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  • Get to know Yaneth Torres

    Posted by on December 10, 2018

    Continuing our get-to-know series, this blog post features Yaneth Torres, client support specialist for Coopera.

    What is your background and how did you arrive at Coopera?

    My parents came to the U.S. from El Salvador and I was born in Los Angeles. Shortly after that, we moved to Perry, Iowa, where I grew up. I attended Grand View University, where I enjoyed being involved in multicultural events and clubs on campus.

    After graduating, I was working as an administrative assistant at El Mariachi Restaurant, one of three restaurants owned by my uncle on the Hawaiian island of Oahu. I discovered this position on LinkedIn and learned more about it by talking with Kenia Calderon, the sister of one of my Grand View classmates, who also happened to be Coopera’s Client Relations Director. Despite Hawaii’s beauty, I jumped at the chance to return home and take a job serving fellow Hispanics.

    How does your past experience reflect Coopera’s mission?

    I always liked being involved in the Hispanic community. At Grand View I was part of the Multicultural Student Ambassadors Leadership program and the Diversity Alliance Club. I also mentored Hispanic students at Des Moines’ East High School. I believe my passion for serving Hispanics aligns well with credit unions’ service profile and Coopera’s mission.

    What will you do as Coopera’s Client Support Specialist?

    My position supports the delivery and fulfillment of Coopera’s products and services. This includes assessments and analytics reports, consulting, training, marketing services and translations. I’m part of the Client Relations team, and we all work closely together to coordinate client communications, support new-client onboarding processes and fulfill client requests.

    What makes you a natural for this position?

    I graduated with a bachelor’s degree in business administration with a marketing emphasis. That background, along with my outgoing personality, will help me connect with and better serve Coopera’s clients.

    Do you have a personal or business philosophy?

    I always try to be on the lookout for opportunities to make a positive impact on whatever it is that I do. I manifest it daily by finding ways to help others, exceed expectations, and build positive relationships with those around me.

    What would you like to see credit unions do to better serve Hispanic members?

    It would be extremely helpful if more credit unions had diversified employee bases. Too often Hispanics don’t seek the type of services they really need due to language and cultural differences with an institution. Greater staff diversity would promote a freer exchange, which would result in better financial relationships for all involved.

     What is the most interesting thing you’ve done that most people don’t know?

    I once went shark-cage diving off of Oahu’s North Shore, Hawaii’s most famous surfing area. The boat took us three miles offshore and sunk a floating cage in the water that allowed four or five of us in the water at a time.

    We were surrounded by sharks of all types and, even though we were well protected, I was freaking out. I finally decided I could do this, and it turned into a wonderful experience. I learned never to underestimate myself, and I had a feeling of tremendous accomplishment once it was all over.

     

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    Connect With Hispanic Members and Staff During National Hispanic Heritage Month

    Posted by on September 10, 2018

    National Hispanic Heritage Month (HHM), a celebration of Hispanic and Latino culture, heritage and contributions, begins September 15 and continues through October 15 each year.

    The celebration starts on September 15 because on that day in 1821, five Latin American countries declared their independence: Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua. In addition, Mexico, Chile and Belize celebrate their independence days on September 16, September 18 and September 21, respectively.

    HHM presents a great opportunity for credit unions to connect with and support their Hispanic members and staff. Here are a few examples:

    • Altura Credit Union in Riverside, Calif., recognizes HHM by promoting a variety of community festivals, contest and events on its website. The credit union also made a $600,000 pledge to the Cheech Marin Center for Chicano Art, Culture & Industry at the Riverside Art Museum earlier this year.
    • Idaho Central Credit Union in Chubbuck, Idaho, sponsors several activities during HHM, including Fiestas Patrias (Mexico’s Independence Day celebration), an All About the Dress Expo and a Latino Expo.
    • 1st Bergen Federal Credit Union in Hackensack, N.J., hosted a HHM celebration where the credit union shared its commitment to serve and empower members of the Hispanic community. The event included music and dancing, refreshments and special promotions, including low-interest loans, savings accounts and checking accounts.

    Another way to celebrate HHM is to create a way for your Hispanic staff and members to share stories about their favorite traditions from their countries of origin. Along those lines, we thought it would be fun to share a bit about where the Coopera team came from and our favorite traditions from those countries.

    Kenia Calderon, Coopera’s Client Relationship Consultant

    El Salvador Peace Band

    El Salvador’s peace bands play during the Independence Day parades.

    What is your country of origin?
    I was born and raised in El Salvador.

    What is your favorite tradition?
    My favorite tradition from El Salvador is our Independence Day celebration.

    On September 15, K-12 students participate in the Independence Day marches/parades that take place across the country. People line up along the sidewalks to watch the parade. Each school has its own theme, uniform, music and acts. My siblings and I participated every year. The first time I participated, I was in charge of holding our national flower. The following year, I was a tambourine player. The marches typically take place downtown, and we probably marched more than five miles.

    What do you enjoy most about HHM?
    I miss El Salvador a great deal, so HHM is very important to me because I get to celebrate where I come from along with other Latin Americans. Every year, I learn something new from other countries’ traditions and history. HHM is also our opportunity to teach Hispanic Americans about their family’s culture to develop a sense of pride and celebrate their roots.

    Tania Perez, Coopera’s Client Support Specialist

    Mexico Bullfight

    The bullfight is one the main attractions at the traditional San Marcos National Fair.

    What is your country of origin?
    I am both Mexican and Salvadoran.

    What is your favorite tradition?
    It’s so difficult to choose one but La Feria de San Marcos has always piqued my interest.

    My father is from Aguascalientes, Mexico, host of the San Marcos National Fair. It started off as a cattle and harvest fair and is now an international event. There are many exhibitions to enjoy, including bullfighting, which has an important history in the city of Aguascalientes. The fair takes place in April and May. My family who owns a taco business in the city says that many businesses close earlier in the day or close for a couple days to celebrate the fair.

    What do you enjoy most about HHM?
    What I enjoy most is the simple fact that it is a month dedicated to all Latino cultures. We often forget to include representation of many Latin American countries. HHM is a time where you see celebrations with various countries being represented, either through food or dances.

    Victor Miguel Corro, Coopera’s Client Relations Director

    Panama Water Soak

    La Mojadera is a water hose soak during Los Carnavales in Panama.

    What is your country of origin?
    Panama

    What is your favorite tradition?
    Los Carnavales (Carnival)

    During the four days prior to the start of Lent, the Catholic holiday, the whole country comes to a complete stop for Los Carnavales. In many towns, large and small, there is is a full-throttle celebration with parades, floats, queens, music, dancing and costumes.

    Festivities include both traditional Spanish and Panamanian customs. The most distinct and fun tradition is “La Mojadera” – a water hose soak. Water tank trucks soak the crowd for hours, along with loud music, entertainment and plenty of Seco, a sugarcane-based spirit and Panama’s national drink. The tradition is undoubtedly inspired by the hot tropical weather. La Mojadera goes on until the early hours of the afternoon, when the crowds go home to take a short nap before preparing to dance the night away and start all over the next day.

    Miriam De Dios Woodward, Coopera’s CEO

    Jalisco Fair Queen

    The fair queen is crowned during the annual Fiestas in El Grullo, Jalisco.

    What is your country of origin?
    Mexico

    What is your favorite tradition?
    My favorite tradition is the annual Fiestas of my hometown of El Grullo, Jalisco. The festivities begin with a religious celebration on January 1 dedicated to Santa Maria de Guadalupe, followed by a two-week fair. The religious celebration includes a processional to the church at the top of the hill in town, singing “las mañanitas” to Santa Maria de Guadalupe, a parade with religious floats and other festivities.

    As the religious celebration draws to a close on January 12, a special pilgrimage is held to welcome back “los hijos ausentes” or the “absent children” who live away from town. That night, “la farola,” a cart with a lamp post symbolizing an old way of making public announcements is pushed down the streets of town with a live band and processional of people, announcing the start of the fair. The fair activities that follow include bull riding, concerts, enjoying a variety of food stands, carnival games, parades, traditional dances and the crowning of the fair queen.

    Las Fiestas represent a time for family and friends to gather from near and far to share in the tradition that was started many generations ago. To this day, my family continues the pilgrimage to El Grullo during the time of Las Fiestas.

    What do you enjoy most about HHM?
    I enjoy attending the various events that celebrate the diversity in the Hispanic culture and the opportunity to highlight the contributions of Hispanics/Latinos in the U.S.

    As you can see, Latin American countries are rich with culture and traditions. Finding ways to celebrate HHM and giving your members and staff an opportunity to share stories from their countries of origin are great ways to learn from each other to build a more inclusive community.

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    Get to Know Tania Perez

    Posted by on December 11, 2017

    Continuing our get-to-know series, this blog post features Tania Perez, client support specialist for Coopera.

    How did you end up working for a company focused on helping credit unions serve the Hispanic market?

    As a Latina, I have always wanted to work in a position where I would be able to help my community. When my friend reached out to me about this position, I didn’t hesitate to apply. Credit unions care about their members, and working for a company that works with credit unions to serve the Hispanic community is not only remarkable; it’s something that really stood out to me.

    What gets you out of bed in the morning?

    My family. I have always strived to make my parents proud. They have done so much for me, more than I will ever be able to repay them for. I also want to be a good role model for my younger brother. I want to show him that happiness comes in the form of doing what you love and that anything is possible.

    What does your typical day look like?

    In my role, I ensure Coopera’s products and services are properly delivered and fulfilled. This includes assessing and reporting, consulting, training, marketing and translating. Still being new to the Coopera family, I am learning a lot about the company, our clients… and plenty of acronyms!

    What’s the best business advice you’ve ever received?

    Never be afraid to speak up. Communication is key to making sure everything runs smoothly in a workplace. Whether it’s a complaint or an idea you have to improve something, always speak up and express yourself.

    What excites you the most about the future of financial services in the Hispanic market?

    Everything! With the Hispanic market growing, I see a lot of opportunity for the community to have more access to products and services that would help them financially. These are complex topics, and knowing that things will be more accessible to the community is exciting.

    Where do you go/what do you do to get inspiration?

    I’m proud to say I tend to get my inspiration from friends and mentors. I am lucky to be surrounded by individuals who are striving to be the best they can be. I have friends who are in the process of taking the LSAT, applying to the Peace Corps, studying to be nurses and serving as activists for the community. Mentors from school or previous employers have also been extremely helpful and continue to show they care about my future. All these individuals inspire and truly motivate me to be the best I can be every day.

    What is something unique about you most people wouldn’t know?

    I love doing activities that involve a huge amount of adrenaline. For example, I have participated in bungee jumping, canyon swinging, zip-lining and rappelling. My parents tell me I was never afraid of heights as a child, so they think that’s where it comes from. Paragliding is next on my list!

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