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Fishers Banker Touches Lives of Local Women in Recovery through Financial Education Outreach

September 20, 2021

Most nights, Linda Risch ends her day as branch manager at Centier Bank in Fishers promptly at 5:15 p.m. to head home to spend time with her husband and two young children. Except on Tuesdays—the one evening a week that she’s claimed as her “me time,” for the past month and a half.

She doesn’t go to a book club or to get her nails done, rather, she heads to Indianapolis to inspire and change the lives of others through financial education. A little over a month ago, Indianapolis-based Dove Recovery House invited Risch to present a Centier To You course to residents as part of their road to recovery life skills classes.

Dove House is a recovery house serving women who have experienced homelessness, substance use disorder and physical, emotional, and sexual abuse who have nowhere else to turn.

“Many of the women at Dove House have negative experiences with money or associate it with trauma,” Risch said. “When I first met the group, it immediately opened up honest conversations about money—from budgeting to differentiating a credit card from a debit card. I wanted them to know that I was not there to judge them, rather, help them toward financial independence.”

A stay at Dove House is free of charge for its residents and has been transforming and saving lives for 20 years. It has a 71 percent success rate—the highest completion rate for a program of its kind in the state. Risch said that for some of the women, financial independence means feeling hopeful for their futures. For others, it means much more—like never having to go back to an abusive partner.

“It’s another piece of recovery for them,” she explained. “Some of the women had no idea they could have their own account independent of someone else. After years being abused and controlled by others, they’re able to see that they can own their finances and achieve a life they never imagined.”

The first week Risch presented at Dove House, six women attended. But then word got around, Risch said, the most recent group was 25 women. Topics like understanding your paycheck, establishing credit, being “bankable,” and understanding needs versus wants are just some of the topics that have been discussed. The group also plays games, activities, and a question/answer session. Risch said she has many side conversations with participants to listen and provide personal help.

“I try to show them how taking small steps can make a big difference—like saving one dollar a day will be $30 saved at the end of the month,” she said. “We’ve discussed going to a bank versus a cash advance place, living on a reduced income, paying off small debts while still budgeting for the things you need. Seeing the lightbulb go off for them is really rewarding.”

Dove House Executive Director, Wendy Noe, said Risch’s Centier To You class has been one of the most successful life skills classes at the recovery house.

“She is empowering them, they just love Linda,” Noe explained. “The women who come here seeking recovery are able to take the steps they need toward becoming the women they are meant to be—the best versions of themselves. Linda’s program gets them excited for their future. She inspires them to feel financially secure.”

Noe said the class has been so well-received that they are extending it indefinitely.

“The women talk about it a lot,” Noe said. “Money is not the most exciting thing, so its been fascinating to see such a positive response.”

Risch said she looks forward to making a difference in the lives of the women at Dove House.

“It has humbled me in countless personal ways—as a woman, a wife, and a mother,” Risch said. “And as a community banker, I’ve been able to gain new perspectives on some of the ideas people inherit about money and how to educate and set people on the path toward financial success. I think about how awesome it would feel to one day see these ladies walk into a branch to apply for a mortgage.”

For more information about Dove Recovery House, go to doverecoveryhouse.org. For more information about Centier Banks’ financial education series, Centier To You, go to centier.com/about-us/financial-education/.
 

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