EL CENTRO — MANA de Imperial Valley, in partnership with national organizations and a local bank, conducted a savings and financial education workshop Tuesday evening, June 25, at the Imperial County Administration building conference room.
“It is to get into the habit of making a financial commitment to better planning for ourselves. This is about skill-building to manage our dollars,” said Martha Singh, president of MANA de Imperial Valley.
“We wanted a project to empower families to have a better understanding about financial literacy,” said Singh. “We want them to understand how to open a savings account, how to have the tools and the resources to maximize their dollars.”
The demonstration project is called “Savings Project for Latina and Native American Women.” It is a collaboration between the Women’s Institute for a Secure Retirement (WISER), MANA — A National Latina Organization, and Freddie Mac. MANA also partnered with First Imperial Credit Union, a local bank.
In addition to Imperial County, Cibola, San Juan, and San Miguel counties in New Mexico are participating in this project.
A flyer distributed at the workshop stated: “the goal of the project is to promote a savings habit for low- and moderate-income Latina and Native American women while developing achievable savings goals through the use of low-cost savings options.”
For the first time in its 45 years of existence, a MANA national president with an office headquartered in Washington D.C. visited the local chapter in Imperial Valley which has been serving the Valley for the past 25 years.
Amy Hinojosa, president and CEO of MANA, A National Latina Organization, said MANA has offered financial literacy education across the country through the MANA chapter affiliate network for more than 20 years. Her visit was to launch the new project in rural communities, help women with financial literacy education, and help them open savings accounts.
"We are partnering with a local credit union to be able to provide a savings plan,” Hinojosa said, referring to First Imperial Credit Union.
“We are giving $5 to open an account and we are challenging them to save $20 a month for six months. If they save $20 per month, we match 50%,” according to Hinojosa. Furthermore, if they keep it three months beyond that — nine months total for the project — they’ll get a $20 bonus. Therefore, a person will have $200 at the end of the nine-month project.
Friends Denise Marin and Paola Jaramillo attended the workshop and are co-workers at The Holt Group, a civil engineering firm based in El Centro.
“I just wanted to gain more knowledge to manage my finances; learn how to manage my money well, prepare for a big purchase like a house, and become financially stable in the future,” said Marin, who graduated with a degree in social science last month.
Marin said she was fortunate to not have any student loan. She and Jaramillo smiled with gusto because they recently both received a pay raise at work.
Jaramillo graduated from Arizona State University last month with a degree in urban and regional planning. “I am the first college graduate in the family.” She has many goals in life but has a student loan, that by her calculations, will take about ten years to completely pay off. She dreams of having a car, a house, and a family in the future.
One of the presenters was Cindy Hounsell, a retirement expert, who spoke on “It’s Your Financial Journey.”
Hounsell covered topics that included financial planning, sources of income, retirement, tax credit, savings accounts, IRAs, credit history, and spending.
“I’m really thankful for MANA for hosting this workshop,” Jaramillo said.