In the News

Aid both a group, individual effort

By Cynthia Croom . THE TENNESSEAN . January 24, 2009

Buzz up! Much is being done throughout our city to assist those that are in need of help, including assistance with heating bills, during these tough economic times.

Organizations are stretching resources as far as possible and are attempting to meet the increasing needs of families. However, there are additional things that we can consider to ensure more people are helped.

Agencies like the Metro Action Commission that receive federal funding are limited to a certain target population, but people who fall just outside those targets are still in need of help. This population must rely on other sources such as churches, synagogues and nonprofits. Many people need help, but there are also many who want to reach out and help others.

I believe that as a city we can make a great difference if, as organizations and individuals, we examine where assistance is already being provided and let those resources help people that qualify. This will allow other organizations to focus on those who fall just beyond those criteria for assistance, which helps ensure organizations are maximizing their resources.

Additionally, we have to help people with tips on how to manage the limited resources they have coming in, as well as take advantage of free services that are available to help make better use of their limited funds. Although the following initiative is not administered by our agency, I believe it is a vital resource to help people during these difficult times and would encourage others to contact the Nashville Alliance for Financial Independence, which assists with free tax preparation assistance, credit repair, financial education, homeowner and home-buying education and counseling, foreclosure prevention, employment, small business, individual development accounts and bank accounts.

Asset-building helps

For many working families, tax time may be the one chance they have each year to put some money into savings and significantly reduce debt, which are critical steps toward achieving greater financial stability. To maintain the asset-building opportunity that exists at tax time, it is crucial that working households claim all eligible tax credits and keep every penny of their refund.

To help families to take full advantage of the asset-building opportunity at tax time, the Nashville Alliance for Financial Independence (NAFI) works with many partners and the IRS to provide free tax preparation assistance for individuals and families with a household income of $49,000 or less. Eligible households should dial 2-1-1 or 269-4357 to find the nearest tax preparation site.

We have no idea how long we will be faced with this economic downturn or if additional funding resources will be available through government, so I am also encouraging individuals to help whether through assisting with someone's utility bill directly or donating to an entity that is serving those in need. This includes specifying helping someone that does not ordinarily qualify for government assistance, but have fallen on tough times.

It is going to take all of us working together to make a difference and to stretch the limited resources that are available.

Cynthia Croom is executive director of the Metro Action Commission.


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Nashville Alliance for Financial Independence
250 Venture Circle, Nashville, Tenn. 77228
phone: 615.780.2444   Fax: 615.780.2426   e-mail:
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