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University of Illinois Extension serving Champaign, Ford, Iroquois and Vermilion Counties

Main Office (Champaign County)
801 North Country Fair Drive
Suite D
Champaign, IL 61821
Phone: 217-333-7672
FAX: 217-333-7683
Hours: Monday-Friday 8:00am to 4:30pm (Closed 11:30 - 12:30pm)

INEP Office
201 W. Kenyon Road
Suite 2
Champaign, IL 61820
Phone: 217-353-0740
FAX: 217-351-2019

Branch Office (Iroquois County)
916 W Seminary Ave
P.O. Box 163
Onarga, IL 60955-0163
Phone: 815-268-4051
FAX: 815-268-4058
Hours: Monday-Friday 8:00am to 4:30pm (Closed 12 - 1pm)

Branch Office (Vermilion County)
3164 North Vermilion
Danville, IL 61832
Phone: 217-442-8615
FAX: 217-442-8628
Hours: Monday-Friday 8:00am to 4:30pm (Closed 12-1pm)

News Release

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Money Mentors Are Ready to Help You Manage Your Finances

In a roomy but intimate classroom in northwest Champaign early this summer, 12 adults sat in a circle, discussing topics related to finances, personalities and volunteering. After six weeks of training and prep, this group would become the newest class of Money Mentors, trained volunteers who meet one-on-one with members of the community (referred to as “Mentees”) who need help with their personal finances. On June 13, the Mentors graduated the program and are now starting to meet with Mentees throughout the area.

One of these mentors, Sam Celmer, has built up her knowledge in finance after traveling the world while teaching English in Russia before moving to Champaign to get her masters in Russian, East European and Eurasian Studies. She now works as the Title VI and International Scholarship Coordinator for Illinois International Business Operations at U of I. She was inspired to become a Money Mentor as a way of getting involved in helping the community after settling in the area post-graduation.

Sam is one of the younger Mentors, but this summer’s group has much diversity in its makeup of age, ethnicity and general backgrounds. Sam has expressed that she sees the diversity of Mentors as one of the best things about the program: “I think that our diversity will be really beneficial to mentees since we all have different interests and backgrounds. But at the same time, we all have one common goal—volunteering. In the end, our desire to make our community better is the thing that is inspiring us in the program, and that’s a great thing.”

And she has a great point—while Sam is in the beginnings of her career, another mentor, Rabel Burdge, is a retiree. He considers himself a life-long educator, having retired from the University of Illinois with appointments in the Departments of Agricultural Economics, Urban and Regional Planning and Leisure Studies (now Recreation, Sports Management and Tourism).

Throughout training, Rabel expressed his eagerness to meet with those experiencing life and family transitions, including those who are considered “house poor” (have houses that are small or outdated). These people may own a home but are unable to stay in this home for a variety of reasons, including mobility issues, and may need alternative living arrangements. When discussing his excitement of helping members of our community, Rabel stated, “I’m looking forward to learning strategies for helping people in difficult money management situations get the help they need.”

While Sam, Rabel and all the other Mentors have very diverse backgrounds, they all share one common goal—to help our community—as well as enthusiastic excitement. When asked what she was most excited about when she officially became a Money Mentor, Sam was all smiles as she explained “I’m so excited to meet my first mentee! This program just feels like such a good thing to be a part of.” This enthusiasm is justified. Just last year, 79 Money Mentors met with 135 people in Champaign, Ford, Iroquois and Vermilion counties and contributed over 450 volunteer hours to our communities.

Money Mentors are eager to help people build financial capacity through assisting with budgeting, establishing financial goals, building savings, managing credit and organizing finances. This free program is available to all members of our community. If you are interested in being paired with a Money Mentor, fill out a Mentee Participant Enrollment Form at

Source: Melissa Ann Steiner Kuhl, Publicity and Promotion Specialist,

Local Contact: Kathy Sweedler, Extension Educator, Consumer Economics,