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Taste Latino 2018 Honors El Barrio Workforce Development Center


On Monday, July 23, we attended Taste Latino 2018 in Cleveland at Merwin's Wharf in the Flats. There we celebrated the achievements of the El Barrio Workforce Development Center, part of The Centers for Families and Children.

As the program notes we received read, "El Barrio helps under-served individuals obtain employment through its high-quality job training, job readiness support comprehensive case management services and direct employer engagement."

During dinner, we sat at the table of KeyBank, a Bronze Sponsor for the event. Ms. Kristina Nowak explained to us how she spends one day a month at El Barrio helping students write their resumes and prepare to be interviewed for possible customer service jobs at KeyBank.

Obviously Ms. Nowak's efforts have been worthwhile, since 12 graduates from the El Barrio program were hired by KeyBank in 2017. That number will hopefully double in 2018.

Later that evening, Ms. Nowak and one of her colleagues at KeyBank, Ms. Kathleen Barron, received the Volunteers of the Year award.

Other award recipients were First Federal Lakewood as the Corporate Partner of the Year and Ms. Janet Rosso of Dollar Bank, who received the Amigo Award for "representing her company and taking personal pride in impacting poverty through workforce development."

One of the highlights of the evening was when Ms. Ingrid Angel, who recently retired as the Director of El Barrio after 11 years of service, was given special and loving recognition. Ms. Angel thanked many of the people with whom she had worked over the years at El Barrio, and acknowledged that she had indeed made mistakes during her tenure, but they ultimately worked to her advantage because she developed a sense of humility and felt she was more competent for being able to ultimately work them all out.

Another heartwarming moment occurred when Ms. Kayla Mendez told us of how her positive experience at El Barrio enabled her to get a good job at First Federal Bank so she can now support herself and her two younger sisters. Ms. Mendez said, "I'm able to show them (i.e., her sisters) that although times are tough right now and there are a lot of changes happening, they will always have me. I love my job because I am able to help people."


Michael Patterson

Community Liaison

Margaret W. Wong, LLC


Aimee Jannsohn