About Us: The Esperanza Center
ATTENTION: The Esperanza Center on S. Broadway is temporarily closed due to a fire in a nearby building. We are providing services at St. Patrick’s Assisi House at 1728 Bank St. Please call 667-600-2900 for additional information.
ATENCIÓN: El Centro Esperanza en S. Broadway está temporalmente cerrado debido a un incendio en un edificio cercano. Estamos brindando servicios en St. Patrick’s Assisi House en 1728 Bank St. Llame al 667-600-2900 para obtener información adicional.
The Esperanza Center serves over 11,000 individuals each year at two locations in Fells Point, Baltimore. At our primary location at 430 S. Broadway, we offer English as a Second Language and other classes, primary medical and dental care, immigration legal services, and general assistance with resources and referrals. At our second location, we assist with family reunification and support immigrant victims of human trafficking.
Our bilingual staff of 37 includes immigration attorneys, nurses and nurse practitioners, physicians, dental assistants, program coordinators, administrative assistants, teachers, and case managers, who, with the assistance of over 500 volunteers each year, take a holistic approach to supporting and meeting the needs of immigrant families.
In the early 1960s, a determined young community activist named Nancy Conrad returned to Baltimore from Latin America where she was 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 sought assistance from Cardinal Lawrence Sheehan who offered space in an unused classroom at St. Ann’s School on Greenmount Avenue and 22nd Street.
The Spanish Apostolate officially opened on September 16, 1963, offering English classes and general assistance to any immigrant in need of services. With an army of volunteers who helped with activities such as producing a Spanish newsletter, offering translation and interpretation services, planning social events and finding needed resources, the Apostolate outgrew its space and ultimately became a program of Catholic Charities of Baltimore in the early 1980s. The original southeast Baltimore location was formally named the “Hispanic Apostolate.” The program occupied various locations over time, adding services as needed, including immigration legal services and a health clinic.
After relocating to the third floor of a senior center at 430 S. Broadway, the program continued to offer educational, community, health and immigration legal services to an ever-increasing immigrant population – and quickly found itself in need of more space. In 2008, in recognition of the 45th anniversary of the Hispanic Apostolate/Immigration Legal Services, Catholic Charities renovated and dedicated the entire building to this program. The organization was rededicated as the “Esperanza Center” and continues to serve thousands of new immigrants each year.
The mission of the Esperanza Center is to welcome immigrants by offering hope, compassionate services, and the power to improve their lives. Our vision is to increase intercultural exchange in the community and improve professional services to immigrants with our partners in a spirit of hospitality and hope.
Esperanza Center offers services in six areas: healthcare; education (particularly English for Speakers of Other Languages); immigration legal services; family reunification; anti-trafficking and community referral and resources. Through partnerships with health care providers such as Johns Hopkins Hospital, University of Maryland Dental School and Kaiser Permanente of the Mid-Atlantic, , Esperanza Center Health Services (ECHS) Clinic serves patients during 4000 visits each year. The services vary from primary care appointments and walk-in visits to specialized clinics and appointments for immunizations, dental, ophthalmology, and more. ECHS is now a partner in the Volunteers in Medicine Alliance, which affords liability coverage to active and retired volunteer healthcare providers who work with our employed staff to provide on-site medical and dental care to our patients who have no access to government-funded health coverage or insurance through the ACA exchanges.
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. Since its inception in 1994, ILS has worked on over 16,500 cases for individuals from over 150 different countries. Through funding from the Maryland Legal Services Corporation, ILS is able to provide low-cost representation to Maryland’s immigrants and their families. In partnerships with other 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 unaccompanied children and their sponsor guardians, and to victims of domestic violence, sexual assault and other crimes. ILS is actively engaged in the community organizing outreach and clinics for naturalization applicants and TPS recipients, and conducting “Know Your Rights” presentations for the immigrant community.
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 Client Services program handles over 5,000 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, financial literacy workshops, family safety planning in the event of detention and deportation, cultural sensitivity guidance and employment search assistance.
In 2018, the Esperanza Center will celebrate its 55th anniversary of providing hope and services to the immigrant communities of Baltimore and throughout the region.