Daily Point of Light # 3080 Nov 24, 2005

Daily Point of Light Award for
Financial Resources for Economic Empowerment

Financial Resources For Economic Empowerment is one of five winners of a special judging of the Daily Point of Light Award that seeks to recognize organizations and volunteers who are making a difference in the lives of vulnerable children and families and meeting the critical communities needs through their efforts. Marking National Family Volunteer Day (Novmebr 19, 2005) and National Family Week (November 20-26, 2005), these awards honor and celebrate individuals, families, organizations, and volunteer efforts that strengthen the bonds between neighbors and build more connected communities where families can thrive.

Learn more about how volunteering strengthens families and transforms neighborhoods.

Established in September 2003, Financial Resources for Economic Empowerment (F.R.E.E.) consists of one full-time staff member who serves as a Program Coordinator and approximately 100 volunteers who regularly participate in the daily operation of the initiative. The volunteers are a mixture of ethnicities, races, and genders ranging from 20 to 80 years of age.

Volunteers are recruited through a coalition of agencies whose missions are complementary. The F.R.E.E. Coalition lead by Community Action Program, Inc. of Taylor County is comprised of the following entities: Abilene A Call for Help Center, Abilene Board of Realtors, Abilene Christian University, Abilene Housing Authority, Boys and Girls Clubs, Cisco Junior College, Dodge Jones Foundation, Dyess Air Force Base, FaithWorks, First Financial Bank, Hardin-Simmons University, Internal Revenue Service, McMurry University, Retired Senior Volunteer Program, Texas Society of CPAs, Texas State Technical College (West Texas), Texas Tech University Small Business Development Center, The Center for Non-Profit Management, and United Way of Abilene.

Individuals choosing to volunteer with F.R.E.E. carry out various duties such as completing tax returns, filing, organizing public relations efforts, teaching money management classes, writing business plans, and facilitating asset specific workshops on weekly bases throughout the year. Volunteer efforts address economic issues in the community that serve as barriers to families living at or below the 200% federal poverty line. Through F.R.E.E., volunteers have helped approximately 2,000 families receive $1.7 million in tax returns since 2003.

F.R.E.E. has also paved the way for approximately 100 low-income families to receive financial literacy and asset specific education, which has led to the establishment of 40 Individual Development Accounts.