September 14, 2014  |  Financial HealthNorthern California

Pattie Newsom: A Role Model in Her Community

“I’ve learned to appreciate the advantages that come with being part of a group and holding each other accountable,” Pattie says. A participant in FII–San Francisco, Pattie Newsome is a perfect example of a positive influencer who finds opportunity after opportunity to improve her life and that of those around her.

At the Family Independence (FII), we work from an approach to behavioral and social change referred to as “positive deviance.” Whenever we don’t have a solution, the approach goes, we are likely to follow the example set by our peers­—and this influence ends up creating a positive ripple effect for everyone.

“Since I started working with FII five years ago, I’ve formed or participated in a number of groups,” she says. In July, her FII cohort took on a simple challenge to save up money: “We started by pitching in just one dollar the first week, with the idea to double the amount with each passing week for six months­­—two dollars, four dollars, eight dollars, and so on.”

By the end of the year, each member will have saved over one thousand dollars. Those that don’t reach that goal will pay a $15 “fee” to those who do. The idea came through Elaine Kelley, another FII partner family, who saw a similar challenge on her Facebook feed. She then told Pattie about it, who brought the idea to her group.

“I like it because the amount increase is slow enough for us to see progress week after week,” she says. “Plus, it helps us to create a positive habit.”

In addition, Pattie is part of a group of co-workers who bring fruits and vegetables to make breakfast energy juices for everyone. She also leads a group of friends and family who organize special social gatherings “and try things we may never make time for, like ice skating or rock climbing.”

Every year, Pattie also delivers dozens of Easter baskets to mothers and children shelters (pictured). “I may not have a lot, but I know there is always someone who has less than me. When I ask friends and family to pitch in, I always emphasize that everything helps.” This year, her social circle helped her buy, make, and deliver almost eighty such baskets.

“I just see bits and pieces of something I like or that I’m passionate about and then I ask a friend if they want to form a group around it,” she says. “In that sense, FII has helped me stay focused. They give you the resources, but you have to do the work.”

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