Two churches in Taos, New Mexico, joined together to conduct a Money & ME Program. St. James Episcopal Church and El Pueblito United Methodist Church, both have food pantries. These two churches met and developed a strategy to not just offer food, but to also teach financial literacy and money management skills. They chose the Money & ME Financial Education System.
The two churches jointly funded the program and utilized staff and volunteers from both churches. The initial program was offered at El Pueblito Methodist Church as a one day workshop, with follow-up sessions sessions at St. James Episcopal Church. The trainers, Gary Buff and Cheri Lyon, were surprised and pleased at the “Enormous, Immediate Participation.” Gary commented, how quickly participants shared, asked good questions, and helped each other. They had 16 people for the initial session with 10 attending follow ups. Both Gary and Cheri were surprised at how much debt the participants had and the interest rates they were paying. They chose to focus their first follow-up on the payment plan and helping everyone gain control over their spending. They assigned homework (for the follow-up sessions) and there were varying degrees of completeness. What the participants discovered were ways to save money on a daily basis while developing a plan to pay off money owed. The class met again for additional follow ups and Gary and Cheri chose to focus on menu planning, purchasing food, and nutrition. Some shared that they struggled with menu planning and could really use some more help in this area. The participants chose to get together one more time for a time of fellowship and celebration.
Gary and Cheri felt they accomplished their goals of helping people who utilize the food pantry to develop new skill sets to manage their money (and their lives) more effectively. They will be scheduling another Money & ME Program for the fall!