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Meet The Zooks: Honorees of the 2012 NFCC's Housing Clients of the Year

Facing financial crisis and the potential of losing your home is a nightmare that none of us would want to face. Most of us could easily become overwhelmed by the situation. Not the Zooks. “The Zooks faced what seemed to be an insurmountable challenge when they first came to Apprisen” states Jana Castanon Apprisen’s spokesman.  “We were able to assist them with their financial situation and offer them the support to regain control.”

Their story is one of overcoming the odds through hard work and perseverance. The Zooks can be an inspiration for all of us.

When the Zooks first came to Apprisen, they felt defeated. Lora is a cancer survivor and suffers from neurofibromatosis, a condition that causes difficulty in walking and Michael had been injured on the job at the Minot Air Force Base. The road to financial stability was a rocky one. He filed an insurance claim with Labor and Industry, which was eventually denied, and was in the process of applying for Social Security Disability.  All of these obstacles proved to be financially challenging for this family. As a result, they fell six months behind on their mortgage. When they met with their counselor, Yvonne Fengler, for the first time, they felt a glimmer of hope which they hadn’t experienced in a long time. They explained to Yvonne that they had been in contact with their mortgage company but were not offered any options due to their income levels. Yvonne examined what had to be done to modify the loan. She reviewed HAMP requirements and consulted an amortization chart to determine that the Zooks needed to increase their monthly income by $500. They then began to explore job opportunities that would allow for their disabilities. They found a job with the local paper on a delivery route. It was difficult at first, but with determination and ambition they were able to reach their goal of increasing their income.

The Zooks worked diligently for four months increasing their income and saving up enough money to qualify for the trial modification. When that occurred, they were ready. They had enough money in savings to make the initial payment and had money left over for an emergency fund. With Yvonne’s help, they were able to create a monthly spending plan that worked for them and still be able to put money aside. It took nine months for the final modification to be approved. By that time, they were in a strong position to manage their new payment and feel secure in the knowledge they were going to keep their home.

Learning/Lifestyle Changes
The Zooks have learned a lot through this process and are happy to share their success with others.  In April, they were featured in many media stories in the Tri Cities, Washington area with State Attorney General Rob McKenna and Apprisen, highlighting the new Attorney General’s Foreclosure Settlement Funds. Their story was used as an inspiration to others that all is not lost when dealing with a past due mortgage and that help is available.

Personally, the Zooks have a lot to look forward to. They have learned to stick to a monthly spending plan and still make savings a priority. They would like to save enough to be able to go on a nice vacation.  Lora is still working the paper route and is attending community college to seek a degree in social work. They both are confident with their new skills, and the knowledge that Apprisen is there to help. If any future financial crisis occurs, they will be well prepared.

Apprisen was so inspired by the Zook’s success that we nominated them to be the National Foundation for Credit Counseling’s (NFCC) 2012 Professional Achievement and Counseling Excellence (PACE) Housing Clients of the Year. The Zooks won the honor. In September, the Zooks received a standing ovation for their motivating success story while attending the NFCC annual conference in Charlotte, NC. None of the Zook’s success would have been possible if they had not taken the first step, reaching out for help. Their success is a lesson that we can all take to heart.


Apprisen, a national nonprofit credit counseling agency, has been helping consumers manage their finances and get out of debt for over 55 years. Certified counselors provide money management and debt counseling, HUD-approved housing counseling, and financial education. Services are provided in 10 states through local offices and nationally by phone or via the Internet. The oldest nonprofit credit counseling organization in the country, Apprisen was formerly known in its local communities as Consumer Credit Counseling Service (CCCS). Accredited by the Council on Accreditation (COA), CCCS is a member of the National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC), the Better Business Bureau (BBB), and AICCCA. Information is available 24/7. Call 800-355-2227 or visit the website, You can "like us" on Facebook at and follow us on Twitter at

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