WAXAHACHIE — Dedicated to providing financial freedom options for every Waxahachie resident, Waxahachie Project’s Household Financial Health Task Force is collaborating and empowering a solution that best serves the adult community.

“It’s a movement happening all around the nation,” expressed Bobby Parks, leader of the Household Financial Health Task Force and executive spiritual formation officer at JHouston Custom Homes. “People are finally waking up in businesses, the church, nonprofits, city management, and saying, ‘Hey, we need to work together if we really want to see change happen in our city.’ We’re excited to be a part of that in Waxahachie.”

In 2015, a yearlong study was conducted with the help of the global organization, OneHope, that assessed and recognized key problems found within Waxahachie.

“As the result of the study, we identified two really big needs in Waxahachie - the need for awareness and engagement of what services are provided and what the needs are, and how people can get involved,” Parks listed. “And the other big thing we found out was that financial need was predominantly in every demographic, age group, geographic location of Waxahachie that was surveyed. So we said, ‘We need to figure out how to address that."

For the average respondent household, the survey pinpointed that 26.2 percent of families were in financial distress, trying to make ends meet.

Through the Waxahachie Project’s movement of combining resources and connections, Parks’ task force is going beyond immediate need and organizing a long-term answer.

“So a couple of other task forces that are addressing these needs is Charles Frame’s group that is helping with job placement with 'Filling the Employment Gap,'" Parks explained. "And the other one is Matt Authier with the 'Next Generation Equipping,' and they’re actually teaching financial literacy and management skills to the youth."

“So our task force is asking, ‘What about the adults out there?’ Of course, we need to teach the youth how to manage funds and how to earn money, keep it, and grow it – and we’re excited about that, but we’re also thinking about how we don’t want to give up on this generation that’s raising those kids,” he included.

Presenting tools and resources that are accessible to students, will now become available to adults that want to obtain financial success through financial literacy, money management, and personal finance coaching.

“In our group, we have some amazing people and leaders. From Linda with Waxahachie Care to Joy from Daniels Den, and people from the education sector, businesses, nonprofits, and church pastors - we have some exceptional leaders,” Parks expressed.

“All of us are saying that it’s not going to be another system or curriculum that’s really going to change residents - it’s going to be through relationships. We believe that we’re going to move at the speed of relationships,” he addressed.

Alleviating poverty, Parks noted that it not only takes education and guidance to solve this problem but also an acknowledgment of changing old habits.

“Beyond just meeting relief and immediate need, we’re trying to help some of the organizations that provide need and relief to instead of ‘giving a man a fish,’ we can teach him 'how to fish,'” Parks clarified. “We want to help empower Waxahachie residents with not just giving financial aid and relief, but teaching them to get out of that cycle as well.”

“There’s a lot of us on that task force that are saying ‘we understand.’ It’s a difficult task, but through working together, established systems being implemented, and a love for people – we’re saying, ‘We care about the city and the people in this city.’ And we may not be able to help them all, but we're going to do for one what we wish we could do for all,” he encouraged.

As Parks and his team put their mission to practice and place their connection of local services in accessible areas, the education institutions are first on the list.

“We’ve been working with Life School’s administrative team, who’s been welcoming us with open arms and have said, ‘Yes, we’d love for you guys to teach some of these principals and practices,’ because that’s what the kids will be learning with the Next Generation Task Force,” Parks described. “So we’ll be reaching the parents while the other task force reaches the students.”

“And it’s not just about getting the issues solved or get them a job; it’s about changing the mindset or training people who have probably never been taught this way,” he reaffirmed. “So we want to do it out of relationship and love. We know it’s going to take time and it’s not a short-term fix because we’ll be helping families and walking with them through this process.”

With a goal to fully launch this coming school year, Parks and the Household Financial Health task force is looking forward to what the new season will bring.

“Our future hope is that we can empower the citizens of Waxahachie to pour back and empower others in a healthy way,” Parks expounded. “Maybe not all of Waxahachie is going to turn around and adopt these principals to better their situations financially, learn how to budget, and get out of debt, but maybe one family will. And then maybe four or five families will join, and then an area.”

“We’re excited about the families we can help, and that they are coming along with their students to learn these principals. This is a need across the board in Waxahachie, and we hope to help alleviate their financial situations. For us, it’s about working with the community because we are a part of this community,” he concluded.

To connect with the Waxahachie Project visit thewaxahachieproject.org call (972)-643-8673.

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Chelsea Groomer, @ChelseaGroomer

(469)-517-1450