When a family or individual is living paycheck to paycheck, they are often put in the unfortunate situation of having to choose between basic necessities like rent, utilities, food, and medication. Then, a financial emergency occurs. That is often when people turn to options of last resort, like high-interest predatory loans.
But in Athens, there is an alternative: The Ark.
The Ark was established 30 years ago and its goal is to be a way for the religious community to pool resources and help people find self-sufficiency in the face of economic hardship. It acts as an advocate for “neighbors” (the term used for The Ark’s clients) and offers help using its own funds, as well as other services the community can provide.
As Lucy Hudgens, the Executive Director explains, “I think it is important to understand that despite the fact that people are working, they are still living in poverty. In our community, that translates to roughly 30,000+ low wage workers. It is a daily struggle for working families to weather a financial crisis when they are living paycheck to paycheck.”
In the face of COVID-19, The Ark will be assisting those impacted by a loss of income during this challenging time. While they are continuing to operate, The Ark and its staff will be doing so remotely. To invest in your neighbors through the Ark, donate here and each donation will help local workers facing economic adversity during this pandemic. If you feel like you would qualify for this assistance, you can fill out this form.
While The Ark provides emergency assistance, they also provide loans, education, and banking services. This is important because they don’t just stabilize and prevent, but they also give access to services that enable economic advancement, upward mobility, and asset building opportunities.
For the past 10 years, Lucy Hudgens has been working with The Ark to ensure it stays true to its mission. “I was taught at a very young age by my parents ‘service before self’. This is the core value that I carry with me to this day and it serves as a constant reminder that I am an important part of something bigger than myself. That has translated into my daily work at The Ark.”
On an average day, she sees roughly 20-30 individuals and families in need of financial assistance, education, lending, or food assistance.
In 2019, Lucy Hudgens and the rest of The Ark team provided emergency financial assistance to 339 low income working families, prevented 178 families from eviction, and kept 124 people from utility disconnection.
They also provided $25,550 in microloans to 213 individuals through their loan program, Common Wealth Athens which had a repayment rate of 94%. These loans were often used to refinance high interest predatory loans, rebuild credit, housing establishment costs, and large unexpected expenses.
As Lucy Hudgens said, “assistance is crucial in stabilizing working families before they fall through the cracks.”
This program helps people find financial and personal stability while treating them with respect and understanding. We want to sincerely thank Lucy and the rest of The Ark team for their continued commitment especially in the midst of this crisis.