For Deanna Miller-Berry, life was quickly going from bad to worse.
She was trying to recover from a devastating divorce while taking care of her three children, two with special needs. Meanwhile, one of her children was struggling with serious health issues.
Miller-Berry was trying her best to survive.
“I found myself having a nervous breakdown,” she said. “I didn’t know where to go, didn’t know where to turn. And I was homeless.”
She soon found a lifeline through Palmetto Community Action Partnership. Better known in South Carolina’s Lowcountry as Palmetto CAP, the non-profit works to create solutions for families in need.
Sheila West, an Asset Builder Director for the organization, said Palmetto CAP helps 8,000 families a year from its Charleston base. One of the ways the nonprofit helps most is through financial education, which it uses to end generational poverty.
For Palmetto CAP, solutions aren’t handouts. They’re offered with helping hands.
“You can give to people over and over again, but it doesn’t help the system, and it doesn’t help (those who need it),” said Arnold Collins, the Executive Director of Palmetto CAP. “We have a policy. If you’ve come to us for the second time, you’ve got to go through our financial literacy class.”
Palmetto CAP works with clients on building credit, financial planning, attaining mortgages and becoming homeowners. But the first step is all about managing money.
That’s where Regions comes in.
For Brian Ball and Brenda Joyce, part of the Commercial Banking team in Charleston, financial education entails face-to-face meetings, offering tips and solving needs.
“It’s really enjoyable when the conversation becomes interactive and they begin to ask questions, share their dilemmas, and we get to have a community discussion about how to solve those problems,” Ball said. “It’s not so much telling them what they need to do but how they can do it.”
For Joyce, teaching, in part, is about learning the difference between wants and needs. By choosing needs first, clients can better achieve their goals.
By working with partners across the Lowcountry, Palmetto CAP reaches thousands of families, making impacts across the community through education, workshops and youth programs.
Charleston has its own unique challenges, said Bill Linginfelter, the Georgia/South Carolina Area President for Regions. And those challenges are best addressed by the community as a whole.
Including community members such as Regions.
“So much of our success is driven by associates who care because they know what’s right and they know what they need to make the places they live and work better.” Linginfelter said.
Remember Deanna Miller-Berry? She went from homeless to helped. Now she’s providing the helping hand herself through the Saving Shannie Foundation, in honor of her daughter where she serves as CEO and founder. Working with the state legislature, Miller-Berry has pushed for a law that would mandate nationwide screens for airway defects in infants.
The success of Miller-Berry and others inspires Regions Community Affairs Manager Tiffany Kirk every day.
“When you’re teaching about financial education you are empowering people. That’s why I wake up and go to work every day,” Kirk said. “That’s what feeds me. That’s what keeps me moving in the right direction. That gives me energy.
“Getting out here and seeing the work that’s being done while working among others with the same level of passion makes my job that much easier.”