Sarah Rucks always aimed for a home of her own. "Owning your own home was always a sort of a family tradition for us," she says. In the rural piney woods of North Louisiana, she and her husband worked hard, aimed high and dreamed of buying a home someday. Sarah had always worked, but when her young son developed serious health problems, she decided to stay home with him. Then, when her son was 6 years old and her daughter 15, her husband died unexpectedly.
Sarah knew she had to return to work in order to support her children. Since she had driven a school bus before, she got her Commercial Driver's License back and began driving a bus for the nearby Lincoln Parish Total Community Action Head Start program. Struggling to make ends meet, Sarah moved her family into Grambling public housing. She then went back to school to get a certified nursing assistant degree, and began working for a home health agency.
Sarah soon realized she needed reliable transportation to get to and from work, and purchased a car. "I paid it off a year early," she smiles. "In our family, we just believe in paying bills on time, and that's good."
In addition to teaching Sarah responsible money management, her family also passed on a strong work ethic. Sarah's workday begins at 7:00 a.m. as she begins her bus route for the Head Start preschoolers. From 9:00 to 2:00, she works for a home health agency and does private sitting. From 2:30 to 4:00 she delivers her Head Start preschoolers back home. Evenings? She sits with an elderly homebound client three nights a week from 9:00 p.m. to 6 a.m. and takes assignments from two area home health agencies as needed on her evenings off.
Last spring, the Grambling Housing Authority suggested she take a new class offered by Sabine State Bank - Money Smart (www.fdic.gov/consumers/consumer/moneysmart/index.html), a consumer financial management/credit counseling program developed by FDIC designed to help people prepare for homeownership. "When they pulled my credit report," she says, "they were really pleased. I just had to pay off a couple of accounts to be in a position to get a loan." Six months later, Sabine State Bank approved Sarah for a home loan.
Recently, the builder broke ground on a new home for Sarah and her family. It will be a three-bedroom, two-bath house on a tree-lined lot. Sarah chose paint colors for her new home and the contractor has promised her higher ceilings for the living room as a special "signature" touch.
Sarah is thrilled about the prospect of having her own home and passing down a family tradition of homeownership. After all, she's always "aimed high."