioning (HVAC) equipment. PECO Smart Appliance Recycling – PECO will pick up your old, working refrigerator or freezer for free, recycle it, and pay you $35. And, while we’re there, we’ll pick up an old working window air conditioner and pay you $25. PECO Smart A/C Saver – Make your air conditioner work for you! PECO will pay you up to $120 a year ($30 a month from June through September) to remotely manage your central air conditioning system. By enrolling, you can save money and reduce your demand for electricity. To learn more “Smart Ideas,” visit www.peco.com/SmartIdeas or call 888-5-PECO SAVE (1-888-573-2672). As part of Pennsylvania Electric Choice, you also can shop for electricity from a competitive electric generation supplier, potentially saving you money. And, whether you are purchasing your electricity from a competitive electric generation supplier or from PECO, PECO will continue to safely deliver electricity, provide billing and customer support, and respond to outages and other emergencies for all customers. To learn more about shopping for electricity, visit the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission’s website at www.papowerswitch.com. PECO is committed to helping you understand the changes that are about to occur, and to offering the information and resources you need to make the best possible energy choices for your family and business. To learn more about these changes, visit www.pecoanswers.com. I Beginning January 1, 2011, the prices PECO and its customers pay for electricity will be based on electric market pricing, after having been capped for more than 10 years. At the same time, costs to operate PECO’s electric and natural gas systems also have been increasing. Gas and electricity will cost customers more. The effect of all of these changes on PECO electric customers will be price increases of about five percent. For the typical residential electric customer, the increase is about $5 per month. Costs for PECO’s natural gas customers are expected to increase about eight percent. For the typical residential natural gas customer, the increase is less than $8 per month. PECO knows they have an obligation to help customers manage this change. Customers can offset much of the increase by finding ways to use less energy. Using less energy will save you money and help the environment. PECO has many useful energy-saving products and programs to help save money in every home and business. Following are some of the ways you can reduce energy costs now and in the future: PECO Smart Home E-Audit – Learning how you use energy is the first step in using less. Complete an online audit of your home energy use and receive a detailed report of no- and low-cost home improvements that save energy and money. PECO Smart Lighting Discounts – Get a new twist on lighting. More than 700 stores sell PECO discounted CFL light bulbs. These bulbs use up to 75 percent less energy and last about 10 times longer than traditional light bulbs. PECO Smart Home Rebates – Need to replace that old, energy-guzzling appliance? Get money- saving rebates on ENERGY STAR qualified 7 A Special Thank You CCCS extends our sincerest gratitude to PECO for graciously underwriting the Winter 2010–2011 edition of the Community Exchange newsletter. Useful Energy and Cost-Saving Tips from
  8. 8. Consumer Credit Counseling Service of Delaware Valley 1608 WALNUT STREET • 10TH FLOOR PHILADELPHIA, PA 19103 ACCREDITED COUNCIL ON ACCREDITATION OF SERVICES FOR FAMILIES AND CHILDREN, INC. MEMBER Eastern Pennsylvania H U D A p p ro v e d A g e n c y MAIN OFFICE: 1608 WALNUT ST. 10TH FLOOR PHILA., PA 19103 TELEPHONE: (800) 989-CCCS (215) 563-5665 WEBSITE: www.cccsdv.org E-MAIL: marketing@cccsdv.org SOCIAL MEDIA: PA Locations: Blue Bell Bristol Chester Coatesville Colmar Jenkintown Media Norristown Phila. - Center City Phila. - North Phila. - North Broad Phila. - Northeast Springfield West Chester NJ Locations: Camden Cherry Hill Rancocas Salem In August, CCCS teamed up with CBS 3 for a special “3 On Your Side” community service initiative. Representatives from CCCS and our partner, Radian Guaranty Inc., took to the phone banks at the CBS 3 studios in Philadelphia for “Save Your Home,” providing crucial direction to callers facing mortgage foreclosure. For two-and-a-half hours, phone bank representatives fielded more than 750 calls, advising consumers about loan modification options, and referring many callers directly to CCCS for more extensive one-on- one counseling. Over 100 individuals met one-on-one with counselors as a direct result of this initiative. Several live interviews with CCCS President and Executive Director Patty Hasson and Counseling Director Jeff Baldwin on CBS 3 and its sister station, the CW, promoted the “Save Your Home” Phone Bank and the numerous services offered by CCCS. We applaud CBS 3 for their commitment to the community, and for offering CCCS such a strong forum to reach a greater number of Delaware Valley residents in need of professional guidance. I Consumer Credit Counseling Service of Delaware Valley CCCS Goes “On Call” with CBS 3 Representatives from CCCS and Radian fielded more than 750 calls during the CBS 3 “Save Your Home” Phone Bank. Connect with CCCS