SOUTHFIELD, Mich. (WXYZ) — “It was scary, it was really scary,” said Lavell Neal.
A credit card in the mail to a then teenager, Lavell Neal, put him into a mountain of debt that kept him down.
“They sent it to me three weeks before Christmas. I was Santa Claus that year. I was swiping away. Everybody had a gift, so I kept upping the limit, upping the limit and it got really, really really, high,” said Neal.
To ease the burden, Lavell would eventually acquire four more credit cards, pushing them to the limit as well.
“I wasn't gonna say this because it's a little embarrassing, but one of my credit cards was $30,000,” said Neal.
Now the grass is definitely greener on his side, thanks to a longtime, little-known program called GreenPath.
“Our clients are really our heroes. We're there to support them and help them along the way, but they're the ones that do the hard work to get out of debt,” said Kristen Holt, CEO of GreenPath.
A coworker led Lavell to GreenPath, the national nonprofit. GreenPath began 60 years ago in Michigan. They helped put him on the path to financial freedom.
“When GreenPath first gave me the plan, they told me it was going to take about five years. So in my mind that was a red flag that went up,” said Neal.
“The gentleman I spoke to, he took his time. I was on the phone with him about an hour and a half. He took his time, he laid everything out and I said you know what, ‘let's do this’,” explained Neal.
“Where are you now and how did it help,” asked WXYZ’s Glenda Lewis.
“I am completely out of credit card debt,” said Neal.
“We just are able to renegotiate those interest rates to get them down to a place where they can actually see progress and make progress and get out of that debt,” said Holt.
“We really work with them to understand money coming into the household. Where does it go out and how can we fit this payment into the budget, align it with when they get paid so it can become really manageable and we're able to support them every step along the way,” added Holt.
“Being given that finance power and being able to take control of your destiny really helps a family grow,” said Lewis.
“It really does, and it reduces stress. Debt can cause so much stress and it impacts all aspects of your life, your family, your children,” said Holt.
“One thing I've learned is that God always has a ram in the bush and when I found out GreenPath, they negotiated with the credit card company on my behalf and they got that rate from 24% down to 2%,” said Neal.
“So, what would you say to someone struggling who needs the help in terms of how this service came in and just helped get your life in line,” asked Lewis.
“Always accept help. I didn't want to do it when I first heard about it. I felt like I could do it on my own but if there's an opportunity for someone to help you, accept that help,” said Neal.
Many families have struggled with a financial burden, especially during the pandemic, do not hesitate to reach out to GreenPath. There is no charge for their services.