Hispanic Heritage Month is celebrated from September 15 to October 15. It is a time to focus on sharing stories and providing opportunities to increase understanding and acceptance of the Hispanic community as TD Bank honors their vital contributions.
Henry Goris knows how hard it is to leave everything behind for the chance at a better life.
When Henry was just one year old, he moved from the Dominican Republic to New York City with his family. He saw first-hand how hard it can be for immigrants to the United States to start new lives. Not speaking English fluently, being underemployed and cultural differences all contribute to getting stuck in a cycle of poverty that can continue for generations.
Henry is a TD Bank Store Manager in Bushwick, a section of Brooklyn, New York. He has worked for TD Bank for five years. During that time, he has made it his mission to help the neighborhood’s large Hispanic immigrant community become financially literate and navigate life in the United States.
A Focus on Helping the Community
Henry has set out to help newly arrived immigrants, many from Venezuela and Columbia, get on firm footing. Nearly 80% of residents in Bushwick live below the poverty line and receive public assistance in the form of housing vouchers, food assistance or publicly subsidized health insurance.
Shortly after the new TD Bank store opened in November 2021, he worked with nearby Woodhull Hospital to help provide the community with school supplies, health screenings, COVID tests and more. Henry and his team helped distribute over 500 backpacks at a recent back-to-school event.
Teaching Financial Literacy
When busses of primarily Latin American asylum seekers started arriving in Brooklyn from southern border states, Henry knew he had to help. A TD Bank customer who works with Your Network Caring Community Advocate told Henry about an opportunity to make a real difference.
Many asylum seekers have the documentation they need to open a bank account but often don’t know where to start. New immigrants unfamiliar with the American banking system may rely on cash checking services that charge very high fees, taking a big chunk of already small incomes.
Recently, Henry and members of his team went to a local safe-haven shelter to help 50 families from Colombia and Venezuela learn how to open bank accounts and other key financial education.
A family man with roots in giving back
Henry's life at home is filled with joy and love. As the father of triplets, aged 3 ½, and a 12-year-old son, it's truly amazing he has made it a priority to give back to the community.
"I strive to create a great example for my children to look up to," he said. "As challenging as it may be at times to split my time between work and family, it is important to me that my children understand the importance of giving back to the community through volunteering and education."
His focus on giving back comes from his family roots.
"Growing up, my parents always made sure I was proud of where we came from, but also made sure that my sister and I recognized the privilege of having grown up in the United States," he said. "We would spend our winter and summer breaks in the Dominican Republic, where my father organized a holiday dinner distribution program. He provided Christmas dinner for hundreds of families out of his own pocket, and never hesitated to help someone in financial need. My father did this until he passed away earlier this year. "
With the stellular example of his parents, Henry vowed to continue in their footsteps.
"Twice a year, my wife and I send boxes of clothing and basic necessities to be distributed to those in need in our parents' individual communities," he said. "We also try to host a community party during our annual trips to the Dominican Republic, where we not only provide food and entertainment to the community children, but also distribute school and hygiene supplies."
Henry has also made a conscious effort to ingrain a sense of pride for his children's culture as second generation Dominican-Americans by traveling to the Dominican Republic every year to immerse them in the culture.
"When our triplets were born, we felt it important to make sure they grew up bilingual and hired a caretaker that would only speak Spanish with them," he said. "They are fully bilingual and are very proud of their culture – my hope is that our example will inspire our children to continue our family's legacy of giving back. "
Expanding outreach for the future
Henry and his work team are planning to deliver financial literacy seminars in Spanish to teach other newly arrived community members how to develop healthy financial and banking habits. This includes things like how to avoid unnecessary fees, the impact of overdrafts how banking responsibly can help build a good credit score and how to budget. Unfortunately, post-COVID, Henry has seen an influx of “work from home” scams which wind up putting newly arrived immigrants into debt quickly. Because of this, his team also teaches how to spot and avoid these scams.
Henry has plans to expand his store's outreach to the Hispanic community and other immigrants, including those from Ukraine. In the future, he would like his team to go into schools to teach financial literacy and budgeting skills to students before they enter the workforce to put them on firm footing for a financially stable future.
“There’s a need,” Henry said. “My mission has always been to serve our community.”