HISTORY

Our history of hope

It all started in 1977, in the Loíza neighborhood of Tocones. Called special education children, eight kids living in extreme and with enormous unmet needs – particularly those due to their developmental deficiencies, gathered in a wooden shack roofed with zinc shaded by a palm grove.

Right there, under the guidance of a Daughter of Charity sister and four volunteers from the community, Centro Esperanza began its labor of love deeply rooted in serving the poorest and most marginalized of Loiza

A mission that grew and flourished

In 1984, we successfully established our first free of charge special education school in the Humacao school district to which Loiza belonged. At that time, Centro Esperanza already had a well-defined mission: to serve the abandoned children.   

The children of the community grew up and so, to better serve them, an independent living program was developed with the purpose of equipping them with skills for the future. We began their transition offering workplace skills with workshops focusing on horticulture, foodservice and floristry; these last two were conducted on the ground floor of the Daughthers of Charity residential house in the Loiza neighborhood of Parcelas Suárez. The program thrived until September 18, 1989, when the passing of Hurricane Hugo changed all our plans.

BUT IT DID NOT STOP US

Garden of Hope

Shortly after the devastation caused by Hurricane Hugo, Garden of Hope was launched, a small project sponsored by United Ways of Puerto Rico for children over 2 years of age with the purpose of ensuring a better future for Loiza’s children. It was also a place where parents were trained in raising their children; and a safe space where domestic abuse was avoided and school dropout and delinquency prevented.

Successful Women’s Program

Further on, the Motivating Women Initiative was created to serve the mothers of Centro Esperanza’s children, with the objectives of helping them build positive self-esteem, providing parenting tools, and motivating them to study and work. A large number of women managed to obtain their high school diploma, a college degree, and nursing careers. Three years later, this initiative became the Successful Women’s Program.

Montessori for Infants and Toddlers

The Instituto Nueva Escuela invited us to participate in its Sister Schools project, directed by Dr. Ana María García Blanco. Steered by the Sister Schools’ guides and very kind and helpful people, Montessori of the Sea for Infants and Toddlers was inaugurated to provide Montessori education to Loiza children ages 18 months to 6 years.

Create and Sing

In 2003, Centro Esperanza started an after-school prevention program called Create and Sing, based on music education strategies and experiences. As of today, over 125 children and adolescents between the ages of 5 and 17 have benefited from this program, which has also formed a music band and a youth chamber orchestra. Currently, the program is known as Melodies of Hope.

Life and Hope

In 2006, the Life and Hope program surged to offer guidance and counseling services to individuals, couples, and families, and to the young students in Loíza’s schools. Every year, this core program provides services to more than 50 families from Loíza and neighboring towns.

Mochila Alegre (Happy Backpack)

Mochila Alegre (Happy Backpack) is a program to improve our children’s nutrition. Every week, we provide a backpack with food necessities for the preparation of breakfast, lunch and dinner during the weekends to children ages 2-12. In partnership with the nonprofits Banco de Alimentos (Food Bank of PR) and Accion Social de Puerto Rico, Inc., we serve approximately 50 children.

Heritage Tourism and Community Service Program

Centro Esperanza’s Heritage Tourism and Community Service program offers authentic tourism experiences guided by young people from local communities for those visitors interested in experiencing first-hand the richest and most diverse manifestations of Loiza’s cultural and natural heritage and learning about Centro Esperanza’s impact and commitment to improving the quality of community life in Loiza.

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