AFI Participant Christa McMichael Uses her Success to Motivate Others

Christa McMichael never thought she’d own a home. She and her two daughters had just moved to Owensboro, Kentucky to escape from a situation plagued with violence and substance abuse.  While she studied to become a Certified Nursing Assistant at a local community college, the family lived in subsidized housing, charging many of their expenses to credit cards.

Soon Christa found herself in debt with poor credit. At a presentation on Individual Development Accounts given by OASIS, a site of the Kentucky Domestic Violence Association (KDVA), she learned that she could have her savings matched 2 for 1.  Christa decided to enroll in the program, which also offered financial literacy and one-on-one counseling sessions.

At OASIS, Christa gained trust in her credit counselor. “She sat down and went over my credit with me, which was the scariest thing…”  Christa relates.

While Christa repaired her credit, she tried to save as much of her small work-study income as she could.  “Sometimes I would put $20 here and $20 there, sometimes more, and sometimes I didn’t have the $20 to save that month,” she recalls. .

Christa’s diligence paid off.  She used her savings and matching funds to complete her CAN (Center for American Nurses) and LPN (Licensed Practical Nurse)programs, then landed a job at a nursing facility.  In 2009, she opened a second IDA, saved the maximum $2,000, and improved her credit score by more than 150 points.  Less than a year later, Christa and her daughters moved into their brand new three-bedroom home. 

Her advice to other IDA participants is to stick with the program.  “Sometimes it just seems there’s no way out of debt and it’s hard to save, but once you hang in there and the more you learn, the better off you’ll be.”