Owner – Sweat It Off Fitness
Client – Illinois Small Business Development Center at
Bethel New LifeI wasn’t sure what the proper steps were to open my own business, so Bethel’s instructors were like angels to me. They took their time and helped me research and understand so many things about business that I never thought I could comprehend, like managing my finances or taking care of legal matters. They also introduced me to people and partners that were very helpful to me. Working with the SBDC has made me a smarter business owner and I would not have gotten off the ground without them.
Owner – Lifestream Transportation,Inc
Participant – Entrepreneurship Training ProgramI have worked with other business training programs before and many were discouraging to me. However, Bethel helped me see that there was a way to make my business work and made the entire process smoother than if I had tried to do it on my own.
Owner – Accessory Me
Participant – New Business Incubation &
The Entrepreneurship Training ProgramThe New Business Incubation program has given me access to very affordable storefront space that has allowed us to invest a much larger portion of our income into growth, rather than fi xed lease costs. this has been a tremendous financial boost for my company in the early stages of our growth.
Participant – Construction Jobs
Education Pilot Program (C-JEPP)I never thought I would find myself working in the construction or electrical field, but participating in the C-JEPP program opened my eyes to career possibilities that I didn’t know were available and with C-JEPPs assistance and networking introductions, I got placed into a great new job ataldridge electric.
Investing in Small Business
Adolfo Vizcaino began his career working on air conditioning and heating systems, and quickly grew to love the work.
As his skills continued to increase, the longtime West Side resident knew he wanted to go even further with his career – he wanted his own company.
“My dream was to be able to wake up in the morning and work for my own business,” he says
Today, Vizcaino is the Owner and President of Thermal Electric, Inc., an air conditioning and heating company located in Chicago’s West Humboldt Park neighborhood. The business has seven additional employees who reside in the community and a client base large enough to keep them all busy. As he has grown Thermal Electric, Inc., Bethel has been at his side, first with capacity-building support from our small business counselors, and second with a New Market Tax Credit loan. Unable to obtain traditional financing, Vizcaino used the loan to build a new landscaped parking lot for the business. This created much-needed storage space for vehicles and equipment, and helped the company operate more efficiently to increase profits. In addition, the landscaped lot transformed the physical appearance of the street corner where it is located.
However, Vizcaino, who is passionate about the air conditioning and heating service fields, says the primary goal of his business is helping people.
“This isn’t about the money. This is about being able to help my clients when they are too hot or too cold, just because their home equipment is not functioning. Seeing my customers smile when we fix their equipment is why I do what I do.”
For years, Bethel has helped local businesses grow and create new jobs, even in a recession, thanks to its New Market Tax Credits. Through leveraging its investments, New Life Community Investments has made $9.9 M of investments on the West Side of Chicago since 2005.
Investing in Parents
After growing up in foster care, Darlene Williams says she had no blueprint for how to be a good parent when she gave birth to her daughter Kayla.“If you never had love, how do you know how to show love?” says the home health care worker who is working on her Associates degree. Driven by her desire to be a good parent, Williams became involved at Bethel’s Right Start for Families program, where she gained not only encouragement, but parenting skills that gave her confidence. Throughout her participation at Bethel, she has gained skill in personal finance management, day-to-day home management, food preparation, and a variety of educational activities to do with her daughter.”Now, I do things like take Kayla to the zoo and museums whenever I can, and I cook,” says Williams. “I even have the confidence that one day I will be a homeowner.”However, she says the most important thing she learned at Bethel is the intangible art of parenting, and the importance of showing love to her daughter.”Being a parent is about loving and nurturing your child, not just about buying things,” she says.
From homeless to employed
Alisa Richmond came to Bethel for the life skills she needed to learn. Her interviewing and resume skills landed her a landscape management job.When Alisa Richmond came to Bethel New Life looking for housing, she did not know that she would find a stable place to live, a job, and a group of people who still continue to support her.Bethel introduced Ms. Richmond to the Career Pipeline/Job Place Program where she learned interviewing skills, appropriate business dress, and how to write a resume. She then joined the Neighborhood Clean-Up program in December of 2009, which is a program that helps former offenders find and retain employment.That led Ms. Richmond to a job as a supervisor at a landscaping company.Ms. Richmond says that Bethel has provided motivation and encouragement. “They were always there to guide me.” She says that even though she has completed the program, she knows Bethel is still there for her, even if she just wants to talk.The guidance Ms. Richmond has received from Bethel has made a big difference in her life. “They made me feel more positive about myself,” she said. “It has made me a better person today.”
Success in the landscaping business
As a formerly incarcerated person, Earnest Roberts, Jr. knew that finding a job after serving time wouldn’t be easy.That’s why he decided to work for himself. He enrolled in Bethel’s program for entrepreneurs to pursue a dream of owning his own landscaping business.Mr. Roberts participated in Bethel’s financial education classes to prepare himself for the financial responsibility of managing his own business. He spent two years in landscape training at Chicago Christian Industrial League (CCIL). He also saved money to start his business.Soon, Mr. Roberts founded Roberts Landscape and Snow Removal. He bought equipment and advertisement for the new business and is currently in the process of getting his minority license with the City of Chicago. He is also working on some local contracts in the Austin neighborhood.”Bethel’s program gave me hope,” Mr. Roberts said. “I want to give thanks to the people who took the time to help me and inspire me to help others.”
Rosie Turner has lived in a beautifully furnished apartment at Beth-Anne Residences since 2005 and has been an active member of the Bethel community for even longer.“I don’t know any place I would rather be.”Ms. Turner came to Bethel in 1985 when she got a job providing in-home care to seniors. Later, she was later promoted to supervisor. Now that she is retired, she volunteers with energy wherever she is needed.“I enjoy being around people and being useful,” she said. Ms. Turner certainly is useful; she volunteers at her church, coordinates trips for seniors, and spends time with the seniors in Adult Day Health Care. She enjoys living in a beautiful apartment with friendly neighbors and staff.”I’ve never had a time of loneliness or sadness,” she said. “Living here is great.”
The thought of going into foreclosure can scare any homeowner. Griselda and Johnnie Jordan, a mother and daughter, bought a nice two-flat with a huge backyard four years ago.But after Griselda’s hours were cut at her job with Chicago Public Schools and her youngest daughter went to college, the Jordans were in danger of losing their home. Luckily, Bethel was able to step in and secure a permanent modification.Ms. Johnnie Jordan said that Bethel’s staff person who helped her avoid foreclosure “was very informative. She was like a little angel.”Johnnie said that she would recommend anybody work with Bethel to prevent foreclosure of their home.“It was a great experience,” she said. “It’s just a wonderful program.”
Community Savings Center
Bethel’s Community Savings Center held its grand opening on May 30, 2006 with a keynote address by then Chicago Mayor Richard Daley. At the time, it was the first of its kind in Illinois and one of only a few in the country.
Thrivent Financial for Lutherans collaborated with Bethel New Life Inc. and Park National Bank to create the Community Savings Center located at 310 N. Pulaski Road in Chicago. The Center (which opened in January 2006) brings together financial education, accessible and affordable financial products, and a network of resources under one roof in order to help low-income working individuals achieve financial security. In 2010, Park National Bank’s assets were purchased by U.S. Bank, who has been Bethel’s partner in the Community Savings Center since.
Bethel’s community asset building staff are housed in the Community Savings Center along with U.S. Bank staff. This arrangement allows for West Side residents to receive the education and support that they need to access quality financial products and services, and to become bank customers. Helping people move from being unbanked and utilizing high cost and risky financial services from Pay Day Loan and other non-financial institution providers is key to establishing credit and building assets.
The Community Savings Center offers a full service U.S. Bank branch with the entire array of financial services and products, combined with the financial literacy and financial counseling know-how of Bethel staff. The Community Savings Center offers one of the very few bank branches in West Garfield Park and is conveniently located immediately adjacent to the Pulaski Road Green Line L-stop.
In future months, Bethel and U.S. Bank will be discussing ways to extend the Community Savings Center to have even greater community impact.