Just another day of the week for some.
But for people in the Returning Home program – and for Todd White – Tuesday means dollars and cents. And, over time, a measure of financial freedom. White volunteers as a teacher for the post-incarceration money-management course.
“The odds are stacked against people working to re-enter society,” said White, who works as a Mortgage Production Manager for Regions in Fayetteville, Arkansas. “They immediately face the challenges of paying hefty fines and court costs, as well as coming up with rent and deposit fees. It can be overwhelming.”
But White knows a lot about managing money. And three years ago, he saw an opportunity to serve, leading these weekly classes in conjunction with the nonprofit Credit Counseling of Arkansas.
His teaching style is direct and relatable.
“Todd is very personable,” said Mark Foster, Director of Education with CCOA. “He’s easy-going, friendly and doesn’t take himself too seriously.”
White is also honest about missteps he made with his own finances years ago.
I lay myself bare and tell the truth about my own mistakes.
Todd White, Mortgage Production Manager for Regions
“I use myself as an example,” said White. “I lay myself bare and tell the truth about my own mistakes.”
White’s approach lowers the anxiety program members often have about getting their finances in order while also seeking employment and trying to make the most of their second chance at life.
“They want to talk about credit,” said White. “They want to hear about credit scores and how to make theirs better. We discuss things in practical terms. The cost of buying a new car versus a used one. The difference between wants and needs.”
Over the last three years, CCOA has served nearly 20,000 people. Foster notes the value added by volunteers like White.
“There would be no financial education program to serve our at-risk clients at Returning Home without Todd and volunteers like him,” noted Foster. “We can’t do it alone.”
The financial sessions are just one aspect of a broader program. Returning Home also addresses medical care, mental health, addiction recovery and workforce development needs.
“Our class participants are very interested in learning,” said Foster. “They’re hungry to learn about finances and about life skills.”
White is grateful for the chance to be part of this project dedicated to empowering people, as well as others.
“Regions highly encourages us to volunteer in the community,” said White. “We’ve been able to bring our Mortgage group together for a clothes-sorting project where we can help others and connect as a team at the same time.”
White’s commitment to volunteerism is one that’s valued in Northwest Arkansas.
“Todd has shared a lot of his personal time teaching the CCOA budgeting courses,” said Jerry Vest, Market Executive for Regions in Rogers. “That’s the true spirit of volunteerism and community. He’s just giving back.”
White is focused on paying it forward, given that others have done the same for him.
“I had people pour into me when I was younger,” said White. “They took me under their wing. If I can do that, it’s worth my time.”
And even more rewarding are the moments where he can make a positive impact.
“I remember a young guy who stepped into a problem by accident,” said White. “He was working to find a good place to live and financially provide for a baby. I felt like he could do it. And I wanted to help him get there.”
Just another Tuesday.