As cheesy as it may sound, Phyllis Caldwell-George really does help make dreams a reality, especially for minority women.
Just ask one of the many clients she’s helped during her 21 years serving at the helm of Financial Pathways of the Piedmont.
“When clients come in and they’re in a crisis or taking their first steps toward buying a home, they cannot see how it could possibly happen. A woman will come in with two kids and tell us she has a dream: ‘She will be the first person in the family to own a home,’” says Caldwell-George, who started her career in a large banking corporation. “I have shed tears with them in their final closing meetings on a house.”
Financial Pathways of the Piedmont offers services to anyone who has a need or desire to improve their financial wellbeing — from budgeting to home ownership to retirement. Caldwell-George finds herself with a particular knack for financial counseling and support.
“The moment I realized I wanted to help people was pivotal,” she says. “It was when my purpose and passion collided and aligned.”
Of all of their services, Caldwell-George finds their homeownership programs are some of the most rewarding. With 85 percent of their clientele being head-of-household, minority women, their goal is to help them build generational wealth for their families.
Their work with women in financial crisis has exposed the severe lack of education available on the subject for this demographic.
“Women are leading in student loan debt over men. It takes them longer to get down the path because many have children and may have to stop working,” Caldwell-George says. “When they are the sole person that takes care of their family and financial burdens — while also facing inequality in pay; [women] can be behind from the gate. There are just more challenges that women face.”
But despite these setbacks, there IS help to be found.
Kathy Cissna, who serves as the chairman of the board for Financial Pathways for the Piedmont after 40 years of working in finance, is passionate about financial education because of the difference it makes.
“People don’t know how much help is out there. Financial freedom is not about wealth or the biggest salary; it’s having enough knowledge about how things work and having control over your finances,” she says. “You too can do this. It is never too early. It is never too late. And it is not too hard.”
As far as Caldwell-George and Cissna are concerned, there are no limits.
“There is a community of women who WILL support you. Chart out your path and take the steps,” Caldwell-George says. “The future is female.”