THRIVE offers assistance to those struggling financially

WESTFIELD-Financial coach Jennifer Feldman wants her clients to “thrive” as she helps area residents reach their monetary goals – especially as many are still struggling due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Many of the seniors need the same help as my other clients, such as budgeting and money management, debt reduction, savings, banking, and sometimes credit repair,” said Feldman. “Many seniors also call regarding help with their taxes. We have our VITA program, which is a program where people can get their taxes done for free.”

Prior to the pandemic, Feldman said THRIVE financial success centers were located on Maple Street in Holyoke and at the Westfield Athenaeum. THRIVE, a one stop financial resource, is a program of the United Way of Pioneer Valley.

“THRIVE has been up and running during the pandemic and yes, we have had people calling during the pandemic as many people have been struggling during this time,” said Feldman. “New clients definitely reached out due to financial struggles and needing help during the pandemic.”

Jennifer Feldman is featured on local cable Channel 15 this month discussing THRIVE, a program of the United Way of Pioneer Valley. (SUBMITTED PHOTO)

Feldman said the organization has a wealth of information ready for clients that ranges from unemployment benefits to student loans.

“Our normal coaching model is in person, but we have been doing appointments by phone for now and the appointments have been going well,” she said.

In this month’s segment of “Westfield Council On Aging Presents,” hosted by Harry Rock on local cable Channel 15, Feldman delves into the array of free and confidential services offered through THRIVE to area residents. The 40-minute program will air on June 8, 15, 22 and 29 at 2:45 p.m. For persons who do not have access to Channel 15, another way to view the program is by visiting www.cityofwestfield.org, and under “Community,” click on Community Access TV, CH 15 Live Stream.

“I work with clients doing individual, confidential financial coaching,” said Feldman. “Not only do I help them with their concrete financial goals, but I also provide support, help them overcome life challenges and obstacles, and provide advocacy.”

Among the varied ways that Feldman can also assist area residents is providing education on their credit reports, credit scores, and how to improve the credit score, as well as helping with building assets.

“I refer clients to resources as well,” said Feldman. “Some clients need help with financial issues that are particular to them.”

Feldman said what makes THRIVE “unique” is its coaching model – a one-on-one approach rather than in a group setting.

Before the pandemic, Feldman could meet with clients at their bank or even a gas or electric company to discuss options if they were late paying a bill, and could also participate in a call with clients and a creditor or collection agency.

“I also did THRIVE on the Go, where I would travel to people that couldn’t come to us,” she said. “Due to the pandemic, I am now meeting with clients over the phone. We hope to go back to our in person coaching model.”

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