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New Latino Center to Open in Covington

The new Esperanza Latino Center of Northern Kentucky will open on Monday at 234 Pike Street in Covington.

Esperanza is the Spanish word for hope. 

The center will serve as a bilingual welcoming place for the community to gather or to seek assistance.

Monday was chosen as the move-in day because it follows Día de Reyes, a significant Hispanic and Latin American Christmas tradition, in which presents are given to all by the Reyes Magos or Three Kings. A truck will arrive at noon filled with surplus office furniture and other gifts to help bring the center to life.

The Center will open its doors to the public with regular hours starting on January 31. Hours will be 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays. An open house celebration is planned for Spring 2019.

Esperanza Center was created with the support of the Northern Kentucky Justice and Peace Committee and a team of eight founding members, all experts in Hispanic and Latino affairs. The board includes community leaders and educators from the Northern Kentucky and Greater Cincinnati Area, including Leo Calderon, a resident of Bellevue, who will serve as chair of Esperanza’s Board of Directors.

JoAnn R. Schwartz, chair of the NKY Justice and Peace Committee, will serve as the board’s vice chair. Other leadership includes Newport businessman Jeff Richardson, president of the 3R Fund for Immigrants, who will serve as treasurer, and Irene Encarnación, an NKU Spanish faculty and Latino Studies specialist who will act as the interim executive director.

“Esperanza will come at a time when the Latino community needs us the most. Each one of us has a minimum of 25 years of experience working with the Northern Kentucky and Greater Cincinnati Latino and non-Latino community,” said Encarnación.

“We count on the support and guidance of our lifetime friends and mentors, Sister Juana Mendez, SC; Sister Maria Francine Stacy, SND; and Sister Alice Gerdeman, CDP; each one surpassing 30 years of experience in immigration and social justice affairs. We simply can’t be in better hands,” she said.

Paul Schwarts will provide IT support and plans are in place to recruit three Northern Kentucky University student interns majoring in social work, Spanish or international studies. Latino artist Daniel Calderon designed the Center’s very modern Latino-Mayan eclectic logo.

Esperanza Latino Center of Northern Kentucky is in the process of becoming a 501(c)(3) organization, with a mission to support the Hispanic/Latino and multicultural community by offering outreach and educational services to Hispanic families, K-12 and higher education students, and other organizations that will benefit from our partnership and services.

-Staff report