Paterson Press

Businesses Can Get Lending Help

Paterson Press / The Alternative Press — Tuesday, June 7, 2011

NJ Business Briefs

PATERSON, NJ— The United Way of Passaic County (UWPC), in collaboration with many nonprofit and financial institutions, announced the calendar of free financial education and financial literacy classes for residents of the local community. The event was sponsored by the Financial Empowerment Zone (FEZ) to bring awareness and to empower the community to increase their incomes, become financially stable and achieve long term economic independence by signing up and taking advantage of a host of offerings.

Lynnette Khalfani-Cox, the Money Coach, told her personal story and her remarks empowered and encouraged the audience to take control of their own financial futures. "A decade ago, I owed $100,000 on my credit cards before I turned around my financial life and paid off the debt in just three years. Each and every one of you can too." Khalfani-Cox said. "I've learned from first-hand experience that while setbacks such as divorce and downsizing have huge economic implications, they don't have to be financial deathblows."

Elected officials were on hand to not only promote the Zone's calendar of offerings but to celebrate the success from the first season of free tax prep and benefits screenings. Mayor Jeff Jones gave the opening remarks and praised the accomplishments of bringing more than a quarter of a million dollars back into the Paterson community. Assemblywoman Nellie Pou (D –
35) stated that "This past winter, Paterson and Passaic County were blessed by the advent of the United Way's Financial Empowerment Zone — a no-cost, proactive, and stress-free way for residents to make their financial lives more solvent. I am proud to support today's Financial Literacy Kickoff, an initiative designed to serve and empower even more local families. Financial solvency is imperative to individual and community well-being. I salute the public, private, and nonprofit entities that made today's kickoff event possible."

Yvonne Zuidema, president of United Way of Passaic County praised AARP, the IRS and NJ 211 for the outstanding results in the inaugural year.

"The Earned Income Tax Credit is one of the most powerful income stabilization strategies available to working families in our community" said Zuidema. "By helping such a significant portion of our clients, we were able to make measurable progress towards the real goals of lifting lower income households out of poverty by helping them to put more dollars back into their family budgets."

PassaicCounty Community College provided the home for the FEZ tax preparation site at the Community Technology Center and continues to house the majority of financial literacy workshops through the summer months. "Passaic County Community College is excited and proud to again be partnering with the United Way of Passaic County on a project that can positively impact our community. The Financial Empowerment Zone (FEZ) continues to provide much needed services and information to community residents. Education is a life-long process and programs like this are essential to ensure that individuals have access to tools necessary to improve their lives" said Dr Steven Rose, President of PCCC.

Tomas Porturas, Vice President of Wells Fargo represented the financial community that showed enthusiastic encouragement for this initiative. "It is no secret that many Americans of all ages are drowning in debt. Many are also not planning properly for retirement, saving for college or able to purchase a house. There are a hundred different reasons for why this is happening —
and the resulting horror stories are endless. However, a good percentage of these scenarios might have been prevented if people were exposed to basic financial literacy courses. Wells Fargo would like to salute the leaders of the United Way for making financial literacy a top priority for the organization" he said.

Leslie Schlesinger, FEZ Program Manager announced the varied schedule of classes and list of expert community partner organizations filling out the workshop calendar:

"The ideas for many of these workshops came out of the surveys completed by our tax prep and benefits screening FEZ clients" said Schlesinger. "Our hope is that the community takes advantage of the valuable lessons to boost personal savings and create long term financial stability." Residents can sign up for these classes through the UWPC website or by calling the local office at 973 279 8900.

"Research shows that individuals have better outcomes when they receive a "bundle" of financial stability services" Zuidema explained, "with free tax preparation services, benefits screening and financial literacy workshops, United Way's collaborations with public, private and nonprofit agencies will help bring the tools to the local Passaic County community that need it most."

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