When Ingrid Young walked out of prison in 2009 after serving a four-year sentence, her first thought was to hug her two daughters for more than 10 seconds.
“I was overwhelmed with emotion of being able to hug my children,” Young said. “A lot of times, you can’t really touch them in prison.”
The second thing that crossed her mind was that she needed money for new clothes. Young had gained 37 pounds – from 125 to 162 – while she was in prison for a sentence of possession with intent to deliver more than 1,000 grams of cocaine.
“I didn’t have anything that fit me,” said Young, of Detroit. “I needed everything from underwear to brassieres. I immediately started thinking about my finances.”
At that time, Young was more than $4,000 in debt, didn’t know how to balance a checkbook, had no job and had terrible credit. In the years since, she has owned three homes – she just sold two of them – and became a union millwright.
It’s all because Young has been a participant in the Goodwill Industries of Greater Detroit’s Flip the Script and Center for Working Families programs. Flip the Script is a self-empowerment program designed to put Detroit/Wayne County’s at-risk men and women to work by breaking down employment barriers such as literacy, GED certification and job skills. The Center for Working Families program is a financial training model that provides financial services including financial coaching, financial planning/budgeting, and workforce and career development opportunities.
“Ingrid benefited from our CWF services because of the holistic relationship and the support it afforded her,” said Keith Bennett, program director at Goodwill Industries of Greater Detroit. “It inspired her to believe accumulating wealth and ownership was still viable. All she needed was encouragement.”
The encouragement came from Young’s financial coach, Simeon Hill. Young said Hill since 2010 has been a key person in her life, training her to keep herself “financially free.”
“Ingrid wanted to grow her net worth. I am very happy to see she is doing just that – by taking very good care of her credit score,” Hill said. “We talked about how easy this could be – if you develop a mental position on four things: saving money; being on time; exhibiting self-control; and always understanding what you may be getting yourself into.”
Seung Kim, senior director for the Local Initiatives Support Corporation – which operates the national network of Financial Opportunity Centers (FOCs) that includes the Center for Working Families in Detroit - said Young’s story of success speaks to the power of bundled services that address employment and personal finance challenges. LISC has tested and expanded the FOC model over the last decade to help low- to moderate-income people build smart money habits and focus on the financial bottom line.
LISC supports more than 80 FOCs across the country, which are managed locally by community-based organizations that are trusted, known for their history of providing quality services, and convenient to where people live and seek out services. Kim said financial coaching boosts employment retention.
“Families in our communities are hard-working and entrepreneurial – they’ve just lacked access,” Kim said. “Our FOC partners provide a social network of supports, understanding of career pathways and connections to employers.”
As Young became more deeply engaged in these programs, she became more interested in careers in the skill and construction trade industry. With strong math skills, Young routinely tutored other program participants while preparing to test for a millwright apprenticeship. By 2012, she was accepted into the Millwright Apprenticeship Local 1102 Detroit and she recently was promoted from apprentice to journeyman.
Young’s youngest daughter, Jamiah, was just 10 months old when she entered prison in 2005. She is 13 now. Her oldest daughter, Destiny, is a 20-year-old junior at Western Michigan University majoring in biomedical science.
When she left prison, Young didn’t know where she and her children would live. But by focusing on better employment and financial management, she was able to purchase a trio of homes in Detroit, providing stability for her and her daughters. She was able to do this while also battling breast cancer, and Young celebrated being two years cancer free in October.
Today, she is in the process of earning an associate’s degree in construction technology from McComb County Community College and a bachelor’s in construction management from Wayne State University.
Young is thankful to for the counseling that helped put her on the path to financial stability and is an active volunteer with the organizations that supported her, as well as in other community events. She participates as a volunteer in a yearly softball charity classic hosted by former Red Wings player Joey Kocur and serves on the election committee for her local union. She also schedules numerous public speaking appearances across the Detroit area to tell her story of success.
“What this did for me was to help me totally turn my life around,” Young said. “When I went to Goodwill Industries, I was in a state where I didn’t know what to do. I had no direction, and I had to put together a whole new life. They gave me a broader vision of what I could be, and it made me see that there were opportunities.”
For more information on Flip the Script, visit https://goodwilldetroit.org/services/for-individuals/flip-the-script/