Preparing Tomorrow’s Legacies Today

Published Wednesday, March 10, 2021
by Megan Whitworth

Editor’s Note: Talking with Joe Ceasar will leave you inspired to make the world a better place. Discovering more about his nonprofit organization, Legacy Institute for Financial Education will leave you astonished at what all this local man is doing for the youth and young adults in Angelina County. It is our honor to highlight Joe and the incredible work he is doing in East Texas. Thank you, Joe, for your heart, passion, and drive to truly make a difference, starting with financial literacy. 

The Chamber Reports

Joe Ceasar is making a big impact on Lufkin/Angelina County. Raised in Houston, now calling Lufkin home, Ceasar launched the nonprofit organization, Legacy Institute for Financial Education (LIFE), in 2014, alongside his wife, Allanah with longtime friends, Kenton and LeRonda Lockhart. LIFE is a unique experiment that is designed to address not only the lack of financial knowledge with regard to personal finance, but also to alleviate the pervasive fear of investing by those who have not been taught how to do so. With multiple programs benefiting the youth and young adults of Angelina County, LIFE is becoming a force of good in East Texas. Keep reading to learn more about Joe, LIFE, and how the community can get involved with its mission.

CONNECT: First, tell me about yourself. 
JOE: I was born in Beaumont; however, I was raised in Houston from the time I was in the fourth grade. 

I grew up in a family that would be considered lower-middle class. My parents both worked full-time labor intense jobs. Neither of them had any college education but successfully raised three boys. Both of my brothers have some college education, but I was the first to finish with my bachelor's degree and continued my education by earning an MBA from the University of Houston’s Bauer College of Business.

My parents grew up during segregation, and my father developed an attitude that we (as a family) would experience more negatives in life than positives. He taught my brothers and me to work for what you wanted. He possessed a work ethic that would be difficult for anyone to match. He would go to bed at 10 p.m. each night to wake up at 3 a.m. to be to work by 5:00 a.m. He ate breakfast and read the newspaper every morning. I did get some of his character traits, but he has always been my example of what it means to be disciplined. My mother was a Nurse’s Aide and wore her body down in that profession. She woke in the morning with my dad, fixed him breakfast, made sure we were all ready for school, and came home after working a full day to cook dinner every night. She did everything and never complained. She was the best example of what a mother is supposed to be and taught us how to love people despite the challenges in their lives.

When I was accepted to the United States Military Academy at West Point, that was a major event in our family. For (what seemed to be) the first time, our family had a victory. There were teachers, friends, and even my dad who thought that it was either too good to be true or that I would not make it to graduation. If you ever want to see me do something, just let me know you think I can’t and we’ll see how it turns out! For the first time, I had a challenge that seemed big enough to everyone for me to care about. During my high school years, I became the quarterback of my football team. We fell just short of making it to the state championship in 1995. We lost to Converse Judson in the state semi-finals. The possibility of winning state seemed to be more within reach than graduating from West Point, so I decided that I would compete in the classroom the way I competed on the field. That change in psychology propelled me to further my education, pursue a career in wealth management, become a hedge fund manager, and start both a for profit business as well as a nonprofit that is now called Legacy Institute for Financial Education (LIFE).

What I would like for kids that grew up like me to know is that there is absolutely no one in this world that can dictate the outcome of your life. Only God can stop you from doing anything; likewise, only God can cause you to accomplish the unimaginable. I never allow the words of people to limit my possibilities, but I do make a habit out of seeking wisdom from people who are able to help me along the path the Lord has set before me. I could have never done everything I have done if I went at it alone.


CONNECT: Tell me more about LIFE.
JOE: LIFE is a nonprofit organization with the mission of teaching financial literacy, creating economic stability, and building generational wealth. While our mission seems quite simple, to be effective at each component requires an enormous amount of work. Teaching financial literacy is not as simple as hosting a weekend workshop. We are having to deal with curing an epidemic of a generational disease of an impoverished mindset. Scripturally, the poor will always be among us, but there are poor households who have do not have a mindset of poverty. Both sets of grandparents were examples for me of people who lived near the poverty line, but we never knew it. They saved money, did not complain, always were able to feed everyone, and never made us feel as if they were in or near poverty. To truly address this issue, we must reach multiple generations of community members and often within the same household.

Creating economic stability has led us to make workforce development a critical part of our work. We assist our clients with developing a pathway to a career that will pay what is considered a “livable wage” within our county. Our data tells us that $12.50/hr. is what should adequately provide for most people within Angelina County, so we use that as a target.

Finally, building generational wealth is what all our programs have in common, which is answering the question: How can we cure generational poverty by replacing it with generational wealth? For example, the Juzi Spot may seem to be unrelated to our mission, but the way we view it is we are able to provide a quick $5 vegan meal to a family who may be struggling to eat healthy. This reduces their food costs while simultaneously reducing the long-term effects of unhealthy eating habits which could have a negative impact in their quality of life, life expectancy, and financial burden family members will inevitably bear for those who suffer from diet related conditions such as: diabetes, heart attacks, strokes, etc. Among Black and Hispanic communities, the likelihood of their being multiple generations living within the same home is higher than in White households. So, the burden takes a different form. The children and grandchildren choose to stay at home rather than working full-time jobs to be there to support their loved ones. Despite the very morbid statistics in lower income communities, topics such as wills, life insurance, and long-term care insurance are not what most people are very willing to discuss. At LIFE, we have these conversations regularly because with a stroke of a pen, we can create generational wealth and change a family tree!

CONNECT: The organization was founded in 2014, and in 2015 it was moved from Houston to Lufkin. How did you decide to launch LIFE and move the program to Lufkin?
JOE: Legacy Institute for Financial Education was founded in 2014 by my wife, Allanah and I with longtime friends Kenton and LeRonda Lockhart. I was the teacher in the High School and College-Aged Bible Class at the Highland Heights Church of Christ in Houston. While we were studying the book of Matthew, we reached Chapter 25 where Jesus taught the parable of the talents. A few of my students shared with the class how they heard this parable taught in the context of a talent being a skill. So, if God blesses you with the ability to sing, if you choose not to use that skill, then it would be taken away from you. I shared with them the true meaning of the term “talent” and how it is a measure of the weight of money, such as gold or silver. Those who had that understanding were shocked that this was a parable with money at the root of it! When I shared with them what a talent of gold or silver would be worth in today’s dollars, they had a tough time believing that the Lord would entrust so much money to his servants. That is when they asked one of the most important questions that could be asked, “How can we learn to double our money?” I had college students who majored in Accounting and did not know the fundamental principles of investing. We started to meet on Saturday mornings to remove the time constraints as they learned, and then the Legacy Institute was born. Legacy is a term that implies an inheritance of knowledge, culture, or wealth. I wanted to build an organization that would teach the biblical financial principles that would enable our students to accomplish what Solomon taught in Proverbs 13:22, “A good man leaveth an inheritance to his children's children: and the wealth of the sinner is laid up for the just.”

A secondary goal was to empower those with a heart to give with the means to do so. The next parable after Matthew 25:14-30 is the revelation of how judgment would occur. There would be a great separation of nations based upon how each of them treated their neighbors. Did you feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, clothe the naked, and so on? We teach that there is an expectation that we share with our fellow man a portion of the resources God has blessed us with. Our ability to demonstrate sound stewardship over these resources will present opportunities for us to give like we never thought imaginable. These are only a few of the fundamental biblical principles the Legacy Institute for Financial Education promotes as we assist our clients in creating a roadmap for how we could live a balanced and purposeful life. Therefore, we feel comfortable calling ourselves “the LIFE program”!

Beginning in 2014, I enrolled in a ministerial training program. At a certain stage within the program, the students would be sent out on Sunday mornings to preach at churches in rural areas who either could not afford full-time ministers or recently lost their preacher and were in the process of hiring one. The O’Quinn St. Church of Christ in Lufkin lost their minister in 2014 and was in the process of searching for one. At the time, I had just married Allanah and was a hedge fund manager in Houston. I had no desire to move to a smaller town. I have always thought I would retire and then become a preacher. God obviously had a different plan! Allanah is from Hemphill and enjoys living in a smaller town. We decided to view this opportunity to preach in Lufkin as a reason to get to a city where we both would feel comfortable raising a family, so we made the move and brought the LIFE program with us and have not looked back since.

CONNECT: Why is it important to gain a better understanding of financial literacy?
JOE: Financial literacy is what is needed to create generational wealth. It allows households to better protect themselves from financially catastrophic events through insurance and savings, pay less interest on debt by having a competitive credit score, build equity by owning a home, and even avoid losing net worth by choosing to buy a used car rather than a new car. Being financially literate impacts so many distinct aspects of our lives that to ignore it could have financial consequences that would span multiple generations.

CONNECT: LIFE has many different programs benefiting the community in several different ways. Can you tell me about the programs?
JOE: Financial Opportunity Center - Our Financial Opportunity Center (FOC) creates positive financial outcomes for our clients by impacting them in three areas of personal finance: increasing net income, increasing net worth, and increasing the credit scores. To accomplish this, we provide a package of bundled services including financial coaching, income support coaching, and employment coaching. Our partner, the Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) has established a national network of over 150 FOCs and we are the first in East Texas. With the help of the T.L.L. Temple Foundation, we were able to bring this unique bundled services model to Lufkin. Each FOC has a unique fingerprint of non-FOC related programs, so none of them are exactly alike. Legacy Institute provides the normal FOC services, but we also provide ancillary services such as small business coaching through the Wazo Project as we partner with Angelina College’s Small Business Development Center. Access to capital is always a hot topic among microenterprises, so we offer several avenues where they could accomplish this. We also have job training programs such as LIFE Tech and the Juzi Spot.

 

LIFE Tech - LIFE Tech is designed to train the future leaders of Information Technology in Deep East Texas. One component of LIFE’s mission is to create economic stability and we have found the lack of access to the right digital tools impairs low-income households. Through the support of the community, LIFE Tech provides trainees seeking a career in IT with a hybrid (online and hands-on) training program resulting in their attainment of an industry-recognized certification. Donated hardware is made available to them as they learn to refurbish and repair computers. Once refurbished, families in need have access to the finished products and software at little to no cost. We recently received a grant from Microsoft Philanthropies which will support full-time, paid apprenticeships and high school internships as they look to enter the IT discipline. The grant will also be used to provide educational opportunities to the youth with the goal of increasing the numbers of minorities working and buildings businesses in the field.

The Juzi Spot - The Juzi Spot is a smoothie and juice bar that offers vegan food options to the community. Food and finances go hand-in-hand and one major expense within any adult budget is “Food.” Our goal is simply to provide nutritious food at affordable prices so all residents can live healthier lifestyles without breaking the bank. We want families not to have to leave Lufkin to fulfill that need. We launched in September of 2019 unaware of the data compiled in 2018 by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation used to rank counties nationwide. Angelina County is in the bottom 20% for health outcomes in Texas, last for health behaviors such as smoking and physical activity, 40% of the county’s residents are obese, and residents have a life expectancy that is two years and nine months shy of the national average. Juzi Spot is trying to be of service to the community by helping the residents decrease their food expense while supporting their journey of health.

Lufkin Urban Garden & Market - While this is one of our newer projects, it will have a significant impact within the North Lufkin community. Through the generosity of the O’Quinn Street Church of Christ, we have access to nearly five acres of land between Culverhouse and Sayers St. LIFE also purchased the warehouse on 805 Sayers Street to serve as a location for our market where we will host Farmers Market days. The mission of the garden is to provide locally, organically grown produce to the North Lufkin community. It is rarely discussed, but North Lufkin is defined by the USDA as a food desert. This means that there is a significant percentage of households who does not have a grocery store within 1 mile of their residence where there is a high percentage of homes living in poverty. More than 35% of North Lufkin residents live in poverty while just under 40% receive SNAP benefits. Combined with the challenges pertaining to transportation, the lack of access to healthy food options with so many residents on SNAP is not an ideal scenario. The Lufkin Urban Market & Garden is in the heart of the community and will assist with these unfortunate realities. Our 3–5-year goal is to produce 60,000 lbs. annually and to offer it through a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) model. CSAs use a subscription-based pricing model that will ensure the sustainability of the garden while making the produce much more affordable than what is found in larger grocery stores.

Legacy for Youth - Our youth department (or Legacy for Youth) is a combination of programs tailored towards students in secondary schools, college, and their parents. The department consists of three programs: Generation A, Campus LIFE, and Parent-Assisted Student Success (PASS). We decided to create programs that would address the consistent feedback from our older students of “I wish someone would have taught me this information earlier in life.” We believe in applying the proverb, “train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” The very next verse says, “the rich ruleth over the poor, and the borrower is servant to the lender.” One of the department’s objectives is to encourage more familial conversations around dinner tables and in the schools surrounding the subjects of financial literacy while the students are sponges with fewer financial challenges stacked against them. Generation A and Campus LIFE provides students with subject matter beyond the scope of the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) standards and grants them hands-on experiences building businesses, investing in securities, serving the community, working with digital currencies, and watching their interests come to fruition. PASS is a necessary component of the work because of the effect parental expectations have on a student’s commitment to their future outcomes. We utilize the convergence of family, school, and community to help the students we work with tie their family values, school performance, and community resources together to create generational wealth for their families. We believe financially literate people create financially stable communities. As these students grow in knowledge, our hope is they implement what they have learned to become assets to their families and the communities they serve whether it be Lufkin or elsewhere.

Digital Currency Initiative - The Digital Currency Initiative (DCI) may be the most underutilized service we offer. As digital (or crypto) currencies increase in popularity and use cases, they will become a much larger part of our lives. What I find interesting is how so many people still view these assets as simply an investment. We miss so many opportunities to learn why these “currencies” are so valuable. In fact, the term cryptocurrency is misleading. Bitcoin is in its purest form “money.” Most of the other cryptocurrencies are not intended to be currencies at all. Many of them are tokens that can most accurately be described as applications. The second largest digital currency (Ethereum) can be programmed using a language called Solidity. This software can be used to create smart contracts, stable coins which are pegged to the US dollar, decentralized finance applications, and so much more. They have personalities and behaviors. For example, Microsoft Word has a completely different function than DocuSign. However, the two software packages can work together to solve a problem of how to get a verifiable electronic signature without meeting with the other party in person. These tokens (or applications) solve similar problems. The larger the problem they solve, the more valuable the token just as with the stock market. The difference between the two is the lack of necessity for human beings to be involved in the day-to-day transactions for the Ethereum applications. Our community could benefit by understanding how this works. This space is still in its infancy and there are high paying careers available for those who have the mind to solve these problems. The best part about it is these careers can be wherever the developers live. I have been in contact with the Ethereum Foundation, and they are willing to help us fund projects and development teams in our community who seek to participate in this space. This is a wonderful opportunity to create wealth in a growing industry. The DCI is here to ensure our community does not get left behind by the rest of the world.

CONNECT: Congratulations to being named a Rubinger Fellow to help focus on developing a Financial Wellness Cooperative. Can you tell me more about that means to be named a Fellow and more about the Financial Wellness Cooperative?
JOE: Michael Rubinger is the former CEO of the Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC). The Rubinger Community Fellowship award is designed to select local leaders who push the boundaries of community development and focusing on issues that impact the long-term quality of life for people throughout the country. This fellowship is now in its fourth class. Each year the selection committee chooses ten recipients who embody the values of Mr. Rubinger to serve in the 12-month fellowship. He believed that if you invest in community leaders who are passionate about a worthy cause, the result would be greater and longer lasting than what would have happened if the investment were made in a different way. Regarding the difficulties our nation faced in 2020, Rubinger noted, “Especially now, in a year with so many challenges, we need to leverage their talent to design and develop new approaches that can help tens of thousands of people improve their incomes, their health and their long-term outlook.”

CONNECT: How did it feel to be named one of the Rubinger Fellows?
JOE: I was genuinely surprised to be blessed with the opportunity to be selected as a fellow. To receive this fellowship and to be named among some of this nation’s foremost leaders who are driving positive change is a humbling and I bear the weight of responsibility to spark the impact I have committed to drive. Most of the past recipients were in larger cities, so for me to be selected from Lufkin is a major win for this community!

The process for selection begins with being nominated from at least two key LISC employees. Last year, there were about 150 individuals who were nominated from across the country. These nominees then submit applications with a rough draft of what project we would like to work. The packet then goes before a selection committee of ten LISC employees. The field is then narrowed to fifty who are then responsible for presenting a budget and a final draft of the project. This project design must serve as a catalyst to provoke change within our community. Based on the quality of the project, the final ten Rubinger Fellows are selected. In exchange, the fellows are awarded a $40,000 stipend that is designed to offset the costs of implementing our project or cover their salary during the project period. I proposed the development of a Financial Wellness Cooperative that would build stronger relationships between the community and the small business owners who depend on them to survive. This relationship is especially important within minority communities where there are business owners who provide culturally specific products and services. Larger companies moving within the footprint of these businesses make them susceptible to losing their customer base because they do not have the scale to compete with the aggressive pricing techniques these big box retailers are able to implement. My project is designed to create more stability for these business owners by creating more loyalty from the community, access to low-cost capital, and encouraging them to be sensitive to the economic plight of the community and developing a sense of communal responsibility to ensure good businesses do not fail because of a lack of support from the people in their back yard.


CONNECT: What are some goals you have for the organization and programs in2021?
JOE: One of the most exciting goals we have for this year is to assist twelve small businesses through our small business incubator called The Wazo Project. This project will focus on assisting microenterprises with access to capital, low-cost space, and assistance with business planning. We encourage these businesses to work with Angelina College’s Small Business Development Center (SBDC) and the local chambers of commerce to gain access to resources they may not have been aware of. If each of these businesses were to leave with a pathway to sustainability, we will see it as success.

Over the last few years, our work with our clients has led us to believe that there needs to be an effort to address the challenges that are presented to members of our community who are either on probation or parole. In some cases, helping them to find a job is enough; but, in most cases a job is not the most immediate need. For example, I have a client who was recently incarcerated and is unable to drive because she has no license. To get her license, she required to pay several fines. To pay her fines, she needs a job, but to get to any job she takes she will need transportation. This issue is more common than we think. So, we are launching an effort to address this which we are calling, “Next Chapter.” This program will provide a re-entry candidate a job, but will also provide a temporary transportation solution, assistance with getting to their appointments, help with renewing their driver’s licenses, and (of course) financial literacy. We know that we are not able to help everyone, but we will do our part. These positions will be competitive and will opening in the Spring.

CONNECT: Can you tell me more about the loans and grants available through LIFE?
JOE: LIFE is serves as the administrator of the North Lufkin Small Grants Program which is funded by the T.L.L. Temple Foundation. In response to the Appreciative Inquiry conducted by the Stephen F. Austin State University’s School of Social Work, the foundation wanted to respond with a program that would allow stakeholders within the Lufkin community to make an impact within certain fundable areas. For example, community beautification, senior services, recreation, and youth development are all examples of what is fundable. More details can be found on our website. This program is one of the most underutilized grant programs available to the community. The grants can range from $500 to $5,000 and are usually funded within one month of the application date.

We also have several small business and microenterprise loans offered through our partners: LISC, Wells Fargo, Kiva. We recommend that our mature businesses to apply for loans through our local partners Southside Bank and Austin Bank. In the event credit becomes an issue, LISC and Wells Fargo has created a loan product called the Rural LISC Small Business Loan that is less dependent on credit than normal bank products. These loans can range from $75,000 - $500,000 with terms of 5-20 years. The interest rate on this product is 1% for the first 18 months and 3% for the balance of the term. For those that are interested in applying, they would have to contact me.

Our next offering is a microloan through a nonprofit called Kiva. Kiva designed a global, crowdfunded loan platform that offers 0% interest loans of up to $15,000 for up to 36 months for microenterprises. Kiva is by far the most exciting loan product we offer! Within 45 days, we were able to fund four Lufkin borrowers from application to funding. In one case, the loan was funded within a week after approval! What helped the process is LIFE’s role as a Kiva Trustee. This means we are responsible for vetting and endorsing loan applications which increases the likelihood the loan is approved and allow the borrower to have loan contributions. Kiva knows that if a borrower is working with a Kiva Trustee, the likelihood of repayment is higher. A LIFE endorsed loan also allows our partners (LISC and Wells Fargo) to match each crowdfunded dollar. This means the match will be up to $7,500 for each loan! Anyone microenterprise can apply for a Kiva loan on their own, but to receive the match, marketing assistance from LIFE, and assistance with the application, they will need to be a client of LIFE and go through our small business coaching process.

Finally, we have our credit-builder loans we offer through our partners Esusu and LISC. For those who need to build their credit, we have solutions. First, with Esusu, we can create savings plans that would be counted as credit. For example, if someone was planning to buy a car next year and wanted to save for the down payment. We could set up a 0% interest credit builder loan that would last for any term between 6 - 48 months. If the down payment is $2,000, we could set it up for 12 months and the payments would be $166.67 per month with a $2 per month administrative fee. At the end of the term, we would give them the $2,000 back for the down payment and they would have established credit in the process. This is a great option for college students and adults who have savings goals. This product could also facilitate savings circles. If a group of friends or family would like to get together and be held accountable for their savings, they could start a savings circle. In African and Asian cultures, a Susu (or language equivalent) would occur when fellow villagers would come together each month and contribute to a savings pot. One family would receive the pot each month and that would continue throughout the year. The Esusu team has created an electronic format to accomplish the same thing, but in this version, participants are protected if one or more of the participants misses a payment and build their credit in the process. For those who need an incentive to begin saving, we offer LISC TWIN© Accounts which are matched savings accounts. Each of these is made up of a $300 individual Esusu loan with a dollar-for-dollar match that will be given at the end of the 12-month term. This means that there is a 100% return because the borrower will receive a total of $600 once the term is completed. This product is designed for Financial Opportunity Center clients who have thin credit files or are recovering from bankruptcy or just a troubled past with credit. We cannot accept clients into this product who are 30, 60 or 90 days behind on any non-medical debt; however, if the account is in already in collections, we can approve the account.

 

CONNECT: What is your hope for the future of LIFE and its programs?
JOE: 20 years from now, I can see LIFE being the hub for our community of everyday financial information and resources. We are not replacing the infrastructure that already exists within the industry, but we look to support and empower infrastructure’s existing and future client base. I want insurance companies to sell more, banks to have better customers, lenders to have more qualified applicants, investment firms to have more qualified clients, and colleges to have students who are better equipped to handle the financial difficulties of being a college student. I can also see an expansion of our services into other cities within the DETCOG counties which, with our growth trajectory, could be sooner rather than later. We have exciting things to offer, and I can only imagine what the Lord has in store for us!

CONNECT: How can the community support the Legacy Institute for Financial Education? 
JOE: Yes! One of the easiest ways to support us to come to eat at the Juzi Spot and go upstairs to LIFE Tech to look at our inventory of computers. If you see something you like, buy it. If you need a computer fixed, give Dominique and our trainees an opportunity to fix it at the more than reasonable fee structure he has put in place. If you are a nonprofit and need help upgrading your computers to Windows 10 or need new hardware, let us know and we are sure we can beat any price around.

Our community garden, farmers market, and youth programs are all areas where volunteer opportunities will be available. As with all the other nonprofits in our area, we are being extremely cautious in bringing on any volunteers. Prayerfully, these opportunities will open this coming Spring or Summer.

One of the most impactful way our community could get behind our mission is to become lenders through the Kiva platform by going to this link https://bit.ly/2NUPWeg. Joining the platform is free to do. Once you are a lender, then join our Kiva Deep East Texas lending team. Going to this link (https://bit.ly/39JEj2k) will get you where you need to go and will keep you connected to our opportunities. In helping us lend to our local businesses, it is important for the community to remember that you are a lender and not a donor and therefore these loans are not tax-deductible. The money will come back to you as the borrower repays the loan. That money will then be available to relend or to withdraw if you choose.

Finally, cash donations are always welcome. If you would like to donate the funds rather than give a loan, we are able to receive these funds and add them to our loan pool within the Wazo Project. There are too many ways to name for how people our community could help. If you have specific questions, just give me a call and I will be more than happy to discuss these options with you.

CONNECT: What is your favorite part of LIFE?
This may be the most difficult question to answer. It is the equivalent of asking a parent which of your children is your favorite? I can say that I am most excited about our programs for small business owners. Ultimately, what LIFE is trying to accomplish is to have a community that is inspired to leave legacies and learn contentment according to God’s will. I do not know of a better and more lasting legacy one could leave behind than business ownership. Even owning businesses through the publicly traded markets can be passed down through multiple generations just like a car dealership or restaurant can. So, to be able to help an entrepreneur through the idea creation process, funding process, and expansion process is extremely rewarding.

These business owners will become the employers of our FOC clients which will help them to become more financially stable. They will also become the parents of children who will understand the power and impact owning your own business could have. Many business owners are not first generation, but second and third. One of these companies (and family) that I am proud to know is McWilliams and Sons. Their logo is a testimony to the importance of family. They have created jobs all throughout our community and are genuinely good people. Another example are our friends Antonio and Flor Maldonado at La Unica, along with their daughter (Martha Quintanilla) of La Unica Express. Through LIFE, we want to encourage our community to replicate the successes of these companies.