Faces of Success: Gary Mitchell
“Believe in yourself and all that you are. Know that there is something inside of you that is greater than any obstacle.” Gary Mitchell lives by these words from American author Christian Larson. Mitchell overcame his struggles with addiction and has lived a sober lifestyle for more than eight years. Even with the changes he’s already made, Mitchell is still working on an additional aspect of his life.
“My finances have been a mess for years,” he said. “The debt I created came from a lot of bad decisions that I made early on.”
As part of his recovery from addiction, Mitchell enrolled in a program offered by Urban Housing Solutions. This organization referred him to the Nashville Financial Empowerment Center. The Nashville Financial Empowerment Center is a partnership between the Office of Mayor Megan Barry and United Way of Metropolitan Nashville that provides free 1-on-1 financial counseling to help Davidson County residents reduce debt and increase savings. Mitchell was intrigued.
“I thought I should give it a try,” he said. “When I met with my counselor for the first time, I realized he was very knowledgeable. He asked me questions about my income, savings and money management practices. I left the appointment knowing we were working on a plan; I was excited about the possibilities.”
From 2013-2015, the Nashville Financial Empowerment center has helped more than 3,700 clients like Mitchell achieve a combined debt reduction of $2.9 million and increase savings by more than $500,000.
Mitchell was nearly $100,000 in debt before he attended his first session. A significant amount of his debt was related to medical bills. Mitchell and his counselor worked together with his provider to have some of that debt forgiven. He also qualified for outside assistance to cover an additional portion of the cost. The Nashville Financial Empowerment Center’s transformative impact on Mitchell’s finances was remarkable.
“I imagined living the rest of my life regretting all the bad decisions I made. The Nashville Financial Empowerment Center gave me the hope I needed. When that number started decreasing, I realized my goal of becoming a homeowner again was possible.”
A year later, Mitchell is debt free. He is growing his savings account and remains focused on improving his credit score and his financial future.
“My spending habits have changed; I know how to manage my money now. They are also teaching me how to invest so that I can continue to save money. I’m hungry to learn more from this experience.”
Mitchell is grateful for the partnership between the Office of Mayor Megan Barry and United Way of Metropolitan Nashville on the Nashville Financial Empowerment Center. His determination and the Nashville Financial Empowerment Center proved greater than any financial obstacle in Mitchell’s life.