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Esperanza keeps hope alive for 19th year

Arooj Ashraf, La Prensa Correspondent

The 19th Fiesta of Hope Luncheon awarded $30,000 in scholarships to 54 bright students on June 26, 2009 at Windows on the River. The award banquet was the largest Esperanza, Inc, has hosted, with 440 guests, sponsors, recipients, families, and recipients celebrating a remarkable year.

Ivan Joel-Santiago, Awilda I. Santiago and
Ashley Marie-Santiago

“We are continuing the path set by Esperanza to give back to the community,” said keynote speaker Dr. Marla Pérez-Davis, Chief of the Project Liaison and Integration Office at NASA Glenn Research Center.

She advised students to remember those around them: the mentors, sponsors, volunteers, and leaders and give back to Esperanza. Pérez-Davis said, ‘Students need to develop leadership skills, develop endurance, and grow their networks so in time of need they can reach out and ask for help or lend a hand.’

Most importantly she stressed, ‘never quit.’ “You will encounter roadblocks, when you get tired push yourself till you can go no further and lower the resistance, but don’t stop.”

Her message stuck with scholarship recipient William Rodríguez, a graduate of St. Ignatius, who said he was never aware of the Latino community. “I see now that I am not alone,” he said. William will be attending Miami University, Oxford, in autumn, for Business Administration and hopes to work for the FBI.

William said he is looking forward to mentoring with Esperanza during winter breaks.

Everett-DeHaan, Kanishka Rodriguez, and
Maribel Verdon

For High Tech Academy sophomore Kanishka Rodríguez, Esperanza has been a constant companion, supporting her dreams, motivating her to achieve, and introducing her to mentors, who prove to her that as a Latina from Puerto Rico she can accomplish anything she sets her mind to.

As she reflected on her involvement with Esperanza programs like Ellas, Kanishka paused. “Wow, they have given me so much,” she said and added she is most grateful for the self-confidence she has built through Esperanza. Kanishka plans to become a forensic scientist and is looking forward to a future filled with giving back to Esperanza via committees, volunteers, and boards.

Awilda I. Santiago is a second time recipient of Esperanza scholarships and said the monetary assistance has helped her attend Baldwin Wallace College, but she is most thankful for the pride it gives her parents and that her younger siblings can look at her as a successful role model. “I want them to know they should be proud of their heritage, own it, and achieve anything they want to and keep on with their education,” Awilda said.

Felicia Soto, Esperanza Board President, said the organization has been able to honor its mission due to the contributions of sponsors who stood by the organization in a difficult economy, the volunteers who contributed thousands of hours.

She credited Barbara Esperon for her service of the past four years, and announced Esperon will be leaving the organization in July. Soto encouraged guests to support Campaign 25, “we could always use more talents, please don’t hesitate to call us,” she said.

Ginny Whipkey Caringi, Carmen Feliciano,

Jessica Gonzalez

Esperanza introduced two new leadership programs designed to provide young men and women with mentors, life-skills training, and support. Esperanza’s Latina Leadership Alliance, or ELLA, was launched under the leadership of Carmen Everett-DeHaan, 2008 Volunteer of the Year. Esperanza’s Latino Leaders for an Outstanding Society, or ELLOS, followed under the leadership of volunteer Michael Pagán.

Cleveland Mayor Frank J. Jackson presented Soto with a Proclamation from the City and congratulated recipients, who had a chance to get individual photos with him. Jackson said these students will one day make crucial decisions for the city of Cleveland. “Education is the key to success,” he said. 

Andrés Gonzáles
, Director of the Cleveland Clinic Office of Diversity, said Esperanza plays a crucial role in nourishing the minds of youth. He said theses student are pursuing a great range of fields—from healthcare, engineering, to public service and as a sponsor it is important for the Cleveland Clinic to invest locally for a better educated and prepared workforce.

Students and mentors from ELLOS
Editor’s Note: The Esperanza Scholarship Program awards college scholarships annually to eligible Latino students, who reside in Ohio’s Cuyahoga and Lorain counties. Since 1994, Esperanza, Inc. has awarded over 500 scholarships, including, for example, 44 scholarships in 2007, and 45 scholarships in 2008. See: Esperanza’s 18th Annual Fiesta of Hope luncheon at: https://laprensatoledo.com/Stories/2008/070408/Esperanza.htm
For complete lists of scholarship recipients and sponsors download the program at http://www.esperanzainc.org


Jessica Gonzalez with Mayor Frank Jackson

Mayor Jackson, Steaphanie Mercado, Steve Mercado and Michael Mercado

Joe Lopez with Mayor Frank Jackson

Keynote Speaker  Dr. Marla Perez-Davis with  Felicia Soto, Board President


Patty Qunionez, Councilman Joe Santiago, and Elisa Muniz

Gladys and William Rodriquez

Mayor Frank Jackson shares a laugh with Ginny Whipkey Caringi





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