Housing Assistance Corporation’s Family Self-Sufficiency Program is not as well-known as some of HAC’s other programs. But Wendi Marciezyk, 48, of East Falmouth may have changed that when she recently received a check for $35,000, money she earned by escrowing government funds designed to encourage self-sufficiency.
Just as impressive, she has a job in her field of medical billing coding at Cape Cod Healthcare and is on her way to buying her first home. Her success was all the buzz at HAC’s headquarters the day she “graduated” from the program.
Wendi said the HAC program motivated her to set goals and achieve independence, financially and in all parts of her life. “I’m very proud of myself and I’ve accomplished a lot in six years,” she said.
The Family Self-Sufficiency program allows working clients to escrow government funds as their rent is raised because of their rising income. “It really is a work program,” Jan Nelson, Family Self-Sufficiency Coordinator, said.
Wendi is an example of how HAC’s programs can move people from being recipients of the Department of Transitional Assistance’s cash benefits and Section 8 housing assistance, to working, saving money, and buying a home. That process can be scary for clients, Jan noted, because as incomes increase, clients lose money that has felt like a safety net, from food stamps, to childcare assistance to housing subsidies.
Jan has been working with Wendi almost since Jan began at HAC as the agency’s Family Self-Sufficiency Coordinator seven years ago. “She was one of my first clients,” Jan said. Wendi enrolled in the five-year program in May 2007, but they first met in 2006 when Wendi was unemployed and living on government assistance.
Over her years in the program, Wendi, who as Jan describes her, is “determined, very focused and goal-oriented,” obtained an associate’s degree at Cape Cod Community College, earned several certificates in her field of study, got a job at Cape Cod Healthcare, and now, with her escrow savings, is preparing to buy her first home. All of those milestones were accomplished while Wendi was a single mom raising a teenager, working two jobs, and, over the last several years, raising a grandchild.
How did she get to this point? Goal by goal.
Ms. Nelson flips through her records for Wendi, a bulging manila file that contains papers listing the numerous goals she accomplished in the program, from preparing her resume and inquiring into the field of medical coding, to rebuilding her credit and earning an associate’s degree.
Jan has a total of 42 clients in the Family Self-Sufficiency program now. In her years of coordinating the program, Wendi is--by far--the one who has saved the most money in escrow. Jan notes that Wendi is particularly notable because she went from zero earned income to a full-time job as an Out Patient Coder at Cape Cod Healthcare, a job she loves. But the quality that links all the clients in the program is that they are “goal-oriented,” Jan said, noting the extensive documentation that is required for all clients who participate.
“It is a very closely monitored program,” Jan said of the Family Self-Sufficiency program. The paperwork required revolves around setting goals, and Jan said Wendi knew what she wanted from the beginning. Her first goal was “to be gainfully employed and welfare-free the last year of the program,” which she accomplished, amazingly, within the first year.
We all join in congratulating Wendi on achieving that goal and so much more.