Friday, September 29, 2017

ORIGIN SC October 2017 Newsletter

Check out what's new and exciting at Origin SC this month!
October 2017

Finding Your Home, The Origin Way

We interviewed our client Mr. Marion Crider about his recent success story with Origin SC. 

Q: What was your first experience with Origin SC? 
A: My partner went through a program back when it was Family Services Inc.  When we both started talking about getting a house we figured it probably happen in about a year. We decided to go to a First Time Home Buyer class with Origin SC. About just 50 days later we closed on our house.

Q: Was the "Origin Way" of buying a home effective?  Was it helpful to have all services available in-house?
A: Most definitely.  The Origin way is the only way I would ever want to buy another home in the future.  Each person that I talked to in each department was an expert in their field. It was a very high-end service experience for a very affordable cost.  Everything is very cut and dry and to the point.  They tell you exactly what you need to do and help you along each step of the way. Every time I got a call regarding our closing date, the closing date was always moved forward, never backward.  That meant a lot to me as I know people that have had issues with closing dates continuously being moved back.

Q: What would you say to a person that is thinking about buying a home?
A: Attend an Origin SC class and be ready to hear the words "yes you can".  There is so much more that is in reach than you realize. You might actually qualify for way more than you ever thought.

Q: Do you have any other comments?
A: I would recommend Origin to anyone I know that is looking to buy a house.  I can't imagine doing it with anyone else or any other way. It was a life changing experience.  Also, to anyone that currently lives in an apartment and is currently thinking about buying a house, it is so much better! It's great to not hear your neighbors constantly walking above you anymore. 

Experience an Origin SC Workshop for Yourself!

 October 2- Intro to Homeownership (FREE!)
 October 3- Credit Improvement Workshop (FREE!)
 October 7- Intro to Homeownership (FREE!)
 October 21- First Time Home Buyer Workshop ($49)

Visit our website to sign up for a class today!

Are You Worried About How the Equifax Data Breach May Affect YOU???

The first thing you should do if you suspect your data was compromised is place a security freeze on your credit file. These freezes are useful to stop new accounts from being opened in your name, and are FREE. You'll need to place a freeze with each credit reporting, make sure you keep the PIN you're given somewhere handy and safe. If at any point you need to access your credit report or open a credit line, you would contact the reporting agencies again to temporarily lift or permanently remove the freeze.

More info on security freezes and how to contact each reporting agency can be found HERE.
More info on identity theft and protection can be found HERE.
Responsibly Using Credit

An article on CNN Money noted that a Texas woman, because of poor credit, had a credit card with an APR of 79.9%!  Having missed a payment, the creditor increased her APR from 29.9% to 79.9%. This is the horror of mismanaging a credit card.  Some cards have fees such as $45 for processing to open a new account, plus an annual fee of $30 that can increase each year, and a monthly service fee of $6.25.  Credit cards are a wonderful and useful tool for establishing and rebuilding credit, however, on the opposing end, they can cause untold misery if they are not managed responsibly.

Tips for successfully managing a credit card include:
  • Select the right card - be absolutely sure to read all of the terms and conditions for using the card so that there will be no surprises.
  • Create a budget - make a list of your monthly income and expenses- expenses should never exceed income.
  • Pay your credit card debt on, or before the due date - budget so that you can pay the full balance. If you carry a balance, you should make it a priority to pay off that balance as quickly as possible to avoid additional interest charges.
  • Do not use your credit card for cash withdrawals - the fees are exorbitant and will be applied until the full cash debt is paid off in full.
While helping to build credit, a credit card is convenient, offers security and can be used for emergency situations.  The key is to be responsible in using the credit entrusted to you.

To learn how we can help get you on the path to financial stability, click here.
Introducing Our New Arrival...
We are excited to announce our new arrival, our Lending Department is now open! We are available to help with various Down Payment Assistance Programs and Loan Packaging.

 For more information contact Stephanie Reed, Director of Lending Services, 
at 843-735-7810
originsc.org | Origin SC 843.735.7802
Check us out on our social sites:
Origin SC, 4925 Lacross Rd. Suite 215, North Charleston, SC 29406

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Meet the Staff: Sarah Cornwall

What drew you to Origin SC originally? And how has the organization changed since?

I was looking to do service with Americorps VISTA and when Origin SC offered me a marketing position I jumped at the chance to be in a position that allowed me to be creative. 

From then to now SO MUCH has changed, as I’ve learned is common with nonprofits. Since I first started we’ve added and expanded programs, and it’s been exciting to see those programs develop and further serve our community. My favorite big change was rolling out an entire brand new website, I loved being able to see what that process was like, second would be our rebranding!

What has surprised you the most about working at Origin SC?

How big of an impact we make. From our Representative Payee, Conservator, and Homeless Prevention programs, to our Financial Education and Homeownership programs, it is truly wonderful how many individuals we help keep stable. I would of never known that these services were being provided in the community had I not been employed with Origin SC. Working for Origin SC also introduced me to other amazing nonprofits in the area and all they do to serve our community.

What is an experience that has really shaped who you are? 

I have so many, but I think my first life shaping experience was in high school doing a “Homestay” abroad program. Living with another family in a different country gave me new perspectives and set off a chain of decisions that has brought me to where and who I am today.

How has Origin SC helped you in your career development?

I would have never thought of entering into technology for my career, but that is the path I am currently on and it wouldn’t be so without Origin SC! They gave me the opportunity and challenge to take over their IT operations and I am so glad they did. 

What is the one thing in this world you are most proud of?

I think sticking on my current career path with technology; it’s a long and often confusing road. Narrowing down a specialty field and career in technology can be daunting. There is always learning to be done and it can feel overwhelming and unattainable on some days, but I’ve managed so far and I’m excited to see where this path will take me!

Robo-advisors: The Future of Investing

Studies show that more people are showing interest in beginning to save for retirement at a younger age. This is great, but many financial advisors refuse to meet with clients under a certain income level. Oftentimes, this income requirement is astronomical for the average worker. Some advisors require that clients have $50,000-$100,000 ready to invest before they will even speak to them.

Early investing is key for higher returns. But without the access to professional advice, many young investors have no idea where to begin. To solve this problem, robo-advisors were introduced in 2008. Robo-advisors are automated, online portfolio management services. They use computer algorithms to manage client investments and are much cheaper than a human financial advisor. Robo-advisors were initially created in response to the financial crisis of 2008 and to keep up with the movement toward online financial platforms. Robo-advisors can translate to higher net returns for beginner investors by automatically balancing portfolios and harvesting tax-loss. 

Some robo-advisors are totally automated, while some are partially managed by human advisors. There is a wide spectrum of human involvement between different investment companies—all at varying price points for the investor.

The first investment companies to roll out robo-advising software were Betterment and Wealthfront. Betterment has a management fee of 0.25% - 0.5% with no account minimum to begin. Wealthfront has lower management fees of 0% - 0.25% but requires a $500 account minimum to open.

In 2010, FutureAdvisor rolled out. FutureAdvisor links client’s investment and retirement accounts wherever they are and provides a free investment plan. This allows investors to use other servicers (where they did not receive complimentary financial advice) and does not require investors to move their assets. The catch? FutureAdvisor has higher end management fee of 0.5% and requires a minimum balance of $10,000 or more.

There are many pros to robo-advisors including low management fees, low balance minimums, nobel price-winning algorithms, and their ability to expand the investment market to those who might not otherwise be consider for financial advice. However, some cons of the technology include the inability to have face-to-face assurance when making financial decisions and less ability to have a more personalized plan.

Overall, robo-advisors can be a great option for those who want to begin investing, but aren’t sure how to begin. It is important to begin investing early and the fees and income requirements of some human advisors make that difficult. Contact Origin to begin your path to financial stability. We can help you lay the foundation to pay off debt, improve your credit, and set up your budget to be able to start down the investment path. Click here to learn more or call 843-735-7802.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Meet the Staff: Adrienne Wynn


In 2008, I was seeking an administrative assistant position in the Charleston area. I applied with Family Services Inc (now Origin) as an operator for our client hotline. My interviewer and now Director was my customer at a previous place of employment and had no idea that I applied for the position! You never know whose watching. Here I am 8 years later and loving it! 

What has surprised you the most about working at Origin SC?

What surprises me the most about working for Origin is the feeling that I have when I am able to be a part of helping someone achieve his or her goals. Individuals who come into my office with no hope at all leave with the information, tools, and determination to make it to the finish line. The nervous feeling that I get with every customer as if it is my first customer is mind blowing. I am able to step out of myself and do whatever it takes to make their dream a reality. 

What is an experience that has really shaped who you are? 

Working with Origin has been a great experience and has played a huge part in shaping me to be the person that I am today. It’s not about me….It about the customers that I meet on a daily basis. 

How has Origin SC helped you in your career development?

Origin has been a great help in my career development. From a phone operator I never thought that I would be assisting individuals towards their dreams.  

What is the one thing in this world you are most proud of?

I am very proud of myself. I would not change a thing about my journey, Origin SC has witnessed me change as a person, a mom, a renter to a homeowner, a college graduate and most importantly a person that wants to see everyone that walks into our office succeed. 

Friday, June 9, 2017

Potential Changes for Student Borrowers: What you need to know

Recently, President Donald Trump and Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos announced a plan to revamp the student loan repayment process. Read on to learn what this means for new borrowers and those in repayment.

Currently there are over 44 million individuals in the United States repaying a total of $1.4 trillion in student loans. The majority of this debt is in the form of federal loans with being serviced by nine different companies. Many do not understand the terms of their loan when they are first borrowing and others are unaware of the options that they have for repayment once they leave school.

The biggest proposed change would be that all federal loans would be serviced by one company. There are currently four companies bidding to be the provider: Navient, Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency (or American Education Services and FedLoan Servicing) and Nelnet and Great Lakes Educational Loan Services (submitting a contract together). Having just one servicer would allow the federal government to better monitor the quality of customer service and support for borrowers. It is also suggested that the new plan could save taxpayers up to $130 million over the course of the next five years.

Critics worry that having a single servicer could give too much power to one company. Whatever firm is granted the contract would have significant impact on the financial situations for all of the 44 million Americans in student debt. They would have the power to control repayment and refinancing structures with no other option for borrowers to transfer to.

The Trump administration has stated that interest rates and repayment plans will not be changing much. However, there has been talk of changes to loan forgiveness programs. The Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program could be potentially eliminated for those serving in the public sector, affecting more than half a million people. Currently, borrowers can have their student loans forgiven after 20 years of making monthly payments at 10% of their income. Trump has proposed that this process be changed to 15 years of payments at 12.5% of income. This would cause monthly payments to rise, however borrowers would save on interest and the loan would be forgiven sooner.

There is currently no timeline on the rollout of the new policies for student loans. If you or someone you know needs assistance navigating the student loan process, Origin SC offers a FREE student loan workshop on the last Monday of every month at 6:30 PM at our North Charleston location. We also offer one-on-one counseling for debt management. To learn more, click here or call 843.735.7802.

Welcome Home, Jaquawna!

Each year, Origin SC helps hundreds of people find a place to call home. Many of our clients never before thought that they would have the opportunity to own a house. We are so excited to welcome Jaquawna and her daughter into their new home.

Jaquawna started out in our credit coaching program. By persisting toward her goal, she continued into our homeownership program and closed on her house just in time for summer. Read more below:

I first knew I wanted to buy a home when my rent continued to increase every year. I would think to myself, “It has to be cheaper to own a home.” I felt like the amount of money that I was paying out every month should have been spent on something that I could call my own. 
 I'd always dreamed of buying a home but as a single mother, I didn’t think it would be financially possible for me. I originally came to Origin, formerly known as Family Services Inc. because I heard an ad on the radio in 2012 about classes to help with budgets and credit. I learned so much that I didn’t know before in these classes. I wondered why this stuff wasn’t taught more in depth in high school. I began to apply this new knowledge to my life.It wasn’t until I took advantage of the opportunity to meet with a counselor on a one-on-one basis that I truly considered pursing my dream. Mrs. Revena Dawson worked with me to create a plan for my goal. With her help, I began to budget my money, build my credit and save for a home. I felt like giving up sometimes when unexpected expenses popped up or there wasn’t enough money to make ends meet or build my savings. But Mrs. Dawson continued to encourage me and guide me in the right direction. I will never forget those times when she would review my bank statements with me and showed me the reality of my spending habits. She believed in me and worked with me to help me believe for myself that becoming a homeowner was an achievable and affordable goal. So I pushed harder toward my dream for my daughter and me.
I learned so much about the home buying process. It was not as complicated as I originally thought. I learned what lenders were looking for in an applicant, how much house I could afford, and why it is important to have your home inspected prior to purchase. I enjoyed the homeownership class with Mrs. Debbie Kidd.  Origin made the process easy to understand and reduce a lot of the stress associated with the home buying process.
On the day that Mrs. Dawson told me that I was ready to begin apply to lender, I couldn’t believe it! All the hard work had paid off. When I began receiving responses from lenders, it was unbelievable how affordable my mortgage was in comparison with the rent I was paying.  Again, Mrs. Dawson was right there for me, helping me weigh the pros and cons on each option. Once I decided on a product, it was time to look for homes. Location, Location, Location is everything. I viewed several homes but I knew exactly when I had found “the one.” It was in my preferred school district and located within an acceptable distance from work. It had the right amount of bedrooms and space. And my mortgage wouldn’t be far from what I was paying for a one bedroom apartment!! My agent put in me in for it but unfortunately it went to another applicant. I was crushed but I kept searching. My agent calls me up one day to tell me that the sale fell through and my perfect home was back on the market. I jumped on it immediately and on April 29th, 2017. I signed my closing documents and became a very proud first time home buyer. My daughter and I absolutely love our new home.  We will forever be grateful to Mrs. Revena Dawson and Origin for helping us turn a dream into reality.

If you or someone you know is interested in buying a home but doesn't know where to start, click here or call 843.735.7802 to learn more about our homeownership and credit coaching programs!

Thursday, May 11, 2017

The 411 on Conservatorships

You probably know Origin SC for their housing stability services.  Or perhaps you have participated in workshops in our financial education programs. In honor of mental health awareness month, Origin SC would like to highlight the hard work of our Conservator Department.

You may be wondering, what exactly is a Conservator? In the State of South Carolina, a Conservator is appointed by Probate Court when an adult has been deemed to be incapacitated.  This may include one who suffers from a mental or physical illness or disability, advanced age, chronic use of drugs or alcohol, or other cause to the extent that the individual is unable to make responsible decisions concerning their financial affairs. 

The purpose of a Conservatorship is to identify and secure all assets in order to protect the individual from possible exploitation or financial mismanagement.  A budget is then established with both the immediate and long-term needs in mind.  A Conservator determines what benefits the individual might be eligible for (Medicaid, VA benefits, etc) and would handle the application process.   The goal of a Conservatorship is to protect the client’s assets while still allowing as much independence for the client as is medically and financially possible.  

The Court generally looks for a family member to serve in this role for the incapacitated adult – however, sometimes there is no one willing or appropriate to serve in this role.  That’s when the Court appoints an independent agency – and that is where Origin’s Conservator Department steps in.  Oftentimes, when there is discord among the family, it is beneficial to have an independent agency handle the financial affairs to take the pressure off of family members.  

Assets may include cash, bank and investment accounts, stocks, bonds, life insurance policies, real estate, automobiles, preneed arrangements, etc. The Conservator must file an Inventory and Appraisement within the first 30 days, then files Annual Accountings to the Court detailing all transactions and assets.  They often must meet with the client and family and testify in Court hearings as well.  

There is a second type of Conservatorship – one to protect the assets in excess of $10,000 received by a minor.  These funds can be received from an inheritance, insurance proceeds or personal injury settlement. These funds will be managed by the Conservator until the child reaches the age of 18.  No funds can be released before that time without Court approval.

Signs that an individual might need a conservatorship include:

Withdrawing or giving away large sums of money for no identifiable reason,

entering lotteries or sweepstakes,

demonstrating a pattern of late and non-payment of bills,

buying personal property that is not needed

While in the conservatorship program, our counselors:

Develop and implement a financial management plan for the client

Advocate on behalf of the client with creditors to ensure payment of debts

Provide options for pre-need planning of funeral arrangements

And, liquidate and/or consolidate assets such as selling a home or vehicle.

If you suspect that an individual may be in need of a Conservatorship, you can contact the local Office of Adult Protective Services or your local police department.  You can also contact Iris Albright, the Director of the Conservator Department, at (843) 735-7830.

Friday, May 5, 2017

Health Care Reform and Our Clients

With the new administration, the topic of healthcare has been at the top of the debate list. The proposed health care reform significantly affects three major groups of Origin SC’s clientele. Older Americans, mental health patients, and victims of domestic violence are among those who may soon have a more difficult time finding affordable coverage.

Origin SC’s representative payee and conservator departments work with seniors and individuals receiving mental health services. Our Family Violence Intervention Program works with individuals who have physical conditions resulting from rape or battery. Many of these clients also struggle with mental disorders such as depression or PTSD resulting from abuse. Under the proposed American Health Care Act, these types of services will not be covered under public health care.

Origin SC’s representative payee and conservator departments work with seniors and individuals receiving mental health services. Our Family Violence Intervention Program works with individuals who have physical conditions resulting from rape or battery. Many of these clients also struggle with mental disorders such as depression or PTSD resulting from abuse. Under the proposed American Health Care Act, these types of services will not be covered under public health care.

The second provision that would put Origin clients at risk is the elimination of protection for people with pre-existing conditions. In the world of medical insurance, the term pre-existing condition is not limited to conditions that one is born with. A pre-existing condition is defined as any health problem that was present before the start of an insurance plan. This can include innate conditions such as asthma, diabetes, or blindness. It can also include conditions that developed later in life but before the insurance policy began. Some of these conditions may already be part of your family’s history and have come about genetically. Others are a result from a traumatic event such as rape or paralysis resulting from a car accident.

Innate mental disability, socio-emotional disorders, and physical conditions resulting from traumatic events are all in the category of pre-existing conditions. Under the Affordable Care Act, people with pre-existing conditions were protected by a provision preventing companies from refusing coverage or increasing rates based on such histories. The proposed American Health Care Act would take away this legislation and would allow states to regulate protections to the degree that they individually determine.

The United States House of Representatives has passed the American Health Care Act on Thursday, May 4. The bill still has to come before the Senate, but Republican Senators have stated that they do not plan to vote in favor of the bill written. Rather, a 12-member Senate committee has been working on  drafting another health care reform bill. To alert your senators about your concerns with the potential changes, reach out to them at their contact info below:

Senator Tim Scott

Senator Lindsey Graham

Meet the Staff: Tracy Strickland


I had a good friend that was an attorney that worked with Origin SC. (At that time, known as Family Services,  Inc.)  She knew I was unhappy at the Law Firm I was working at and thought I would be good fit in this organization.  I applied and here I am. 

Since working here and doing what I do, I have planned and prepared for my future!  

What has surprised you the most about working at Origin SC?

I have been most surprised by how the organization has grown since I started. I am also amazed by the re-branding we underwent last summer.

What is an experience that has really shaped who you are? 

Being a single parent.  I was able to learn how to be a strong independent woman!

How has Origin SC helped you in your career development?

Origin is known in this community for the good work that we do.  I have built very strong bonds with both co-workers, community leaders, attorneys and Judges from all over the State.  

What is the one thing in this world you are most proud of?

My son!  I raised my son for the most part by myself.  He is now 26, a nuclear engineer and just got engaged.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Meet Our AmeriCorps State and National Member: Sadie Frasier

AmeriCorps is an umbrella organization funded through the Corporation for National and Community Service. Within AmeriCorps, there are three distinct programs: AmeriCorps VISTA (Volunteers in Service to America), AmeriCorps NCCC (National Civilian Community Corps), and AmeriCorps State and National. AmeriCorps State and National is the largest of these programs and has sites in every state and all U.S. territories.

AmeriCorps State and National awards grants to non-profits, faith and community based organizations, public agencies, Indian tribes, and institutions of higher education. Since 1994, more than 900,000 men and women have provided service as AmeriCorps members. AmeriCorps State and National programs address community needs through a wide range of activities such as:
  • Training Citizens in disaster preparedness
  • Providing mitigation
  • Improving housing situations for economically disadvantaged people
  • Improving the school readiness of pre-k children
  • Improving the academic performance or engagement of K-12 students
  • Engaging in environmental protection work
  • Enhancing the quality of life for older or disabled adults
  • Increasing access to food resources
  • Engaging veterans and military families
Trident United Way's AmeriCorps Family Navigator Team

This is Origin SC's first year as an AmeriCorps State and National Host Site. Our AmeriCorps member is placed with us through Trident United Way's Family Navigators Program. In this program, AmeriCorps members use the Stepped Approach to assist clients in achieving financial stability. To learn more about the Family Navigators Program and the Stepped Approach, click here.

Origin SC is so fortunate to have Sadie Frasier as our AmeriCorps State and National Member this year. Read more about Sadie below.

Sadie Frasier, AmeriCorps State and National Member

Hometown: Hollywood, SC

Education: General Business, Limestone College

Favorite Hobbies: Crocheting and making pigtoe pillows and balls

Favorite Place to Visit: The beach or amusement parks, anywhere where there is NO snow or extreme cold temperatures!

Why she chose AmeriCorps: I chose AmeriCorps because I was interested in the work as well as the opportunity to receive an education award for my service.

What impact has this experience had on you?  I had no idea what to expect when I submitted my application. I started serving in schools educating parents of students on better budgeting and financial planning. Now, I am able to do the same thing at other nonprofits as well. I decided to serve a second year and was given the opportunity to work in a new school and a new agency. I can say that serving with AmeriCorps has been very rewarding. This experience allowed me to see my city in a different way and it opened my eyes to the needs of the people around me. I am so glad to be able to help people with their finances, health, and food security.

What has been your takeaway from your time at Origin SC? Serving at my agency, Origin SC, has been very enlightening. Before, I did not know of Origin and their services. This organization provides great services to the community. It has been overwhelming at times to hear and see the challenges faced by individuals and families facing homelessness. My takeaway is to be grateful for what you have. Seeing people at risk of losing everything or struggling to receive basic services has been a constant reminder of how much I am lucky to have. It is so important to remember that there are people with many more struggles than you.