France Michaud | Desjardins Group
Réjean shared an apartment with a friend for over the 25 years and always managed to pay the bills despite his meager income from social assistance. But when he found out his roommate had cancer, he was overwhelmed with grief at the thought of losing a loved one also and started experiencing serious anxiety issues as well.
How would he pay the bills all alone? Things quickly deteriorated: problems with alcohol, suicide attempts ... His local CLSC helped him get back on his feet, but it was the ACEF du Sud-Ouest de Montréal that gave him the support he needed to overcome his financial difficulties.
By the time he met with the ACEF (Cooperative Association of Home Economics), a community organization and Desjardins partner in the Desjardins Mutual Assistance Funds initiative, Réjean had accumulated major debt with multiple service providers.
He asked for a mutual assistance loan to cover his debt to Gaz Métro and thus avoid having his heating cut. But instead of a loan, budget advisor Isabelle Thibeault suggested he sign up to a new Gaz Métro program for low-income customers. Réjean wanted to put an end to late payments so he followed her advice and even worked out debt payment solutions with the other service providers.
With a very low income and housing costs accounting for over 60 % of that income, it was a challenge for Réjean to meet the terms of his payment plans. But ACEF gave him useful budgeting tools to help him succeed.
« If the ACEF and Desjardins Mutual Assistance Funds hadn't given me a hand, I don't know if I'd be alive today. I am so grateful for their support and I highly recommend their services to anyone facing financial difficulty.»
The organization also referred him to community support services where he could get assistance for basic needs. "I've always been impressed with Réjean's determination and commitment not to let things drag on," says his ACEF advisor, Isabelle Thibeault.
Too good to be true
That's how Réjean was able to find low-cost government housing. But with moving expenses running over budget, the ACEF once again stepped in with an easy payment loan adapted to his situation. "It was almost too good to be true," he exclaims. "I've often gotten burned, but not this time! The ACEF really helped me avoid bankruptcy and maintain a sense of pride and freedom," he adds.
Réjean now believes his financial woes are behind him and he sees life in a much more optimistic light. "If the ACEF and Desjardins Mutual Assistance Funds hadn't given me a hand, I don't know if I'd be alive today. I am so grateful for their support and I highly recommend their services to anyone facing financial difficulty. "
*The name Réjean is fictitious and is used to protect anonymity.