SPOTLIGHT #6: Christian Community Services, Inc. (CCSI)

Have you ever felt hopeless, stressed and unsure about the future? Have you ever wanted to start doing better in life, but just wasn't sure where to start? It can be very overwhelming and frustrating. Especially if you don't have the support you need to not only motivate you, but to inspire and hold you accountable to execute the plans to change your life. In 2010 when I was still living in my hometown of Nashville, TN, I learned about a Mentoring Toward Independence (MTI) program organized by Christian Community Services, Inc. (CCSI). This is a program that provided the support, encouragement, resources and tools needed to break the cycle of living paycheck to paycheck. They helped people to overcome many life struggles to improve their finances, becoming self-sufficient so you don't have to rely on government assistance, going back to school, starting a business, purchasing a home and so much more. The opportunities with this program was way more than I anticipated. I knew it was a great program, but it totally changed my life in more ways than one. 

I was in the Mentoring Toward Independence (MTI) program from August 2010 through June 2011. We met once a week every Tuesday. We represented all types of families. There were couples with and without children and there were single men and women with and without children. We all had dinner together first, then we all split up into our own classes. The adults had a class and the children had their own class. My daughter won 2nd place in a Savy Saver contest. She was 7 years old at the time and loved the program as well.

We not only learned how to improve our finances, we also learned how to become a better person overall. We learned how to inspire others, just as they inspire us. We learned that everyone has a story and as a community we can all help each other succeed. We learned that it's not always about us, it's about servicing others. Get your life in order so you can help the next person do the same. When we all work together, we all can be great individually and as a team, as a community and as a family. 

At the beginning of each class, we recited a quote that still resonates with me today, "Change will not happen until the pain of staying the same exceeds the pain of change." That quote is simple yet so powerful. We all may want to change, but are we ready to do the work? Are we ready to be uncomfortable? Are we ready to admit our truth and no longer be in denial about it? Are we ready to get rid of old habits and create new ones? No matter who you are, where you're from, or what level you're on in your life journey, we all have to accept that change is part of the process.

Change isn't a one time event. It's going to happen throughout your lifetime. As you grow and evolve, you will change. Your life, your surroundings and environment will change. The people you connect with and your experiences will change. Don't get left behind because you are scared, confused, ashamed, embarrassed, or to prideful. Most of us have been there and we now know that those feelings only hold you back. Start today by embracing change and what it can do for you!

SPOTLIGHT #6: Christian Community Services, Inc. (CCSI)

Christian Community Services, Inc. (CCSI) began in 1997 as a partnership between Schrader Lane Church of Christ and Woodmont Hills Family of God Church of Christ. The predominately African American congregation, under the leadership of Dr. David Jones, Jr. and predominately Caucasian congregation, under the direction of Dr. Rubel Shelly sought to address the racial and economic barriers that often crippled those trying to move from government dependence to self-sufficiency.

In its 18 years of operation, CCSI has grown from a church ministry partnership to a fully operational 501c3 with multiple staff, working Board and annual budget of  $275,000. During this time, CCSI partners became a key tenant and contributor to the Vine Hill Community Center where their office is currently housed. 

CCSI provides the resources, tools and encouragement to move from government dependency to self-sufficiency through its financial literacy programs: Mentoring Toward Independence, monthly Basic Financial Training workshops and monthly THDA Home Buyer Education workshops. Additionally, MTI participants are eligible to open an Individual Development Account that is a matched savings program in which the participant uses for a large asset purchase such as a home, microenterprise or higher education tuition.

Since 2000, 148 CCSI families have moved from government dependency to self-sufficiency saving taxpayers over $3.3 million in government subsidies. 117 of those who are self-sufficient are first-time home owners who collectively are paying over $696,000 in annual property taxes. At CCSI, together with their volunteers, faithful supporters, dedicated staff and determined participants, they are CHANGING LIVES and BUILDING LEGACIES!

On February 17, 2018 I returned to my hometown to share some details about my story and how the program changed my life. Check out my blog post "5 Reasons Why You Should Share Your Story" for more insight on how and why I shared my story. I want people to know that we all fail and we all have some struggles, but it doesn't have to define who we are or what our future will be. We can use those negatives and turn them in to positive to not only help ourselves, but to help others as well.

Now let's shine a light on this amazing organization this week. Are you ready to make life changes for yourself and others? Do you know someone who needs the support to make changes in their lives? Do you or someone you know live in the Nashville, TN area? Would you like to donate? If so, please contact them directly.

Check out the video below for more information on the program. You don't want to miss out on this inspiring message!

CCSI organization video produced in 2014 by Sandy Brownlee and crew from Lipscomb University.

Do you know an individual, organization, or a small business that deserves a spotlight? If so, please contact me with the details. Thank you!