The Upper Valley is home to a unique community initiative that is aimed at promoting workplace stability for low to moderate wage earners. Eleven companies have joined the Work United program, offering it as an added benefit to their employees. Workers have access to skilled, on-site, Resource Coordinators who are on hand to help them navigate life’s tougher issues that could potentially derail them on the job and put them out of work.
In addition to one-on-one time with Resource Coordinators, Work United offers employees access to emergency funding through a Loan/Savings Benefit program. Employees in good standing (and having worked at least one year in the company) may borrow up to $1,000, to be paid back through payroll deduction. When the loan is paid off, unless the employee stops the process, their payroll deduction continues, funding a savings account for that individual. A thousand dollars isn’t necessarily like winning the lottery, but in an emergency, it can be a real lifesaver. In one case it not only saved a life but completely turned it around.
Three years ago a local worker, Pammy, contacted Work United Recourse Coordinator, Pru Pease, with a dire situation. She had recently been promoted in her job to a management level position and relocated to a new city. While she was doing quite well on the job, things in her personal life were dissolving quickly. Without warning, her partner of seven years broke off their relationship putting Pammy out of their apartment. Despite her success at work, she did not have sufficient savings to move into a new apartment nor did she have friends and family close by to help out. (Landlords typically ask for a deposit plus first and last month’s rent for new tenants. That can be a financial burden of over $2,000!) In the blink of an eye, Pammy was left homeless, living out of her car.
Fortunately, her employer was participating in the Work United program and Pammy was able to access an emergency loan of $1,000 to help her secure a place to live. With the housing crisis managed, she was able to maintain stability at work and continue to build a new life for herself. A year later she contacted Pru again to request another loan. This time was less dire but important, nonetheless. Her first loan had been paid off, but the housing crisis of the previous year left her in credit card debt and she hoped this new loan would be a way to pay down her cards and rebuild her credit. She was granted her new loan and began her journey toward a debt-free life.
This past summer, Pammy contacted Pru again to request what was to be her third loan. Pru was baffled – what could she need another loan for? Things seemed to be going well for Pammy – she’s rebuilt her credit. She’s paid off her debt. She’s thriving at work. What’s the problem?
This time the emergency wasn’t a crisis, it a happy situation. This time she needed help paying for the incidental expenses that come from buying a new home. In just three years, Pammy went from homelessness to homeowner.
You don’t need to win the lottery to win your life back. Sometimes you just need a little boost to get you through – when life happens.