Congrats to Mi Casa 2012 Employee of the Year Molly Brooks!

Molly Brooks receiving her 2012 Mi Casa Employee of the Year certificate from Mi Casa Executive Director Christine Marquez-Hudson.

Why she won: Volunteer Outreach & Events Specialist (AmeriCorps VISTA) Molly Brooks greatly contributed to Mi Casa’s success in 2012. Molly’s extraordinary graphic design work substantially contributed to Mi Casa’s marketing and community visibility efforts, and her revamping of Mi Casa’s volunteer management program allowed Career Coaching volunteers to serve nearly 200 people in 2012. Molly also taught career readiness courses at Mi Casa’s North High School Neighborhood Center and supervised a high school intern.  Mi Casa deeply appreciates Molly’s willingness to help with anything needed as well as her skill, effort, and passion for Mi Casa’s mission.

Background: As a Denver native, Molly became familiar with Mi Casa as a high school student and admired its practical approach to serving the community and helping families out of poverty. During this time, her mother started a nonprofit in Littleton, CO in a predominately Latino neighborhood.

Volunteering at her mother’s nonprofit cultivated a passion in Molly for Latino families and providing resources for underserved groups.

“In college, I majored in Spanish and sociology to develop a fluency in Spanish and gain a deeper understanding of the systemic issues facing low-income groups of people,” said Molly. “Working for Mi Casa gave me the perfect opportunity to combine my skills with my passions.”

Working for Mi Casa has been a “constantly rewarding experience” for Molly, who loves using her talents to positively impact the community.

“I’m proud to be part of such an innovative organization,” said Molly. “[And] I’m so inspired by the hardworking families we serve, and all that our program staff does in empowering [others] to reach their goals.”

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Christine Marquez-Hudson Named 9NEWS Leader of the Year

Mi Casa is very proud to announce that our CEO/Executive Director, Christine Marquez-Hudson has been named the 2013 9NEWS Leader of the Year!

This tremendous honor for Christine and Mi Casa was announced today. The 9NEWS Leader of the Year Award is a shared project of 9NEWS and the Denver Metro Chamber Leadership Foundation.

“Christine’s drive to get things done and her entrepreneurial vision have resulted in creative and innovative solutions to pressing challenges facing Denver’s Latino community,” said Tameka Montgomery, Executive Director of the Leadership Foundation.  “Indeed, we are fortunate to have Christine leading the way toward a better tomorrow for our community.”

We agree! We couldn’t be more proud of Christine and her many accomplishments!

As part of the award, 9NEWS will create a video about Christine and her work at Mi Casa. Christine will also be recognized at the Civic Leadership Luncheon on April 11, 2013.

Since joining Mi Casa in 2008, Christine has led efforts to reinvigorate the programs, partnerships and positive community impact that underlie Mi Casa’s work. Under her leadership, participation numbers at Mi Casa have nearly tripled from 800 served in 2008 to 2,300 served in 2012.

¡Viva Mi Casa!

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Gabby Gourmet, Mi Casa Resource Center Present Taste & Tango 2013

Mi Casa Resource Center will team up with Denver’s beloved restaurant reviewer the Gabby Gourmet, acclaimed chefs from the Big Red F Restaurant Group and celebrated wine supplier Veraison Beverage Distributors to host Taste & Tango 2013 on Saturday, January 26 at the Warwick Hotel.

This second annual event is an elegant evening of Chilean-inspired gourmet food, fine wines and live entertainment. Taste & Tango is co-hosted by the Warwick Hotel and US Foods. Promising to be an unforgettable night, Taste & Tango will feature five courses created by renowned chefs Jamey Fader (LOLA), Brett Smith (Zolo Southwestern Grill), Enrique Socarras (Centro) and Jean Claude Cavalera (Randolph’s). Courses will be paired with fine wines from Matetic Vineyards, one of Chile’s most celebrated producers. An exciting live and silent action, as well as live entertainment will complete this fantastic evening.

Tickets for Taste & Tango are $150 each and Silver Sponsor tables of eight are available for $2,500. Proceeds from the event will support Mi Casa Resource Center and its mission to advance the economic success of Latino and working families.

Seats are limited and going fast so reserve yours today! Contact Nancy Freimuth at (303) 539-5609 or nfreimuth@MiCasaResourceCenter.org. Tickets can also be purchased online at www.tasteandtango.com.

See the menu and learn more here. To preview and bid on auction items click here.

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Kiva Zip Partnership Helps Mi Casa Business Success Graduates Achieve Their Dreams

Mi Casa Resource Center is collaborating with Kiva Zip to provide loan assistance to low-income business owners unable to access loans from traditional lenders.

Mi Casa is a Kiva Zip trustee, an organization approved  to work with entrepreneurs and small business owners to prepare them to apply to open a loan on the Kiva Zip site. Once the entrepreneur’s loan and story are posted on zip.kiva.org, anyone with Internet connection and $25 or more can help crowd fund the small business loan, providing critical capital to help start or expand a business.

Kiva Zip has helped 3 graduates of Mi Casa’s Éxito para Negocios (Business Success) class get the finances needed to grow their small businesses.

Elmer (top) was raised by a single mother in Guatemala. He began working at a very young age and was consequently unable to attend school. In 1993, Elmer moved to the United States in search of better opportunities and has since gained extensive experience in remodeling and handyman work.

Elmore attended Spanish-language entrepreneurial training classes at Mi Casa and is now the owner of Duarte Construction, which offers home remodeling and repair services.

“With Mi Casa’s help, I have learned how to market my business and network to find clients,” says Elmer.  “In this economy, it can be hard to compete with larger construction companies, but I see progress and I know it’s worth it to keep going.”

Elmore was also approved to receive funding through Kiva Zip and is currently 77% funded. He plans to use the loan to buy a truck so he can transport tools to different work sites.

“He is a very responsible person who has demonstrated commitment to becoming the best in his industry,” Mi Casa says of Elmer. “Elmer is very passionate about his business and his customers.”

If you would like to help Elmer’s business grow through a Kiva Zip loan, please click here.

Elena (middle) decided to pursue her dream to become a hair stylist after the death of her father in 2002. To achieve this dream, she finished high school and graduated from cosmetology school despite being a single mother and struggling with learning disabilities.

She then worked in a salon for 5 years, but lost her job without warning when her employer suddenly closed the salon.

Elena wanted to operate her own business with high standards and quality service so she enrolled in entrepreneurial training at Mi Casa and graduated with a strong business plan. Elena also received funding through Kiva Zip to start-up her business and will open iCandy Hair studio in February, where she will offer haircuts, hair coloring and eyelash extensions.

“Mi Casa gave me the plan I needed,” Elena says. “I struggled with a lot of different issues, including my learning disability and the passing of my father, but I pushed myself and I’m so happy I did it.”

Gloria (bottom) moved to the U.S. from Veracruz, Mexico in order to start her own business. Possessing a strong background in the food service industry, Gloria decided to open a food truck business in Denver. Before buying her truck, she gained exposure and generated revenue for her business by catering at special events.

Gloria also completed an entrepreneurial training class at Mi Casa to ensure the success of her business. In this class, she gained a solid foundation of best business practices and developed a full-length business plan.

Gloria received funding through Kiva Zip to jump start her food truck business and is now the proud owner of Taqueria & Reposteria Gloria’s, specializing in home-cooked Mexican food.

“She is so committed to her business that nothing will stop her,” Mi Casa says of Gloria. “I truly believe Gloria will be successful, as she has proven time and time again her commitment to great customer service, helping other business owners and to her ideals and dreams.”

Gloria continues to receive business counseling from the Women’s Business Center to make sure her business says on track.

For more information about lending to small business owners in Denver and the U.S. visit zip.kiva.org.

 

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Employee of the Month: Stephanie Noll

Congrats to Mi Casa’s November 2012 Employee of the Month Stephanie Noll!

Why she won: Stephanie is a dedicated Case Manager and tireless advocate for her participants. Her gentle and supportive style allows her to build trust with people, and her participants know she is always there for them.

Stephanie has also gone above and beyond for her participants several times in the past month, all while juggling mountains of paperwork and other administrative duties.

Background: Hailing from Iowa, Stephanie has been living in Colorado for 5 ½ years. She applied to work at Mi Casa Resource Center after completing a Master of Social Work degree at the University of Denver in June 2012.

As a social worker, Stephanie strives to make a positive impact in our community by advocating for social justice for all people.

Stephanie says, “I like working at Mi Casa because I have the opportunity to support individuals who are making positive changes in their lives.”

To learn more about Mi Casa’s Career Development programs click here.

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Middle School Students of the Month

Every month, Youth & Family Development program staff at Mi Casa’s Neighborhood Center at Lake Middle School select a male and female student of the month.

Congratulations to our latest winners Iris and Alan!

 

Iris, an 8th grader at Lake IB, is an example of leadership and involvement to her peers. She is known for her kind words and willingness to help others.

Mi Casa Neighborhood Center program staff say Iris is “a joy to have around the programs, and we always look forward to seeing her smiling face after school.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Alan, a 6th grade student at Lake IB, is new to Mi Casa’s afterschool programs, but has already become a key participant. He attends Homework Zone daily and won the award for Best Homework Zone Attendance in October.

Mi Casa Neighborhood Center program staff say Alan “loves to strike up conversations with other people. He’s very friendly, respectful and willing to help.”

 

 

 

 

To learn more about Mi Casa’s Youth & Family Development Programs at Lake Middle School click here.

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Cassie's Story

“I would probably still be making wrong decisions if it wasn’t for Mi Casa Resource Center,” said Cassie, a 10th grader involved in Mi Casa’s Youth & Family Development programs.

In middle school, Cassie began making choices that set her down the wrong path. She was caught smoking at school and was also involved in other delinquent activities, including tagging.

Participation in Mi Casa’s afterschool programs at the Mi Casa Neighborhood Center on the campus of Lake Middle School helped Cassie get back on track.

“Mi Casa helped me realize that I needed to be a better person, and that I was a leader and needed to follow through on my promises,” Cassie said.

Mi Casa’s encouragement helped Cassie step up and the next year as she began ninth grade, she got involved with the Mi Casa Neighborhood Center at North High School. She signed up to volunteer with middle school students through Mi Casa’s Peer Mentoring program and loves the opportunity to mentor youth that may be making the same mistakes she did.

Cassie encourages younger students to take their decisions seriously, consider the consequences of their actions, and work hard to succeed despite the challenges they face.

Cassie said Mi Casa helped her develop leadership skills and find her voice to express herself and advocate for others. Cassie adds that her mother is very grateful to Mi Casa for bringing about positive change in her daughter.

“My mom loves Mi Casa. They used to call her every time I got in trouble in middle school but now she is seeing me grow beyond all that,” Cassie said. “If Mi Casa had not been there, who knows what I would be doing. Mi Casa is like another home for me.”

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Season to Share Helps Mi Casa and Others

Denver Post Charities’ Season to Share, a holiday fundraising campaign that provides grants to local nonprofit organizations, distributed $2,820,000 last year to move people out of poverty by supporting 65 Denver-area charities.

Mi Casa Resource Center is one of the organizations supported by Season to Share and was given a $40,000 grant for our afterschool enrichment programs.

Season to Share had given more than $59 million to local charities since 1992, which means more meals for the hungry, literacy services for low-income adults and shelter for the homeless.

Why donate to Season to Share?

  • Every Donation is matched 50% by the McCormick Foundation
  • 100% of each tax-deductible donation (plus the match) goes directly to local charities because all administrative and promotional expenses are paid by The Denver Post and McCormick Foundation
  • Mi Casa is a grant recipient of Season to Share

As stated on Season to Share’s website, “Many have been helped, but more remains to be done.”

To learn more or donate click here.

Note: Season to Share is a campaign of Denver Post Charities, which is a McCormick Foundation Trust

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Mi Casa Unveils an Impactful New Video

Mi Casa’s new programmatic impact video shows how the agency helps individuals and families achieve their dreams of educational advancement and economic independence.

“Yes, dreams come true if you work hard on it and you have the right help too,” Marjorie Silva, owner of Azucar Bakery explains in the new Mi Casa video.

Marjorie turned her love of baking into a business when she immigrated to America from Peru 12 years ago.  A loan institution referred Marjorie to Mi Casa after learning she had no business plan, though her business was quickly growing too large to operate out of her home.

Mi Casa was able to provide Marjorie with the business development skills she needed to turn her growing venture into a profitable and successful business.

“I think my success is owed to Mi Casa,” she said.

Mi Casa also helps those who want to pursue more traditional careers realize their goals. Zulma Oronia, a mother of three young children, lost hope after losing her job.

Zulma took one of Mi Casa’s career development programs and gained the professionalism and confidence she needed to get a job to support her family.

She now works at a non-profit full-time and says she appreciates the fact she can always come back to Mi Casa for whatever resources she needs.

“I do consider Mi Casa part of my family,” Zulma said.

Mi Casa also offers youth & family development programs, including leadership and afterschool enrichment programs for students that enable entire families to reach their fullest potential.

Without these programs, Sheryl Vega said she would worry about her children.

“My kids would basically be latchkey kids, letting themselves in and being left up to their own devices without supervision…who knows how bad something like that could have been,” Sheryl said.

She said knowing her kids are safe gives her the freedom to pursue opportunities to better her family. Her daughter, Destiny Jones, is employed by Mi Casa in a leadership program and mentors younger students.

“I’m thankful for what Mi Casa has done for me and my family, and I can’t wait to see what else it can do,” Destiny said.

Through advancing the economic prosperity of business owners, individuals and families, Mi Casa has helped many achieve their dreams since its beginning in 1976.

To view our new video click here.

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Mi Casa Honored at Mayor's Diversity Awards

Mi Casa was honored to be present at the second annual Denver Mayor’s Diversity Awards on Oct. 11 where we received an award from the Mayor’s Women’s Commission.

The Mayor’s Diversity Awards are hosted by the GLBT Commission and honor individuals and organizations for their work to advance issues related to diversity and equal access in our community.

“The Diversity Awards honor outstanding community leaders for their work toward our ultimate vision for Denver – a world-class city where everyone matters,” said Denver Mayor Michael Hancock.

The Diversity Awards were scheduled for October 11 to coincide with National Coming Out Day, an internationally observed civil awareness day celebrating individuals who publicly identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender.

Each of the Mayor’s commissions, including the African-American, Aging, American Indian, Asian-Pacific American, Latino, Office of Strategic Partnerships, People with Disabilities, and Women’s commissions presented an award.

Perhaps the most moving moment of the evening came when the Denver Commission for People with Disabilities presented the award to Linda Chism Andre, the only surviving member of Denver’s Gang of 19.

The Gang of 19 led protests in the 1970s and began a nationwide movement to obtain equal access to transportation for individuals with disabilities.

Here’s a little bit more about Denver’s Gang of 19 from the ADAPT Youth Summit Blog

In 1979, 19 youth with disabilities in Denver Colorado, parked their wheelchairs in front of two inaccessible city buses to stop them from moving, They wanted not to be put in the back of the bus, but to get ON the bus in the first place. Their protest started a movement that made public transportation accessible for people with disabilities across the country. This group of young people is now known today in our community as the Gang of 19. Today the movement has grown into ADAPT.

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