Volunteer of the Month
August 2, 2019
Why did you choose to volunteer with Eden Housing?
To survive the normal business ups and downs of life as an entrepreneur with an unsteady salary, I have needed to learn and practice sound long-term financial planning. With so much income and wealth inequality in the Bay Area, I looked for ways to share what I have learned with others who needed to steady their financial lives. When I saw the Eden Housing financial coach volunteer opportunity, I applied immediately.
What have you done as a volunteer? Please describe your role and what you have worked on.
I have coached two clients so far. In both cases, I listened to how my clients described their goals, strengths and challenges. Without any agenda of my own, together, we explored a number of possible goals for them to focus on within the context of this program. Once we found a goal they wanted to work on, we discussed the attitudes, behaviors and actions that got them to the present, and explored whether any might need to be adjusted in order to move ahead.
What have you learned through your volunteer experience? Have there been any surprises?
My clients want a better life for themselves and their children. Eden provides them with a sanctuary from exorbitant housing costs and a chance to sustain their financial health during their peak (single) parenting years. Neither of my clients make enough money to afford a market-priced housing market – without abandoning their children. Both clients were open to being coached in order to learn how to prepare themselves to be in a position to create a better future for their children and themselves.
What do you like best about volunteering with Eden Housing?
The opportunity to help others make progress in all aspects of their lives. Finance is the focus, but usually other areas like relationships become part of our discussion.
Are there any tips that you would share for someone else who is considering volunteering?
Be a good listener and leave your agenda at home. Instead of offering advice, try to ask good, open-ended questions that get your clients to think more deeply about their attitudes, behaviors and actions. To build trust, I sometimes share relevant and relatable personal stories about my own financial past, including obstacles and actions I took to achieve my goals. Eden Housing’s financial coach training was very helpful. I learned how our job as coach is to help clients see beyond their current situation and encourage them to overcome obstacles blocking progress. Our job is not to fix their problems for them, no matter how tempting.
Tell us something we may not know about you. Any interesting facts you’d like to share about your life?
I have a deep interest in forgotten foods. I ferment, culture and sprout all kinds of grains, legumes, vegetables and milk into delicious (to me) foods that were popular in ancestral diets in the past. Modern foods may be faster and more convenient, but our ancestors knew how to keep their health before refrigeration and markets existed