March 23, 2018 By Bryce Stout
The newest board member at Advance Memphis is an old friend, a graduate of many Advance Memphis programs, and an important leader in her 38126 community (South Memphis). Ms. Rhoda Baines recently agreed to join the Advance Memphis board, which culminates a relationship which spans years. Rhoda first came to Advance in 2012, when she participated in the Jobs for Life (now Work Life) class. She subsequently completed the Faith & Finances course and the IDA matched-savings account. Over the last few years, Rhoda has worked at FedEx and as a home health specialist.
In 2016, Rhoda found herself in a difficult living situation, to say the least. She lived in a house where the landlord would not pay to fix the broken heating system during the winter, and her family was affected by the presence of hazardous lead paint. Because of these issues, along with the lack of viable options in the neighborhood, she was forced to move away from her community.
Despite all of the challenging forces that kept her from being able to have a safe living space in her own neighborhood, Rhoda took active steps toward purchasing her own home. After a long process of saving, paying off debt, and building her credit, Rhoda was able to rent and finally purchase a home back in 38126 in May of 2017. Currently Rhoda uses her home to host a weekly community group from her church, Downtown Presbyterian Church.
Rhoda is a hero to so many people in her family and neighborhood. Rhoda, like so many other graduates of Advance Memphis, has worked extremely hard to maintain work in an under-resourced neighborhood where over 65% of people are not currently employed. She bought a home in a neighborhood where only about 16% of homes are occupied by the owner and where many long-standing systemic forces make it particularly difficult for people to purchase homes. In addition to providing a home for her family, Rhoda walked through numerous family trials over the past year and has remained a strong help for her loved ones.
We can’t tell Rhoda’s story without talking about two ladies who have become close friends with her over the years. Suzanne Greer was Rhoda’s Champion in her Jobs for Life class five years ago and Diane Davis initially got to know Rhoda as her GED tutor. These volunteer roles turned into long-lasting friendships for Diane, Suzanne, and Rhoda. Suzanne and Diane helped Rhoda navigate several difficult situations over the years and used their social capital to support the steps that Rhoda has worked hard to achieve. Likewise, Diane and Suzanne have each learned from and grown through their relationship with Rhoda, and all three have expressed deep gratitude and joy that the Lord allowed their paths to cross.
Advance Memphis desires more relational mentor volunteers like Suzanne and Diane. These connections transform the lives of everyone involved. Please consider partnering with us as a Work Life Champion or Faith & Finances Ally in our next classes. Click here to volunteer.
Advance Memphis serves adults in the South Memphis neighborhoods of 38126 and 38106 by empowering them to acquire the knowledge, resources, and skills to be economically self-sufficient through the gospel of Jesus Christ.
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