When Arsenal Credit Union (Arnold, Mo.) received a request for information on personal money management from a local MERS/Goodwill official who works at the Autism Employment Center in Brentwood, Mo., it did more than just provide print materials for the center’s clients. It offered to teach classes at the center to advance the mission of helping people with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) begin or continue their transition to self-sufficiency.
“The majority of my clients are just learning how to manage money,” explained Kyla Sewell, specialist of autism services at the center, who helps individuals transition to adulthood and work. “I was curious to see if my credit union had a program or training guide it uses with new members about opening an account, having credit cards, budgeting and loans. I was so excited that they were willing to come out and teach the group!”
|Kyla Sewell of MERS/Goodwill (left) worked with Jenny Remes (right) of Arsenal Credit Union to help individuals with ASD learn about money management.|
Jenny Remes, who is Arsenal’s primary financial educator, ended up creating customized presentations, just as she has done for many local schools over the past several years. She incorporated video and handouts into her one-hour presentations at the center, teaching 11 people in the first class and a dozen in the second one on consecutive Fridays.
“It was good community involvement,” said Remes. “Having never worked with a special group like this, I didn’t know what to expect, but they were really involved and asked good questions. It was a great experience.”
The Autism Employment Center, located within the MERS/Goodwill-Lippman Center at the 2545 S. Hanley Road, held a grand opening in March and is the first of its kind in the St. Louis area. The center was specially designed to include features that meet the needs of individuals with ASD. Besides teaching individuals on the autism spectrum what sort of behavior is appropriate in the workplace and helping them with job placement, the Center provides a space where they can meet and socialize. The center focuses on independent living and offers classes to build skills such as cooking and proper sanitation – and now personal finance, thanks to Arsenal Credit Union’s involvement.
“I really appreciate Arsenal CU coming out and speaking to the group,” Sewell said. “Not only did the group receive great information and resources, but they now have a better understanding about the importance of personal finance.”
MERS/Goodwill is a non-profit agency that provides for the vocational needs of individuals who have barriers to employment through disability or economic disadvantage. Annually serving more than 50,000 individuals, the organization operates in 61 locations serving 74 counties in the bi-state area. Revenues from 42 Goodwill stores assist with funding MERS/Goodwill job training and employment services. MERS/Goodwill is a proud member of the United Way. For more information about MERS/Goodwill or to find a Goodwill donation center near you, call 314-241-3464 or visit www.mersgoodwill.org.