For Benjamin Franklin, a penny saved was a penny earned. But for participants enrolled in the Catholic Charities Individual Development Account (IDA) program, a dollar saved is two dollars earned. The IDA initiative is a savings program for working, income-qualified individuals and families to build household assets and financial security.
When clients save through an IDA account, their money will be matched two dollars for every dollar. The money that accrues can be used to buy a home, start or expand a small business, or pay for education costs such as tuition, books and fees.
When money is tight and bills are high, saving might seem impossible to many. But Tyrone Waters had his eye on the future. A Camden resident with 20 years of experience working in retail, Waters was in the midst of starting his own business. The IDA program was an opportunity to launch this new venture, and in doing so, invest in the future for himself and his family.
“I was hungry and I was anxious. I never went to college, but I wanted to provide security and stability for my family, and I want to have something to leave behind for my children,” Waters explained enthusiastically.
Waters first enrolled into the IDA program as a small business saver in March 2015 when he was in the process of trying to buy a home.
“Mr. Waters is definitely an exemplary IDA client,” explained Camille Cuentas, Catholic Charities IDA Program Coordinator. “He was always on top of making his monthly deposits and providing me with the necessary paperwork to properly utilize the funds of his IDA account.”
Waters used the money he saved in his IDA account — in addition to the matched dollars — to create his website, a business logo, and stock up on inventory.
Waters’ business, called the Queens’ Storehouse, is an online store that sells fashion accessories, skin care products, cultural items and gifts for home and family.
“The business is growing, and we’re slowly but surely developing a strong customer base. The products are unique and authentic, and we’re expanding our inventory. I even received orders all the way from Georgia and Colorado. I’m really proud of what it’s becoming,” Waters noted.
“It really has been such a pleasure to be part of his journey for the past year and see his business develop, and continue to develop, into everything he wants it to be. That’s what I love most about my job,” Cuentas added.
Waters’ goals and endeavors do not stop at providing financial security for his family.
“I want to use my business as a springboard to become a powerful voice. I want to help out people in my community, and eventually be able to give back and provide assistance to other people with things like education and scholarships,” he said. “My wife and I always talk about how this is about so much more than making money. We want to grow our business, but we want to encourage people in our community to start their own businesses, and volunteer, and keep their wheels turning. That’s just as important to us.”
Waters also took advantage of the services provided by Elishia Townsend, a financial coach at Catholic Charities, Diocese of Camden.
“Elisha is unbelievable. She’s been there every time a new financial challenge arises,” he said, “and never failed to help me organize my ideas and keep me focused. She makes me ask myself, ‘What’s the next step? Is this attainable? Is this affordable?’”
Like Cuentas, Townsend praised Waters as an exemplary, eager, and ambitious client and business-owner.
“Mr. Waters is an absolute joy to work with. He was the expert, and he knew what he wanted to do, there’s no question about that,” she explained, “when he came to Catholic Charities, I created a place for him to get his thoughts a little clearer. I ask him, and all my clients, questions, which prompt other questions that they might not have considered. I offer new perspectives when it comes to looking at their money.”
Saving and investing has become a generational goal in the Waters’ household. Waters’ 21-year-old daughter has now enrolled in the IDA program to save for her schooling, summer classes, and books.
To learn more about Catholic Charities’ Asset Development Program, visit: https://catholiccharitiescamden.org/ida/ or contact Elishia Townsend at firstname.lastname@example.org.