Photos and story by Fouad Abou-Rizk. All quotes by Dierdre.
Dierdre has lived in Winston-Salem, North Carolina for the majority of her life. She has two sons, aged 19 and 24.
Over 15 years ago, one of Dierdre’s co-workers went through the IDA (Individual Development Account) program at Experiment in Self Reliance, an organization which up to that point she had heard of but was not familiar with. “She knew that I was wanting to have a home someday and told me about the program that ESR had and I immediately made a phone call to find out what I needed to do to get involved.”
ESR taught Dierdre how to improve her credit score by paying off small debts. “They helped me to get on a budget plan. They set you up with a budget book and help you to learn to budget your money, [to] see where your money is going, what’s needed, what’s not needed.”
“I always thought I couldn’t save, but it showed you that you could save.”
One of the things she learned is the value of cooking her own meals rather than going out to eat.
With Experiment in Self Reliance’s guidance, Dierdre opened up a savings account. The funds she contributed to save for her future home were matched by ESR. “At the end of my twelve months, I had enough money to go towards inspections, down payment…”
Before she moved into her home, IDA partners taught her how to maintain the house so she would not have to pay a plumber or electrician to come fix a problem.
What Dierdre has learned about budgeting and saving money, she has shared with her sons. “Now that they are young adults, that is something that is ingrained in them.” She is proud to say that her oldest son has never called her asking for money.
“He is self-sufficient, and glory be to God! I am happy about that.”
In the past, Dierdre said she has gotten off track with budgeting, but, “the first thing I did was call the manager of the IDA program at the time and ask for a new budget book.”
One of ESR’s key programs reaching over 4000 people every spring is the Forsyth Free Tax program. Knowledgeable volunteers work with clients in various locations throughout Forsyth County to assist people in filing their taxes, free of charge.
“There is nothing better than saving that money in free taxes.”
What Dierdre values most about being educated by Experiment in Self Reliance is “not having to go to other people because I’ve learned to manage money as it should be.”
Now Dierdre is an advocate for ESR and seeks to use her knowledge to educate others. “If you can pay rent for seven hundred dollars a month, you can own your own home.” She said that when people participate in the IDA program, ESR works with them to make sure that they are financially secure that once they purchase a home, they will not lose it.
“You’re learning how to manage and become self-reliant, period.”
For over three years, Dierdre has been a member of ESR’s development committee and has been speaking at fundraising events in the community on their behalf. “I’m happy to be a voice for them and be a hand in any way that I can.”
“They do so much for the community. They have such great assistance for the low-to-moderate income people. It’s hard to get help from different agencies sometimes but I know for a fact that at ESR, this is what they’re doing.”