An Ariva Staff Feature

Since February 2019, Felix Arellano (pictured in the middle of the group) has passionately served on the Ariva team offering financial counseling to the community. Last month, he was promoted to Program Manager, spearheading our Financial Empowerment Center and Ready to Rent programs. We sat down with Felix to learn about his journey, working at Ariva, and what drives him to do impactful work.

Felix started working at the Mexican Consulate in New York through its community affairs department. Through our partnership with the Consulate at La Ventanilla, Felix discovered Ariva and applied for a position with us to learn something new. Since then, he has continued to offer free financial counseling services to individuals in the Bronx community and beyond.

“I didn’t realize until a few years later how much I love financial counseling. It didn’t become just another nine-to-five job. It became something I loved,” he shares.

Applying to Ariva was out of Felix’s comfort zone. He admits to not always being readily open to change, but when he got the job, he adapted to Ariva’s culture relatively smoothly and really enjoyed his work. Like many of our staff and volunteers, Felix gives back to the community from a genuine place of love and wants to see others thrive independently.

“It’s the fact that you can help clients improve their personal lives financially. My goal is to have them be able to do these things on their own and to have the financial independence and know-how, so that they eventually won’t need our assistance,” says Felix.

Our free financial counseling helps clients establish a solid financial foundation for themselves and their loved ones. They can share the knowledge, tools, and resources they acquire with their family members. Felix believes Ariva is setting families up for sustainable generational wealth through financial education.

“I tell many of my clients that, ‘you probably won’t see the change in you right away, but you will be able to educate your kids.’ That generation will be the change. And that will be the change we see in the community,” he says.

Felix loves offering free financial counseling to the community. It’s about working with clients to create a personalized plan to achieve their financial goals and watch their progress. People have done great things like improving their credit, growing their savings, opening a bank account, and more. While we are here to advise and support, witnessing clients commit to bettering themselves makes the work so inspiring.

“Many clients come to fix something in their financial situation: debt, budget, credit issues, etc. I realized that I loved what I did when I saw clients that came back and were following the plan we worked to put in place for them. Seeing their progress was very exciting,” Felix shares eagerly.

However, committing to the plan and education is a true journey. Financial success doesn’t happen overnight. We commit to giving you the tools and support to get your finances on track, but you must also be willing to do the work.

“We can have as many sessions as you like. It’s always free, but you’re the one that’s got to make the changes. We could meet every week, but you won’t see any progress if you don’t do the work. The ones that commit to the changes are what I love to see and why I love what I do,” says Felix.

Although Felix no longer provides direct financial counseling, he is excited to dive into his new role as Program Manager. Felix welcomes the opportunity to push himself professionally and grow. In this new managerial position, Felix will lead our Financial Empowerment Center and Ready to Rent programs.

“I’m happy to take on this new role and to learn. My goal is to excel as a manager and make the programs achieve their goals,” Felix says.

This position is the first-time Felix will be managing, but he has a unique approach to leadership. His vision is consistent from when he was in financial counseling: to make a positive financial impact and support the future of the community by giving people the tools, in the form of financial guidance and our programs, to make better financial decisions.

To achieve this, he believes in something other than the traditional hierarchical work structure: Felix aspires to lead through collaboration and work collectively to reach the higher mission.

“I’m not the “boss.” We’re a team working toward the same goal. Yes, I’m advising, but we’re all the same. I’m just very happy with the work I do and what Ariva does. I’m thankful for the opportunities they have given me. I look forward to keep growing and learning.”

We are as grateful to have Felix on our team and congratulate him on his new role!

If you’re interested in being a part of our team, apply to our open positions or volunteer! Check out free programs for those interested in free tax preparation or financial counseling.