As a child, even though I had low-esteem and little belief in myself, it never stopped me from dreaming. I remember fantasizing about being preaching or working in a hospital one day. As I matured, and after many days and hours in the school library, I decided I wanted to be a counselor. You can check out my story here https://www.ericamartino.com/2016/12/i-had-to-prove-i-was-not-the-dumb-girl-from-high-school-.html.
At a young age, I enjoyed hearing people’s stories and helping them move toward change. When I graduated high school I enrolled in a college and was planning to get my degree in counseling. Instead of getting my counseling degree at that time I chose to get married.
After I got married, I begin working with my husband first at a church, then at couple different schools. We have always done well working together. One day an opportunity presented itself for me to open a fitness center for an investor in the town where we lived. After much contemplation, I decided to give it a try. The fitness center grew rapidly and soon I was running 7 different centers in 3 different states. My favorite part about my job was listening to all the members tell me their stories of pain, hope, and perseverance. After several years of running fitness centers, I decide to become a stay at home mom and take care of my sweet children but even while being at home, my passion for personal development never left me.
During my years at home, my husband was working hard providing for our family while attending graduate school. Since he was gone a lot, I decided to go back to school and get a degree in business. This worked out great because when he graduated he wanted to open a private practice and I knew just how to do it.
We spent many hours planning, writing business plans and developing a social media plan before opening our doors in 2010. While Joe was busy seeing clients, I took care of the day to day operations of the business while I continued to finish my education and care for my children. Our practice started in a little two room suite on the East Beltline in Grand Rapids but our long term dream was never to stay small but to reach one person at time so we could change a community and eventually change the world which led us to expansion.
In 2013, we moved our small, two-roomed office to East Paris Ave and rented an 11 room office. This was a big move for us that came with a lot of fear.
What if we could not afford the rent?
What if clients stopped coming?
What if, what if, what if……
We did not let our fears stop us, our mission was always bigger then our fears therefore in 2014 we opened an additional location in Lowell, MI and in 2015 we expanded to Grandville, MI. In addition to running 3 offices, Joe and I own Hopes and Dreams marriage conferences. For 7 years now, we have been traveling all around the state holding marriage conferences because we believe healthy marriages create healthy families. In addition to the marriage conferences, Joe is invited often to speak on the new stations, for the local hospitals and even the schools. Our dreams have not stopped with expanding our practices or hosting conferences. In addition to these things Joe is also working on writing a book and creating curriculum.
It is our desire that couples all over the country can learn what it takes to make a marriage not just survive but thrive. While Joe invests his free time in writing and public speaking I work with businesses to help them grow.
I have been offering business consulting now for many years. I have a passion for helping small business because I believe small business help America be stronger while providing more jobs. Plus, I love showing others how they can take a dream and turn into a reality. It simply starts with a good road map.
Are you wondering how Joe and I have time to run a private practice and do all this? The truth we have an amazing team of therapist and support staff. Together we all strive to be the best in Grand Rapids. In order to the be the best we have learned a lot the hard way which has involved making a lot of mistakes but without mistakes it is impossible to learn. The process to become the best has involved weeding out, adding, learning, growing and developing but it has all been necessary to achieve excellence.
While I have been working beside my husband throughout this journey as his business developer, I have recently added more responsible and am now a therapist. I love being a therapist. There is no greater joy occupationally then journeying with someone toward healing. My journey started with a childhood dream that exploded into something bigger and I would not change any of it because this journey has brought me where I am today.