Amber WellmanIn the Spring of 2015, Amber Wellman noticed that her paychecks had abruptly become much smaller. The 34-year-old single mother worked as a Reentry Coordinator for CompDrug at a women’s institution, and the reduction in income was both surprising and dangerous. “I didn’t know what it was about. There was nothing I could do,” she explains. “It was intimidating and scary. They could just take my money without warning. I couldn’t plan for it.”

After doing some research, Amber learned that her wages were being garnished by a debt collector for a judgment that had been reached four years prior after she had to give up her car. When her then employer’s doors suddenly closed, she lost her income and could no longer make payments on the car. As a result of the garnishment, Amber no longer had enough money to budget for rent, food, a car payment, insurance, and expenses for her teenage daughter.

She launched into action, researching her alternatives and resources in the community. “After I looked into it, I realized bankruptcy was my best option.” She reached out to the Legal Aid Society of Columbus (LASC) and learned that she was eligible for free assistance from LASC’s bankruptcy attorney, Melissa Linville. “I was blown away,” she recalls. “I’m not usually one to catch a break.”

Melissa got to work preparing Amber’s case for a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy, which—if successful—would result in the discharge of a majority of her debts. “Melissa provided excellent assistance,” Amber praises. “She was always in contact with me to provide updates. She was thorough, friendly, and available.” As a result of Melissa’s efforts, Amber received a Chapter 7 discharge in the fall of 2015, and the garnishments permanently stopped.

“Bankruptcy gave me a fresh start,” she explains. “It opened doors for me to build credit and not have to worry about where my money is going to come from in order to do basic things.” Now employed at an automotive repair center, Amber is able to support her daughter and her household, unencumbered by suffocating debt.

Amber reflects on the experience: “I am very thankful. Thank you for helping people like me—a single mom trying to handle my business every day and trying to do the right thing.”

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