Celebrating WESST Clients at Happy ½ Hours

By Katie Knipe | July 12, 2022

In-person gatherings are back, but virtual gatherings are here to stay! WESST is pleased to have hosted two of our virtual “Happy ½ Hour” events in 2022, where we heard from our clients and showed donors the impact of their generous support.

On April 25, Kate Padilla, owner of Brightburn Academy of Irish Dance, joined WESST for our first Happy ½ Hour of 2022. Kate had been a student of the school for 10 years, and when the previous owner wanted to part ways, Kate purchased the studio and has been breathing life into it every since. Kate shared how WESST provided integral business assistance at key times — from the very beginning as they established themselves as a New Mexico business, to growing the business through their website, marketing, and social media, to helping them secure grants, and making plans for future growth.

One of the most important ways that their business dreams are currently coming true can be seen in the hall as dancers of all ages leave class…laughing, connecting with friends, feeling both confident and empowered through what they were able to accomplish physically and enjoying a truly life-enriching sport. Click here to read more about the Brightburn Academy of Irish Dance and how WESST has been supportive!

Click here to see a video about Brightburn Academy of Irish Dance.

On June 28, we had the pleasure of hearing from Susana Arvizu, WESST client and owner of Arvizu Insurance in Lovington, NM. After working with Wells Fargo in various positions for several years, Susana felt compelled to enter the insurance industry. Susana found a mentor through State Farm in 2020 and created a plan to open her own State Farm agency within 2 years. As she began learning about the products and getting licensed, COVID shut everything down. Susana described this time as one of the most difficult in her life, but she persisted! “Nothing is in my timing, I just need to prepare myself,” she shared with us.

Susana began working with WESST in 2020 and became our 7th HOPE Loan recipient. In fact, she is the first HOPE Loan recipient in Hobbs, NM since WESST opened our Hobbs office in 2021! Susana expressed how supportive WESST has been throughout her journey. “So many people are desperate and many would try to get a bank loan they wouldn’t be able to pay back, like I almost did.”

Arvizu Insurance has 3 full-time employees and 1 part-time employee. Susana and her team have blown their goals out of the water! Not long after opening, Arvizu Insurance was rated as one of the Top 10 agencies in their region. “I don’t take any credit for my success. It’s everyone around me, whether it’s my friends, organizations like WESST, my customer base, but it’s mostly my employees.”

Susana shared a great piece of advice for new business owners, and that’s to get involved with the community. “Get involved and your community will love you back!” WESST is so grateful to support creative, resilient clients like Susana!

Click here to see a video about Arvizu Insurance.

Stay tuned for updates about future Happy ½ Hours!

About the Author


Katie Knipe

Katie Knipe is the VP of Development for WESST and has worked in nonprofit management and arts administration for the past decade. She has dedicated her career to fundraising for organizations whose missions fuel her fire, including those who promote classical music performance and who serve people experiencing homelessness.

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