Money Doesn't Grow on Trees, Neither Does a Budget

By Camaron Abundes   
NewsWest 9

ODESSA- In the back corner of the Faith Temple Church at 1335 E. 6th Street in Odessa, single moms and women struggling to make ends meet, tackle the dreaded family budget.

"I did not know 'Wake Up and Dream' could do so much but just in the several weeks I've been here, it has opened up several opportunities for me," Dawn Herrington said she is finally on track to earn her Degree and move forward in her life.

Wake Up and Dream Founding Director Mariah Stittsworth stresses the importance of having a plan for the women. Stittsworth says she pulled her life together nearly two decades ago after finding herself homeless.

"Self-esteem is the biggest need. When life has beaten you down to the point where you're self capable of achieving, then guess what, that's where you're going to stay. All it takes is one person to say 'I believe you can and I'll help you get there'," Stittsworth said. "Having understood what it takes to make it from the very bottom rung to wherever you are today. I still have hopes and dreams and things I am working on, but I've come a long way."

Financial 101 is just one of many life skill classes, single mother of three Charlotte Crawford now can't live without. Each week, she shares what she learns with her kids. This week, play money is helping women like Crawford come up with a family budget. Next week, they will work on debt reduction.

"I sit them down and tell them what I learned today, so it's helping them and they're like 'Mama, I was going through this today at school'. So it's helping me and my kids to get stronger, to do better to help them," Crawford said.

The class is like a support group, offering friendship, faith, and sometimes tough love.

"I have to pray a lot, so yes it's a lot of stress, especially raising boys by yourself but between Jesus and Moriah, I am making it," Crawford chuckled.

Each member must pay ten dollars for 12 classes or volunteer her time to take part.

"That way everybody gives something; either time or income. I have some ladies who pay it out 1 dollar at a time. That's what they can do," Stittsworth calls it a hand up not a handout.

Stittsworth urges anyone who would like to help to donate GED study guides. Stittsworth wants to loan the books out to the women to help them continue on the path to success. Someday she hopes to open a women's transitional home for mothers and children and she wants to open the life skill classes to men.