(Source: Oregon.gov) — Approximately 2% of adults need help managing personal finances due to mental or physical impairments. Here in Oregon that means about 84,000 people who, without support are vulnerable to fraud and financial abuse. They are often isolated and living in fear of losing their independence.
The Oregon Money Management Program, coordinated statewide through a DHS partner, Easter Seals Oregon, supports people who need help with money management tasks. Services are provided by trained and supervised volunteers who work one-on-one with each person. The Oregon Money Management Program is part of the AARP Foundation, AARP’s affiliated charity, which offers Bill Payer and Representative Payee services. The Money Coach Program, developed and offered by Easter Seals Oregon, provides a third level of service. Together these two programs make up the Oregon Money Management Program.
“Financial worries can become disabling to even the healthiest of men and women — it is all the more impactful to those who are older or physically challenged,” explained Carol Cookson, Director, Oregon Money Management Program. “Financial security is being able to understand and pay bills on time, manage credit, organize financial papers and file taxes,” she said. “By calming financial distress, clients’ quality of life improves greatly.”
Last year, program services protected over $6 million in funds by providing monthly one-on-one service to 550 clients who have an average monthly income of $968.
Cookson and a state advisory council have set a goal of expanding program services throughout the state. Currently, services are available in Clackamas, Douglas, Jackson, Josephine, Lane, Multnomah, and Wasco Counties. Work is underway to establish new programs in Columbia, Linn/Benton, Marion, and Deschutes Counties.
Prior to becoming the State Coordinator for the Oregon Money Management program, Cookson was a banker for 19 years.
“At the end of my banking career, I was looking for a rewarding and challenging career when I was offered a position as the program coordinator for the Money Management Program in Clackamas County. I fell in love with the program because of the volunteers — they are great people who are incredibly invested in their community,” Cookson said.
“Program volunteers provide an invaluable service to their clients, their community and state. Helping keep clients independent, protected and living with less stress, reduces the need for more costly supports,” she said.
To learn more about volunteering, finding a program near you, or starting a new program, go to www.or.easterseals.com or contact Easter Seals Oregon at 800-556-6020 or e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.