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When he was in the ninth grade, Wacinque Amistad Kaizen BeMende got interested in the stock market, and his interest spawned a lifetime of learning, investing and helping other people.
BeMende – a 40-year veteran of the U.S. military – serves as chief poverty consultant and financial inclusion officer at FinEd Consultancy KaizenRhino Solutions, based at White Sands Missile Range.
He was nominated as an Everyday Hero by his colleague, Wendell Bandy.
“The financial impact of COVID-19 is compounded by individuals being unbanked and underbanked, plus in their past not being able to build up three to six months of savings,” Bandy wrote in his nomination email. “Wacinque has labored tirelessly to educate and inspire individuals about the benefits of saving. Imagine believing that it is possible to reduce to zero individuals unbanked and underbanked when no one else does.
But like Roger Bannister and the four-minute mile or 2020 and warp speed to a vaccine, both occurred under a cloud of, ‘It is impossible.’ Although Wacinque often sounds like a broken record, he is that person fearlessly driven to prove warp speed may be the new economics leading to another Roaring ‘20s and a warp-driven economy.
This, I believe, makes him an everyday hero.”
Bandy said BeMende also is an avid consumer of local news.
“Your Bulletin readers should know Wacinque reads the paper each week like he believes the billion-dollar, lottery-winning numbers are hidden within, and he will drive from White Sands to the Bulletin office to get a copy of a missed week,” Bandy wrote. “Who does that?”
In his nomination email, Bandy also noted that BeMende has consistently demonstrated a drive to succeed and achieve his goals.
“Wacinque was able to serve 40 years in the military, starting in the Marine Corps and achieve NCO rank in two years and senior NCO rank in three services, because he is not only mission-driven, but has all the necessary full-stack skills to achieve the mission,” Bandy wrote. “I did not understand what that means day-to-day, but with COVID-19 and its impact, I'm motivated to nominate him because I want to share another view of why an Everyday Hero includes not giving up the fight even when nobody knows you are fighting. Today, I know persistence is a quality of an everyday hero.”
Bandy attached several documents to his nomination email, including one noting that BeMende was inducted into Securities Industry Financial Management Association Hall of Fame when his primary job was serving in the military.
“Yet, he still found a way to give back and motivate others to learn about saving and how to successfully learn to invest,” Bandy wrote, noting that BeMende enrolled in a master’s degree program after he retired from the military.
“Why would a person who could be fishing and has personally benefited from a long history of understanding investing start a master’s degree program?” Bandy asked. “I know it’s because he believes it may help him help others. When your mission is to end people being unbanked, you clearly are not in it for the money. It’s plain to see being a wealth manager for individuals of means with Wacinque’s level of knowledge and experience in the financial industry would make more sense, thus it is possible helping individuals in nearly perpetual financial distress is the kind of decision an everyday hero may make.”
Bandy said BeMende remembers well how his own interest in investing and wealth-building began at a young age, and he continues to focus not only on helping adults manage their money, but also on sparking young people to see a financial path forward.
“Childhood poverty is persistently high in New Mexico,” Bandy wrote. “This is something Wacinque believes he can change. He is not from New Mexico, but he chooses to live here to make a difference. In fact, he was recently recognized in Wisconsin -- a state where he has lots of friends and family pleading with him to move back.”
Bandy noted that BeMende has received multiple recognitions for his work and advocacy from various groups, entities and associations during both his military and civilian careers, but he doesn’t brag about them or seek to bring attention to himself.