LaCasa’s Board and staff are committed to improving access to LaCasa services for all Elkhart County residents and neighborhoods. As we work at telling our story, we find that old perceptions remain and are hard to change. To some, LaCasa, Inc. is still seen as a “Goshen based” organization or as focusing our services for the Latino population at the exclusion of other groups. LaCasa’s housing development/neighborhood revitalization work is visible to the public, but has been limited to Goshen and Elkhart. Financial education and counseling services, which are more equally dispersed throughout the county, are less visible.
To better understand how the LaCasa brand is perceived by the community and whether a name change could improve the brand, we recently surveyed supporters, general population and former clients. The number of persons who took the time to not only respond, but add thoughtful comments (225 general respondents and 205 former clients), was very encouraging. It was obvious that many persons identify closely with the LaCasa mission. Over 60% of respondents in all groups felt that LaCasa, Inc. was the right name for the organization going forward. 80% of respondents felt that the name was either an asset or a neutral influence in advancing the organization. We’ve decided to keep our name and build on our strong support base and history.
What you will see going forward is a more focused approach to connecting with communities outside of Goshen. We’ll continue valuing local government partnerships while also emphasizing partnerships with area businesses that bring new financial resources to their employees. LaCasa’s Financial Empowerment Center is piloting a financial educational program with Fairmont Homes, taking education to the work site. We are also piloting an employee loan program with four area employers to provide employees with an alternative to abusive payday loans. We hope to make this loan program and corresponding free financial education available to other Elkhart County employers in 2018.
Through these new partnership initiatives, a larger investment in marketing, and your assistance in sharing the LaCasa story, we hope to eliminate perceived barriers to service and make LaCasa resources more accessible to all of Elkhart County.