“True empowerment is not me as a coach doing it for [clients],” said Don, a financial counselor at the Akron Financial Empowerment Center (FEC).

“It is me walking by them and supporting them to employ the financial skills and knowledge that they’re gaining along the way to be self-sufficient.”

Don structures his financial counseling to focus on what the clients want and hope to get out of the sessions. To start, he asks, “Where are you financially, and where do you want to be?” Once clients identify an end goal, he’ll then guide them to figure out “How do we get you there?”

While speaking with clients, Don will try to identify flashpoints – any emergencies or “financial fires” that need to be addressed. “Once you can put those out,” Don said, “we can rebuild your four financial walls.” Identifying challenges head on and then moving forward to build a strong foundation is his approach to get his clients working towards “financial stability and building towards wealth.”