Featured

Grace in Times of COVID

Give Grace.

Give Grace to Those Around You.

Give Yourself Grace.

“In Love in the Time of Cholera, Gabriel García Márquez shows that public appearances do not always reflect private reality.”
Litcharts Thematic Analysis.

I have been standing on the sidelines on the “Back to School” debate. There is no perfect solution. Virtual, Remote, Face to Face (F2F), Oh, my! There are too many feelings, too many opinions, too many unknowns. I am passionate about the topic, but I am giving my local educational leaders the grace to do their jobs. They are agonizing over every detail. They are not sleeping. They have worked nonstop with no clear idea where they were headed. Please show them grace.

Give Grace in the Time of COVID.

To paraphrase a common saying: You never know what someone else is going through, so my prayer for us all is that we give each other grace. We are truly living in unprecedented times. We are in the middle of a global pandemic that has lasted the better (worse?) part of 2020. For most people, this is one of the most difficult times we have ever experienced. So many of us have lost a friend*, a family-member, a colleague. Over 160,000 people have lost their lives to the Coronavirus and over 5 million people have tested positive, according to the CDC as of August 10, 2020. Every teacher I know (and I know a lot!) are struggling with their own fears about remote learning and going back into buildings that are impossible to keep clean. They are conflicted by their own desire to be back in their classrooms with the children they love and keeping themselves and their own loved ones safe. I beg of you to please support your children’s teachers and administrators. I beg of you to avoid criticism. Remember the “Teachers are Heros” feeling we all had last spring? Honor the teachers in your life in some way. Send them a note, a Starbucks card, flowers, a case of wine … but most of all, let them know that you empathize with this impossible situation. Most teachers are empaths, they feel everything very deeply. They are feeling attacked in the “comments” right now – so it is incredibly important FOR OUR CHILDREN that teachers feel supported. Minimally, send your teacher friends a DM/text to tell them you are there for them and send your child’s teacher an email the first week of school and let them know that you are an ally.

Give Grace in the Time of COVID.

We each have our own perspective due to multiple factors: health, economic, socio-political, educational, and even our mental state will influence our decisions. As a former high school teacher, as the mother of an incoming high school senior, and as the sister and daughter of first grade teachers, I have a unique perspective on back to school challenges.

I had incredibly high expectations for my high school junior last spring. This year, I will be giving both my senior and my freshman in college grace. My expectation is that they feel successful and that they stay healthy and content. I will be giving myself grace as well. Although I am not currently a classroom teacher, I will always be an educator. It is difficult to not go overboard. We will do our best, whatever that looks like. We will give each other grace. In addition, my advice to myself – stop engaging with trolls who do not have skin in the game. There are too many opinions that, frankly, do not matter – those who have never stepped foot in a classroom as a parent or an educator, those who were never a room mom, those who have never comforted an anxious child before a big test/presentation/event/game, etc.

There is no room in this conversation for those without empathy for every educator, for every parent, and for every child. Those of us who have children – all with unique needs & dispositions must give each other grace to make the best choice we feel meets the needs of our individual children and our individual family. Be patient with school leaders. Refrain from criticizing your child, refrain from criticizing your friends and the decision they make for their family, and most of all refrain from criticizing your child’s teacher. Seek to empathize. Give yourself grace.

Give Grace in the Time of COVID.

Let me be clear where I stand on the issue of getting us back to school. I want my child to go back to school. I will send him when it is deemed safe. My 17 year old will be starting his senior year of high school online in three weeks. His brother was blessed to have graduated in 2019, pre-COVID, and I pray that my youngest gets to have all of the milestones: the Senior Night for Varsity Soccer, awards ceremonies and banquets, the Senior Prom, graduation and graduation parties. This child and his classmates have had enough disruption due to our school district’s reorganization, having to switch both elementary schools and middle schools! But more than anything, I’d like my child to be alive. He will survive an online senior year, if needed. He will have stories to share and he will figure out a way to start over when we get this pandemic under control. However, as much as I want him back in a classroom, I am disturbed by the lack of leadership, the lack of direction, the lack of funding (over generations), and most of all the lack of understanding about what actually happens day to day in every school, in every city, throughout the United States. The lack of empathy for all of the adults that will be put at risk, who have dedicated their lives to work with our children has been shocking to me. You cannot have a discussion about students without taking into consideration all of the adults that educate and care for them.

I am must add that I am also a passionate advocate for social justice. I am acutely aware of the technology divide between our middle class suburban families and our urban/rural working poor. We have to acknowledge that for many families, the school building and the heroes that work there are a lifeline. For many children, it is the only place where they are seen and heard. For many more, school is where they are feed – both literally and emotionally. We must understand that much of the trepidation educators and advocates feel is compounded by the concern for our most vulnerable. I hesitated to even initiate this extremely complex and layered topic, but we cannot discuss education without addressing the disparities that exist. We will shed light on these issues in detail soon.

We can discuss & debate, but please do not judge – ourselves or others. There are no “right” answers here.

Give Grace in the Time of COVID.

We will never be the same Post-COVID-19. As we seek to survive this ongoing pandemic, we must adjust our expectations and realize that what was may be changed forever. That is okay. Allow yourself to be flexible and to grow. Look inside yourself to find the grace for others and for yourself.

Definitions of Grace per Merriam-Webster.

PS – I am finishing this through tears after re-reading the Detroit News article about my dear friend *Monica’s life, cut way too short by this frightening virus. So I, again, ask of you — please . . .
Give Grace in the Time of COVID.

Featured

Integrating Businesses in Farmington Hills

We so excited for the BRIDGE Bilingual Business Expo & Networking Event today 5:30-7:30 at the Crowne Plaza Hotel – Farmington Hills!

If you haven’t bought your ticket, use Promo Code BRIDGE for $5 off your ticket! Price is $20 at the door so save by pre-registering! may29networkingexpo.eventbrite.com

Here is our line-up:

Business Expo
Accounting Aid Society
Clean Up Time, LLC
Young Living
Artesanía Textíl
Hola Google
National Microloan Conference
Better Business Bureau
Michigan Healthy
Perk Pros LLC
KDG SWEET DELITE LLC
Salsas Mexia
B Intentional
CVG MARKETING, LLC
Bilingual Communications Solutions LLC
Raymond James
AproMex
Centro Cultural Hispano
NUMU Softoys
Latino Pres
Explosiva 1430
Marma G Creation
Featherstone Moments
Blue Order
Emmy’s Creations
Tequila Cabresto
Latino Press
Alliance Catholic Credit Union
Puente Cultural
New Metro Construction LLC
Greater Farmington Area Chamber of Commerce
Orange Theory Fitness

We are so grateful to our partners at the Greater Farmington Area Chamber of Commerce, Red Global MX – Capítulo Detroit, Latino Press, the Farmington Voice, and La Explosiva Radio 1480 AM who will be transmitting live from the Expo!

Check out our Press Mention:
Farmington Hills Event Provides Networking Bridge, Farmington Voice

See you at the Crowne Plaza Farmington Hills at 5:30pm for networking and a sample of a Tequila Cabresto margarita!

If you haven’t bought your ticket, use Promo Code BRIDGE for $5 off your ticket! Price is $20 at the door so save by pre-registering! may29networkingexpo.eventbrite.com

Networking Workshop is Full!

Featured

Where is everybody?

I was recently interviewed about how deportations are directly affecting small businesses in Southwest Detroit by Hub Detroit, a publication dedication to telling stories about the neighborhoods. As a consultant working with a number of nonprofit organizations in Southwest Detroit, I spend most of my days working directly with small business owners, helping them to access resources and to solve problems.

Over the last year, one of the greatest challenges for Southwest Detroit businesses is their shrinking client base due to immigration threats. People are in disaster preparation mode, staying out of public spaces and saving money in case of an emergency. The somber change in the vibe of the neighborhood was palpable right after the election, it has now evolved into a state of resignation as people attempt to continue living their lives. Stories of raids, detentions, and the hardship that children and spouses are suffering when the bread winner is deported have shifted from shocking to normalized.

November 2017 Issue of The Hub Detroit

Hub Immigration Changing the Tide Dec 2017_Page_1
HUB Detroit, November 22, 2017 misunderstood the name of my business in our phone interview. (Puente de) Conexion is the name of our nonprofit organization, the name of my company is Puente Cultural Integration.

La Posada Mexican Restaurant & Market
Both the image of the Southwest mural and the image above are from Posada Mexican Restaurant and Market, one of my absolute favorite hole-in-the-wall authentic Mexican restaurants in the world. (This is a common scene in SW, owner, Juan Romo (right) sitting with me discussing business with the owner of DMex Printing, Cesar Escobedo. (My favorite butcher, Salvador Enriquez from Carnicería Guadalajara is seen in background.)

Hub Immigration Changing the Tide Dec 2017_Page_3

For some feel good stories about how amazing Southwest Detroit is and to find a directory of all the businesses in both Mexicantown and the West Vernor – Springwells Business Improvement District, see the November 18, 2017 edition of The Hub Detroit.

Outreach

Puente Cultural Integration, LLC is the leading consulting agency in the State of Michigan supporting Hispanic small businesses and providing coaching to startups in the City of Detroit. We have worked with over a dozen agencies providing program development, project management, as a consultant to nonprofit organizations and governmental departments. Our most important work is helping immigrant business owners formalize their business practices. We start each day determining which businesses need our help.

We have a unique and multi-faceted approach to outreach to the immigrant communities we serve. Puente provided direct, door-to-door outreach to the West Vernor & Springwells Business Improvement District in Southwest Detroit from 2017-2021. During the pandemic, we shifted to direct phone calls, many months making up to 500 calls to ensure that business owners knew of the most recent changes to COVID-19 protocols, grants, and resources.

We currently have a mailing list of over 1000 email contacts, over 500 phone numbers, and we have over 100 direct clients that we are coaching through Business Alianzas.

Michigan Hispanic Contractors Association 2019-2020

I have been incredibly proud for all of the work the Puente has done through our partnership and collaboration with the MI Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and the selfless volunteers that have been a part of the MI-HCA Advisory Council for the last three years.

We’ve gotten a little press in recent weeks. Something that is so difficult to summarize are the relationships we’ve built and the funders that saw potential in our passion!


Latino contractors seek bigger piece of southwest Detroit’s building boom
– Bridge Magazine, Article by Martina Guzman
New Group Helps Hispanic Contractors Compete For Southwest Detroit Construction Work
– Deadline Detroit


I would personally like to thank the City of Detroit, especially the Housing & Redevelopment Department (HRD) Team and the Office of Immigrant Affairs for their trust in me and the Puente Team. The main funder of the Bilingual Lead Abatement Training has been the Erb Family Foundation who facilitated additional flexible funding by the Community Foundation of Southeastern Michigan and the United Community Housing Coalition. Through their support, despite the pandemic, we were able to successfully train and certify 29 contractors as Lead Abatement Supervisors and Workers over three cohorts that ran in February, March, & October. The MI-HCA has now certified the ONLY immigrant, Spanish-speaking Lead Supervisors in the State of Michigan. It was a lot of work, but it was so worth it! Looking forward to what is to come.

The networking events and workshops for the 148 MI-HCA members in 2020 were made possible by our sponsoring MI-HCA member partners:

  • Comerica Bank
  • Alliance Catholic Credit Union
  • 5/3 Bank
  • O’Brien Construction
  • and others

#DEVELOP2021

I rarely make New Year’s resolutions, but the last few years I have chosen a word, phrase, or mantra for the year. Since my birthday is in late August, I tend to do my goal setting at the start my school year – influenced by spending 18 years as a student, 21 years as an educator + 14 years parenting my school-aged children. This past year has been like no other, but I lived my life with INTENTION and gratitude in 2020. These have been particularly important habits that I will continue going forward and this year intentional goal-setting practices are extremely important.

What do you want to #DEVELOP2021? (use our #hashtag to share on FB / Twitter / IG!)

My word for 2021 is DEVELOP. There are a lot of ways to apply and interpret the word DEVELOP and I plan to explore them in depth with the Puente Team as we begin the year. We will DEVELOP ourselves through goal-setting, DEVELOP programs, help others to DEVELOP best practices, and help our contractors and partners with construction DEVELOPment projects.

These are just a few ways we will DEVELOP in 2021!

  1. The first order will be for each of us to set individual professional and personal DEVELOPment SMART goals that we will measure each month. Stating general improvements or habits is not enough. Each goal must be SMART to help us DEVELOP habits to improve: Specific, Measurable, Relevant/Realistic, Time-Sensitive. Something as simple as “I will exercise for 30 min three times a week.”, or “I will create and post two videos a month.”, “I will read for at least 30 pages a week of both fiction and non-fiction.”
  2. I will DEVELOP new entrepreneurship program models taking the lessons we learned from last year and determining which partners are best to execute them. DEVELOPing new partnerships throughout the State of Michigan may be another outcome in our business development.
  3. We will be looking at opportunities and resources to help our clients establish their own goals and to help them DEVELOP new business practices for during COVID-19 and the post-pandemic economy. One important piece is to DEVELOP relationships and referral systems to help our small businesses to work together – B2B connections are more important than ever.
  4. The members of the MI-HCA are very excited to continue to DEVELOP – building their capacity through the Bilingual Lead Abatement training program we’re providing through a partnership with the City of Detroit and the Erb Family Foundation and to add additional certifications such as the Residential Builders License. In addition, we’ve been working with the SDBA and O’Brien Construction to ensure that Southwest Detroit contractors / MI-HCA members are able to support the La Joya Gardens project, the first large DEVELOPment on W. Vernor Hwy in decades. We will continue to support them in every way we can!

What do you want to #DEVELOP2021? (use our #hashtag to share on FB / Twitter / IG!)

Reflection 2020-2021

Stay Consistent with Your Mission

During the pandemic, the Puente Team has met (almost daily via Zoom) to discuss the challenges and messages of the day. We became experts in trilingual outreach to the immigrant business community and all things COVID-related: grants, loans, executive orders, restaurant protocol, MIOSHA rules, etc. We consistently reminded ourselves of the Puente mission.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is the-puente-mission-is-to-ensure-that-immigrant-latinx-and-southwest-detroit-businesses-have-equitable-access-to-resources-and-opportunities..jpg

This means not just translating documents and emails, but using the most effective tools to communicate with our clients. Most days we made dozens of phone calls and sent dozens of direct messages to let people know about upcoming grants and workshops, to check in with how they were doing and to make sure that they fulling understood new COVID-19 regulations. We designed webinars to inform and support, sought out experts in finance and marketing, built relationships with the City of Detroit, Chambers of Commerce, the State of Michigan, nonprofit leaders, professional service providers, banks and corporations, writing grants and raising sponsorship money so that we could provide all of our services – trilingual outreach, small business support services, and entrepreneurial training – for free to ANY entrepreneur who needs our help. So while we were not able to give as much face-to-face technical assistant as we had in previous years, we adapted in March to provide more than 3,500 one-on-one communications to business owners in 2020 for the SDBA, the West Vernor & Springwells Business Improvement District (BID), and the MI-Hispanic Contractors Association (MI-HCA.org). One of the unexpected surprises of the economic downturn, were the more than 35 aspiring entrepreneurs that we helped to start or form new businesses over the last year. We look forward to continuing to help the more than 300 businesses we’ve been supporting in 2020 to DEVELOP even further in 2021.

Intention

Live with Intention. 📐📖🖊
✈️ Dream, Manifest, Design, Believe, Plan, & Do the Work, Be Patient & Persistent.🗓 📄
⏳Some goals take a lifetime to realize.

I am blessed to have parents who taught me there were no limits to my dreams & aspirations. I was privileged to grow up in a home where my parents never doubted they could rise, who did the hard work & provided so that their children could do the same. I am a bulldog when it comes to achieving my goals. Every major milestone in my life exists because I manifested it. Travelling the world is still my current goal. I had 4 countries planned this year. That won’t happen now, but it will happen.
This one photo marks a big dream come true. 35 years in the making.

La Boquería – Barcelona, España 2018

✅ Studied in Mexico at 19, goal from age 11
✅ Dreamed of travelling to Europe, to every Spanish-speaking country, the world my entire life, ages 11-40+
✅ 2014 Finally got to Spain taking students, ate alone in La Boquería, called Paco crying from Las Ramblas, made the plan to go back to Barcelona four years later for our anniversary.
✅ 2018 Had an amazing meal with Paco & our friends at the same little counter in la Boquería

2015 – 2019✈️
✅ Dominican Republic
✅ Spain
✅ Colombia
✅ Germany
✅ Czech Republic

+ 🇲🇽❤️✈️
My Beloved México: Almost every year (some years 2-3x) 1992-2019.

Goals for 2021 & Beyond

  • Hawaii
  • Mexico & the Dominican Republic always (every year, Lord willing)
  • Ireland
  • Greece
  • Perú
  • Brazil


Presenting the BRIDGE Networking MODEL: Detroit Startup Week

This will be my second time presenting at Detroit Startup Week! If you’ve never attended DSW, this is the year to start. There is something for everyone – tech companies, entrepreneurs, and nonprofits all join together for a really powerful experience and it’s all FREE! I will presenting my newly launched BRIDGE Networking MODEL workshop.

Tuesday June 18th 3-4pm
Happy Hour Immediately Following
2nd Floor of the Madison Building
1420 Washington Blvd, Detroit, MI 48226
#DETSW2019

Register on Eventbrite, then create your schedule on Sched. Be sure to do both steps!
*STEP 1) *Sign-up on Eventbrite
*STEP 2) *Sign-up on Sched and build your schedule

Click Here to Register

Bring your business cards and take a guided lesson on networking. This Ted-X style Interactive Workshop will be led by professional “Connector”, Bridget Espinosa from Puente Cultural Integration.
Effective networking skills is a requirement in this age of digital social interactions. Learn from a from an expert on how to bring value to every networking event. Go beyond the business card exchange and the LinkedIn contacts to truly create a powerful in-person network. This will be a literal hands-on interactive workshop where we will take you step-by-step on how to strengthen your elevator pitch, increase your value, and up your networking game. Grow your network while you learn using the PCI BRIDGE Model for Networking.

M =
O =
D =
E =
L =

Apply the BRIDGE Networking MODEL to help you remember that networking is not just about collecting business cards and perfecting your elevator pitch.

Come join me this coming Tuesday for a free Networking workshop – Happy Hour immediately following.
Please share widely – this is open to the public, but registration is recommended because of limited capacity. We all know someone who could use a master’s class in how to network!
Using my years of being a professional “Connector”, I have created an interactive Networking MODEL to help you to remember the most effective tips to successful networking – whether you are looking to boost sales, connect to resources, or find a job opportunity.
In addition, there are free workshops, networking events, and opportunities all week long during #DetroitStartUpWeek.
Register using the following links:
Register on Eventbrite, then create your schedule on Sched. Be sure to do both steps!
*STEP 1) *Sign-up on the Eventbrite
https://www.eventbrite.com/e/detroit-startup-week-2019-detsw2019-tickets-61543257540?aff=eac2
*STEP 2) *Sign-up on Sched and build your schedule
https://techstarsstartupweekdetroit2019.sched.com

Season of New Beginnings

I have a tendency to reflect and plan with the start of each season. January is rarely my time for goal setting or resolutions, rather the spring and fall tend to bring out my dreams and aspirations for improvement or a shift in my focus or energy. Did anyone else have a really long winter? I am working hard at “thinking spring”, but these dark and cloudy days make it difficult.

If we had no winter, springSpring is a logical time for renewal and for strength. While a Michigan Spring can sometimes (often) be rainy and dreary, it still brings hope. We know that sunshine and warm weather are coming soon, the days get longer, the mornings brighter. It allows us to breathe a little deeper, as we hear the birds chirping and feel the afternoons warming up.

During this long holiday weekend, when many find solace in their Holy Week and Easter traditions, take a moment to reflect on what new beginnings are presenting themselves to you.

Where will your path take you during this next season of rebirth (either figuratively or literally)?

Might you take the “road less traveled” or will you sail the route of springs past?

A season of new beginnings

Building BRIDGES

SAVE THE DATE!

I’m excited to share my latest project – the BRIDGE Bilingual Business Expo & Networking Event scheduled for May 29th with our BRIDGE Partners, the newly renovated Crowne Plaza Farmington Hills and the Greater Farmington Area Chamber of Commerce.

BRIDGE Bilingual Business Expo
& Networking Event
May 29th 5:30-7:30pm

Crowne Plaza Hotel 37529 Grand River Ave, Farmington Hills, MI 48335

Our Facebook Event is Live as of today!  Please share with your networks!

We are grateful to our partners that have already committed their support:
  • Greater Farmington Area Chamber of Commerce
  • Crowne Plaza – Farmington Hills
  • Red Global MX – Capítulo Detroit
  • Your Premier Travel Service
  • Tequila Cabresto (samples will be available at the event) 
  • Latino Press – Media Partner