Listening without judgement
Yvonne was always interested in finances. Before joining Tabor, she worked at Fulton Bank and listened to a program on WDAC radio called Crown Ministries which was about money management. It was there she heard about Consumer Credit Counseling and she thought, “That would be kind of cool to work at something like that.” She didn’t know the job would actually pay, but she was curious enough to check out Lancaster’s Consumer Credit Counseling Service (CCCS) which was a division of Tabor Community Services. (This division is now known as The Ann B. Barshinger Financial Empowerment Center for Lancaster County and CCCS is just one of many services provided.)
“I called and asked if I could have a tour,” she remembers, “and Michael Sprunger [then head of Tabor’s CCCS] gave me the tour and I took a resume along. A couple months later he said there was an opening, did I want to put my resume in the mix. I said, ‘Sure.’ So I had an interview with Mike Weaver [then Tabor’s president] … the longest interview I’ve ever had … full of opened ended questions like, ‘How would you relate to a culture that is unlike yours?’” Mike must have liked Yvonne’s answer because she was hired.
For 15 ½ years, Yvonne has held several counseling positions at Tabor, but is back to her favorite position as a financial counselor. Here she helps people develop their spending plans and provides education on what credit is and how they can improve their credit.
“I like helping people figure out that next step in their journey,” she says. “Some people come in and it’s just very overwhelming. They don’t know where to begin. Some people don’t know anything about spending plans, so I really like helping people figure that part out.
“A few years ago my husband and I had financial difficulty and we were able to pay it back. Being in this job helps me give back to the community. I like helping people sort it out. I like educating them how to set up a spending plan and establish good credit. I think everybody deserves respect ... everybody has a story … and I like to listen without judgement.”
Listening without judgement is a skill that every counselor at Tabor, TLC and Beth Shalom continues to practice and develop. Every client has a different story and a different journey and the counselors have to be able to meet each client where they are and help them develop an individual plan to successfully reach their own goals.
Yvonne recalls one situation that was a little different than most. “I recently had a couple come in and they knew about spending plans and they knew about credit. They came in because they wanted to improve their spending plan and they had already been through Dave Ramsey’s course, Financial Peace University, at their church. So they knew all the basics and they wanted to have a better spending plan. They had very different personalities. She wanted to track every penny and he did not want to be that detailed.
“They were sitting here talking back and forth. I think coming in here helped because there’s not a lot of emotion. I’m not a family member. I’m somebody they don’t know so it’s kind of easy to talk and they don’t want to go into all the emotion that couples have sometimes.
“So they decided that they were going to give him $70 a month that he didn’t have to be accountable for and then she could track the rest to every penny. And that was the plan they came up with while they were sitting here.
“The other thing is they didn’t have a spending plan [for the future]. This was my suggestion to save for car maintenance, and home maintenance and gifts and vacations as a starting point and then hopefully they could build that up so they’d have it for emergencies also.
“So that was an interesting session for me. It was more like the financial coaching that we want to do more of. I made a few suggestions, but they basically figured it out themselves. And a lot of people do that. They just need a third person.
“Every client has a story. Sometimes the budgeting part is a little mundane, but when you focus on the people, it’s important, because it’s part of their story.”
To anyone considering making a donation to Tabor, Yvonne says, “Give whatever you can. Tabor’s an excellent organization. We’re helping people with housing and helping people get their finances in order. We’re a team here and we care. We care about each other and we work hard because we care about our community.
“I love my job,” she says finally. “I hope I can do it a long time yet.”