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A Seat at the Table

Jennifer Means is a proud board member of the nonprofit BCM Georgia, Inc. She was invited to her coveted seat at the board table through self-reliance and self-discovery. 

Founded in 1987 as Buckhead Christian Ministry by six churches on Peachtree Road, BCM Georgia helped members of its founding churches with emergency financial assistance due to unexpected life circumstances such as job loss or medical expenses. Today, BCM Georgia is a statewide nonprofit housing organization that serves 800 households annually. Their mission is fulfilled through three signature programs supporting eviction prevention, family stabilization, and financial education. 

Jennifer brings a unique perspective as a BCM Georgia board member. In early 2000, she personally sought help from the nonprofit. She was a single mother working as an executive assistant when her company was forced to downsize and her position was eliminated. With a young son to raise and suddenly unemployed, a friend suggested BCM Georgia and its resources. Jennifer was soon matched with a case manager who recommended that she enroll in Budget for Life ™. This 12-month commitment gave her one-on-one coaching to instill healthy habits with budget and savings goals. As a bonus, the program includes a savings match incentive. 

“Budget for Life is amazing and if you commit it pays out monetarily, but it also teaches what is needed to walk away with a different mindset,” says Jennifer. “It gave me practical insight into something way beyond my lived experiences at that time in my life.”  

Budget for Life ™, the hallmark of BCM Georgia, changed her circumstances, her career trajectory, and perhaps her fate. She also had enrolled in Foundation 3 ™, a BCM Georgia program that helps households stabilize after an unforeseen life change that leaves uncertainty and instability regarding housing and employment. 

“There was no judgment while in the programs and we were all from different walks of life,” explains Jennifer. “What stands out the most about my BCM experience were the cohort leaders. It was not easy, and I give a lot of credit to my case manager and my financial coach who encouraged me and did not give up on me.”

A graduate of Clark Atlanta University, Jennifer furthered her education and earned a provisional teaching certificate while a BCM Georgia participant. Later she enrolled in Mercer University and was awarded a Master’s Degree and an Education Specialist Degree (Ed.S.). As a result, she enjoyed a decade-long career as a public education teacher for both Atlanta Public Schools and Dekalb County.

“It took me a minute but I realized that living life haphazardly was not going to work for all of the things I wanted to achieve for my family,” Jennifer continues. “The program, its purpose, and the discipline were key to creating awareness and recognizing the huge impact my choices were making.” 

Foundation 3 ™ helps households achieve stabilization after an unexpected life change including job loss, sickness, or divorce. Participants must be employed full-time (35 hours per week) and must commit to managing their debt reduction from credit cards, loans, and car notes and to putting a savings plan in place.

“The program, its purpose, and the discipline were key to creating awareness and recognizing the huge impact my choices were making.”