open-house reception at Esperanza, Inc.
By Arooj Ashraf , La Prensa Correspondent
Cleveland: The Hispanic Roundtable hosted an open house
reception at Esperanza Inc. on Jan. 13, 2009 to
strengthen its friendship with the Jewish community and
showcased Latino civic and social service agencies in the
The event was an extension of dialogues that began in June 2008
at the Maltz Museum of Jewish Heritage.
José C. Feliciano,
Chair of Hispanic Roundtable, said the communities have much in
common and the goal is to open lines of communication between
the two, build a strong alliance that can put a united front
against fundamental issues like the economy and immigration.
Community Relations Committee Chair of the Jewish Federation,
said the organization was honored to share its mission.
Mandel explained the role of JCF as an advocacy group that
services nearly 70-80 thousand people in the Greater Cleveland
area and funds programs in Israel and Russia through endowments
and philanthropic events. He compared JCF to United Way as it
supports more than 50 human service organizations that range
from children to adult services, healthcare, and nursing homes.
“Our Community Relations branch focuses on building strong
relationships with our neighboring communities, which is why we
are especially pleased to be here today,” Mandel said. Warren
L. Wolfson, Chair of Inter-Group Relations, said JCF has
been collaborating with the Latino community on many initiatives
that include mentoring and tutoring Latino students and
addressing immigration reform needs.
Hispanic UMADAOP Board President said the event was a wonderful
opportunity for Cleveland’s diverse communities to build bridges
of understanding and for Latino community to be united and put
its best foot forward. “This relationship will be mutually
beneficial,” he said.
For Cleveland State University Professor Marty Plax
the event was a reunion with old friends and family. “I am very
excited; this is something we have been all been dreaming
about,” said Plax. He said the event cemented existing
friendships and has started a dialogue that will lead to better
relationships. “It is very exciting to be back … we are like
brothers,” Plax said. He was particularly impressed and proud of
the success Esperanza Inc. has achieved in its 25 years.
The organization had much to share and celebrate for the
evening. Felicia Soto, Esperanza Board President, was
delighted with the crowd of nearly 200 who braced below freezing
wind chills to attend and tour Esperanza’s home at 3104 W. 25
Soto talked about Esperanza’s Campaign 25, and announced
the establishment of the endowment fund with The Cleveland
Foundation. Esperanza Chief Executive Officer Barbara Esperón
presented the Foundation with the first deposit of $26,485.
Soto said the organization is looking forward to collaborating
with the Jewish community, learning from their experiences and
expertise in running endowment funds, and hopes to expand on
joint mentoring and tutoring programs.
provide a review of Convenciόn Hispana 2007, which passed
22 resolutions and started initiatives that have been changing
the face of Greater Cleveland and the Latino community.
One of the initiatives spearheaded by the Hispanic Business
Association is establishing business partnerships with Costa
Rican business and luring them to Cleveland’s premiere location
in the Midwest and expected to boost the local economy.
Stephanie Mercado, its Interim Executive Director, said HBA
is working with the Contractors’ Association, providing
the entrepreneurs with industry-specific training and assistance
with applying for loans and writing contracts.
Another Convenciόn initiative is seeking to create a central
location in Ohio that will provide services to undocumented
families. Reverend Max Rodas, Executive Director of
Nueva Luz, said the center envisions a sanctuary functioning
within legal boundaries that will provide social, legal, and
health services to families who are victimized by enforcement
Rodas said good days are ahead under the upcoming federal
administration but the changes will take time and the economic
slump is likely to delay immigration reform. “Truth of the
matter is this country cannot function without the 12 million
undocumented workers,” Rodas said.
He added the Jewish community is a crucial partner in this
struggle, “They have a special appreciation and understanding
because of their history of displacement, persecution, and
prejudice,” Rodas said. He is also spearheading Black/Brown
dialogues that bring together the Latino and African-American
communities, in an effort to dispel myths and ease tensions.
“The African community has been misled into believing that
Latinos will be taking away their jobs,” he said.
Co-sponsors of the event included: Catholic Charities
Services/Hispanic Services; El Barrio/WSEM; Esperanza, Inc.;
Hispanic Alliance; Hispanic Business Association; Hispanic
UMADAOP; HOLA; Nueva Luz Urban Resource Center; and the Spanish
For updates on Convenciόn Hispana 2009, visit:
Editor’s Note: La Prensa’s Arooj Ashraf will be in Washington,
D.C. Jan. 18-21, 2009, to cover the inauguration of Barack
Hussein Obama and surrounding pre-inaugural and post-inaugural