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Credit counselor retiring

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POSTED: February 8, 2008 5:02 a.m.
Submitted / Coastal Courier/

Sonny Colley

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SAVANNAH - When Sonny Colley walks into his Waters Avenue office he says his usual cheery good mornings to the staff and shares his infectious smile.
Last week, he also gave a greeting to someone else, his replacement. After an 11-year stint with Consumer Credit Counseling Services of Savannah, Colley would say hello to the organization's new president.
"Retirement is kind of bittersweet for me," Colley says.
"As much as I have been looking forward to it, I'll really miss this job. I feel like we have a family here, and it'll be hard to let that go."
Colley has spear-headed many major changes at CCCS, including putting a part-time office in Hinesville. When he first joined the non-profit in 1996, the original budget was placed at $200,000. With a combination of grants and an increase of services offered, CCCS could very well meet a $1 million budget in the coming years, as it is now working with $800,000 per year.
Colley began with just one CCCS office in Savannah and wanted to reach out. So, he opened CCCS satellite offices in Statesboro, Brunswick and Beaufort, as well as Hinesville. Another office, in Rincon, is expected to open soon. Colley has also been adamant about both he and his staff putting on workshops to educate people about their finances. This past year alone, they manned more than 200 workshop events in the Coastal Empire and Low Country.         
The progression of CCCS is no doubt due to Colley's hard work and dedication.
"When I joined this company, I wanted to make a difference," Colley said.
And he has done just that with many clients, including Tonya Jones, whose name was changed for confidential reasons. When she met Colley and his crew last year, she had $50,000 in credit card debt. Now, with $13,000 paid off, she looks at Colley as more than just a businessman.
"I'm 64 years old, which is probably close to Sonny's age," Jones explains.
"But somehow, he's like a father figure because I trust him so much. He gave me so much valuable advice and was always so nice to me. He truly wants to see me do well and meet my goals. It's like having my own personal cheerleader."
Jones said she was sad to see Colley's leave, but will stick with her debt management plan.
"I almost wish I had gotten in debt a little earlier so he could see me through to the end!"
Colley says what he'll miss most about CCCS are clients.
"It's the people who make this job so special. They're the ones who have made me want to get up and come to work with a smile every day."   
Colley's last day with CCCS will be Jan. 31. His replacement is John Wills of Greensboro, N.C. But Colley isn't completely out of the spotlight. On January 14 at noon, he was the guest speaker at the Exchange Club's monthly lecture series.
 

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