For any new business, finding a physical location can be daunting, and if English is not your first language the task can be extra challenging. Kelli Ibanez is a broker/owner of Libertad Real Estate, a bilingual company who is working to bridge the language gap for business owners in Indiana.
Ibanez is passionate about helping her community and saw the need for education on real estate.
“Simply speaking, it’s translation, but if we get into a little more depth it’s every aspect of business ownership,” she said.
You can connect with Libertad Real Estate here.
INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — The moment Suzana Rodriguez Griffin began boxing in college, her life was never the same.
“I just wanted to kind of get an experience of what it was like, had a lot of no’s, don’t try it, it’s problems, etc.,” Rodriguez Griffin said. “Walked into the gym and I fell in love. I fell in love with the requirements that are necessary for the sport.”
But, those naysayers never stopped her from growing.
Rodriguez Griffin is a National Women’s Golden Gloves champion and she’s a three-time Indiana State Golden Gloves Champion, just to name a few.
She is also the owner and head trainer of the SRG Boxing gym in Indianapolis.
“She’s a wife, and a mom, and a business owner, and a fighter. I mean the ultimate crazy stresses, but crazy fun. It’s super admirable, and it’s kept me here for five years now,” Amy Reid, a member of the gym, said.
“Bag work, running combinations, speed bag, double end bag, ring work. We incorporate strength equipment into it and body weight drills and we always end with burnouts,” Rodriguez Griffin said
Griffin says there are some challenges of being a woman in a male-dominated sport.
“Understanding that not everybody is going to necessarily tailor down their power because you are a female. So, sometimes you’re going to get a little more roughed up if you will, but I think sometimes that also creates a little more intensity and a more drive,” Rodriguez Griffin said.
So, through her training, she focuses on teaching both children and adults valuable skills that will help them tackle obstacles and overcome adversity. The gym is a catalyst for growth within the Latinx community.
“Discipline, conditioning, self-confidence, and then respect. Respect for the person that’s opposite side of you who is also in the ring fighting for themselves, for their family, for their love of the sport, or for their life,” Rodriguez Griffin said.
Rodriguez Griffin is also a first-generation college graduate.
She says this opportunity was also made possible thanks to the sacrifices her grandparents made years ago.
Rodriguez Griffin said, “Working in the fields, in the migrant farms, traveling to and from different states to look for work where I don’t have to travel. I can stay in this business that I own and people come to me to help themselves grow within themselves.”
She says she hopes to expand her business within the next few years.
INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — For Jesse Camacho, a Puerto Rican Hoosier, the sky is the limit.
He started from nothing to owning a major Indiana company. “I was destined to do something here and I feel like we have,” Camacho said.
He owns Camacho Facilities Services, which provides janitorial services to Indianapolis International Airport, every single branch of the Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles, and other places. The company also provides services to IndyGo bus service and Enterprise Rent-A-Car.
“When we started, we had three people: me, myself, and I. And now, we have 137-plus.”
Camacho’s dream to one day start a business in Indianapolis arose about 40 years ago in an unlikely place: Monument Circle. He was on his way to Evansville. “When I came here, standing right here, I’m thinking looking at the water, looking up and thinking someday I’m going to come back here and I’m going to make something of myself.”
“Chicago, then coming here, and I thought maybe this city is just perfect: not big, not small, just perfect.”
He quickly started the business.
At first, he was in his living room and eventually grew into something bigger.
“We were kind of not wanted here. They put a sign on our door (saying) you cannot do business out of here, and, you know, it was a misunderstanding, but still it was a challenge. You know? Here we come at the end of the day, open the door, and there’s a thing from the county saying: You can’t do business out of here.”
Camacho was only 11 years old when he opened his first business. He grew up in a dangerous neighborhood in New York, supporting his parents and 11 siblings. “I got a grocery cart that I purchased for a dollar and I used to go in the evenings and carry groceries for people to their apartments.”
“Dreams do come true. You always have to keep dreaming. Never stop dreaming and that’s the way it’s always been. That’s what I teach my kids and my grand kids. You’ve got to dream. If you’re not dreaming then it’s not going to happen.”
Camacho says he hopes to continue to expand his business in other large cities across the country.
LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WISH) — Katya Echazarreta is only 26 years old and has already done what most of us can only ever dream of: fly to space.
On June 4, she flew on board Blue Origin’s NS-21 with five other crew members. More than 7,000 people from over 100 countries applied, but to her surprise, she made it. Katya’s seat was sponsored by the nonprofit Space for Humanity.
In an interview with News 8, Echazarreta said, “For those first few seconds, I was just in shock and then instant tears, of course.”
“One of the most about the whole experience is looking at the planet that is just something that can never be taken away from you. It causes an entire perspective change and this is a psychological change,” Echazarreta said.
Echazarreta worked as an electrical engineer on five NASA missions and studied at University of California, Los Angeles.
She was born in Guadalajara, Mexico, and moved with her family to the United States at seven years old. Going to space was always her dream.
“You realize at least for me I worked so hard to get out of it to be able to see it and in this moment all I want is to share this with my fellow humans and with the people I love the most, ” Echazarreta said.
But her journey before getting there wasn’t always easy.
After her parents separated, her mom and siblings were left with no money.
To make ends meet, she took a job at McDonald’s and attended community college.
“I made sure that yes I was working hard. I was helping to provide for my family along with my mom, but I was also working hard on the side in order to make sure that we were eventually going to be able to rise above it and we were,” Echazarreta said.
She found there weren’t many Latinos or women in her field. She says she’s also fought against racism.
“These are things that are currently still happening, but to any Latino or Latina who is interested in getting into these fields I want you to know that we are here. We have made it through that and we are working very hard to change things for you and for everyone else that wants to join,” Echazarreta said.
On Monday, Echazarreta also spoke with students at Purdue University to talk about women in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM), and more. It was part of the university’s Hispanic Heritage Month celebration.
INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — With each and every step, Ensamble Folklórico Indianapolis is making sure Mexican traditions are kept alive in the heart of the community.
“This is not coming from 10 or five years ago. It’s hundreds of years ago of generations from Mexico,” the founder of Ensamble Folklórico Indianapolis, Sergio Avalos, said.
“When you sit there in the theatre and watch them you actually get the feeling that you’re in Mexico. You get the feeling that you’re in Colombia,” the owner of Community Works, Elia James Sánchez, said.
With both children and adults, the group has more than 20 members.
Avalos started the group in 2001 with the goal of bringing many traditional dances from Mexico’s different regions and states.
Baile Folkórico, literally, “Folkoric dance”, also known as ballet folklórico, can be traced all the way back to the ceremonial dances of indigenous people.
“Some dances are real slow. Some dances are real excited and happy like the Mariachi band, which is a more popular show for Mexico and Veracruz with the harps,” Avalos said.
“When I started we started with three Peruvian girls, like 15 years old, and we started with two guys from Brazil. I was the only Mexican in the group, but that’s real good experience. I never forget that one,” Avalos said.
While Ensamble Folkórico isn’t the only group with traditional Mexican dances, Avalos says they are known for their brilliant visual and theatrical work.
“A lot of comments like, ‘Teacher, Sergio, perfect. I cried because this show is awesome.” I said, “Oh, thank you very much.” This is very important these comments for me because that’s what keeps me working hard for more new productions,” Avalos said.
For some immigrants, it’s a chance to keep the new generation connected with their Mexican heritage.
“When we come here, we kind of lose our identity a little bit, but looking for these opportunities and sharing and going to these types of events and going to see or even participating, having your children participate they learn so much,” Sánchez said.
Ensamble Folklorico says they’re looking for more dancers to join the team. Those who are interested can contact them on their Facebook page.
INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — A group of women are crafting new ways to make sure all Latina artists have a voice in Indiana.
“There’s so much talent in Indy and Latinas are just as talented as anybody else, and we’re so happy about that,” Mirvia Sol Eckert, cofounder of Indy Latina Artists, said.
Mirvia Sol Eckert, from Puerto Rico, and Mary Mindiola, from Venezuela, are making it their mission to empower Latina artists and shine a light on them.
“People always want to see the artist behind the art and that’s very, very important, so I want them to feel confident. That’s what our goal is,” Eckert said.
That’s why they created an all woman group called Indy Latina Artists that provides mentorship and exhibition opportunities in both Spanish and English.
The duo met years ago and discovered that they share a lot in common.
“She was Latina like me, so there was a connection and then I saw her at different shows. She started showing up at different shows with me and we just started talking,” Mary E. Mindiola, cofounder of Indy Latina Artists, said.
Last week, the group debuted its inaugural show at the Saks Fifth Avenue third floor gallery. The exhibition runs until Oct. 9.
“My culture is very, very important to me and so I used those hot Carribbean colors to express my feelings, so I used a lot of different, really bright colors,” Eckert said.
“A lot of artists that we have are just emerging, just getting the feel of what it’s about and they are very talented. They want to be out there. They just don’t know how. They’re a little bit shy, they’re intimidated by the language,” Mindiola said.
“We’re hoping that they feel comfortable with us. That they come to us. Some of them we help them out with their bios. This Saks was the first time they ever exhibited,” Eckert said.
Indy Latina Artists will host another event to showcase more art at the Circle City Industrial Complex in February 2023.
For more information about the group, you can contact Mirvia Sol Eckert and Mary Mindiola at firstname.lastname@example.org.
INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Latinos and Hispanic Hoosiers and many others in Indiana will be coming together to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month beginning today through Oct. 15.
This month is a chance to celebrate the many contributions, diverse cultures, and the histories of these communities.
“I’m just excited to see what this month has to offer and I love seeing all the community spirit of all the many festivals and celebrations that are happening,” the community outreach and fan engagement manager of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Luisa Macer, said.
“When you see a population, you see a power of purchase contributing to the economy, paying taxes, opening more businesses, [and] hiring more individuals, so the economy just keeps moving like a snow effect,” the president and CEO of the Indiana Latino Institute, Marlene Dotson, said.
“We’re trying and we’re doing our best to keep tradition alive, and I think that’s what this celebration is about,” the director of education policy at the Indiana Latino Institute, Rachel Santos, said.
Some are immigrants and others have multiple generations of family history in the United States.
“People forget that Latinos are a part of building the state, so when I think of my own experience and my family’s experience, like my great great grandpa worked on the Indiana railroad, I know that’s a different experience, but it’s still a reminder that Latinos have been here for a long time,” Santos said.
According to the U.S. Census, in 2020, Hispanic or Latino Hoosiers made up 8.2% of the population.
In the immigrant community, some of them come from countries such as Mexico, Colombia, Venezuela, Peru, El Salvador, Brazil, and Costa Rica. A lot of them will be celebrating this month with festivals and concerts.
“It’s just a diverse community that we come from different countries, backgrounds, or immigrants that are just traveling, coming from these beautiful countries,” Dotson said.
“It’s just really important that we are intentional about celebrating our community and understanding that there are so many different stories when it comes to being Latino in the state of Indiana and our country,” Santos said.
At the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Mexican-American community outreach and fan engagement manager, Luisa Macer, says the Racing Capital of the World is also seeing an impact.
“We have Juan Pablo Montoya, we have Helio Castroneves, Pato O’Ward who really are just bringing some diversity into our sport, so it’s really neat to see when we’re able to see those fans connect with drivers,” Macer said. “The leadership here is very supportive of the many initiatives and causes, and so to be able to be a voice for our Hispanic community here at IMS is truly, I feel special.”
Preparations for Hispanic Heritage Month events like the Indiana Latino Institute’s Lighting of the Circle have already begun. Everyone is invited to attend. The event begins at 7 p.m. It’ll take place at the Monument Circle. In addition to the celebration, children and youth are invited to participate in a costume contest highlight historic Latinos across the world.
INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Throughout September, WISH-TV is celebrating Hispanic heritage with powerful stories that reflect the impact Hispanic people have had throughout our history and in our community.
In this special, we highlight local Hispanic artists, entrepreneurs and entertainers who are making a positive impact, shaping a multicultural Indianapolis.
We’ll introduce you to a local Hispanic artist, Eduardo Luna, who is finding success with the Big Car Collaborative.
Tom Alvarez takes us to the Jazz Kitchen for a chat with internationally acclaimed Latin jazz pianist, Pavel Polanco-Safadit whose music touches the soul.
Chef Juan Abascal is using his family’s Venezuelan roots to create an amazing restaurant chain. It all starts with Azucar Morena.
And we stop by the studios of Radio Latina 107.1 FM and Exitos 94.3 to meet DJ’s Miguel Duarte, El Pariente and Sandyu Sanchez.
INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — More than 70 young Latinos have now gone through the city’s Axis Leadership Program.
The program launched in 2018 to help share the future of leadership in Indiana.
City officials want more Latinos taking on leadership roles in Indianapolis. To help bring change, the city government and the Indiana Latino Expo soon will welcome their newest participants for this year’s Axis Leadership Program.
“It’s a very important program just to help them continue developing professionally and increasing representation across the city,” said Ruth Morales, Indianapolis director of the office of international and Latino affairs.
The eight-month program lets Latino professionals ages 21-28 to meet with other professionals who can help the program participants reach their goals. The young Latinos also will be prepared to be engaged with civic and community leadership activities.
“Planning your career path, what’s that next step, and also helping them connect that with their mentor, and their mentor will help them, guide them more. We talk about financial literacy,” Morales said.
Luisa Macer, Indianapolis Motor Speedway community outreach and fan engagement manager, says the Axis program helped her develop the confidence she needed to land her dream job and help make a positive impact on the community. “It boosted my confidence to know that I can apply for any position that no matter whether I have, whether it’s an entry-level position or it’s a higher-level position, I really am equipped to take on new challenges,” Macer said.
Macer moved from Mexico to the United States with her family when she was 5 years old in search of a better life. She says part of that big push to go to college and have a successful career was because of the sacrifices her parents made. “Every day since we flew from Mexico, I never take a day for granted because this is truly such a blessing to be in a country where your voices are heard,” Macer said.
Overall, Morales says, this program is a chance to make a difference in the community. “Lifting each other and opening the door for one another that’s the whole purpose of the program.”
The city government is accepting applications for Axis 2022 by Oct. 1.
INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Crimes against Hispanics oftentimes go unreported because many in the community fear questions about their status, but the Marion County prosecutor is working to change that.
There’s a Mexican-American woman who is paving the way by ensuring the rights of Spanish-speaking victims.
The Hispanic community is the fastest-growing population in Marion County. “You look at the numbers and you see how quickly our demographics are growing,” said Karla Lopez-Owens, community outreach director with the Marion County Prosecutor’s Office.
Lopez-Owens wants to make sure that Spanish-speaking Hoosiers who are victims of crimes such as domestic violence get the help they need regardless of their status. “I was in their shoes at one point. I was undocumented. I didn’t get my citizenship until I was 18, so I grew up being afraid of the police and I grew up being afraid of these agencies. I didn’t know that they were there to help me,” Lopez-Owens said.
The prosecutor’s office says its certified Spanish interpreters serve around 300 Spanish-speaking victims a year. Maria Wildridge, the office’s director of Latino services and outreach, is one of two Spanish interpreters at the office. “I will go with them to court. I will explain what a deposition is and the whole process, the judicial process, so they can understand what’s happening because it’s very different back in our countries than it is here,” Wildridge said.
The prosecutor’s office says these services play a critical role in helping to ensure the rights of Spanish-speaking victims.
Wildridge works closely with Lopez-Owens to build trust with Latinos. They’ll connect with organizations that want to make sure the community knows about these services. “That in itself is very encouraging because I see that the information is getting out,” Lopez-Owens said.
They’ll also provide resources for victims in need of help with housing and much more. “My hopes are that we will continue having meaningful representation at all levels of government,” Lopez-Owens said.