Born in Michoacan, Mexico on a small farm, Luz Hernandez came to the United States with her family as an immigrant, as her parents worked to “provide us with better opportunities”– support she now provides to community members as a BankWork$® Instructor with our partner Association House of Chicago.
For Luz, her work is rooted in a strong desire to help those around her.
“Throughout my life, I have seen many people with potential who just need a little training and guidance to increase their self-confidence and soft skills. As a workforce facilitator at Association House, I can provide those tools to help people help themselves build a better opportunity for their families through our workforce programs, and improve lives and communities.”
After immigrating to the U.S., Luz grew up in an underserved community on the southside of Chicago, with her parents working long hours in manufacturing. Her parents instilled in her a strong work ethic, but the path for the family was difficult.
“As a child I did not know about better working opportunities or career pathways that could lead to providing better income, benefits packages, and employment stability.”
Luz was determined to continue her education, earning a degree in business and becoming the first member of her family to graduate from college. As she transitioned from college into a career pathway, Luz recalls she “needed guidance in finding employment opportunities and navigating the workforce.”
At Association House, which serves a culturally and linguistically diverse community with a significant Latinx population, she found a way to offer that same guidance to others. Calling herself a “proud professional bilingual Latina,” Luz has been a BankWork$ Instructor since 2018. “I understand the value of our offerings and have always had a passion in giving back and helping those in need.”
“I strongly believe in the potential of helping diverse communities. I am humbled for the opportunity to instruct trainings in our communities. My passion includes encouraging youth and families to succeed in life, and I understand our participants’ challenges. Growing up in a low-income neighborhood, I lived and saw the needs of families struggling and in need of receiving services such as those that we offer here at Association House of Chicago. I could relate and connect with the participants we serve and firsthand understand their struggles.”
Since Luz became an Instructor with Association House, the program has graduated nearly 100 people from the BankWork$ program, and Luz has helped transform lives and career pathways for her students. Many of her students are also bilingual or multilingual, as are 52 percent of BankWork$ graduates around the country. When customer-facing financial service staff speak multiple languages, it removes barriers to banking for community members who don’t speak English, and contribute to overall community health.
Luz is proud to contribute to the overall wellbeing of the community she loves. And her students know she cares about them.
“This training was a stepping stone for me. When I thought I couldn’t reach my goals, during the training you always supported me and kept me going,” wrote Mythili, a former student, in a letter to Luz.
As Luz says, “I’ve had the privilege of witnessing tremendous resilience and have gotten great satisfaction from mentoring our participants and building their confidence and employability skills. It’s such a joy to see our workforce participants grow and develop not only their employability skills, but their self-confidence and ‘professional self’. All they needed sometimes is a little guidance to point them in a better direction.”
Learn more about the BankWork$ program with Luz and the Association House of Chicago team here: https://www.associationhouse.org/financialcareers/.