Initially, his case manager used FEMA (EFSP) emergency assistance funding to help Fidelis pay his rent. During the intensive case management and budget counseling that followed, he shared he had used his entire GI Bill on a degree that was not serving him well. Although he was educated with a diverse skill set, Fidelis was underemployed and living paycheck to paycheck.
After discussing how a certification program could help Fidelis find more stable employment and earn a much higher income, he began researching the demand and earning potential for a new career. He enrolled in the St. Rita workforce program, where he was given a laptop and the necessary funds to complete online training for certification to become a Catastrophe Property Adjustor.
To help him become financially self-sufficient, Fidelis was also referred to the Leavenworth Family Financial Transformations™ (FFT) pilot program.
At that time, COVID-19 began impacting the area. Although the pandemic was affecting many businesses and organizations, Catholic Charities made the decision to keep its doors open and to serve.
The financial classes, typically held in-person, were offered virtually. Fidelis attended online, and learned how to take charge of his personal finances. This knowledge became even more valuable as the pandemic continued, resulting in the loss of his job. Fortunately, Fidelis lived on a meager budget and with help from the FSC, he could maintain his apartment and utilities. As a FFT participant, he was able to visit the FSC’s food pantry weekly, which helped his budget immensely.
During this time, Fidelis expressed a greater interest in helping others. With his new certifications in hand, he applied and was hired as a contractor with FEMA. Depending on the scope of the disaster, these contracts pay $5,000-$10,000 per week, plus lodging and a per diem while on assignment.
In less than a year, Fidelis’ life has changed. Currently, he is in Louisiana providing assistance to others during their time of hardship. He shared that without support from Catholic Charities, the FFT classes and intensive case management through the FSC, he would not have been able to change his course —especially during a pandemic— and gain the skills and resources to pursue his dream career.