ACCPros Performs Community Service and Learns a Valuable Lesson

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In recognition of the challenges being experienced by so many of America’s cities, The Association of Credit Counseling Professionals (ACCPros) decided to spend its conference dollars where they would have the greatest impact; Detroit, a city that is currently experiencing some of the worst pressures of the economic downturn. While there, members shared financial expertise and muscle in effort to help low-income senior citizens in Detroit, and experienced something truly special.

Much of Detroit, Michigan, once the epicenter for capitalism, now lies in ruins. The city is an unfortunate example of the devastation wrought by the current recession and how far we truly have to go in order to recover. Some critics say Detroit will never recover, that all is lost.

With this as a backdrop, 21 Association of Credit Counseling Professional (ACCPros) members and supporters set out to “Lend a Hand in Detroit” through community service. To kick off its Winter Conference, ACCPros member agencies were tasked to perform critical work including landscaping, painting, cleaning and sharing their financial literacy expertise with local low income seniors.

Capitalizing on the unique partnership between the ACCPros and Volunteers of America – Michigan, ACCPros brought a busload of volunteers to the Oak Village Senior Center. The mood on the bus was upbeat as agency executives left the comfort of their downtown Detroit hotel and traveled to a part of the city especially in need of attention. Volunteers were struck by the sheer number of abandoned properties and there were many apprehensive faces on the bus as they made their way to the senior center. But, relief spread as the bus rounded the corner to reveal a maintained, but strained apartment complex. Some could tell that without support the complex could easily fall to the blight around them.

One volunteer was saddened when a resident of the surrounding community stopped him outside and asked for a “couple of smokes”. Being a reformed smoker, the credit counselor glibly replied that the cigarettes would kill him, but the resident said “no man, [cigarettes] won’t kill me, I’m from Detroit; bullets will kill me”

Painting a fence, moving rocks, planting bulbs for spring and presenting the seniors with information warning them of identity theft and other financial scams were all simple tasks,” said Russell Graves, president of ACCPros. “But, by working together, the results were significant as we improved the living conditions for the residents.”

Events such as this community service day are a part of the credit counseling industry that helps educate and counsel families that are suffering from burdensome debt loads. Member agencies are at ground zero of this financial crisis, helping families keep their homes, meet their financial obligations and feed their families.

“ACCPros is all about working together for the common good while motivating and inspiring others to do more – and that’s the best lesson of them all.”

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