From Poverty to Possibility: Fixing the cycle.

Three years ago, Adrian Alphonso felt he was coming apart. Newly separated and troubled by addictions, Adrian was also deep in debt with few resources to support himself and his young daughter Elyse.

Adrian Alfonso, cyclist.

An asset building program became a vehicle for employment, stability and a car-free life for one Winnipegger

Adrian went to Community Financial Counselling Services—a United Way agency partner—where staff recognized in him a perfect candidate for the Saving Circle program at another United Way agency partner, SEED Winnipeg.

At SEED, Adrian completed 10 weeks of money management training and received three dollars for every dollar he saved toward an important asset that would improve his life – in this case, a bike frame, wheels and special cycling boots that would allow Adrian, who lives a car-free lifestyle, to cycle year round.

“My father was an immigrant and became an automotive painter,” Adrian said. “He sacrificed to pay bills and put food on the table. My mother came from a big family and money was very scarce. They worked very hard and went without. I never learned about money – they didn’t want to burden me with it. Talking about it would have been stressful.”

Today, Adrian has changed his life. He works full time at a cycling shop, picks up an occasional DJ gig, and spends time with daughter Elyse, who lives with him part time.

“When you are down and feel like you have no more options, it’s so nice to know that there are things to help you,” Adrian said. “Saving Circle is one of those important programs that people should hear about.”