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Esperanza,…celebrating 30yrs of success!

Commentary By Antonio Barrios, La Prensa Correspondent

Feb. 28, 2014: Executive Director Victor Ruiz of Esperanza, Inc. beamed with joy as the crowded space of Club Pura Vida [located at 170 Euclid Avenue near Public Square in downtown Cleveland] rocked with enthusiastic supporters, alumni, and well-wishers.

Friday’s event was the launch of Esperanza’s continuing efforts to engage the college-bound students and graduates of local colleges with the official formation of Esperanza’s alumni group.

Director Ruiz, who recently was elected as president of the board of the Hispanic Alliance in Cleveland, spoke to La Prensa—he explained his ideas when he first became the executive director of Esperanza four years ago. “My plan was to focus on strategic planning and find out what were the needs of the Hispanic community in Cleveland.

“We proceed to formulate a 5-year plan to answer those needs and can proudly say we have not only met those needs but have exceeded our own expectations. We have raised the graduation rate from 30 percent citywide to 53 percent and have raised the graduation rate for students in our program 75 percent.”

When asked where he sees Esperanza in five years he emphasized: “Focus more on the big picture, hopefully establishing several locations around town, expanding more into the Hispanic community, engaging more schools, providing more services to college students, and beginning to create a regional presences.”

In an exclusive interview with La Prensa newspaper, the 6-year president of the board of Esperanza, Inc.—Felicia Soto, who was recently awarded the President Emeritus title and who is the new president of the alumni group—stated: “We have been talking about the idea for some time now; we looked for more resources as Esperanza celebrated it 30 years of commitment to the community and the future leaders.”

According to Ms. Soto, some of the purposes of this new alumni group will be to:  ‘reconnect with the graduate students, to follow-up with them to see where they are, and to network. But mostly to help the alumni give back to the community by mentoring and helping the current students in the Esperanza programs.’

According to Ms. Soto, Esperanza will: “ask for feedback on their programs, evaluate the experience, and then make it better. The alumni group will also help identify alumni, provide leadership, plan events, and create and support an alumni scholarship.”

Adria Hankey-Brown is the coordinator of volunteers and alumni who will be running the programs. Before she was hired by Esperanza, Adria had come from a 1˝ year stint at AmeriCorps. Her present duties will be divided between volunteers and alumni. For the volunteers, the plan is to recruit and then place in the best suited programs. After training, the volunteers will be placed into the structure of Esperanza.

For the alumni, the job is to recruit the graduates from 1983 to 2012, to engage them in volunteer work with Esperanza, and to help them network to gain employment. Ms. Hankey-Brown’s plans are to pursue a master’s degree in Non-Profit Management. She is also an artist and loves to paint and sculpture. 

At the launch party was Jonathan Anderson—chief fashion designer at Anderson Couture— who discussed networking for his upcoming fundraiser on March 21 at the City Hall Rotunda. The proceeds will be going to Esperanza. He was also mentored by Esperanza and it helped him graduate at the top of his class.

Mr. Anderson was recently interviewed on the TV program Kaleidoscope. The event was a huge success for Esperanza. He is highly respected in the community not only by Latinos but also by the many corporations and foundations that support the organizations that work in the community.

For the past 30 years, Esperanza, Inc. is truly an Orgullo Latino that has been producing incredible results for future generations of leaders and civic-minded graduates.


Adria Hankey-Brown

Band Son Gitano

Victor Ruiz

Felicia Soto

Joe Lopez with Victor Ruiz

Jonathan and Maria Anderson

Victor Ruiz

Copyright © 1989 to 2014 by [LaPrensa Publications Inc.]. All rights reserved.
Revised: 03/04/14 19:17:39 -0800.




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