CEF Member: Mark

“I’ve been cutting hair for about 30 years now, since I was 19 years old.” Mark is skilled in his trade and has been working consistently, but nonetheless found himself facing homelessness after he had to move out of his previous apartment and without enough savings. Mark shares, “I didn’t have any way to save my money because I couldn’t open a bank account… because when you have an account and you close it out and you still owe money to the bank, it’s pretty hard to get an account.”

Mark did not have a bank account for over seven years. Self-employed as a barber, saving without an account was incredibly difficult. Now, with his CEF matched savings account, Mark faithfully makes deposits every week. Mark shares, “I’ve been there in the shelter now for about 4 months and I’ve managed to save my money. And I’m looking for a place now and my money is right, so I’m shooting for January to start the new year right in my own place.”

Mark not only built savings to move out of the shelter immediately, but also built a real habit of savings. “I make my deposits every Wednesday. On my job we pay booth rent. We pay booth rent on Fridays, and I come here on Wednesdays and I make my deposit, usually $200-$260, and I try to hold on to at least $150 to pay my booth rent on Friday. So once I pay my booth rent on Friday then I can start saving Saturday, Sunday, Monday, Tuesday to make my deposit on Wednesday.” Perhaps the best part about this habit is that Mark also always squeezes in time to go fishing – one of his absolute favorite pastimes – right around his Wednesday meeting with his Advocate.

He is a huge proponent of the CEF savings accounts. “Where else can you save money, and they give you 10% of your savings after you meet your goal, and the only requirement for the goal is to educate yourself on how to be independent and take care of your bills and stuff of that nature. It’s phenomenal.”

Mark not only surpassed all of his savings goals so far, but also improved his credit and achieved a broad range of goals. His Advocate Kevin reflects on learning from Mark’s astounding progress, sharing, “We’re doing the financial coaching sessions together, and he actually was the first member that I’ve worked with about checking credit. And I realized that I should really know more about my own credit if I’m going to be working with him on his. I started checking my credit at the same time and we have been able to talk each month when it comes out and it changes and working on improving it together, and the same with saving as well. It’s been cool to be able to apply the financial coaching together with my own life, and really kind of share what we learn as we are doing it together.


Mark has a dream of completing his Associate Degree in counseling, and already has 49 credit hours towards this goal. “I’m just trying to finish that for my mother. She’s passed but she liked the idea of me getting an education… It would be something really special for me to have an Associate’s after coming from my past.” He and Kevin took the first steps towards this career goal by exploring transferring credits to a local college and by saving successfully for a laptop computer, which enables him to upgrade his computer skills as he prepares to go back to college.

While Mark prepares to move into his own place soon and to take the next steps in his career, Kevin and the whole CEF team are glad to be at his side.  After all his work, Mark says that CEF has “given me the confidence to know that I can save money… And the services they’ve provided have been helpful, not just to get housing but also… to not find myself in this situation again.”

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CEF: Community Empowerment Fund

Chapel Hill: 919-200-0233 Durham: 919-797-9233