Mayo Clinic Health System Sponsors Financial Trauma Therapist for Finding HOME Program

Collaboration of Financial and Mental Health Services First of its Kind in La Crosse Community

Mayo MCU Foundation Check Presentation

(Left to right) Katlyn Sylvester, Community Engagement Intern, Mayo; Jennifer Livingston, Community Engagement Director, Mayo;
Cindy Shireman, Community Engagement Specialist, Mayo; Majel Hein, Director of Financial Education, MCU Foundation;
Quinn Devlin, Executive Director, MCU Foundation

LA CROSSE, Wis.—September 28, 2023—Mayo Clinic Health System is funding mental health services for participants of Finding HOME, Marine Credit Union Foundation’s long-term financial counseling program that ends in guaranteed access to market rate homeownership. This collaboration – connecting mental health services to money management – is the first of its kind in the La Crosse community.

When struggles arise in life, people often lean into spending because of the dopamine spikes that happen when we anticipate and make purchases. A grant from Mayo has sponsored the Finding HOME team’s hiring of Miranda Barker, a Financial Trauma Therapist who will work with households in the program to help them through these mindsets.

“As a result of the deep dive taken through Finding HOME, we certainly see increased savings and credit scores along with decreased debt, but it is more than that,” says Majel Hein, Director of Financial Education with the MCU Foundation, founder of Finding HOME and one of two financial counselors the program employs.

“Our households get pay raises and promotions, they go back to school, they make more intentional money decisions with reflection, and they have healthier communication skills. However, what we have identified in Finding HOME is that we need mental health services that are not available to our households. Waiting lists are long and expensive. We often serve ALICE (Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed) individuals who make over the income limits to get any free services.”

“Mayo Clinic Health System is proud to support the innovative collaboration between financial and mental health services in the Finding HOME program,” says Community Engagement Director of Mayo Clinic Health System, Jennifer Livingston. “By addressing the emotional and psychological factors that impact financial well-being, we aim to empower individuals and families to achieve lasting success and build brighter futures.”

“When you are trying to control chaos in your life, money is just one aspect. This therapist was hired specifically for Finding HOME participants to use when their past traumas or current behaviors are impeding their success with personal finances and building wealth,” says Quinn Devlin, Executive Director of the MCU Foundation.

Finding HOME already employs two financial counselors – Hein, a Certified Financial Therapy Practitioner-1, and Lisa Musch, Co-Founder and CEO at SIMPLIFY, Inc. in Sheboygan. Hein and Musch will identify red flags that are manifesting financially for households, such as destructive coping mechanisms and arousal systems stuck in overdrive (anxiety, fixation), and refer them to Barker.

“I have found so much joy in being a part of the MCU Foundation team,” says Barker, who started in her position at the end of July. “When I think about the perfect place to work, I imagine collaboration, respect, compassion and of course some humor, and that is exactly how it feels working for the Foundation. I am grateful and honored to be part of this mission, especially when I get to help people feel empowered.”

Finding HOME intends to pilot this offering to prove having a mental health professional on staff will make a significant impact for households struggling. The goal of the pilot strategy is to reduce the voluntary dropout rate of households choosing to leave the program before completion.

About Mayo Health System

Mayo Clinic Health System in La Crosse is the only healthcare facility in Southwest Wisconsin in 2023 that has received the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid’s 5-Star Quality Rating and Leapfrog Grade A for Safety. The community-based healthcare professionals at Mayo Clinic Health System, paired with the resources and expertise of Mayo Clinic, enable patients in the region to receive the highest-quality physical and virtual healthcare close to home. It was also named one of Newsweek’s “Best Hospitals in the U.S.” and rated high performing in three medical conditions and specialties by U.S. News & World Report.

About Finding HOME

Finding HOME is a financial education and behavior change program designed to help credit-challenged borrowers achieve homeownership. The program was launched in 2018 to help the MCU Foundation further its mission.

Connecting with a Finding HOME counselor is a free way for individuals and families to find their best path to homeownership. Any household can schedule an appointment to receive a housing review where they will be connected to the best path to homeownership for them, which may be Finding HOME, a referral partner’s exiting program, or a roadmap detailing the steps needed to complete their journey.

Finding HOME is a 12-18-month program that consists of one-on-one financial e-counseling, educational courses, and resource navigation assistance. Finding HOME participants are not required to become Marine Credit Union members or hold Marine Credit Union accounts.

By the Numbers: Since Program Inception

  • 426 households counseled
  • 66.7% of applicants connected to homeownership in their first 90-minute housing review
  • 35 households graduated (48 adults, 56 children)
    • 87 points per person average credit score increase
    • $9,132 average dollars saved per program graduate
    • $15,422 average debt reduction per program graduate

As a result of changed spending and borrowing habits, participants increase their credit scores, reduce debt, and build robust savings accounts—before being connected with homeownership. Graduates Finding HOME are guaranteed access to a market-rate mortgage that fits their spending plan.

About Marine Credit Union Foundation

Since 2014, the MCU Foundation has given over $1.53 million to more than 1,500 charitable causes and in the areas that Marine services in Wisconsin, Minnesota, Illinois and Iowa. Marine employees have donated more than $750,000, and Marine members have donated more than $230,000. Seventy percent of Marine employees contribute to the MCU Foundation through an automatic payroll deduction. The credit union matches each employee donation – for every dollar an individual donates, Marine donates two.