LSS Financial Counseling Employee Wins NFCC Credit Counselor of the Year
While there are 32,230 credit counselors nationwide, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Dan Park sets the gold standard.
Park, financial counseling supervisor for LSS Financial Counseling in Saint Paul, has won the National Foundation for Credit Counseling’s Credit Counselor of the Year award, honoring outstanding accomplishments and excellence in pursuit of consumer financial health.
“We are so proud of the determination and care he demonstrates every day with people he supports, helping them achieve personal dreams, financial stability and life-long goals they thought were simply out of reach,” said Becky Pakarinen, senior director for LSS Financial Counseling, a service of Lutheran Social Services of Minnesota.
Certified credit counselors, like Dan, equip people with tools and a roadmap to overcome seemingly insurmountable credit card debt, achieve homeownership, save for rainy days and retirement, manage student loans in the best way possible and reach other financial priorities.
“Dan helped me understand the importance of credit, how it works and how to fix my credit,” said Julie. “He shared the ‘credit bucket’ metaphor to highlight that I wouldn’t have any real success until I took care of the holes in my bucket – which included my delinquent payments and accounts in collections. With his help, my credit score increased to 725 making my dream of buying a house a reality -- a goal that never seemed possible before.”
Student loan debt was taking a toll on Chris, another individual supported by Park. His student loan payment was the second largest bill each month after his mortgage, but he was hardly making a dent in his overall balance.
“In the back of my mind consistently was this mountain of debt,” he said. “Seeing the bill each month was a regular reminder of that mountain. From my very first meeting and each one after that, Dan was very respectful. There was no shame or judgment.”
Within an hour of first meeting with Park, Chris’ student loans were consolidated into a specific type of federal loan, which made him eligible for the federal Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program. Park was also able to reduce his monthly payment from $500 to $350 and set up a workable budget to start a savings account, pay off credit cards and reach other financial goals.