The essay contest gives three winners money to pay off outstanding debt

LANSING, Michigan – LAFCU awarded three $7,500 debt settlement grants as part of the LAFCU Pathway to Financial Transformation Essay Contest, which was designed to help not only the winners, but all participants.

“We know that debt can cause stress that negatively affects many areas of a person’s life, such as relationships and overall health,” said Shelia Scott, LAFCU Financial Education and Business Development Specialist. “This the competition highlights the value of creating a pathway to financial transformation to achieve financial security, especially for those who have stumbled along the way.”

With a one-page essay, entrants focused on their financial situation, evaluated it and their achievements over the past 12 months, and determined how they would continue to work toward their financial goals.

Essay Candace Collier, Kalamazoo; Alexis Hodges, Lansing; and Lisa Neino, Jackson, stood out.

“They spoke from the heart,” Scott said. “Their essays revealed the obstacles they faced and their difficult journey, but they continue to move forward one step at a time. They are driven by hope and they inspire.”

Three $2,500 grants were awarded to help the winners pay off their debt.

Here are some strategies that the winners identified in their essays:

  • After bad financial advice left the applicant spiraling into further debt, she taught herself to budget and live within her “extremely modest means”.
  • After 11 years of on-time payments on an unsecured credit card, the applicant was able to refinance her car at a lower interest rate.
  • The applicant and her children planned an educational trip through 23 states, their first vacation in more than a decade.
  • The applicant improved his credit score by disputing the hard inquiries on his credit report and getting them removed.
  • The applicant is working to improve what is needed to gain access to credit because her business cannot grow without it.

This debt relief program is part of LAFCU’s financial literacy program, which helps the Michigan credit union fulfill its desire to help strengthen the communities it serves.

Eligible participants were those who live, work, serve, or attend school in Michigan, the credit union’s geographic service area. They were not required to be members of LAFCU.

About LAFCU

LAFCU, founded in 1936, is a not-for-profit financial cooperative open to membership to anyone who lives, works, worships or attends school in Michigan, as well as businesses and other organizations located in Michigan. The credit union serves 72,000 members and has more than $950 million in assets. It was named the best credit union to work for in 2020. LAFCU offers a wide range of financial products and services, as well as an expanding suite of financial technology solutions. Members enjoy benefits such as low fees, low loan interest rates, high savings returns, discounts, knowledgeable staff and access to free ATMs nationwide. Recipient of the national Dora Maxwell Award for Social Responsibility for Credit Unions, LAFCU enriches the communities it serves by supporting a variety of organizations and causes. To learn more about LAFCU, call 800.748.0228 or visit www.lafcu.com.

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Photo captions

LAFCU Debt Relief Grant1-Candice Collier.jpg — At LAFCU’s Virtual Debt Relief Grant Presentation, word cloud for Candace Collier’s the essay highlights the financial freedom she seeks. Pictured from left are Shelia Scott, Candace Collier, Alexis Hodges, Lisa O’Connor and Zach Williams.

LAFCU Debt Relief Grant 2-Alexis Hodges.jpg — At LAFCU’s Virtual Debt Relief Grant Presentation, word cloud for alexis hodges essay highlights her life-long work to obtain a college education that would make her mother proud. Pictured from left are Shelia Scott, Candace Collier, Alexis Hodges, Lisa O’Connor and Zach Williams.

LAFCU Debt Relief Grant3-Lisa Neino.jpg — At LAFCU’s Virtual Debt Relief Grant Presentation, a word cloud for Lisa Nain’s essay highlights her financial journey. Pictured from left are Shelia Scott, Candace Collier, Alexis Hodges, Lisa O’Connor and Zach Williams.

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