Hear Our Stories: 2020 Loan Recipients

Hear Our Stories: 2020 Loan Recipients

Each year we highlight a group of HFLA loan recipients who embody the our mission through their personal story and character. This year, we have highlighted a group of extraordinary women, who through strength, resiliency, and resourcefulness, overcame obstacles and moved closer to achieving their dreams. HFLA is proud to have been a part of their journeys as a resource that provided the support they needed at a pivotal point in each of their lives.

The Carmens

HFLA helped three generations of Latina women on Cleveland’s near west side regain control of their finances. 

After Carmen Vazquez’s husband passed away, her family struggled to adjust to their new financial situation. She, her daughter, and her mother began living together and supporting each other financially.  However, when critical repairs needed to be done to their home, Carmen’s family did not have enough saved to cover the expenses, and they were unable to obtain a bank loan for the repairs. 

HFLA first met Carmen during open office hours at one of our partner organizations, Metro West CDO. Jose Colon of Community Financial Centers was working with her as her financial coach. He suggested that Carmen apply for a small, interest-free loan from HFLA to help consolidate some high-interest credit card debt that accrued after her husband’s passing, which would help her qualify for a home equity loan later on. Carmen and her mother applied for the loan, and her daughter stepped in to guarantee the loan for them.

HFLA’s interest-free loan allowed Carmen to move the credit card debt onto a short term, interest-free repayment schedule. She continued working with her financial coach and developed a very disciplined budget with new strategies to help her stay on top of her finances. Carmen no longer has high-interest credit card debt holding her back from accessing the funds she needs to repair her home and will soon re-apply for a conventional home equity loan through her bank.

Patti McSuley

HFLA helped a breast cancer survivor make a safe space for women battling cancer to feel beautiful.

Patti McSuley had been working as a cosmetologist for only a few years when she was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2008. Medical bills quickly piled up from her treatment and, like many Americans, Patti filed bankruptcy due to the insurmountable debt. After the experience, Patti began Compassionate Wigs, a wig salon for women going through chemotherapy or hair loss. 

At its start, Patti’s business was a room within a larger salon. She realized that her business would quickly outgrow this space due to the amount of wig inventory needed to serve her clients. As she began to look for a new location for her business to grow within, she also began searching for funding sources. Patti received a small grant from the Youngstown Business Incubator and a low-interest loan from the Mahoning Valley Economic Development Corporation to secure her space and make the necessary renovations.

Unfortunately this funding would not become available for Patti for a few months and she needed capital immediately to make the salon operable and obtain needed inventory. Because of Patti’s previous bankruptcy, she was ineligible for a traditional small business loan. It was at this point that Patti was referred to HFLA by the Youngstown Neighborhood Development Corporation as a way to increase her stock of wigs, wig cleaner, and other specialty products that she needed for her new storefront business.

Today, Patti is the proud owner of Salon 224 in Boardman. She provides traditional salon services and operates Compassionate Wigs out of the salon in a private room large enough for women to come in with their own support team as they work with Patti to choose and style their wig. HFLA’s loan helped Patti achieve her dream of making each woman look and feel her best during cancer treatment,

Chika Morkah

HFLA was able to help an international student achieve her educational goals. 

Chika Morka is an international student from Nigeria who came to the U.S in the Spring of 2016 to further her studies at Cleveland State University. After her arrival, changes in laws made it impossible for her to receive money from her home in Nigeria, stranding her one semester away from graduation with no way to pay her tuition. Chika was introduced to HFLA by a classmate who had received an HFLA education loan previously. This education loan allowed Chika to not only pay for her tuition and register for her last semester for her at CSU, but allowed her to remain in the U.S. on her student Visa. Without this funding, Chika would not have been registered for classes and would have been forced to return home as she would have been out of compliance with her Visa.

Chika finished her Master’s of both Psychology and Diversity & Inclusion Management in Spring 2020, and is currently pursuing a PhD in Global Leadership and Change.

I was ecstatic when I received my education loan. I was worried that I wouldn’t qualify because I am an international student, but I was relieved and grateful. It was a life-changing moment for me. I have been spreading the news in my own little way to tell people about the positive impact an organization like HFLA is having in the Northeast Ohio community.” – Chika

DeLane Anthony-Loggins

HFLA helped a small business stay on track during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

DeLane Anthony-Loggins is an MBA graduate, licensed esthetician and the small business owner of The Wax Bar originally located in Woodmere Village.  She opened The Wax Bar and Beauty by LA at 25 years old. Through hard work, she has built her business to nearly 3,000 clients over 6 years.

In March when the COVID-19 pandemic hit and the state of Ohio mandated closures of “non-essential” businesses, including salons and spas, DeLane was forced to close. It could not have come at a worse time–she was in the middle of planning her salon’s expansion and relocation.  DeLane began the process of expanding her salon several years ago. The abrupt and indefinite closure of her business left her at a crossroads: should she move forward with her expansion plans or put her dream on hold? DeLane initially decided to put the move on hold.  Fortunately, a few weeks later, the landlord of the storefront where DeLane wanted to relocate the business sent her information on HFLA’s interest-free loan. 

DeLane’s Small Business Emergency Loan allowed her to order PPE and supplies to prepare herself and her business for reopening. This interest-free loan also allowed her to move forward with her plans to move and expand her business. “There’s always a silver-lining, even when you least expect it.  HFLA during the pandemic was my silver-lining.” – DeLane

Avoiding Financial Scams During COVID-19

Avoiding Financial Scams During the COVID-19 Pandemic

We are all trying to navigate a “new normal” in our daily lives. It has been inspiring to see how many individuals, small businesses, and families are coming together to lift up their community and strive to make a difference in the lives of those who are facing difficulties. 

Yet, despite this new “distant” community connection, we must still be wary of scams that try to take advantage of the vulnerability and generosity that we see today.

We have some basic tips to keep yourself safe from scammers during these times.

3 Essential Rules:

  1. Do not give your Social Security number, any bank account numbers, or credit/debit card numbers to someone over the phone. You have no way of guaranteeing the identity of whoever is on the other line. 
  2. If someone solicits you for something that you’ve “won,” an investment opportunity, or a “limited time offer,” walk away. If it seems too good to be true, IT IS
  3. If you are looking at financing or loan options, look for the Truth in Lending Act within the loan documents. If you are unable to find reasonable interest rates on a personal loan, contact HFLA of Northeast Ohio.

From the Ohio Department of Health: 

  • Robocalls – Never provide personal information such as social security numbers, bank account numbers, or credit card numbers to automated messages. If you think that the message is legitimate, call the organization via a local branch number and speak to a representative. 
  • Emails from the Federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) – Legitimate information is available from the CDC via coronavirus.gov and from the Ohio Department of Health at coronavirus.ohio.gov
  • Federal stimulus checks – Updates can be found on the Federal Trade Commission website: https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/blog/2020/03/checks-government – You WILL NOT need to pay money in order to receive your stimulus check, you WILL NOT need to provide social security numbers, bank account numbers, or credit card numbers. DO NOT GIVE THIS INFORMATION OUT.
  • Research charities before donating (that includes us!) – Find a database of registered charities on the Ohio Attorney General’s website: https://charitableregistration.ohioattorneygeneral.gov/Charities/Research-Charities.aspx

If you suspect unfair or deceptive sales practices, contact the office of Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost: www.ohioprotects.org – 1-800-282-0515

Keep up to date with the latest scam alerts on the Federal Trade Commission website: https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/features/scam-alerts

COVID-19 Resources for Northeast Ohio

COVID-19 Resources for Northeast Ohio

HFLA of Northeast Ohio aims to bring resources that are relevant to the community it serves. This is not a replacement for 211 or existing community resource guides in your community. It is highly suggested you look at and support existing local resources. 
HFLA of Northeast Ohio has not vetted all of these organizations or offerings––these are provided as-is. If you have any comments, or contributions to this list please contact us at team@interstfree.org – subject: COVID-19 Resources. 

For the most accurate and up to date information on the Coronavirus (COVID-19) in Ohio visit the Ohio Department of Health 

Ohio Department of Health | COVID-19 Testing and Community Health Centers

Ohio Vaccine Eligibility

FEMA funeral assistance for those whose deaths were caused by COVID-19

Rental & Housing Assistance

Energy & Utility Assistance Programs

Northeast Ohio Resources

Greater Ohio Resources

Food Resources: 

Small Business Resources

Coronavirus (COVID-19) Emergency Fund Press Release

If you DO NOT have the ability to print and scan or fax, please contact us for an alternative application. 

Contact Us

If you have the ability to print and scan or fax documents, you may access the .pdf version of the COVID-19 Emergency Loan Application below

COVID-19 Emergency Loan Application (ENGLISH)COVID-19 Emergency Loan Application (SPANISH)


Michal Marcus (HFLA)

Tel: 216-378-9042

Email: michal@interestfree.org

Coronavirus interest-free loan fund

Cleveland, Ohio (March 12, 2020) –

By now we have all heard about the evolving impacts from the coronavirus (COVID-19) across the globe. For many of us, the effects have shifted from a piece of news to a part of life.

Along with health concerns, there are many unfortunate financial implications: events are being canceled, restaurants are left empty, and people unable to go to work as they live through their quarantine, to name a few. For many working people in Northeast Ohio and the surrounding this can quickly lead to financial crisis.

To meet this need, the HFLA of Northeast Ohio will be offering interest-free loans for those affected economically by the coronavirus who live in Northeast Ohio.

HFLA will provide expedited Interest-free loans of up to $1,500 for purposes including (but not limited to):

  • Lost wages due to being unable to go to work
  • Child care costs due to school closures
  • Related medical costs

To apply, borrowers should contact HFLA at 216-378-9042 or email team@interestfree.org specifying that the request is for coronavirus related needs.

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About HFLA of Northeast Ohio

HFLA of Northeast Ohio was founded in 1904 with $501 donated by Charles Ettinger, Morris Black, and their friends to help European refugees settle and begin productive lives in this country. They believed – as we do now – that if you give someone a chance to succeed, they will pay it back and we can continue this transformative cycle. The same principle guides the organization today. By providing interest-free loans to individuals, families, and small businesses in the Northeast Ohio area, we are able to help people help themselves. The association has drastically increased its lending capital in the past few years from individual gifts, bequests, endowments, foundation grants, memorials and honorariums and is now operating with a loan fund of over $1 million. HFLA is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization. Learn more about HFLA.


HFLA Corporate Partner Program

Investing in Northeast Ohio’s renewal starts with investing in its most precious resource, its residents.

HFLA has specialized in providing long-term financial relief solutions to the residents of this great region for 115 years. 2020 plans include scaling up operations and empowering even more Northeast Ohio residents with interest-free loans. Partnering with HFLA to achieve these goals provides your organization with the ability to directly impact individual residents and help build sustainable change.

The HFLA Corporate Partner Program gives your organization the ability to create a loan pool fund that will expand your reach into Northeast Ohio communities, specifically, those with high concentrations of low to moderate income residents.

To learn more about HFLA's Corporate Partner Program and how to become a partner, please click here here.


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HFLA of NEO's Letter to Senator Portman

HFLA of NEO Board president, Lisa Arlyn Lowe recently sent the following letter to Ohio Senator Rob Portman in support of his opposition to the health care bill currently before the Ohio Senate. 

Dear Senator Portman:

Thank you for opposing the health care bill that is currently before the Senate.  In its present form, the Senate Bill is detrimental to all Americans—not just your Ohio constituents. In addition to slashing Medicaid and Medicare, as well as denying millions of Americans access to affordable health care, it limits (or prevents) access to care for opioid addiction - an issue about which I know you are personally passionate.

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