GREENFIELD — Norma Gibson remembers the days when her grocery bill rang up about $100 a trip. Now, she says, she can get the same cart of goodies for less than half that amount.

Gibson credits Hearts of Hope, a money management program offered by Love INC, for teaching her about couponing and other strategies to stretch each dollar further.

In a season when many make resolutions to improve in some way in the year ahead, Gibson and others can point to positive changes they made with the help of local groups — many of which offer advice and assistance for free. Local nonprofits agencies, the county hospital, area fitness organizations and churches are among those touting support for those needing a boost meeting their New Year’s resolutions.

Story continues below gallery

Click here to purchase photos from this gallery

Saving money

About 10 years ago, Gibson’s financial picture was pretty normal. Then the recession came; her husband, who worked in construction, was out of work for about a year. Gibson cared for her mother with Alzheimer’s and faced health issues of her own at the time, and as depression gripped her, she found herself overspending.Today, Gibson hopes to encourage others from the perspective of someone who’s “been there.” She found motivation and support for her goals through Hearts of Hope.

The program pairs each participant with a guide to work through the series of eight lessons. Incentives are offered along the way for those who stick with it, and at the end, participants receive a free slow cooker.

Karla Whisenand, transformational ministry coordinator for Love INC, said the program’s financial lessons include money management, job skills and tips for creating meals at home.

“A lot of times at the food pantry, (clients) won’t even take the bag of potatoes because they don’t know what to do with that,” Whisenand said.

Through the program’s lessons, Gibson learned how to create a budget and stick to it.

“They have helped me so much,” she said. “I’m not on food stamps anymore.”

Gibson figures there are others who maybe make more money but still could learn to spend it more wisely. She also knows there are others barely getting by. She knows both the stress of financial turmoil and the relief of improved money management, so she recommends the class to others.

“You have to take the first step.”

Getting healthy

Not long ago, Ken Walter was looking to lower his blood sugar. He joined a diabetes management group through Hancock Regional Hospital. Through a series of weekly meetings, he met others facing some of the same issues he struggled with. And along the way, he learned strategies to help him improve his health.Walter was surprised by how important controlling portion size and diet was to managing his diabetes and losing weight, he said. Weighing or measuring portions was something he had never done in the past, but once he made that step a part of his routine, he quickly began to see results.

Walter reached the goals he set for body fat percentage and blood sugar level. Along the way, he lost about 25 pounds, weight he’s kept off for about 18 months since he went through the program.

He continues to go to the gym, and he still receives newsletters about upcoming meetings of the diabetes group, which he can sit in on if he chooses.

Kicking a habit

Autumn Stoner reached a truly-want-to point in her effort to stop smoking.She’d tried to quit several times in the more than 20 years since she first picked up a cigarette. Now in her 30s, she’d stopped during pregnancy but wondered if she’d go back.

Her employer offered incentives to stay healthy, and it paid for her to attend the Commit to Quit class at the hospital. There, she heard smoking referred to as an addiction. She thought of all the things people look down on about other forms of addiction — the excuses, the denial, the sacrifices to serve that one oversized priority — and connected that word to what she was doing.

“That hit so hard,” Stoner said. “I left that class thinking, … ‘I want to commit a lot more to quitting now.’”

After Commit to Quit, Stoner took a faith-based smoking cessation class, Rising from Ashes, at Brandywine Community Church. She said the first helped her see all the health effects of smoking, while the second encouraged her to handle her problems by trusting God.

She’s two and a half years into her life as a non-smoker, a journey she also measures by the more than 13,000 cigarettes she has not smoked in that time.

She said she’s enjoyed a range of benefits, including increased stamina and fewer sinus infections, and she’s started running.

And — like so many who have found success and want to spread the word — she’s gotten involved in one of the groups that helped her.

Today, she is counted among the leaders Rising from Ashes, sharing her story as a means of inspiring others.

Support systems

These are just some of the community opportunities to find encouragement for your 2017 goals.


Weight Management Support — Free non-judgmental, non-threatening monthly nutrition and weight management support group facilitated by a registered dietitian. Meets on the first Tuesday of each month at Hancock Wellness Center, 888 W. New Road, Greenfield, and the first Monday of the month at Hancock Wellness Center, 8505 N. Clearview Drive, McCordsville. Information: or 317-468-6100.

Weight Watchers — Meets at 5:30 p.m. Monday or 9 a.m. Thursday at Brandywine Community Church, 1551 E. New Road. Information: 317-462-4777 or


Faith and Finance — New course coming soon. Information: or 317-468-6300.

Hearts of Hope — Program covering banking, goal setting, credit reports, insurance and other topics. Information: or 317-468-6300.


Out with the Old: Declutter — Learn simple ways to deal with clutter during this event led by Purdue Extension Educator Megan Addison. Meets at 7 p.m. Thursday at Hancock County Public Library, 900 W. McKenzie Road, Greenfield. Register for the free class at or call 317-462-5141.


Celebrate Recovery — Faith-based 12-step program helps people with “hurts, habits and hangups.” Churches offering groups include Brandywine Community Church in Greenfield (, Brookville Road Community Church in New Palestine (, Harvest Church in Mt. Comfort ( and Outlook Christian Church in McCordsville. ( Or visit and enter your zip code.

Commit to Quit — Four-week program to help overcome tobacco addiction. Information: 317-468-4162 or

Rising from Ashes — Faith-based smoking cessation program that will next be offered in the spring at Brandywine Community Church. Information: 317-462-4777.

SMART Recovery — Focuses on overcoming addiction. Meets at 9 a.m. Saturdays in Classroom 1 at Hancock Regional Hospital, 801 N. State St. Information: 317-626-7719.


Family Life Skills — Covers listening, conflict resolution, boundary-setting and other topics. Information: or 317-468-6300.

Single and Parenting — Starts in May at Outlook Christian Church in McCordsville. Information:

More classes:

Author photo
Anne Smith is a reporter at the Greenfield Daily Reporter. She can be reached at