Since 1970, Esperança has aided more than 50,000 families across the globe each year–including here in Phoenix–by providing social, mental and physical health services in under-resourced communities. Here, Jeri Royce, president and CEO of Esperança, discusses its new community garden, how the pandemic has affected the nonprofit and news of its upcoming Night with Esperança event.
What prompted the start of the nonprofit? At Esperança, we believe in a world where every person is thriving, creating new possibilities and promising futures. In the communities we serve, that world can feel far away. When children grow up in unsafe environments, when healthcare infrastructure simply doesn’t exist, when education is a luxury good, it’s incredibly hard for families to focus on anything other than survival.
Derived from the Portuguese word for “hope,” Esperança is dedicated to building optimal social, mental and physical health in under-resourced communities across the globe – and we’ve been doing it since 1970. We take care of immediate needs so that people can focus on their families’ futures, and we work collaboratively with the communities we serve, acting in partnership to remove barriers and provide crucial support.
Celebrating 52 years of service in 2022, globally Esperança works with local partners in some of the poorest communities in Bolivia, Ecuador, Mexico, Mozambique, Nicaragua and Peru, to support programs that the community identifies as priorities. This could look like health education, food security, access to clean water, ecological home-building or life-altering surgeries. We also serve under-resourced children, adults and seniors in Arizona through classes on oral health, chronic disease prevention and management, nutrition, physical activity, mental health and more.
Through these initiatives, Esperança impacts over 50,000 families each year.
What is the greatest reward in being involved with the nonprofit? At Esperança, we believe in the dignity and ability of all people; that access to quality health services is a fundamental human right. Esperança is an essential part of the healthcare system for families around the world who have been deprived of that right for one reason or another.
When a senior in South Phoenix receives a warm meal, a family in Nicaragua has running water for the first time, or a child in Ecuador undergoes an operation that will allow them to walk, I know that we are one person, one family and one community closer to achieving our vision: health equity for everyone.
I also have the pleasure of inviting community members to join in our mission of improving health and showing them firsthand how their support makes a lasting impact. When you get to know Esperança, you realize that there’s nothing quite like it, an organization that harnesses the power of community to make a lasting impact.
What is the biggest challenge the nonprofit faces? Has the pandemic affected the needs of Esperança? Like many innovative organizations around the state, Esperança quickly and successfully adapted, enabling the continuation of services, and addressing emerging needs brought about by the pandemic. However, the need for aid from our partner communities around the world has only increased during this time. In order to serve the growing list of families in-need, we must look to those in our community inspired to invest in our work – individuals and businesses who have a similar passion for making optimal health not only accessible, but the standard.
Tell us about the new community garden. For 22 years, Esperança been uniquely positioned as a leader in delivering health education and services to Arizona’s most vulnerable and underserved Latino youth, adults and seniors. In January of 2022, we broke ground on a community garden to take the next step toward health families in our state. On top of beautify-ing our campus, the produce grown in this garden supports the Esperança’s existing health education classes, using the demonstration kitchen to provide healthy cooking sessions. The garden also allows Esperança to deliver healthy, home-cooked meals to 200 seniors in low-income housing each week through the Stove to Table program.
What are your goals for 2022? In 2022, Esperança looks forward to the continued expansion of preventative health education classes and bolstering international communities through agricultural trainings, water system and home building, and expanded international surgical trips.
We are also looking forward to launching a volunteer program with our newest partner in Rocky Point, Mexico, which will allow volunteers to bolster the English as a Second Language training undergone by our students. Stay tuned for more information!
How can readers help? This mission is only possible because of the Arizona community that supports our efforts at all levels.
- Volunteer: Join us every Tuesday to prep, cook and deliver meals, or sign up to receive emails on our website to be the first to know about upcoming opportunities!
- Invest: The easiest way to ensure the sustainability of these important programs is to make a tax-deductible donation at esperanca.org/donate. Is there an Esperança program that speaks to you? Let us know in the comments so we can direct your gift!
- Spread the Word: Help others in the community learn about the important work we are doing together by following and sharing our updates on Facebook/Instagram/LinkedIn/Twitter @esperancainc
Does Esperança have any events or fundraisers on the horizon? We are excited to announce that Esperança’s annual fundraiser is back in-person and revamped as an evening reception on Sept. 15. A Night with Esperança is a free event that promises to be a wonderful celebration featuring a cocktail hour and live testimonials highlighting the impact of Esperança’s programs in Arizona and around the world.
To learn more, visit esperanca.org.