The coaches at Lucas County’s Financial Opportunity Centers (FOCs) are one of Northwest Ohio’s best kept secrets. Working one-on-one, the coaches help clients reach financial goals like getting out of debt, boosting savings or improving their credit scores.
Financial Opportunity Centers in the Toledo area have been operating since 2009, funded by Toledo LISC (Local Initiatives Support Corporation) and other community partners. The Centers provide services to improve the finances of people in the local area with coaching and classes free of charge and open to everyone.
“Typically, clients come in with a long term goal. The coach helps to break those down into short term goals,” says Michelle Gorsuch, a coach and the manager of the ProMedica Ebeid FOC downtown. “The client should know their total net income—and their total expenditures. People should also be aware of any government benefits they are receiving. The biggest obstacle to financial stability is not knowing how much money is coming in or going out.”
Help with job skills
Often, in the course of counseling, coaches will recognize and identify benefits that the client may be eligible to receive. In those cases, coaches will assist in scheduling an intake with other agencies, help fill out forms, and make sure that the individual brings the necessary documentation so that their appointment is a success. Coaches can help with financial applications from banks, or other interactions with financial institutions. They can review a client’s credit report, help them check for accuracy and help in fixing mistakes and improving their credit score.
Besides one-on-one coaching, there are classes in money management, budgeting, the “soft skills” needed to get and hold jobs, resume writing, even a class on small scale investing. For people seeking work promotions or looking to re-enter the workplace, there are classes and certifications that can be achieved.
Be good to yourself
Gorsuch’s mission is to instill her clients with hope. “We tell people coming in that no matter what their financial hardships are, there is always a way to fix it.”
Also, she encourages clients to be good to themselves. “When budgeting,” says Gorsuch, “make sure you have the ability to treat yourself. We can put that in the budget. You need to give yourself a break.”
To find a coach or class, contact the Financial Opportunity Centers: Ebeid FOC, 567-585-0059; ONE Village FOC, 419-724-5640, East Family Center, 419-691-1429, Crossroads FOC, 419-475-3258.