A Home and A Hand
Looking back, Monic McMiller realizes that she was too generous.
She couldn’t say no when her friends and extended family asked her for money. Her own ability to save paired with a stable career as a nurse weren’t enough to keep her out of financial trouble.
She thought she was making the right decisions and being helpful, but in the end, she couldn’t manage her resources.
“I was trying to help everybody but myself,” she says.
McMiller moved to Dallas nine years ago, and her marriage dissolved. As financial pressure mounted, she needed to make a change. She couldn’t afford the life she was leading and began struggling financially.
“Decisions I made in the past were still haunting me and made me revisit a part of my life where I was feeling worthless,” she says.
A friend told her about Interfaith Family Services, located on Ross near Greenville, which helps families facing extreme financial hardship. It was just what she needed to get her life back on track.
“Coming to Interfaith has helped me figure out what is most important,” she says.
McMiller and her sons, 12 and 10, live at Interfaith, which offers housing and support for families experiencing homelessness. Clients may stay at Interfaith for six to 12 months, where they attend counseling and receive financial and success coaching in an effort to graduate from the program capable of supporting themselves. Clients are supported through the program as they learn to restructure their financial lives. McMiller moved into one of the fully furnished apartments, which included everything from toothpaste to food in the refrigerator.
Interfaith helps parents find a job that will lead to independence, and provides childcare, activities and tutoring for the children who live there.
“I don’t have to worry about where my kids are,” McMiller says. “My kids love it here.”
The transition to Interfaith wasn’t completely smooth. “When I first came here, I thought, ‘What have I done?’ ”she says. “I didn’t want to be told what to do.”
But over time, she began to understand the benefits of the structure that Interfaith provides. Counseling is the most impactful part of the program for McMiller, but she knows she would not have been successful if she didn’t fully commit to the program.
“You have to have your mind made up,” she says.
Interfaith was founded nearly 30 years ago, and has steadily grown over the years at their East Dallas location as they equip parents and educate children for independence. The facility maintains 25 apartments for clients, and is currently building a new Family Empowerment Center, which will include adult education and childcare services. The new facility will allow Interfaith to reach 300 struggling parents and 500 children a year, including those who don’t live on site.
Like all the families at Interfaith, McMiller pays 30 percent of her income as a monthly occupancy charge, but when graduates exit the program, Interfaith gives back everything clients paid in rent to get them on solid financial footing.
McMiller learned that saying no to those she loves isn’t the end of the world, and that in the long run, focusing on her own family was her most important priority.
“Interfaith doesn’t make you feel like you are a sorry case,” she says. “They don’t treat you like you are the reason you are there. They genuinely help you.”
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