Dunna Dunna Dunna Dunna Dunna Dunna Dunna Dunna – Moneymen!
The Center for Community Transformation at Fresno Pacific University takes this opportunity to celebrate one of Fresno’s best kept secrets – the dynamic duo of Larry Hodges and Andrew Feil. Each have their own significant legacy of service to our community, one in the financial sector and one in the community benefit/non-profit sector. But bring them together as a training team and their love of justice, their belief that God is in the business of making all things new, their grasp of how adults learn, and their excellence as trainers has made them a secret weapon against the forces of greed and exploitation that would prey on the poor, and the systems that keep many vulnerable individuals from stable financial lives and being able to realizing their dreams.
Larry Hodges spent thirty years with a major financial services company. He’s been trained in nearly every financial literacy program, but found them inadequate. Curricula often used in churches were designed for middle-to-upper class, often white congregations, never addressing the issues that people in poor communities face, such as payday lenders charging 459% annual interest, rent to own scams, exploitative advertising, expensive corner stores, etc. Some had good content, but the delivery systems did not take into account how culture and class affect the learning process. Still others, especially ones offered by banks, wanted to sell product at the end, or were too brief superficial to be of any use. The minute Larry experienced the Faith & Finances curriculum of the Chalmers center offered by the Center for Community Transformation, he knew this one was different. It goes deep, into the heart, as well as into best practices. Larry has been our co-lead trainer for the last eight years, even after he retired from his profession. Leaders from all across the US have benefited from his knowledge of how money works, his passionate approach, and his tendency to break out into gospel song while training facilitators. Larry was instrumental in helping the CCT’s Faith & Finances curriculum get into Housing Authority complexes throughout the city, serving Fresno’s most vulnerable residents. He has taught many classes himself, but more significantly, has trained more than 100 F&F facilitators who have fanned out across Fresno and the US to help the most vulnerable to repair their financial lives and experience God’s shalom.
But he hasn’t done it alone. Andrew Feil has been our co-trainer as well. Andrew is the Executive Director of Every Neighborhood Partnership (everyneighborhood.org), a community benefit organization dedicated to repairing and empowering vulnerable neighborhoods. Andrew has a passion for helping people acquire the skill sets they will need, both individual and communal, that can help them build stronger, more stable lives. He and Larry achieved Train-the-Trainer status with the Chalmers Center Faith & Finances curriculum side-by-side eight years ago. His commitment rises both from a vibrant love for Christ and a track record of seeing people freed by employing a few key best practices with regard to budgeting, saving, avoiding bad debt, making good choices, knowing the difference between bad and good credit – things many middle-class people have had the privilege of learning and take for granted, which inoculates them from exploitation. Andrew is a trainer at heart. You can see it in his steady approach, his grasp of the adult learning process, and his mastery of each session. He makes the training approachable and fun.
Both Larry and Andrew have stories that illustrate the power of the Faith & Finances curriculum, but they will both tell you, none beat the story of Josie. They were both there when Josie did her dance. She had come to Faith & Finances because, in her own words, “I am dependent on payday lenders. They are sucking me dry, but I can’t break free.” But halfway through the course, Josie came into the group waving a white piece of paper and dancing. We said, “What is it, Josie?” With a huge smile on her face, she said, “Because of what I learned in this class, I’ve been able to pay off the payday lender, without taking a new loan. Finally, I’m free from those slaveholders and I’m never going back again.”
The next Facilitator training is coming up, and Larry and Andrew, the dynamic duo of the CCT’s Faith & Finances training will prepare another cadre of facilitators to be agents of liberation for dozens more Josies in our city, in the name of Christ. https://www.eventbrite.com/e/faith-finances-2021-fresno-training-tickets-128254028251