This seemingly never-ending global pandemic has provoked so much change and challenge over the last two years. As we hear of new variants, flights cancelled, restrictions recommended and with the future uncertain, it is easy to sink into complacency or dispair. Our team at Puente Cultural Integration never stopped working for our clients. From the day we suspected a looming shut-down in early 2020, we tried to predict what our clients would need to survive. Little did we know what long-term effects and toll it would take on all of us. It will forever change the way we move, relate, and work in this world. I pray that in some ways, the change is for the better.

Change and challenge are good, but we never expected this much. Sometimes change and challenge provide opportunities for growth. It has been a crazy couple of years, that is for sure. I am reflecting on these last two years and looking forward to what the future holds. As we adapted and developed new programs this year, we never lost sight of our original Puente mission: “To ensure that [our clients] have equitable access to opportunities and resources.”

In January of 2020, Puente hired its first two part-time employees from Southwest Detroit, Mayra & Allyssa. I shared with them that my five year goal was to be able to work virtually so that I could travel the world and continue to lead Puente with a strong team in Detroit. Little did we know that in just a couple short months, we would be thrown into constant Zoom meetings.

Two weeks into the pandemic, inn March of 2020, my closest colleague, Monica Casarez, passed away from COVID-19. Her loss was felt every single day as we supported our immigrant entrepreneurs without her. My instinct was to crawl into bed and pull the covers up over my head. But knowing that I had a team of 4-6 employees & interns waiting for my direction everyday and that our clients needed us more than ever propelled us forward with our consistent mantra of “Who needs our help today?” We spent all of 2020 in triage mode. (Reflection 2020 – Summary, January 2020)

To add to the challenges of these past two years, my youngest graduated in June 2021 after a crazy Senior year. We survived it. Schools have had even more challenges since I shared my thoughts on educating our children with Grace in Times of Covid in August of 2020. As referenced above, we are still experiencing loss. But if we continue to live with intention, we can manifest what we desire, regardless of the world around us.

More Changes and Challenges

Then at the beginning of this 2021, my work contracts got flipped upside down and inside out. Within three months, four major programs and contracts ended. The final one without notice or transition. I grieved. I felt like everything we had worked so hard for had been stripped from me, all the pro bono hours we invested, all the grants we wrote, and the successful programs we created in 2018-2020 were just “done”. I struggled with my fight or flight instincts. Should I just throw in the towel? Close my business & go find a <gulp> “job”? I had employees that counted on me. How would I pay them? I had clients who needed me. How would I get paid to help them?

On February 2nd, 2021 it was over. I actually breathed a sigh of relief after the months of uncertainty and stress and then I cried. I took one day. Cancelled all my meetings. Told my staff we’d figure it out. I’d take out a personal loan if I needed to – but they could trust they’d have their paycheck on the 15th. Made phone calls. I was on my own. So what next?

I had committed in January to #Develop2021, but what did that mean now that I was no longer contracted by a nonprofit organization and the over $500K in grant money for programs I had created no longer was available to my clients or my team?

It meant we would start over. (To Be Continued …)

Read more about how we adapted, changed, challenged and grew in 2021 and will continue to develop in 2022.

2021 New Programs and Success

Puente Cultural Integration, LLC – Team of 4 in Detroit / Team of 3 in Puerto Morelos Business Alianzas – over 145 Partners and Business MembersFoodTruckX – 15 FoodTruckX Partners and MembersExperience Puerto Morelos – almost 50 Small Business Members and two social media clients in Mexico.

We’ll be doing a year end summary of Puente / Alianzas in January and we’ll link it here once it is complete. Here is what we accomplished in the third quarter.

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