Saving Grace with Dignity

Chris Ulery had been married for 25 years and suddenly found herself going through a divorce, and trying to make it on her own.  As a wife, mother, and grandmother, this was not something she had prepared for at this point in her life.

She made the decision to return to school and while she was pursuing her Master’s degree she learned about the Individual Development Account (IDA) program at REAL Services. The IDA is a matched-savings program that helps income-eligible participants save money to purchase a home, fix up a house, pursue higher education or start and grow a small business.  While working on her Master’s degree at Indiana University South Bend, Chris had launched a non-profit business that helps the homeless and low-income community.

“The IDA Program was a God-send in so many ways,” said Chris.  “I wasn’t self-confident, and wasn’t sure how my business was going to grow. Throughout the IDA program, I was able to take Smart Money courses which taught me about finances, something I was never able to do as an adult or in my married life. I also took the additional steps to build my credit score.”

After the divorce, Chris needed a home. Although her income was small, her credit score had improved, thanks to the IDA program through REAL Services. She applied for a loan, and REAL Services helped her apply for the matching funds from the IDA which was enough for the down payment and closing costs. Chris is in love with her new home and her mortgage payments are less than rent, and she feels she is making a true investment as a home owner.

There were additional funds from her loan which allowed Chris to buy a computer for her business. She could also afford to pay to receive her social work license. Today is she able to help her clients through writing grants and applying for funds that they need.

“I cannot thank REAL Services for all that they have done in the last four years,” said Chris. Their help and the IDA Program have already ‘paid it forward’ and because of what I learned and experienced, I can continue to bless others.”

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