Debbie Brown is a Credit Coach on a mission to help people repair their credit scores and get to their dreams. Many find out too late that having poor credit can have a negative impact on one’s future. Whether it’s allowing someone to qualify for subsidized housing, take out a loan for a car, get a mortgage, or start a business, credit can be a roadblock or a way to open a new door.
With pandemic setbacks, many in Marin County experienced financial challenges they hadn’t expected. Some racked up debt and found their credit scores had plummeted. Others, including more and more older women, were launched into poverty. But Debbie was in their corner, ready to help.
A leader on the agency’s Economic Justice team, Debbie has 25 years of professional experience in banking, lending, credit coaching, and financial consulting. She brings skills, compassion, and hope to many through the work she does each day. To be of service to others in need is the most important thing she feels she can offer. She shares:
“I know that needs have escalated. In my credit coaching, I’m a motivator. My role is to provide all referrals, whether it’s rent, food, work. When they come to me, I try to guide them in the right direction.”
Debbie shares the success story of a client who was homeless, with no income when he came to Community Action Marin. Debbie and her colleagues worked to get him on social security benefits and to help find him an apartment. Today, after several years of consistent work and thanks to Debbie’s one-on-one coaching, this client’s credit score is now an impressive 800!
“That’s just one of so many who through connection, work, and trust can find their confidence,” Debbie explains. “I establish rapport because asking for help is hard for many people. Sometimes, they don’t want to take a look at their own situation. But part of what we can do one-on-one is take the time needed to get through negative feelings and move on with making it better.”
Debbie is also a Site Coordinator for VITA (Volunteer Income Tax Assistance). This nationwide program is a community-based, IRS-sponsored service offering free tax preparation to eligible Marin residents, including low-to-moderate income taxpayers, the elderly, persons with disabilities, and others. Part of her job is to recruit and train a volunteer crew for the program. Families rely on this kind of help, she says, “The $300 – $400 people can save on their taxes each year can go a long way. It’s the primary way a lot of our families can pay other bills.”
Today, Debbie is able to work remotely from her home in San Pablo some days. She spends a lot of time with her three-year-old granddaughter, recently taking a trip to Disneyland on vacation. “It was my first time away in a long time. I must have cried three or four times that day just seeing the pure joy in my granddaughter’s face. It was overwhelming at times.”
Thank you, Debbie, for giving smiles to so many!