Eastside Neighborhood

Kalamazoo's Eastside Neighborhood Association showing neighbors a way to save

For years, Pat Taylor, Director of the Kalamazoo Eastside Neighborhood Association, had a vision of a neighborhood savings club. 

Tired of seeing residents make difficult financial decisions when it came to purchases because they had little or no savings, she wanted to create a group that would encourage putting money aside and also teach financial literacy.

And she wanted to help residents avoid unnecessary debt or predatory lending. “With education, residents can sit back and think about what they need versus what they want based on their knowledge,” says Taylor.

So Taylor is introducing the Savings Club at KENAs Show Me the Money Day, Wednesday, Feb. 17 from 5 to 7 p.m. and the KENA building, 1301 E. Main.

Like most fitness programs, saving money is always more fun if you have a group or supportive partners.

“The goal is for low-to-moderate income families not only to get their taxes done, but to stretch their wealth,” says Taylor.

Show Me the Money Day offers Eastside residents free tax preparation and financial information.Show Me the Money, a statewide program that helps provide free tax preparation services to lower-income families through neighborhood outreach, also provides information on money and time-saving programs available from a variety of institutions, including banks, local nonprofits and utility companies.

Now it its fifth year, Show Me the Money Day has continued to evolve to fit identified resident needs. The Northside neighborhood will also be hosting a Show Me the Money Day on Saturday, Feb. 9 at 11 a.m. at the Northside Association for Community Development, 612 N. Park.

“We offer this program because we’ve always had an issue with low to moderate income families going out and having their income taxes prepared for by non-certified tax preparers,” says Taylor. “When we found out the (federally-funded) VITA (Volunteer Income Tax Assistance) Program was in place, we promoted that, but we also wanted to have a program come into the neighborhood so folks wouldn’t have to go across town to get their taxes done.”

So far, confirmed vendors include:
• Primerica, an insurance and financial services organization, which will offer financial activities for youth, 
• Community Homeworks, a local nonprofit which offers workshops for home improvement and repair, 
• Comerica Bank, which will provide information on savings and budgeting, and 
• Utility companies, including Consumers Energy, which will have information on energy and money-saving programs.

The VITA volunteers will be available to help with tax preparation so interested residents should be sure to bring all their necessary income information.

“Our mission is to get this information to people so they know about it and can take advantage of it without digging a hole for themselves,” Taylor says. Helping residents save money is “another quality of life thing,” she adds. “Our first goal for Show Me the Money is that folks become aware of the resources out there, whether or not they want to do a Savings Club.”

For more information, please contact Taylor by email here. kenadirector@gmail.com

Read more articles by Theresa Coty O'Neil.

Theresa Coty O’Neil is a freelance writer, editor, and writing teacher with over two decades of covering people, places, and events in the Kalamazoo community. She is the Project Editor of On the Ground Kalamazoo.
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