Rokesha Parrish

Rokesha Parrish

A single mother of two and another Ways to Work client, demonstrates the importance of individualized financial counseling and support.

Rokesha works at a nonprofit housing counseling agency and is truly committed to her community. She helps to make sure clients are able to buy a home and works hard on foreclosure prevention, helping her clients remain in the homes they own. However, when it was time for Rokesha to buy a car, she was faced with purchasing from a “Buy Here, Pay Here” car dealership. After learning so much from other people’s mistakes, she knew that was not the right option. So she caught the bus and secured rides from friends until she found out about the Ways to Work program.

The Branches Ways to Work team in Broward County, Florida registered her for the “Money Smart - Raising Your Financial IQ” class and helped her develop a budget and start saving toward her new car. She met regularly with a loan coach, Michele Edwards-Collie, who helped prepare her for purchasing and financing a vehicle. Once approved for the loan, Rokesha was able to purchase her car through a Ways to Work Preferred Partner – AutoNation. Her car payments are now less than $222 for the next 30 months. Her on-time payments will be reported to all three major credit bureaus resulting in an increase in her scores. Now that Rokesha has reliable transportation, she is able to take her children to and from school and their extracurricular activities, including tutoring and sports activities.

Howard Bakalar, vice president of United Way in Broward County, notes: “The education component is critical. Ways to Work is truly a hand up and not a hand out — every client faces very real expectations to repay their loans. They know they’re going through the education process to move forward to get a car loan. The program shows them how to achieve success and gives them a solid, concrete goal that puts their new financial education to immediate use.”

Services like those provided by Ways to Work, Branches and the United Way of Broward County are part of a new comprehensive approach to human service provision at the community level. Their compilation goes beyond basic shelter and jobs to help improve the overall quality of life for neighborhood residents.