By Guest Blogger, Michael Brom
District 38 Teacher & Couponer Extrodinaire
I want to thank Tri-Lakes Cares for the opportunity to contribute to their blog. I have a passion and enthusiasm about what I am going to share with you. First, though, I would like to share a little bit about my personal background. I grew up as the oldest of eight children; six of my siblings were adopted. Given the size of our family, finances were oftentimes very tight. For a time we even lived in a two bedroom house. The situational poverty I grew up in taught me how to budget well and how to coupon well.
As I was couponing recently, I began to ponder ways that I could possibly incorporate couponing with community service. I called Tri-Lakes Cares to gauge their potential interest in a coupon project, a project that would help Tri-Lakes Cares stretch its dollars, help clients stretch their dollars, and would provide volunteers and others in the Lewis-Palmer community with couponing knowledge to save money in their households as well. Interestingly enough, one of the ideas that had been jotted down at Tri-Lakes Cares prior to my phone call was “couponing,” so I met with a few of the Tri-Lakes Cares staff to brainstorm ways on how to proceed and help make this project become a reality.
This coming fall I will begin my fourth year as a math teacher at Lewis-Palmer Middle School – my 25th year overall as an educator, so I have a personal interest in helping meet the needs of not only my students but also those in our community. Community service is a guiding principle for me both professionally and personally. It is my desire to teach my students about couponing as well, which will give them a lifelong skill that they and their families will benefit from. It also increases their financial literacy.
The initial need for the coupon project is to build up an inventory of coupons. It would be ideal for people who receive coupon inserts to cut out what they need and then donate the remainder of the inserts to the Tri-Lakes Cares. The objective is then to cut, sort, and organize the coupons, and distribute them to clients according to their needs. Coupons may be used for purchases made by Tri-Lakes Cares to help stretch their budget as well.
Couponing can, however, be a frustration. It can be cumbersome, time-consuming, and overwhelming. In an effort to make couponing a more productive, efficient, and enjoyable experience, couponing classes will be offered in the coming months. These couponing classes will be available to clients, and classes will also be made available to volunteers and anyone in the community who has a desire to learn more about couponing.
Thank you in advance for the work you all do to benefit so many individuals and families in our community. I look forward to the coming months as we strive to see this project evolve from a dream to a reality.
Note from Tri-Lakes Cares staff: Michael recently shared that at a recent trip to King Soopers, he saved $126.81 by using coupons and spending only $40.43 on his recent grocery bill.
On Saturday, November 21, Tri-Lakes Cares’ Staff and Volunteers distributed holiday groceries to 149 local families in need. Each bag included the Thanksgiving basics – stuffing, cranberry sauce, pumpkin pie mix, etc. – and each family was able to choose between a turkey, ham or chicken to prepare for their holiday celebration. Although it was very cold that day, we all enjoyed ourselves. After all, isn’t Thanksgiving really about giving?!
As often happens when participating in events like this, we at TLC began reflecting on what it is we are thankful for. Our answers were varied: football (the Broncos in particular), family, a reliable vehicle, healthy foods to eat at home, the opportunity to travel, our children, Serrano’s coffee, and more. And after we reflected on what it is we are thankful for, we took a minute to think about how many of the things we are thankful for, our clients go without. Our clients often cannot afford cable to watch the Broncos’ game or a reliable vehicle or healthy foods. Certainly travel is out of the question as well as the occasional splurge for a cup of coffee.
We are so grateful for what we have, but we are also grateful for the opportunity to be a resource for our neighbors in need. Maybe we can’t pay for every cup of Serrano’s coffee or buy each of our clients a new car, but we can alleviate the financial burden experienced during an unforeseen medical emergency, the loss of a job, or even the reality of living in chronic poverty.
So what about you? What are you thankful for this year?