Wednesday, Aug 15, 2018
One of America's Great Newspapers ~ Toledo, Ohio

Business

Latino credit union finds new home in South Toledo

  • credit11p-5

    Natalia Garcia, a teller at the Nueva Esperanza Community Credit Union, helps customer Madeline Stewart of Maumee. Ohio's first Latino credit union is located inside the former Carnegie Library on Broadway in South Toledo. The building also houses Compassion Health Toledo.

    The Blade/Dave Zapotosky
    Buy This Image

  • credit11p-2

    Sue Cuevas is president of the Nueva Esperanza Community Credit Union, located in the former Carnegie Library at 1636 Broadway in Toledo. It is Ohio's first Latino credit union.

    The Blade/Dave Zapotosky
    Buy This Image

  • credit11p-1

    The former Carnegie Library at 1636 Broadway now houses the Nueva Esperanza Community Credit Union, Ohio's first Latino credit union. The credit union entrance is at the rear of the building. The building also houses Compassion Health Toledo.

    The Blade/Dave Zapotosky
    Buy This Image

  • credit11p-3

    Sue Cuevas, president of the Nueva Esperanza Community Credit Union, in the lobby.

    The Blade/Dave Zapotosky
    Buy This Image

  • credit11p-4

    The Nueva Esperanza Community Credit Union is Ohio's first Latino credit union.

    The Blade/Dave Zapotosky
    Buy This Image

  • credit11p-7

    Natalia Garcia, a teller at the Nueva Esperanza Community Credit Union, helps customer Madeline Stewart of Maumee, Friday, May 11, 2018.

    The Blade/Dave Zapotosky
    Buy This Image

South Toledo resident Martha Padilla stopped by her neighborhood credit union Friday afternoon to cash her check and make a deposit to her savings account.

She had a quick conversation in Spanish with the teller, Natalia Garcia, who just a few minutes prior was speaking English with another customer, Madeline Stewart.

It’s crucial for employees to be fluent in both Spanish and English because Nueva Esperanza Community Credit Union is a Latino credit union — the first of its kind in Ohio. The organization was chartered in 2010 but has finally found a permanent home at the former Carnegie Library on Broadway Street.

credit11p-4

The Nueva Esperanza Community Credit Union is Ohio's first Latino credit union.

The Blade/Dave Zapotosky
Enlarge | Buy This Image

“It’s really good that there’s a Latino credit union to help and support the Latino community,” Ms. Padilla said in Spanish. “We’ve very happy with it being here for us.”

Sue Cuevas helped translate between Ms. Padilla and a Blade reporter. Her business card gives her title as president and chief executive officer, but she often serves as a teller, loan officer, and even maintenance worker for Nueva Esperanza, which translates to New Hope in English.

No matter what her role is on any given day, she has the trust of the credit union’s membership because she walks them through the savings and loan processes in the language they’re most comfortable with.

“We’re a not-for-profit. The purpose of being here is not to make money,” the former corporate banker said. “The purpose here is to help so that our members can have the same rights, have the same ability as anybody else that goes into another financial institution.”

Ms. Cuevas has been with the credit union since its inception, working out of her car in the early months, and has helped the organization grow from just 25 accounts to close to 800 accounts and about $2 million in assets today.

“There were so many underserved, so many unbanked people in this community,” she said. “The main thing was the language barrier.”

Her budget covers pay for her and a part-time teller, and for years they operated out of a small storefront across from the Sofia Quintero Art and Cultural Center in the Old South End. But Ms. Cuevas wanted a larger, more professional office space to better serve her customers and help promote membership in the community.

She enlisted the help of the Historic South Initiative, an organization working to revitalize the neighborhood. They were able to secure a $350,000 capital grant from the General Assembly with the help of state Sen. Randy Gardner (R., Bowling Green), said Chris Amato, the organization’s president.

“Every bank has left the neighborhood, except KeyBank,” Mr. Amato said. “The Hispanic community is underserved, and they’re here to stay.”

The state funding was used to renovate the former library’s lower level, and Nueva Esperanza moved into its new space in January. ProMedica owns the building, which it obtained from the Lucas County Land Bank, and Compassion Health Toledo operates a clinic on the main level.

“It’s one more part of the renaissance of the Old South End,” said Arthur Hills, a Sylvania resident and Historic South Initiative board member. “I think it’s very valuable and important that people have this credit union available to them.”

Ms. Cuevas said the credit union provides more than just banking needs. She spends time educating new members on financial best practices, and she has helped many build credit. The credit union has a loan portfolio of about $1.5 million with a delinquency ratio of 2 percent or less, she said.

In certain cases, Ms. Cuevas will offer a $500 personal loan to be paid off over 12 months to help people without any credit get established.

“Our membership in this area, they’re hard-working people who probably live paycheck to paycheck,” she said. “They’re so grateful that someone is going to give them a chance. We have a lot of heartwarming stories.”

Ms. Cuevas said the credit union isn’t only for Latino customers. Anyone in Lucas, Wood, and Fulton counties can become a member.

The organization offers saving accounts, personal loans, auto loans, and reloadable Visa cards similar to debit cards, and Ms. Cuevas is working toward offering home equity loans, checking accounts, and ATM services in the future.

“We’ve come a long way, but we still have a long road ahead of us,” she said.

Contact Sarah Elms at selms@theblade.com419-724-6103, or on Twitter @BySarahElms.

Click to comment

Quis autem vel eum iure reprehenderit qui in ea voluptate velit esse quam nihil molestiae consequatur, vel illum qui dolorem?

Temporibus autem quibusdam et aut officiis debitis aut rerum necessitatibus saepe eveniet.

Copyright © 2018 Toledo Blade

To Top

Fetching stories…