Meet Ogusky Cermics: Jeremy Ogusky is one of the small business participants in the Assets for Artists program with Mass MoCA, a Midas matched savings community partner. He formed Ogusky Ceramics in 2010 to produce functional pottery; mugs, compost containers and traditional sauerkraut fermenting crocks. The program helped him bring his business to a higher level by developing his business plan, expanding his inventory/equipment matched savings, and increasing his marketing. He has recently moved from working the crafts fair circuit to landing a large contract with Williams Sonoma.
"[The program] gave me the opportunity to think beyond selling my pots to individuals, but to think larger. My pottery is now sold through large retailers and many people around the country can use my functional pottery! It also let me think creatively about what type of craftsperson I want to be". Jeremy presented his functional art to Congressman Barney Frank when Midas honored the Congressman at the Assets & Opportunity Breakfast in October. Visit Jeremy at a local Boston craft show and see his schedule. And you can follow the daily life of this Boston Potter here.
Taoufik Kassour arrived in the United States in 2010 from Morocco. In two short years he has accomplished quite a lot, with the help of Midas member organization, Jewish Vocational Service (JVS). To save money and time, Taoufik learned English without paying for classes at a college. Through self-determination and JVS’s Bridges to College Program, Taoufik learned English in less than a year and subsequently enrolled in a software engineer prep program at Bunker Hill Community College. He was then referred to JVS’s matched savings program where he enrolled in an education account managed by Midas. He saved $1500, was matched $3000, and used the combined funds for tuition at Bunker Hill Community College, from which he graduated in 2013.
Taoufik’s plans expand much further beyond the Bunker Hill graduation. He is currently interning with State Street and plans to attend University of Massachusetts Boston to complete a software engineering degree. He hopes to open a nonprofit organization to help others, as this program has helped him. He said that the most helpful things he received through the program were help in navigating this system, connection to programs and resources, ability to pay his tuition, and the savings habit. He continues to save for his future. In his own words: “I was very lucky to be part of the Midas’s IDA program, it helped me a lot financially and morally. It did support and encourage me to enroll in college and get me closer and closer to my dream to be a software engineer.”
Nickey Mullen is a graduate of the Small Business Matched Savings Program with Center for Women and Enterprise, which helped her develop her business in horticulture design. A part time job has now become the thriving business she had envisioned. "The Center for Women and Enterprise was excellent in providing knowledge and support for me to create a vision, write a business plan, and execute my goals." she said.
Like all matched savings participants, Nickey participated in financial and asset specific training. She describes how the training helped her "grow her vision. " The financial education training helped her understand budgeting and the business planning process. The program also allowed her to have a monthly structured savings plan to reach her financial goals. "It is always easy in challenging financial times to find ways to spend money for necessities, however, saving applies a sense of hopefulness and future vision."
Nickey Mullen's transition and growth is an example of how the matched savings and support make dreams come true. Nickey was one of over 400 savers summarized in the "Effect of Matched Savings" report from Midas. Nickey was engaged by Midas to design elegant and professional flower arrangements at our 2011 The Assets & Opportunity Celebration. To get more information on Nickey’s business Mullen Botanica please email her.
Daphnie and her family have been pursuing the dream of homeownership for over six years, but faced many obstacles and heartaches along the way. Originally from Haiti, Daphnie has been in the US since she was 7, and as she puts it, "throughout my childhood and most adult life I dreamed of becoming a homeowner; purchasing a home to me means stability, sense of ownership, and considered to be part of the American dream".
Daphnie opened her IDA account in May of 2007 in conjunction with Midas and Dorchester Bay EDC, and has been saving rigorously ever since. She also saved six times more than her savings goal. This year, thanks to her dedication and hard work Daphnie's dream came true. She was able to purchase a home where she now lives with her daughter and boyfriend. Daphnie said: "Sometimes we find [it] so surreal and can't believe we are homeowners. We love the fact that we are paying our mortgage instead of paying rent."
Daphnie continued: "We would strongly recommend this program to families who are struggling to achieve their dream of homeownership, continuing education or business ownership. This program is invaluable resource and its dedicated staff makes it even more worthwhile."
Midas partners in support of Daphnie's success are Dorchester Bay EDC, The United Way Of Massachusetts Bay & Merrimack Valley, and the US Department of Health and Human Services, Assets for independence Act. Congratulations to Daphnie, and we hope to share more stories like hers from our community partners in the future!
Taheera has worked with Homeowners Rehab Inc., one of Midas partners located in Cambridge , since 2008. With the individual attention and training provided by Hilary Smith and the funds in her matched savings account, she was able to become a homeowner.
Taheera puts it best by saying, "I have always wanted to pay a mortgage toward my own home instead on paying rent to someone else, but no bank would ever give me a loan. To get a nice home at market price with my income, no way. Because of this program I was given a chance to be like most Americans to call somewhere my own. When I get home everyday, I look at some of my neighbors and I still wonder how did I get here? "
She goes on to say, "This program needs to be extended to other people like myself with goals, values, dreams and sincerity to stay with the program. Homeowners Rehab believed in me and helped me accomplish a major dream so many Americans will never be able to do. Thank you!"
Congratulations to Taheera!
Martha Flood first learned about the matched savings program at an informational meeting led by Blair Benjamin, at the Assets for Artists Program at Mass Museum of Contemporary Art. While in the program, Martha saved for 18 months to expand her freelance surface pattern design business, and to launch a small independent line of fabrics. She participated in financial and asset specific education where she acquired tools and business planning resources to use in the future. She said, "I am going to continue to use this format to plan and evaluate the business."
As an experienced artist with an education in textile design and years of experience in the business, Martha did not need any artistic inspiration. Assets for Artists helped her take her business to the next step. With matched funds and business training, Martha was able to move her studio to a new location to design and produce "The Woodlands Collection" of fabrics. Inspired by textures and patterns found in the woodlands and along country byways, the designs are digitally printed on durable canvas made from recycled plastic bottles. The collection is a true artistic statement intended for the mid-to -high-end market, and is suited for upholstery, bags, wall-hangings, shades and other creative projects. Congratulations Martha!
Arelis participated in the dynamic Youth IDA program at Lawrence Community Works. She was one of 14 senior students from Notre Dame High School that participated in the year long program. As part of the program, Arelis received financial education and assistance from LCW staff with applying to colleges, filling out financial aid applications, and navigating the complicated system of post-secondary education. "I learned how to better handle my finances and build credit. I am now a lot more cautious and aware of how I spend my money. It was important to me to be the most prepared I could be to make my transition into college smoother. Education is number one in my life and I will do anything in my power to make myself successful." she said.
Currently Arelis is in her second semester at the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester with a pre-med concentration and plans to become a neonatologist. Thanks to her participation in the program, Arelis was more prepared to face the challenges of college, because of the education and support she received, as well as the $4000 in savings and match that she used towards her education. As she recalls, "I loved it. It was really helpful, and both my mother and I learned a great deal."
The Lawrence Community Works Youth IDA program gives participants financial literacy training, college preparation, and peer support as they save up for post-secondary education as Arelis had done. These IDA programs and great support of the LCW staff, have brought financial awareness and leadership to the residents in Lawrence. LCW offers a wide array of programs that integrate these topics. For more information on IDAs and other related programs offered by LCW, visit their website here.
Danaris Mazara from Lawrence, MA always dreamed of starting her own business. After falling on tough times, Danaris used food stamps from her mother to buy a few ingredients for cakes and desserts. She describes her products as “Dominican-style cakes” that are like pound cake, but moist and “filled with pineapple, strawberry or dulce de leche.” She sold them for a good profit and decided to build a business. Recognizing the demand for her sweet confections, Danaris approached Lawrence Community Works (LCW) to get all the knowledge she needed to bring her bring her business to another level. Danaris graduated in 2014, saving $1,200 and earning a match of $3,600. The knowledge she gained from the LCW's program even helped her with the mortgage application.
“I’m investing everything back into the business. I’m using the money for a down payment on a property where my business is going to be.”
The business now employs five people on a part-time basis and Danaris and her family are so proud of her accomplishments. Contact Sweet Grace Heavenly Cakes via phone at (978) 258-9418 or via Facebook.