Esperanza Invests in Leadership

Last Friday, June 8th we celebrated the graduation of one of Esperanza’s staff members from the Southern California Counseling Center’s (SCCC),   CommunityCounseling Program.

During the late morning intimate yet casual ceremony graduates, counselors and SCCC staff expressed their appreciation for their growth by the training. The training consisted of a  six month process that highlighted  self-introspection to be there for others present in our service in our community and also aware of one’s own internal stories.

Esperanza Community Housing Corporation strives to continueto develop staff, solidify partnerships and strengthen programs to continue to provide hope in the community!

Thank you Southern California Counseling Center staff and counselors, and participants for your heart’s work!  Story by: Fabiola Sandoval

A Community Health Promoter’s Dedication to Healthy Homes

As an Esperanza Promotora de Salud working with the Healthy Homes team, Aliria Cardenas deeply understands the role education plays in empowering her community with the knowledge and tools necessary to improve their living conditions and the asthma and respiratory issues caused by them.  For seven years, Aliria has worked with bold persistence to assess on a home-by-home basis what practices and environmental factors can be changed to address the family’s health concerns in an affordable and sustainable manner.Following a protocol of surveys, home visits, and months of follow-up, Aliria and the Healthy Homes team educate community members about preventing asthma triggers by: vacuuming often; cleaning with non-toxic products such as vinegar, borax, and baking soda; thoroughly cleaning items that tend to be overlooked such as curtains; creating ventilation; and understanding that pets, plants, and dust provoke respiratory issues.  The team provides vacuum cleaners with HEPA filters and air purifiers where appropriate.

For example, Aliria(pictured above) was once referred to the home of a young woman whose two children suffered from asthma.The single room they lived in was in poor condition, and the one small window they had let in cigarette smoke wafting over from their neighbor’s unit.  After Aliria gave the woman an air purifier, it helped her better understand ways of creating ventilation throughout the space, and advised her on managing her children’s health, the children’s asthma rapidly improved over the course of Aliria’s follow-up visits.

In another case, Aliria worked with a woman caring for her young granddaughter who had a serious asthma condition.  In her investigation, Aliria discovered a significant amount of dust created by a construction project in the bathroom.  As a result of the education the grandmother received, she completely changed her asthma triggers.  The child’s asthma improved greatly, and years later Aliria continues to receive a note of gratitude every Mother’s Day from the grandmother.  It is fair to say Aliria has numerous success stories similar to these.

In addition to the protocol followed and the education provided, Aliria’s success, like the success of many Esperanza’s Community Health Promoters, come from her dedication and the trust she builds very intentionally with the families referred to her.  Her services often extend beyond the working hours and beyond what is needed to remediate asthma.  As a result of this level of commitment, Aliria and the Healthy Homes team have helped to create lasting healthy homes healthy homes and healthy families throughout South Los Angeles. Story by: Sophia Kandell



Volunteering at Villa Esperanza Community Center

Since beginning to volunteer at Villa Esperanza’s Education Program, I have had one of the most rewarding and valuable experiences of my life.

On my first day, I was assigned to a group of seven 3rd graders. It took a couple of days for them to get  comfortable around me, but after a short period of time, I began to receive hand-drawn pictures, valentine cards, and hugs. My duties at Villa mainly consist of helping my group of kids get their homework done and then helping out with other activities schedule for the day, such as music class or art projects.

I also took on another project that has been challenging but very rewarding. I interviewed families whose children attend the education program and talked about their experiences there and about their family background. These interviews were completely in Spanish, so my language skills have improved a lot! It has been so amazing watching these kids make progress week-to-week, and I’ve grown to look forward to my Thursdays at Villa. I know that I will miss everyone there when my internship is over at the end of April, but I also know that these kids have made a difference in my life that will last for a long time.~ Katie Fugate

Promotores de Salud Helping Our Community!

The dust accumulating on Maria’s rug threatened the health of her three children and her mother, all of whom have asthma. She didn’t have a vacuum to clean her rug. Thanks to the Healthy Child Program at St. John’s Well Child and Family Center, Maria received a free vacuum three months ago and now vacuums everyday. Her mother and children’s asthma symptoms have dramatically declined. The health improvement is not only the result of a rug vacuumed daily, but also of relevant information Maria learned through the Community Health Promoters program at Esperanza Community Housing Corporation.

Aliria, a community health promoter of 5 years, learned of Maria’s case through a referral from St. John’s Child and Wellness Center. On her first visit, Aliria asked Maria what housekeeping cleaning products she used. When Maria listed off products like bleach and Pinesol, Aliria suggested that these strong smelling substances often worsen children’s health. Instead, Aliria recommended natural cleaning products that work just as well, like baking soda and vinegar. Maria never knew such mixes were possible. She was amazed at how pleasant the smell was after implementing the natural products.

Recently, with the help of Aliria, Maria asked her landlord if he could replace the dirty rug altogether. After informing him that the rug was a potential threat to her family, the land lord replaced it. Community Health Promoters not only educates residents on how to improve the home environment, but also help tenants advocate on behalf of themselves. Maria is incredibly thankful to Esperanza and St. John’s because her children’s and mother’s asthma is now controlled after she learned how to improve the health of her home.

 Story by: Drea Chicas

Peruvian Food: The Next Big Thing

Growing enthusiasm for his national cuisine helped chef Ricardo Zarate achieve his dream of opening a Peruvian restaurant after a decade of frustration. Mr. Zarate, who went to cooking school in Lima, spent 12 years working in high-end Japanese restaurants in London.  Convinced that Peruvian food deserved a place on the world stage, he began hunting for investors in 2001, but couldn’t convince enough deep pockets that it was the next big thing. Finally, in 2009, while living in Los Angeles, he pulled together $30,000 and opened Mo-Chica, a stand serving six dishes in a market food court in downtown Los Angeles.

Read more: The Next Big Thing

Brenda Chour Another Successful Health Promoter

Brenda Chour Orantes graduated from Esperanza’s Community Health Promoters Training Program and is now an active leader in her community.

I am Brenda Chour, originally from Guatemala, my beloved homeland …I’ve been living for 7 years in this country. Like all immigrants, for personal reasons, I migrated to the United States. I left behind all my dreams, illusions, and most importantly, my family and my life. It was very difficult to adapt to a new land; uncertain and unknown. For a long time I tried to find a horizon that would change my life, but did not find it. During that time, I came across Hope Street Family Center, a program at California Hospital. They helped me with workshops and support for my little girl who had speech problems. There, talking to my social worker, she told me about  Esperanza’s Community Health Promoters Training Program, and gave me a sheet with a phone number and said to ask for Lupe or Norma. That call changed my life… I went to get an application, went through interview process, and waited for the acceptance call.  I was selected for the Promotores class 2010. Long were the six months, but very interesting and valuable teachings and trainings, self-discovery, sharing, personal development, etc…Esperanza’s Community Health Promoters Training changed my life! I was welcomed to  a new family, because you really get to be part of this large family of promoters. The personal support, emotional and career development I received from Norma was invaluable.  Graduation was a great experience where we receive tokens of affection and support from this new family. Upon completion of the training program began a new stage, the internship. Among the many difficult and personal moments in my life, I had the advantage that at the moment there were many people who supported me and gave me encouragement. I started my internship with the steady support of my friend Irma, also a Promotora.  The Institute of Popular Education of Southern California (IDEPSCA), sister collaborator of Esperanza was another milestone for me. The knowledge I received from Esperanza and opportunity to learn about organizations and individuals who care about the development of Promotoras to go out there to support our communities, and immigrants like us, it opened the horizon I was looking for. I received lots of support and life lessons of all staff, especially Marlom Portillo. Continue reading

Irma Avila a Successful Health Promoter

Esperanza Community Housing’s Health Program’s vision in the mid 1990’s was that in the absence of a responsive health network in underserved areas, such as in the Maple/Adams-Hoover/Adams community of South Central Los Angeles where Esperanza is actively involved, there could be an indigenous, grass-roots leadership developed to guide the community to health.  Esperanza holds the belief that good health and access to quality healthcare are fundamental human rights, and that these rights can be translated into action through a well-developed assembly of community health leaders.

Irma Avila graduated from the program in 2010 and now is a successful Community Health Promoter helping out her community. 

My name is Irma Y. Avila; I am from Mexico City, mother and wife.  I feel I have been a Health Promoter all my life, but what I didn’t know is that there was an official name that gave formality to what I love to do;  which is to help my community.     As a member of the committee of parents from children’s school, Guisella Gutierrez, school coordinator told me that she had been watching me and that she knew a place called Esperanza Community Housing Corporation where I could apply and be trained to continue helping my community in a more effective way. 

Continue reading


Thank you Sister Diane Donoghue for supporting the Harbor Corridor Best Babies Collaborative. The community members appreciate your support and your donations!

Jessica is a teenager exclusively breastfeeding her  6 month baby and very thankful for having received a carseat for her baby.

Maria Guadalupe and her four-year old boy, very happy to have received a blanket and clothes for his twin sibblings.

Thank you Sister Diane.  We are enhancing our community with education, and also providing them with resources in their most critical moments. ~ Gina Serrano

Slum Housing

Esperanza Community Health Promoters work with collaborating agencies like St. John’s Well Child and Family CenterStrategic Actions for Just Economy (“SAJE”), and LA CAN conducting community-based research in the South Los Angeles area to help minimize slum housing conditions.

Ms. Cuevas, a resident of the Pico-Union area said that she has invested her own money to fix her home and to help minimized vermin infestation.  Yet, the bathroom is still shows molds even when she repaints it.  Full story:

The People’s Hearing: