I grew up in Elkhart and got connected with Goshen when I went to Bethany Christian Schools for high school in 1996. I fell in love with my high school sweetheart, who became my wife, and we have lived here in Goshen since getting married in 2002. I went to Hesston College for a couple of years but ended up at Goshen College. I started there in 2002 and graduated in 2004.
I’ve been at Lacasa, Inc. since 2010, and have been president and CEO since August. LaCasa is a local non-profit. Our mission is to work with individual and community partners to provide opportunities for personal empowerment, family stability, and neighborhood vitality. We’re a community development organization, which means we have a neighborhood focus as we do work in communities. That usually includes real estate development, work on housing. We work with individuals and families who want to be homeowners, but then we also work at developing multi-family rental options. We focus a lot on neighborhood engagement work to help neighborhoods feel more healthy and vibrant. We provide immigration services, and we also do general financial empowerment training with workshops and coaching.
Lacasa has always intentionally connected with the Hispanic community, but our work in housing and financial empowerment is available to everyone. It’s intended to reach the whole community, particularly people in lower to moderate income situations. I would say very broadly that we work with people who are working but are having trouble getting ahead.
I’ve always loved the millrace area, the Goshen Dam area. I think that’s a great outdoor space. My wife and I love walking around when we have the opportunity, and the millrace is a great place to do that. A lot of the neighborhoods in Goshen are fun to walk around, too. I like the downtown. Both personally and for work, I find myself at The Electric Brew frequently. There’s a lot of downtown restaurant options, as well. We’re in the “three young kids” scenario where I don’t spend nearly as much time in those restaurants as I’d like to, but I still have a lot of appreciation for them. I like the energy downtown.
My sense and my experience of Goshen has always been one where there’s a very positive feel. My experience has generally been people wanting the best for their fellow residents as well as wanting the best for Goshen as a whole. I’ve sensed a lot of pride in our city. I’ve always felt there’s a positive focus in Goshen.
Editor • Maddie Yost, Scott Weisser
Interview + Photography • Scott Weisser