Rudy Garcia

Tell us about your work.
In 2003 after a two-year stint at FUMA, my old boss at the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) asked me to come back to help out for Hurricane Isabel response operations. Almost three years later, after working disaster response for three straight hurricane seasons, enough was enough. Deciding it was time to start a new chapter in my life, I left FEMA. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to be (now that I was all grown up), but I knew I didn’t want to go to work for someone else, so in early 2006, I got my real estate license (just as the market started its downturn!) and worked at trying to develop a commercial real estate practice. By December of 2007 I saw the writing on the real estate market wall, and as luck would have it, a good friend named Scott Lucas (who has since passed away) asked me to join him in the financial services world.
After much gnashing of teeth I agreed, and the rest is history. As often occurs, a funny thing happened as I began to pursue this opportunity: I realized that all of the years I spent in the military working with young (and not so young!) Americans had given me a unique perspective on financial management issues that middle class Americans face and I saw I was doing exactly what life had prepared me for. I quickly obtained several different financial services credentials and by March of 2008 had launched my firm. Originally I started out in the life insurance side of things but quickly realized that my passion lay in helping individuals, families, and businesses develop holistic financial plans that provide them with a “roadmap” of how to get to where their hopes, dreams, and desires lead them. In 2010 I completed the transition and rebranding from “Rivanna Woods Financial Services” to “Retirement Plan Advisors of Virginia” (RPAVA) where I now concentrate primarily on retirement planning for individuals and helping business owners develop and manage company retirement plans. At RPAVA we believe that long-term relationships offer huge benefits for our clients, their families and employees as well as our company. Retirement planning is a journey and not a destination and we love the journey.
Tell us about your family.
I have two children: my son Edward (EJ) and my daughter Georgia, who live in Tallahassee. EJ has a real estate business and is married to my daughter-in-law, Shannon; they have two of my grandchildren, Gabriel (almost 7) and Hannah (almost 5). Georgia is a board-certified speech therapist with a MS from Florida State and runs her own speech therapy practice. She has gifted us with my oldest grandson, Noah, who just turned 10.
Tell us about a hobby you have.
There are many things that I like to do that would be considered hobbies, such as reading and hiking, but the other great passion in my life after family, my business and civic activities, is powerlifting. I have been a certified referee in powerlifting since 1989. I was an athlete, coach, and meet director while I was stationed in Europe and Africa and then got involved with governance at the state and national AAU level for the sport in the late 1990s when I was stationed at Fort Lee. Now, I spend my time as the “Voice of Virginia Powerlifting,” announcing at about a dozen events a year, primarily statewide, but I also announce at one or two events at the national level outside of Virginia.
Describe one of the highlights of your life.
The three greatest things that have happened to me in order of timing are having my children, developing a relationship with Jesus, and meeting and marrying my wife, Catherine. There are a number of other things I could name that are highlights, but those three are tops!
Describe one of the biggest surprises of your life.
Discovering how much of a knack I had for helping others develop and maintain healthy financial habits. I was raised in a family where money was never talked about, was always an issue, and where there never seemed to be enough of it. Never in a million years did I see myself as a provider of financial advice and education. I am still amazed at how many families I reach on a regular basis.
Describe one of the tragedies/struggles of your life.
In a short period of time from the late 1980s to the early 1990s, I lost two of the most important women in my life. In 1989 I lost my grandmother “Abuela” Nellie to a heart attack. She was only 67 and I was in Germany when it happened. She provided me with my work ethic, helped me develop a keen sense of right and wrong, and was the one adult I knew I could always talk to who would listen without judgment. It has been 25 years and I still miss her. In 1992 while I was stationed in Tunis, Tunisia, my best friend from grade school, Wren, succumbed to cystic fibrosis. She was that special friend most of us have. She was a fighter and lived a lot longer than the doctors expected.
Describe a dream you have for your future.
I have one overarching dream. It is why I do what I do. I want to one day have/develop/help create a holistic learning center where people who have an educational need or desire can come and, for a fee they can afford, learn what they feel is important to them. I have a dream of folks being able to improve themselves in many different aspects of their lives. It could be as simple as furthering their understanding of an academic area, learning about how to be a better parent or citizen, or learning how to do a new craft, physical skill, or sport. Whatever they want to learn they will be able to access at the Holistic Learning Center. I believe that we as humans have an innate need to continue to learn. The way things are now, I find folks become discouraged because what they want to learn isn’t available either due to cost or availability of a teacher. Wouldn’t it be a great thing it if all of us could go someplace and learn what we want at a price we could afford?
Describe a fear you have for your future.
I fear running out of energy before I complete the race. So I work hard at keeping my mind, body and spirit energized through education, exercise and good eating habits, and spiritual readings and meditation.
Here’s your chance to sound off. If you could give one public service announcement or word of advice to the public at large, what would it be?
Just as I believe that every human has an innate need to continue to learn, I also believe that every one of us has an innate need to give back to our tribes, communities, state, country and the world. While not all of us can make a big impact on the world, all of us can make a huge impact in our communities. Each of us is gifted with a special talent. I would encourage you to identify that talent and then find some way to share that skill with others, through either volunteering or creating a business that allows you to use that talent to improve your community. Serving is unbelievably fulfilling. Serving selflessly is rewarding beyond words. In 2011 a good friend, Bonnie Field, encouraged me to join the Rotary Club of Fluvanna. It has been an incredible opportunity for me to work with likeminded people to help others with no expectation of anything in return. Find your talent, find your way to apply that talent, then apply it and change your little corner of the world.

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