Whether you’re buying a house, planning for retirement or setting your sights on a college diploma, many of the biggest milestones in life are also the biggest financial decisions. But the roadmap to reach those goals isn’t going to be the same for everyone.
Financial health is about more than saving money or building a budget. It’s about having the right foundation to get where you want to be in life. It’s about breaking free from debt and instability to find the freedom to fulfill your potential. And in my career as a Prosperity Planner with Goodwill Industries of Central Florida, my job is to help others succeed in that journey – no matter where they start or where they envision the finish line.
Launched in 2021, the Prosperity Platform is an initiative that offers all Goodwill team members free access to an experienced planner who can help them set and achieve personal, professional and financial goals. My job isn’t to tell people what they should do or where they need to go, but to listen, support and empower them to take charge of their future.
A little extra support and accountability can go a long way – and that was exactly what my colleague Polly was hoping to find when she signed up for a Prosperity Planning session. An employment specialist located in the Bithlo area, she’d spent much of her career helping other people build better lives and careers … but behind the scenes, overcoming the challenges of achieving her own dreams felt out of reach.
I sat down with Polly and learned about her situation. She and her partner were going through some complex financial decisions. They’d just bought a house, repair costs were mounting, and her long-term goal of going back to college was deferred again and again in favor of more pressing issues and expenses.
It wasn’t that Polly hadn’t tried to tackle the problem herself. She had plenty of motivation, but her progress came in short bursts: She had the framework put together with having a budget and accounts set up for various financial needs, but even after buckling down on her budget, she’d run into obstacles and frustrations that set her back as far as she’d come. Having someone to talk to and the encouragement to follow through made all the difference. She had a plan and resources that worked.
With time and effort, she worked her way to financial stability until she reached a turning point: Suddenly, she could stop worrying about short-term problems and start thinking about what she wanted to do – like continuing her education.
Going back to school was always something on Polly’s horizon. But the time had never been right: Her life situation wasn’t stable enough, and she needed to keep working full-time to hold onto her healthcare benefits. On top of all that, she had no idea how she was going to afford it.
But through the Prosperity Platform, she finally got the chance to make her dream of continuing her education a reality. She signed up for Goodwill Scholars, a prepaid tuition program available to all Goodwill team members, and enrolled in UCF’s Master of Social Work program – bringing her one step closer to her goal of becoming a social worker and helping students and young people in crisis.
To many Americans, self-sufficiency is a hallmark of success. We’re raised to believe that a capable adult should be able to handle financial challenges on their own and in private. But it’s time we moved past that mindset. The truth is that we can all benefit from a little help sometimes – and financial health and planning resources are at the heart of a stronger, more resilient community.
To learn more about Goodwill’s commitment to creating jobs that positively impact workers and empower them to achieve their goals, visit www.goodwillcfl.org – or consider supporting our mission by donating or shopping at a Goodwill location near you.
David Watson is a Prosperity Planner at Goodwill Industries of Central Florida.