Living out My Life’s Purpose- Peter Laroche, President and CEO
“The purpose of life is a life of purpose.” – Robert Byrne, American author
As a child, one of my most vivid memories was witnessing my parents’ daily arguments about money. We barely had enough money to pay our basic living expenses for housing, food, clothing, and transportation. And there were no emergency savings to help when our family faced health issues. My father grew up during the Great Depression, had a limited education, and worked as a carpenter from the age of fourteen. My mother had basic job skills and worked part time in a retail store while raising four children.
They lacked money management skills, lived paycheck to paycheck, and found it difficult to refuse the door-to-door salesmen regardless of what they were selling (cosmetics, household items, home maintenance services, etc.). I started working part time at age 14 and made a promise to myself that I would not make the same mistakes my parents did when it came to managing my personal finances.
Over the years, I have disciplined myself to keep a detailed budget, track my spending, and reconcile my bank account every month. Since computers have improved the efficiency of monitoring personal finances, not a day goes by that I do not check my bank account and download daily transactions into my computer software. I feel uneasy when I do not know the status of my personal finances. I experience a sense of peace when I know where I am financially. Even though my parents passed many years ago, I’m confident they would be proud of what I’ve done in my personal and professional life.
My entire professional career has been in public service and nonprofit management. When I moved to Asheville in the late 1980s, I learned about the credit counseling field and was hired as the Executive Director position at the local credit counseling agency. Since I did not have any experience running a credit counseling agency, they sent me to the sister agency in Winston-Salem to spend a few days observing their operation. I went back to Asheville, where I reorganized agency operations, got a feeling for the agency’s finances, and trained to provide credit and debt counseling as well as financial education classes. After witnessing first-hand the impact financial counseling and education had on the clients we served, I knew I had found my life’s purpose!
Even though I am not directly involved in providing direct services at Financial Pathways, I love to talk with counseling and education staff to hear their client stories because they remind me of how far I have come since I was a young man taking control of my own financial future. It is gratifying to reflect on the positive impact that Financial Pathways has had on thousands of families just like mine. How blessed I am to have had the opportunity to make this my life’s work.