Esperanza Center stepped forward to provide relief to Northern Kentucky's Latino community

Esperanza Latino Center is a 501(c)3 that offers services to the Hispanic/Latino community of Northern Kentucky. They have multiple educational programs and also act as a bilingual resource center from their space on Pike Street in Covington.

While Esperanza has only been in existence for a year, the staff has already developed deep inroads into the Hispanic/Latino community and has a board of directors with strong connections throughout the region. Trust like this is incredibly important to the community it serves, as these Northern Kentuckians often maintain very private networks.

Since the pandemic started and the doors to the center temporarily closed, Esperanza has continued its critical daily role as a bilingual resource center for the Latino community of Northern Kentucky, but in a virtual capacity. Additionally, the team there has been informally operating 24 hours a day to receive calls and connect people with needed resources or answer questions related to the coronavirus pandemic.

In mid-April, it became clear to the leadership at Esperanza that the majority of the immigrant community was going to be forgotten about with regard to COVID-related financial relief assistance. The Esperanza board of directors made the decision to step up, take on a role that is not one of their normal services, and make efforts to secure and distribute financial
relief for rent and utilities to Latino families in need.

Thanks to Horizon Community Funds of Northern Kentucky, the Hispanic Chamber Cincinnati Foundation, Greater Cincinnati Foundation, and others, the organization has received $27,500, more than half of which comes from its recent $15,000 grant from Horizon Community Funds. With this support, Esperanza was able to assist nearly 50 hard-working Hispanic/Latino families with rent and/or utilities payments. All of these families have been provided food assistance as well.

One family, the Gonzalez family of Fort Mitchell, lives in four different houses in the same neighborhood within the city. The family suffered tremendous financial losses when the pandemic hit, as everyone in the family lost their job as painters, cooks, and construction workers. Esperanza was able to lift them up with a total of five rental payments (one for each house and one house twice). They also made sure that the family received food and connected with other local resources.

When Esperanza starts its online English as a second language (ESL) tutoring program this summer, two of the children in the family will benefit from much needed additional ESL instruction. Esperanza Director Reid Yearwood said, “This is
one of the sweetest families I know and they have been extremely grateful for everything Esperanza has done for them.”

Further aligning with Horizon Community Funds’ focus on funding nonprofits that are able to leverage partnerships throughout the community, Esperanza translated a large COVID-19 resource document for United Way of Northern Kentucky. It has also been working with Northern Kentucky Community Action Commission to help Latinos get the needed documents together to receive assistance with utilities, and with St. Elizabeth Healthcare to provide patients assistance and distribute necessary information.

Esperanza means hope in Spanish, and Esperanza has been doing everything it can as a grassroots community organization to provide as much hope as possible to the Hispanic/Latino community of Northern Kentucky during a time of added difficulty and uncertainty.

Tess Brown is director of marketing and communications for Horizon Community Funds of Northern Kentucky.
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