IMPower Center empowers underserved communities with financial literacy
SOUTH BEND – Deshaun Stewart said his mother’s silver courses started when he was old enough to crave the latest pair of Air Jordan sneakers.
âWe started having these conversations in my pre-teens, because you look at all the beautiful things – the fancy cars, the Jordans, and the flashy clothes – and I wanted some of that stuff,â said Stewart, 24 years old, about his mother, Kay Farlow.
“She insisted that I only own what you can afford to lose.”
These Jordans can cost over $ 250, and Farlow asked his young son if he could buy a pair of shoes that would get scuffed the day he wore them outside.
âShe emphasized to me the importance of assets versus asset depreciation,â Stewart recalled. “Very young, she put stuff like that in me.”
These lessons got stuck. Stewart is working on a bachelor’s degree in finance while working with Farlow’s husband Kenric Farlow in Charles Schwab’s Indianapolis office. He bought his first house at the age of 20. He thinks it wouldn’t have happened without the financial education he received from Farlow.
Now Farlow hopes to teach investing, money management, real estate, and a host of other financial skills to city residents through the IMPower Center. The center is located at 22500 US 20.
Farlow rents space in the center to minority and women entrepreneurs who own a variety of financial services and real estate businesses. These entrepreneurs are working with Farlow to organize financial literacy workshops aimed at helping people in the west who need these services. The building also has a hall which can be hired for community events.
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Stewart is convinced that Farlow’s initiative will be successful.
âMy mother is a very willful woman and she will get what she wants no matter what the cost,â he said. “And because of this, she will be successful in her mission to spread financial literacy in these underdeveloped regions.”
Farlow said her passion stems from the struggles she saw her mother endure, as well as the challenges in her life that resulted from growing too fast.
âI grew up watching my mom wrestle,â Farlow recalls. “We grew up extremely poor, but not as poor as most of the people around us because we didn’t have to worry about shutting down public services.”
Farlow said his mother worked hard to make sure the lights stayed on, that there was food in the fridge and to make sure the rent was paid. However, something had to give with her mother who was working to provide for her children, and Farlow said she started hanging out with the wrong crowds.
âI was a follower for a long time in my childhood, so when people started to use drugs, to have sex and to drink, I was there with them,â she recalls.
She saw things teens shouldn’t see, as Farlow often associated with much older people. She has seen friends and acquaintances being shot. Farlow said she has always been a curious person. This curiosity serves her well as an adult who reads books to learn the answers to the questions she had on subjects such as car and real estate financing.
This teenage curiosity led Farlow to make a series of bad decisions.
âWhen my friends started smoking weed, I wanted to try it,â she recalls. “When they started drinking, I wanted to do it too.”
She followed the same pattern when it came to having sex.
âI didn’t want to be the one that didn’t let go and try,â Farlow said. “They seemed to be having a good time, so I let myself go and joined in.”
Farlow learned that she was pregnant with Deshaun in 1997. She graduated from Clay High School in 1999.
âWhen I had my son, I remember thinking that I didn’t want his life to be like mine,â she recalls. “I didn’t want him to experience wrestling.”
Fortunately, Farlow began to follow the lead of an older sister who decided to live a different lifestyle. Her sister got a job at a fast food restaurant, got married, and went to college to become a medical assistant.
âWatching her create this lifestyle and this quality of life that we didn’t have in our house made me say I wanted it,â said Farlow. “I turned to this.”
Farlow said she had always been a good student, so she got good grades even if she made bad decisions. Farlow enrolled at Indiana University at South Bend after graduating from high school. She majored in accounting, but changed her focus to marketing, while working in a telemarketing company, raising her son. Farlow eventually earned an associate’s degree in business administration and a bachelor’s degree in marketing.
She took a job at Jordan Ford after graduating, and that’s when Farlow decided she wanted to learn more about auto finance and real estate finance. She and her first husband, whom she married while in college, bought a house.
âThen I started to see how people came in and their cars cost as much as my house and wondered how is it possible that their loan is five or six years and my home loan is 30? She reminded herself.
Farlow quickly began to learn all she could about real estate, investing, and finance. She started buying properties in town and renting them out to people and owned four rental properties.
In 2017, Farlow was learning more about the racial wealth gap in South Bend, and she was keen to do something to give black people the kind of financial education her mother didn’t have. However, she remarried in 2016 and was living in Indianapolis. Her husband is also from South Bend, but he wanted to stay in Indianapolis.
Yet Kenric Farlow encouraged his wife to pursue her dream. The information Farlow learned about the racial wealth gap was a call to action. She learned, for example, that 35% of blacks own their homes compared to 69% of whites.
âI see these numbers and these alarms going off inside me because I have the skills to help people escape these numbers, and at that point the IMPower Center was born,â she said. .
Farlow soon realized that she couldn’t change those numbers on her own. She decided to recruit entrepreneurs to have a presence at the center and be able to offer workshops on real estate, investments and other topics related to finance.
Thomas Capers, owner of Capers Realty, is one of the entrepreneurs who rents space at the IMPower Center. Capers said he had been in the real estate business for about 20 years and had owned his own business since 2008.
Capers said he does most of his business online and doesn’t feel the need to have a physical presence.
âBut when she decided to come to town to invest in South Bend, she reached out to me and shared her vision with me, and I was on board,â Capers said. “What she was doing, I wanted to be a part of it.”
Email South Bend Tribune reporter Howard Dukes at [email protected]
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