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