Torienne Gonsalves (from left) with her mother Adrienne Gonsalves and Jan Nelson of HAC.
Ambition without a specific goal is essentially a dream.
But when Adrienne Gonsalves first stepped into the Housing Assistance Corporation’s office in 2010 she had both. “On the first day we met she told me she wanted to buy her own home,” said Jan Nelson, the administrator for HAC’s Family Self-Sufficiency (FSS) program. “And she wanted to work full-time and save money.”
The FSS program provided the path for Adrienne to achieve that goal. Now four years later she is at the doorstep to purchasing her own home, ideally in Hyannis, where she and her daughter Torienne, a sophomore at Barnstable High School, can live.
Adrienne was initially referred to Jan four years ago as a prime candidate for FSS, which provides incentives for those receiving federal and state assistance to increase their salaries. As those salaries grow so does their rent, with federal funds put into an interest-earning escrow savings account that is available to be used upon completion of FSS.
There was little doubt Adrienne would complete the program, according to Jan, who called her “very focused and very organized.”
When they first met Adrienne’s primary income came from a job as an on-call/per diem postal carrier. Though she longed to pursue that as a career, due to postal service cuts she was forced to choose a different path – dentistry.
She had worked as a dental assistant in the past and went back to school to receive her certification. Today Adrienne is now employed part-time as a certified dental assistant at Great Expressions Dental Center in Hyannis, while continuing to work part-time as a rural postal carrier.
Through FSS Adrienne was able to improve her finances, boost her confidence and attain self-sufficiency thanks to a number of practical classes that included the pathways to prosperity program and a financial literacy program, both of which were led by the non-profit Community Action Committee of Cape Cod and Islands (CACCI).
She also completed HAC’s classes focused on rebuilding credit and first-time homebuying.
Financially, she has been able to pay off her credit card debt, increase her savings and open an Individual Development Account (IDA) with CACCI. She was able to allocate $2,000 of her own money into that IDA, a figure that was matched giving her a total of $4,000 that can be used toward home ownership or a post-secondary education.
Those funds are on top of the $14,016.67 Adrienne received at the beginning of March – just two weeks shy of her 36th birthday – upon completion of the FSS program when her hard work was recognized during a ceremony at HAC’s offices in Hyannis. There Adrienne credited Jan for playing a pivotal role in her success. “She was very helpful and directed me to the resources I needed to achieve my goals,” Adrienne said.
Those goals continue to be focused on home ownership and today are much closer to a reality than ever before. Adrienne has been pre-approved for a mortgage and is working with realtor Gael Kelleher in HAC’s real estate division to find housing, proof that, with ambition and a little direction, goals are attainable.
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