As soon as you meet Justin Griggs and Tory Eliot, you know you’re with people who put their values first. Tory is a dedicated high school English teacher, and although the Covid-19 pandemic has moved all her teaching to Zoom this year, it’s still very much a full-time occupation.

Justin is the primary caregiver for their two-year-old daughter Jewel, and he also holds down a part-time job as a learning specialist at Temple Isaiah in Lafayette. He loves being with children, and working at the synagogue has deepened his connection to Judaism in meaningful ways. Justin is a part-time cashier at Whole Foods as well, where he enjoys providing high-quality customer service, especially during these difficult times.

The pandemic put a strain on their family finances. Much of Justin’s income came from his work in Temple Isaiah’s summer program, which was canceled last summer, and his hours for the school year were cut as well.

“The help we received from Hebrew Free Loan has been unbelievable. Our loan officer was so comforting, and simplified something that felt overwhelming to us.”

Like many young families in the Bay Area, Justin and Tory had more credit card debt than they felt comfortable with, even before the pandemic. It had accumulated gradually, a result of the high cost of living here and their work in lower paid professions. Their family also includes Justin’s 14-year-old daughter Lux from his previous marriage. Once Covid-19 hit and their income was reduced, they took a sobering look at the interest rates they were paying and made a commitment to get out of debt.

That’s where Hebrew Free Loan came in. Justin and Tory had seen a flyer about our interest-free loan programs at Temple Isaiah a few years ago, but they were hesitant to disclose their debt to someone else. Once they did, their fears dropped away, and their only regret was that they hadn’t applied sooner.

With the help of an interest-free Coronavirus Impact loan, Justin and Tory paid off virtually all of their credit card debt and reduced their monthly payments at the same time. They’re tremendously relieved to be out from under the burden of high-interest debt, especially now that they understand how uncertain the world can be. The couple is excited to start saving for their family’s future, and they look forward to easier days ahead.

“We were speechless with gratitude when we found out our loan was approved. We couldn’t wait to tell our family!”