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VCE Prince William County wins Lighting the Way Award from the SunTrust foundation

Paige Thacker, Muriel Garr, and Victoria Neeley

From left: Paige Thacker, VCE Prince William County unit director; Muriel Garr, vice president, SunTrust Foundation; and Victoria Neeley, program manager, VCE Financial Education and Housing Counseling Program.

Virginia Cooperative Extension Prince William County (VCEPW) recently received a “Lighting the Way to Financial Well-Being” award from the SunTrust Foundation. The Financial Education and Housing Counseling Program of VCEPW was among 36 non-profits nationwide to receive this award to further local efforts in helping people build financial skills and confidence.

The $75,000 award supports Extension’s Financial Education and Housing Counseling program.  The program will use the funds to increase hours for the office’s financial counselors offering more counseling services through fiscal year 2020, said the unit’s director, Paige Thacker. “We’re going put more staff in front of clients to help the community improve their finances, through one-on-one budgeting sessions, financial assessments, and coaching sessions to help clients develop their own plan and achieve their personal financial goals.”

The Financial Education and Housing Counseling programs include seminar topics such as Getting Ready for Taxes, Understanding and Improving Your Credit, Ways to Avoid Fraud, Smart Money Management, and other sessions to help reduce debt, increase savings, plan for retirement, and plan for that big first-time home purchase. These research-based seminars incorporate the latest best practices for better personal financial management and are provided at no cost to the community.

VCEPW provides pre-purchase homebuyer counseling, post-purchase financial counseling and coaching, foreclosure prevention counseling, rental counseling, and financial recovery counseling.

The housing programs and counseling offered by VCEPW are certified by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Thacker said. “We’ve gone through the accreditations and are recognized by HUD as a certified resource for housing counseling. Our services follow the National Industry Standards for Housing and Financial Counseling. There aren’t that many organizations in Northern Virginia that are HUD-certified and that follow those high standards. We’ve taken the time to go through designations, develop our staff appropriately, and ensure our services to the community are professional and confidential.”

“We would like to thank the SunTrust Foundation for supporting growing financial counseling services to the Prince William County and surrounding community through The Lighting the Way Award,” Thacker said. “It will benefit many more individuals helping them to achieve financial skills, stability and confidence.”

More information about VCEPW’s Financial Education and Housing Counseling program is available at pwcgov.org/money or by emailing smartmoney@pwcgov.org.

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