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Esperanza Center History
In the early 1960s, a socially-motivated young woman named Nancy Conrad returned to Baltimore from Latin America where she had been serving with the Young Christian Workers.
Soon after, she began working with the growing Spanish-speaking population in the city. Recognizing a need to help recent immigrants overcome language and cultural barriers, she took her concerns to Cardinal Lawrence Sheehan.
Sharing her concern, the Cardinal approved classroom space on the first floor of St. Ann’s School on Greenmount Avenue and 22nd Street. The building opened on September 16, 1963. For more than 50 years, Esperanza has celebrated a commitment to serving Maryland’s immigrant communities.
The fruit of Ms. Conrad’s vision is today’s Esperanza Center. This progressive idea became a program of Catholic Charities in the early 1980s, continuing to serve thousands of new immigrants each year. At that time, the Hispanic Apostolate (as it was known then) was located in Southeast Baltimore. Esperanza Center occupied various locations over time, eventually relocating to the current location of 430 S Broadway in the late 1990s. In 2008, the Hispanic Apostolate / Immigration Legal Services celebrated its 45th anniversary working with and serving the immigrant community in Baltimore. The organization was rededicated as Esperanza Center.
Esperanza – About Us Today
“The mission of the Esperanza Center is to welcome immigrants by offering hope, compassionate services, and the power to improve their lives.”
Esperanza Center offers services in five areas: healthcare; education (particularly English for Speakers of Other Languages); immigration legal services; family reunification; and community referral and resources. Our Health Clinic Services vary from primary care appointments and walk-in visits to specialized clinics and appointments for immunizations, dental, ophthalmology, and more.
“Every day the Esperanza Center’s different programs strive to empower our clients to overcome the barriers that stand in the way of their full participation in the American experience.”
Our Client Services program handles over 500 client inquiries annually to help immigrants navigate their way through agencies dealing with social services, housing, employment training, and offering assistance with adapting to US culture. Their work includes translations, notarizations, referrals, public health education, and more.
Our English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) program provides informal and formal classes in English, computer literacy, and citizenship to over 450 adult students each year. Our Youth ESOL program offers after-school and summer classes for over 60 children each semester, incorporating cultural, historical, and recreational field trips into the summer program as well.
Our Immigration Legal Services (ILS) program offers legal advice and representation from experienced immigration attorneys and fully accredited DOJ representatives in a wide range of immigration matters, including assistance with visas, asylum, residency, citizenship, temporary protected status, and defense against removal. In partnerships with service providers, and with grant funding from the Governor’s Office of Crime Control and Prevention and the Vera Institute of Justice, we offer pro-bono legal services to unaccompanied children and their sponsor guardians, and to victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, and other crimes.
In 2020, the Esperanza Center will celebrate its 57th anniversary of providing hope and services to the immigrant communities of Baltimore and throughout the region.
A principios de la década de 1960, una joven motivada llamada Nancy Conrad regresó a Baltimore desde América Latina, donde había estado sirviendo con los Jóvenes Trabajadores Cristianos.
Poco después, comenzó a trabajar con la creciente población de hispanos en la ciudad. Reconociendo la necesidad de ayudar a los inmigrantes recién llegados a superar las barreras culturales y del idioma, llevó sus preocupaciones al Cardenal Lawrence Sheehan.