Sharpening financial skills for islanders

Submitted by Megan Ehrmantraut for OCRC.

Have you ever wondered how to get a better handle on your finances; had questions you didn’t know where to go for answers; or wanted someone to sit with you and listen to your concerns? Orcas Community Resource Center aims to help islanders sharpen their financial skills providing security for a more stable future.

OCRC is nearing completion with its first group of participants in the pilot financial literacy program known as Orcas Money Smart. OMS is a nine-month program that teaches the basics of budgeting, savings, banking, housing decisions, debt, credit, disaster preparedness and more.

The material covered provides valuable knowledge to individuals of all ages and backgrounds. A young islander joining class with the hope of learning more about credit, found that OMS offered exactly that and more. They shared, “It was eye-opening to find out just how many aspects of life that credit scores affect.”

During the first six weeks class meets every two weeks in person at OCRC to cover key topics. After that, additional class sessions are held once a month. Throughout this period participants have regular meetings with an assigned mentor to dive deeper into their individual goals. Participants also have the opportunity to earn as they learn with a financial bonus by successfully attending training, mentor meetings and completing goals.

Orcas Money Smart incorporates what is known as SMART goals: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-Bound. This approach helps to set a clear timeline and track progress. One student enrolled in class hoping to address her inability to get a secure handle on her finances. She shared, “I have gained the tools to break down any financial situation into manageable steps for success.”

Volunteer class mentors have received their own share of rewards by participating in OMS. Patricia Benton, OCRC Board Chair, led this pilot class along with fellow board member Hugh Grant.

“This has been a great way to connect with others to help make a difference in an area of their lives that can oftentimes be stressful,” she said.

OCRC aims to launch the program in full swing this fall. If you are interested in being a part of it, please contact OCRC at 360-376-3184 or