A journey from financial crisis to advocate at Crisis Assistance Ministry

May is graduation month, and across the nation, families are proudly celebrating their loved ones’ achievements.  On Saturday, May 4, Crisis Assistance Ministry joyfully got in on the act, celebrating three new customer advocates.
Brittany, William and Kimberly were honored for successfully completing Crisis Assistance Ministry’s eight-week Customer Advocate Training program.  The training is offered to customers who have participated in the agency’s Economic Mobility program and expressed a desire to further the mission of providing help, hope and understanding for people struggling with limited financial resources.   
“As Charlotte searches for solutions to complex problems like affordable housing and racial segregation, there is a growing awareness that some important voices have been left out of the conversation,” Carol Hardison, Crisis Assistance Ministry chief executive officer, said.  
During their two-month training, the Customer Advocates attended weekly one-and-a-half-hour classes on topics such as public speaking, community advocacy and the current state of poverty in Charlotte.  
Each crafted a presentation of their personal story, including the journey from financial crisis to advocacy, and their vision for the future as agents of positive change in the community.
At the graduation ceremony, Brittany, William and Kimberly delivered their presentations to the gathering of family, friends and agency supporters.  Kimberly said, “I have found my voice and will utilize it to the best of my ability to help families like mine understand that there is hope, that life happens to everyone, and that we must not give up but continue to move forward.”
“Customer Advocates like Brittany, William and Kimberly will enrich public dialogue by sharing their stories and expertise in a variety of settings,” Hardison said.  “They have also grown in confidence, acquired new skills and developed social capital as a result of their participation in the program.  We are so proud of them.” 
Crisis Assistance Ministry helps Mecklenburg County families experiencing poverty with life’s most basic needs: emergency financial assistance for rent and utilities, plus clothing, household goods, furniture, beds and appliances provided free of charge.
To help families achieve self-sufficiency, customers are empowered through one-on-one coaching and strategic collaborations to remove barriers to economic mobility. To provide advocacy for people in financial crisis, community education and engagement opportunities help people understand the complexities and challenges of poverty.
If you have an inspiring story to share, email Kevin Campbell, WSOC-TV/WAXN-TV/Telemundo Charlotte, public affairs manager, at Kevin.Campbell@wsoctv.com