In January, CCCS counseled 1,300 people in its offices, which are open 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Friday and 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday.

The office has a five-gallon jug filled with shards of credit cards in nearly every room in the office.

The clients learn how to budget, save and pay bills on time.

"They're learning new habits and ways to turn themselves around," Booker said.


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"They (also) need support. 'Once I'm taught these things, how do I set them in motion, how do I keep them in motion?'"

In addition to teaching these skills, CCCS can often lower payments and reduce late fees. Those reductions are up to each individual creditor, Booker noted.

The company charges clients $8 per creditor per month up to $35, Booker said, noting that in certain cases those fees may be waived.

Catonsville resident Erin Dickerson is a counseling manager with CCCS who meets with people at the Frederick Road office.

Often the difficult situations she sees include people who are either unemployed or under-employed.

She said many have made the mistake of waiting too long and getting too deeply into debt before asking for help.

"Everybody needs help at some point in their life. Don't be afraid to ask," Dickerson said. "I think if people would speak up a little sooner, they wouldn't find themselves in such a difficult situation."

Though Clay-Boone was laid off from her job at Verizon in April, she said she has still managed to pay off some of her debt with her unemployment checks and pension.

"I want to work, so I can pay off my bills a little faster," she said. .

Despite being unemployed for 10 months, Clay-Boone said she has a better grasp on her financial situation and plans to see the program to the end.

"CCCS has been very inspirational to me and very helpful," Clay-Boone said. "I'm not giving up."