Self-Help Shares

Milwaukee Member Overcomes Obstacles on the Road to Strong Credit

By Micheline Savarin
  | Sep 17, 2021

 Andre Jones

Self-Help member Andre Jones

Every day, Self-Help staff are privileged to hear personal stories from our members. As we work together on loans and other financial services, we get to know each other. In Milwaukee, our staff at Self-Help Federal Credit Union have had the pleasure of meeting Andre Jones, a man who has had great determination to build a better life. Andre has generously shared his story with us.

Andre grew up on the South and West sides of Chicago. Despite facing challenges inherent in under-resourced communities, he always felt he was well provided for in his younger years. His father was an auto body technician, and his mother was an entrepreneur. Today Andre says his family played a significant role in instilling a sense of pride and discipline in him.  

Nevertheless, in Andre’s pre-teen years, he found himself getting into trouble, and eventually he left high school and started hanging out in the streets with a rough crowd. He went into a downward spiral that would continue well into early adulthood.

After going through major life disruptions, Andre realized the key to his success would be a change of mindset, environment and lifestyle. This ultimately led to him make tough decisions to discontinue his affiliation with people and places that no longer aided in his positive development. This, in part, also meant reclaiming an education.

Although he was back and forth between Chicago and Milwaukee, it was in Milwaukee where Andre’s ideas of what success meant to him began to crystalize. He found himself involved with everything from youth organizations and community politics to economic development. As the momentum built, he officially started a career in real estate via a sponsorship from the Wisconsin Realtors Association’s (WRA) Partnership for Success Program, dedicated to promoting diversity within the local REALTOR membership. Andre went on to cultivate a keen insight into the importance of real estate ownership and an understanding of how this physical asset could be used as a tool to build wealth.

Andre’s life was looking good until he encountered significant losses in real estate and other side ventures. As he tried to recover, Andre’s entrepreneurial spirit led him to an investment opportunity that created another large debt obligation. To make matters worse, the pandemic hit. The investment quickly shifted from a lucrative business idea to a big thorn in Andre’s side. 

Bills were piling up from creditors and warehouse costs needed to be paid, but all of Andre’s money was tied up in inventory that could not be properly liquidated. At this point, his credit profile suffered, too, and became the largest obstacle to any meaningful progress.

Andre’s initiative and “can do” spirit helped him to get back on his feet. By chance, he happened to be in Chicago attending the “State of Black Illinois Conference 2020” sponsored by the Cook County Black Chamber of Commerce and Seaway, a division of Self-Help Federal Credit Union. There Andre met Seaway President, Daryl Newell, who spoke about Self-Help Federal Credit Union, the Fresh Start Loan (a loan for building better credit) and other products of the credit union.  Andre tried to locate Self-Help Federal in Milwaukee and came upon the LinkedIn page of Pamela Bell, the City Executive for the Self-Help Federal Milwaukee branches. He messaged Pamela, and Pamela messaged him back.

Milwaukee Southgate branch

Our team at the Southgate branch in Milwaukee.

Next thing, Andre opened an account at one of the branches, took out a Fresh Start Loan and a Secured Credit Card. In less than one year, he improved his credit score by nearly 250 points! Recently, he even closed on a personal signature loan with the credit union.

Today Andre is one of the best ambassadors for the credit union, and he wants to spread the word. “I see a lot of people that need this product, that don’t understand how much they need it.  I want to be the first to share this gem with them. It can single-handedly change your life!” 

We’re glad to play a positive role in your life story, Andre, and look forward to hearing about your ongoing success.

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If you would like to explore a Fresh Start Loan or a secured credit card as part of your own financial journey, please contact us. We would love to tell you more.

More information for Self-Help Credit Union members (Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia)

More information for Self-Help Federal Credit Union members (California, Illinois, Milwaukee and Washington)


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