Tulsa’s New Financial Empowerment Center Offers Free Financial Counseling

Diana J. Smith

The City of Tulsa’s new Financial Empowerment Center wants to remind the community staff and volunteers are ready to help with financial questions and tax preparation.

This comes as Mayor GT Bynum proclaims Jan. 29 “Earned Income Tax Credit Awareness Day,” which the center said could help with tax returns.

The new Financial Empowerment Center opened in December.

One Tulsa man told News On 6 the center’s free one-on-one financial counseling has played a big part in his road to recovery. Arnold Perez said at 58 years old, his life is just beginning.

“Throughout my whole life, I battled either alcohol or drugs, alcohol, drugs, violence,” said Perez.

Perez said a year ago, he tried to end his life. He said after completing rehab and getting a job, he needed help with budgeting and opening a bank account.

“It’s easy to keep track when you don’t have much money, but it’s a start,” said Perez. “I mean, it made me feel good to have a card that I can use, you know?”

In December, Perez called the Financial Empowerment Center, where there are four financial counselors helping at no cost.

Kelsey Schultz, Perez’s counselor, said clients can ask about anything.

“We’re here simply to help you lay the foundations for your future when it comes to your finances, so everything we do is for you, and we’re not going to share your information with anyone else,” said Schultz.

Krystal Reyes with the City of Tulsa said after three years of planning, the center opened seven weeks ago with services in several languages.

“It’s directly aligned with the city’s mission to build a foundation for economic prosperity for everyone,” explained Reyes.

Reyes said it’s a public-private partnership between the city and Goodwill Industries.

Goodwill said the center’s location at 15th and Yale is strategically next to its job connection center.

As for Perez, he’s taking classes through Goodwill.

The father and grandfather said 2021 will be his most empowered year yet.

The counseling services are paid through grants, COVID-19 relief funding and private fundraising.

Due to COVID-19 restrictions, appointments are currently only via phone or video calls.

For more information about the Financial Empowerment Center or how to book an appointment, visit the website or call (918) 802-7279.

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