Vania Wynter


Photo courtesy of Mark Andrews

This week is on “Savings in America”, and we turn our attention back to Dress for Success’s financial literacy programs. Program participant Vania Wynter is a domestic violence survivor who became a financially independent single mother. Dress for Success not only suited Vania up to help make a new start in her professional life but also equipped her with the financial knowledge she needed to succeed. Read on to find out how she overcame a “love/hate relationship with money”.

Several years ago, I left my home in Jamaica for a new beginning in New York. I was looking for a fresh start, as I was running away from painful and difficult memories of abuse that I endured for years as a child. God had other plans and in the years that followed, I was
confronted with more struggles, one which left me bruised as I ran from a domestic violence situation. By 2004 I was ready to turn my life around, and I got my GED!

I was now faced with supporting myself and my four children on public assistance. I learned about several professional certificate programs; one captured my interest in getting an administrative assistant certificate. A friend to assist me financially; I followed by applying and completing the program.

After I acquired the certificate, I was lost! No work meant no money! A classmate told me about a program; I applied and was accepted. Through the program, I got an internship at Gersten Savage, and before completion of my internship I was hired full time in December 2006.

I was now a single mother with financial independence! Yet, I had NO financial knowledge and knew that I had a love/hate relationship with money!

I was referred to Dress for Success for a week’s worth of professional attire. While there, I was told about their Professional Women’s Group (PWG), and I signed up! Within the first few months as a member I began to understand more about money after a presenter who co-wrote a book broke things down for us. Dress for Success also offered me the opportunity to participate in their Financial Literacy Program! I was blown away; the wealth of information and knowledge freely given with enthusiasm by all the presenters was astounding.

I walked away excited about money, which I shared with my children and friends. As a single mother of four, I now have a life insurance policy and all four of my children and I have checking and saving accounts.

Through these opportunities, I became driven! I pursued my first degree and graduated last year cum laude as a paralegal. I am no longer afraid of money, I am financially set free!

– Vania

This week, Dress for Success and the Allstate Foundation also launched the My Dollar My Life initiative–make a promise to change your own financial future, and Allstate Foundation will give $1 to the Grameen America branch fund. Learn more about Dress for Success’s financial literacy programs and read more about how The Allstate Foundation works to empower domestic violence survivors to gain financial independence and live free from abuse.

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