Senior Profile: Volunteer at Whatcom County Love INC advises people how to escape financial crisis

FOR THE BELLINGHAM HERALDJuly 14, 2014 

Retired accountant

Retired accountant, Darlene Moore, helps with budgeting while volunteering with Whatcom Love INC, Thursday, May 30, 2014, at Bellingham Covenant Church in Bellingham.

MATT MCDONALD — THE BELLINGHAM HERALD Buy Photo

Name: Darlene Moore.

Age: 63.

Hometown: Moore was born and raised in Bellingham, as were her parents.

Family: Moore is married with two sons and a granddaughter.

Knows numbers: Moore has a background in accounting, having worked for Olympic Health Management Systems, St. Luke's Foundation and, just before her retirement, Haggen and Top Food grocery stores.

Budget coach: For the past 11 years, Moore has worked with Whatcom County Love INC - meaning "in the name of Christ" - doing budget boot camps. The 12-week programs enable Moore and other volunteers to coach individuals or couples to help them escape financial crisis.

Through Love INC, Moore is able to put to her "God-given" talent to use, she says.

The boot camps are offered three times a year, but Moore works with people outside of the program, too, she says. Moore coaches people to learn how to face creditors, balance their checking account, manage credit cards, and "cut the apron strings," she says.

Many of her older clients find themselves in financial straits because they still support their adult children. Other clients are victims of theft or are not financially savvy.

Beyond budgets: The program requires clients to live according to their budget, Moore says, which is the easy part. The harder part - though fun for Moore, she says - is finding the root of the problem and finding solutions to make sure the problem doesn't reoccur. For some people, relapse is a reality.

"If I had a 100 percent success rate, I'd be in big demand," Moore says, chuckling.

Moore sees herself as a resource. She offers knowledge and opportunity, but it's up to the client to do the work and succeed. For some, that means going through the program more than once.

"I tell my clients when they come to me, 'I don't own your success and I don't own your failure, you get to own those,'" Moore says.

Advice and challenges: Moore advises her clients to do a variety of things. Credit cards, for example, should be a last-resort resource, and "pay day" loans should be avoided.

She tries to find methods that work for each individual, such as putting money into an envelope and having the person live within that amount for a set duration. It can be difficult making sacrifices, so Moore targets an end date for the financial burdens, to ease the client's constant worry about money.

Another challenge some of her older clients face is simply running out of money. For some, Social Security isn't enough to live on. A recent client in her 70s had to find a job to support herself.

For others, a common solution is to adjust their expenses to live within their means. Once Moore and her client pinpoint where the money is going, the client can decide what he or she can live without to make ends meet.

More than money: When she isn't involved in budget coaching, Moore enjoys cross-stitching, and visiting her son and his family in Boston.

She is also involved in her church, Our Saviour's Lutheran Church, where she does anything she is able to do, whether it's gardening, serving communion or serving as church treasurer.

Much of her time is spent helping others.

"I figure if I can help somebody, I should," she says. "I can't imagine how wonderful this world would be if everyone took what they are good at and taught somebody; if, instead of complaining about the world, we gave a hand up."

Meeting people and helping them confront the reality of their situation and find solutions is a fulfilling mission, Moore says.

"I always tell people, 'come to Love INC, they're handing out passion there,'" she says. "That's what they gave me."

Alisa Gramann is a freelance writer in Bellingham.

LEARN MORE

To contact Whatcom County Love INC, call 360-671-6201 or see whatcomloveinc.org.

Reach DEAN KAHN at dean.kahn@bellinghamherald.com or call 715-2291.

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