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Andrew K. Johnson
Communications Manager/GreenPath Financial Wellness
(248) 488-0419

GreenPath Financial Wellness Announces 2011 Clients of the Year

$92,000 and $48,000 paid off through GreenPath debt management programs

(DETROIT, MI. – June 2, 2011) GreenPath Financial Wellness, a national, nonprofit financial organization providing consumers with financial education in housing, debt management and bankruptcy concerns, announced its 2011 GreenPath Financial Wellness Clients of the Year.

Jerry and Sue Bailey of Jackson, Michigan, paid off more than $92,000 in credit card debt in a little over five and a half years, through GreenPath’s debt management program. During the plan, they endured physical setbacks, took on additional work to help with their plan and made family sacrifices. Watch a five-minute video: Meet the Baileys.

Dawn and David VanDyke of Buchanan, Michigan, overcame obstacles, including family illness, in paying off more than $48,000 in debt in a little over four and half years through GreenPath’s debt management program. Watch a five-minute video: Meet the VanDykes.

The Baileys: The blending of two families
Jerry moved to Michigan some twenty years ago as a widower, when he met Sue, a single mom of ten years. They married and brought together a literal “Brady Bunch” family of six kids. Jerry recalls coming home from their honeymoon and seeing six noses pressed up against the living room window, awaiting their arrival.

Jerry said that, at the height of their credit history, they had 17 credit cards in rotation. “It was so easy to get a credit card with a high limit at the time,” he said. Debt started to pile up across the cards. Sue realized, in hindsight, that something might be wrong when Jerry asked her to put their two daughters’ wedding receptions on credit. “That should have been a clue,” she said.

Years went by and Jerry found himself at his local credit union, looking for financial assistance to get his debt under control. After discussing different options, including bankruptcy, it was suggested that the Bailey’s reach out to GreenPath for assistance. “We felt that bankruptcy was not an option, as it was our Christian duty to pay back our debts,” Jerry said.

A plan put in place
Once they met their counselor, a five-year plan was established. The Bailey’s recall that the first few years of the plan were difficult, as the decision was made to take on more work to pay back their debts. Jerry got a second job at a local hospital and put off fixing a second family car, to stay on track. Partway through their debt management plan, Sue required extensive foot surgery and was unable to work, which caused their income to drop severely, even with Jerry working a second job. “We went to our GreenPath counselor, who worked with our creditors in getting our payments adjusted for a few months, while Sue healed and got back to work,” Jerry recalled. “That extra bit of help from GreenPath really made the difference.”

After about five years, the Bailey’s received the phone call that their debt management plan was completed and they paid off more than $92,000 in debt. “I was floored to get that call,” said Jerry. “I had to ask them to repeat that we were truly done.”
Sue summed up their GreenPath experience by saying “GreenPath saved our lives financially, and gave our lives back to us.”

The VanDykes: Living The American Way
When David and Dawn were first married, they lived in a small converted schoolhouse in Niles, Michigan. After they welcomed their son, Jacob, now 9, they moved into a larger house in Buchanan, Michigan, where their financial problems began.

“In owning a new, larger house, we ran up credit card bills quickly,” recalled Dawn. “Originally, I convinced myself that this was the American way, getting a bigger house and using more credit, but I soon realized things were getting out of hand. The collection calls started and we were juggling month to month as to who we were going to pay.”

She reached out to the GreenPath office in South Bend, Indiana, a short drive over the Michigan border. “We brought a mountain of paperwork to our first meeting,” David explained. “We felt embarrassed not being able to pay off our debt, but when we saw a huge plastic water jug filled with cut up credit cards, we realized we weren’t alone.” But once their debt was added up to more than $48,000, they knew something had to be done. The VanDyke’s signed up for a GreenPath debt management program.

A family set-back
Shortly after their first appointment with GreenPath, their son, Jacob, suffered a seizure and was diagnosed with epilepsy. “From that day forward he was in the hospital 13 times in six months,” Dawn said. Furthermore, in order to care for Jacob, Dawn and David made the decision that she would resign from her job for six months. Despite the setback, the couple continued their debt management program.

Dawn remembers that the first year on the debt management program showed slow, but steady, progress. They made the monthly payment their priority payment.  Each year, on the anniversary of their first visit to GreenPath, they would meet with their counselor to monitor their progress.  “It was great to see the total drop,” said David. “Once we got under $10,000, we really felt that we were going to make it.”

Amanda Walker, GreenPath’s South Bend group manager, recalled that there were times when the VanDyke’s came up with extra money and would make the 25-minute drive to present the money in person to pay down their debt even quicker. “They were very serious about keeping up with payments and put any extra money they could towards paying off their debt,” said Walker.

Looking Back – Asking for help is the first step
Last July, the VanDyke’s made the final payment on their debt management plan. They drove to GreenPath’s office in Mishawaka, Indiana, to watch their debt numbers be zeroed out. “We did a big cheer on that day,” Dawn said.

The couple stresses how important it is for people in debt to be honest with themselves and not be afraid to ask for help. “GreenPath helped us with paying all our bills each month, it took a lot of pressure off us,” David explained. “Today, being debt free, we feel we can pay off anything.”

Now, the VanDyke’s are working on other debts. Today, they take what was their monthly GreenPath payment and have paid off David’s truck. “Now we are going to work on paying down our home equity and then we’ll tackle school bills next,” said Dawn, with a smile.

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GreenPath Financial Wellness is a nationwide, non-profit financial organization that assists consumers with credit card debt, housing debt and bankruptcy concerns. Their customized services and attainable solutions have been helping people achieve their financial goals since 1961. Headquartered in Farmington Hills, Michigan, GreenPath operates more than 55 branch offices in Michigan, New York, New Hampshire, Colorado, Florida, Texas, Vermont, Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin, Arizona and Wyoming. GreenPath also delivers licensed services throughout the United States over the Internet and telephone. GreenPath is a member of the National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC) and is accredited by the Council on Accreditation (COA). For more information, visit