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Financial Empowerment Center sees success in first year

Published: Apr. 29, 2021 at 12:16 PM EDT
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ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ) - What started as part of the frontline response to the COVID-19 pandemic has now helped nearly 400 people take control of their finances.

Roanoke City’s Financial Empowerment Center had its grand opening in July 2020. Since then, the program has held more than 700 free financial counseling sessions.

The FEC is a partnership with Freedom First Enterprises, offering free counseling services to help locals reduce their debt, build their credit and learn how to meet their financial goals.

“We’re almost at $20,000 of increased savings across the population that has been served,” says Brandon Meginley, financial stability specialist with Roanoke City’s Department of Economic Development. “As well as other milestones, something as simple as dozens of people are working to create a budget, perhaps, or individuals who’ve had the chance to increase their credit score over the course of their counseling by an amount that is significant for them to make a difference in their lives.”

Keri Garnett, the manager of the Financial Empowerment Center, has worked with clients who were not able to purchase a home due to poor credit around this time last year, but are now moving in thanks to the plan they worked on with a counselor.

“If they’ve lost a job due to COVID or maybe they’re just going through a different transition in their life, sometimes it just helps to get organized and they need someone to help guide them in the right direction,” says Garnett.

The FEC in Roanoke is available to meet with clients virtually and schedule in-person appointments through their website.

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