Nov 2 2012

Community Ties: LAUP and the Lakeshore Minority Business Network

Our Enfoque Latino team has spent much of the year building relationships in our communities. We have especially focused on growing our partnerships with LAUP in Holland and the Lakeshore Minority Business Network, which hosts meetings in Holland and South Haven. Read on to learn more about these organizations’ missions and how we support each other.

LAUP: Empowering Latinos to Make a Better Community for All

LAUP or Latin Americans United for Progress works to empower Latinos to be full participants in the larger community through three types of programming: adult education (ESL classes, GED classes, computer training, and citizenship preparation), youth development, and supportive services that assist in meeting basic needs. This year, we increased our sponsorship of two of the organization’s well-known events.

LAUP’s annual Fiesta, held each May during Tulip Time, celebrates the diversity of the Holland community, the work done by LAUP staff and volunteers throughout the year, and the progress made by program participants. As this year’s Fiesta title sponsor, we had a booth inside the Civic Center with a prime view of Saturday’s King and Queen contest, open to local high school students. Our very own Rico Ponce even emceed the afternoon events, and we got to chat with everyone passing through.

We also sponsored and took part in LAUP’s Youth Conference in February. The event brings middle and high school students from the surrounding areas together on the campus of Hope College to challenge them to plan for their futures after graduation. Participants get to hear from inspiring speakers, talk with local professionals, explore different career paths, and learn the basics of applying for college and jobs. We had a booth where students got to talk with us about personal finance and jobs in banking.

Consumers is excited to continue to partner with LAUP’s adult education classes through presentations on banking, budgeting, and building credit in the U.S. and look forward to celebrating LAUP’s excellent work in the community at the organization’s Annual Dinner tonight. Juan Alfaro, Project Coordinator at LAUP, comments, “We are extremely grateful for everything Consumers has done for our organization. We are greatly appreciative of their support and are excited about future endeavors with our partners.”

For more information, visit LAUP’s website:

Lakeshore Minority Business Network: United for Success

The Lakeshore Minority Business Network group grew almost as an offshoot of the Hispanic Focus Group meeting Consumers hosted in Holland last February. Prior to the meeting, Leroy Hernandez, a realtor with experience in West Michigan’s nonprofit scene, had been talking with Rico about creating a group for local businesspeople to gather and share their insights, make referrals and contribute to the growth of each other’s businesses. At the Focus Group meeting, the two shared the idea with the group.

Others also recognized the need for such an organization and the group has since grown from small steering committee meetings in Holland to monthly mixers in Holland and South Haven. Next steps for the group include planning community workshops on topics including finance, insurance, purchasing your first home and more. Consumers looks forward to a continuing partnership with the LMBN and the opportunity it presents to share our financial expertise with other local businesses. To learn more or get involved, contact the group via email:

We at Consumers are proud of our commitment to our communities. To learn more about our involvement, check out the upcoming events on our homepage and “like” us on Facebook (also available in Spanish) to get updates on what we’re doing locally.

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