Stand by Me helps struggling grandmother get on track to buy home

April 8, 2022

When Shirae met the Food Bank of Delaware’s Stand By Me coach Marilyn Ramirez at a Wilmington Housing Authority event, she was struggling with debt and poor credit, looking for a way to relieve stress and to improve her situation.

Stand By Me is a joint project of the state of Delaware and the United Way of Delaware, and the Food Bank of Delaware is a partner agency offering free financial coaching.

“I went through a divorce, and my credit score was a problem. It was always on the mind, all the time,” Shirae said. This 50-year-old grandmother worked as a therapeutic massage practitioner until a domestic violence incident left her handicapped and disabled. “It was a terrible situation,” she explained.

“I’m the head of household with my 13-year-old son. The bills were piling up; it was out of control. I had to make my business inactive, and I can’t go back to it at the present.”

When Shirae started as Marilyn’s client in 2019, they met more frequently than the typical once-a-month coaching sessions as Marilyn taught her how to resolve credit disputes.  “She wanted to fix her credit, but I had to teach her how to budget, how to get her budget on track first. She started having money, then she worked on her needs versus her wants. She has come a long way,” Marilyn said.

Shirae praises Marilyn’s coaching skills for helping her get back on track. “That woman is the light of my life. She created everything I needed on the first day I met her,” Shirae said.

She said Marilyn not only provides her with the tools – such as a budget – she needs, but also ongoing support. Marilyn explains her role in Shirae’s success: “My job is to listen and to suggest. I don’t tell people what to do. She did the leg work.”

Shirae agrees. “ Now, I know what to do. You don’t get pity parties from her, but she’s truly understanding. It ain’t real unless it’s a little hard. She tells me when I need to tighten things up. She points out things in my budget and says ‘You’re paying too much.’ I write the budget, and that’s a good start, but not enough,” Shirae noted. “She gives me alternatives, and she always has a plan.”

Now Shirae is in the process of buying her own home . . . something that once seemed impossible.

Visit to learn more about programs offered by the Food Bank of Delaware.

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