The dust accumulating on Maria’s rug threatened the health of her three children and her mother, all of whom have asthma. She didn’t have a vacuum to clean her rug. Thanks to the Healthy Child Program at St. John’s Well Child and Family Center, Maria received a free vacuum three months ago and now vacuums everyday. Her mother and children’s asthma symptoms have dramatically declined. The health improvement is not only the result of a rug vacuumed daily, but also of relevant information Maria learned through the Community Health Promoters program at Esperanza Community Housing Corporation.

Aliria, a community health promoter of 5 years, learned of Maria’s case through a referral from St. John’s Child and Wellness Center. On her first visit, Aliria asked Maria what housekeeping cleaning products she used. When Maria listed off products like bleach and Pinesol, Aliria suggested that these strong smelling substances often worsen children’s health. Instead, Aliria recommended natural cleaning products that work just as well, like baking soda and vinegar. Maria never knew such mixes were possible. She was amazed at how pleasant the smell was after implementing the natural products.

Recently, with the help of Aliria, Maria asked her landlord if he could replace the dirty rug altogether. After informing him that the rug was a potential threat to her family, the land lord replaced it. Community Health Promoters not only educates residents on how to improve the home environment, but also help tenants advocate on behalf of themselves. Maria is incredibly thankful to Esperanza and St. John’s because her children’s and mother’s asthma is now controlled after she learned how to improve the health of her home.

 Story by: Drea Chicas

Brenda Chour Orantes graduated from Esperanza’s Community Health Promoters Training Program and is now an active leader in her community.

I am Brenda Chour, originally from Guatemala, my beloved homeland …I’ve been living for 7 years in this country. Like all immigrants, for personal reasons, I migrated to the United States. I left behind all my dreams, illusions, and most importantly, my family and my life. It was very difficult to adapt to a new land; uncertain and unknown. For a long time I tried to find a horizon that would change my life, but did not find it. During that time, I came across Hope Street Family Center, a program at California Hospital. They helped me with workshops and support for my little girl who had speech problems. There, talking to my social worker, she told me about  Esperanza’s Community Health Promoters Training Program, and gave me a sheet with a phone number and said to ask for Lupe or Norma. That call changed my life… I went to get an application, went through interview process, and waited for the acceptance call.  I was selected for the Promotores class 2010. Long were the six months, but very interesting and valuable teachings and trainings, self-discovery, sharing, personal development, etc…Esperanza’s Community Health Promoters Training changed my life! I was welcomed to  a new family, because you really get to be part of this large family of promoters. The personal support, emotional and career development I received from Norma was invaluable.  Graduation was a great experience where we receive tokens of affection and support from this new family. Upon completion of the training program began a new stage, the internship. Among the many difficult and personal moments in my life, I had the advantage that at the moment there were many people who supported me and gave me encouragement. I started my internship with the steady support of my friend Irma, also a Promotora.  The Institute of Popular Education of Southern California (IDEPSCA), sister collaborator of Esperanza was another milestone for me. The knowledge I received from Esperanza and opportunity to learn about organizations and individuals who care about the development of Promotoras to go out there to support our communities, and immigrants like us, it opened the horizon I was looking for. I received lots of support and life lessons of all staff, especially Marlom Portillo. (more…)

Esperanza Community Housing’s Health Program’s vision in the mid 1990’s was that in the absence of a responsive health network in underserved areas, such as in the Maple/Adams-Hoover/Adams community of South Central Los Angeles where Esperanza is actively involved, there could be an indigenous, grass-roots leadership developed to guide the community to health.  Esperanza holds the belief that good health and access to quality healthcare are fundamental human rights, and that these rights can be translated into action through a well-developed assembly of community health leaders.

Irma Avila graduated from the program in 2010 and now is a successful Community Health Promoter helping out her community. 

My name is Irma Y. Avila; I am from Mexico City, mother and wife.  I feel I have been a Health Promoter all my life, but what I didn’t know is that there was an official name that gave formality to what I love to do;  which is to help my community.     As a member of the committee of parents from children’s school, Guisella Gutierrez, school coordinator told me that she had been watching me and that she knew a place called Esperanza Community Housing Corporation where I could apply and be trained to continue helping my community in a more effective way. 


The Community Health Promoters Training Program began this year with an exciting new group of residents who will become future leaders in their communities. Georgina Serrano, an Esperanza Community Health Promoter and Case Manager for The Harbor Corridors Best Babies Collaborative, presented the benefits of breastfeeding.

Breastfeeding protects the babies because it contains all the vitamins and nutrients that your baby needs in the first six months of life. The first milk that the mother produces is thick yellow liquid known as colostrum, during pregnancy and just afterbirth.  This milk is very rich in nutrients, and antibodies to protect the baby. Some of the risk for not breastfeeding the baby include: ear infections, lower respiratory infections, asthma, obesity, type 2 diabetes, and Necrotizing enterocolitis (a disease that affects the gastrointestinal tract in preterm infants. Male role is crucial in the breastfeeding process.

Read more:


Thank you Sister Diane Donoghue for supporting the Harbor Corridor Best Babies Collaborative. The community members appreciate your support and your donations!

Jessica is a teenager exclusively breastfeeding her  6 month baby and very thankful for having received a carseat for her baby.

Maria Guadalupe and her four-year old boy, very happy to have received a blanket and clothes for his twin sibblings.

Thank you Sister Diane.  We are enhancing our community with education, and also providing them with resources in their most critical moments. ~ Gina Serrano

Health as a Human Right in South Los Angeles.

The 2nd Annual Health and Human Rights Conference took place on December 10, 2010 at the Convention Center.

Dr. Violeta Menjivar was one of the speakers visiting directly from El Salvador. The conference ended with a rally at the Orthopaedic Hospital.

Nuparent  is a unique parenting education program created by Children’s Bureau that focuses on issues of child development, nutrition, health and safety.  The program has been developed to provide parents with skills to learn how to improve their child’s development in a fun and educational way. 

Esperanza’s Health Promoters Maria Bejarano, Consuelo Pernia, Asthma Coordinators, and Norma Linares, Case Manager for the Best Babies Program, trained to be NuParent facilitators and will providing training at Mercado la Paloma’s Conference room.  Bring your babies; it will be fun!

Scheduled dates, time, and location:  3655 S. Grand Avenue. Los Angeles, CA 90007 from 8:30 a.m. – 10:00 a.m.

  • October 27th                         
  • November 3rd
  • November 17th
  • November 24th
  • December 1st
  • December 8th

Refreshments will be served and there will be donations for participants.  For more information  and registration contact Maria Bejarano, Consuelo Pernia, and Norma Linares at (213) 748-7123.

Esperanza Community Housing Corporation will be hosting a film screening of at Mercado La Paloma, a project of Esperanza.  UNNATURAL CAUSES: Is Inequality Making Us Sick?  is a documentary of series exploring America’s racial and socioeconomic inequities in health.  First film will take place today, August 24th titled Place Matters.  The screening will be followed by a discussion lead by two Los Angeles Public Health facilitators:  Yesenia Eras, RN, BSN, Public Health Nurse and Nicole D. Vick, MPH, CHES, Health Educator.

The film screening will take place at:

Dates: August 24th & 31st; Sept. 7th. Mercado La Paloma 3655 S. Grand Avenue. Los Angeles, CA 90007.  Time: 3:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.

Hope you can join us!


Esperanza celebrated its 14th Health Promotes Graduation “Class 2010”.  The ceremony took place at Magnolia Place where 22 community residents walked across the hall to receive their diplomas and to take the next step in becoming future leaders of their community.

The ceremony began with entrance of the class of 2010 and a warm welcoming by Nancy Halpern Ibrahim, Executive Director of Esperanza and founder of the “Promotora Training”.  Lupe Gonzalez, Director of the Health  Program, and Community Health Promoter, the Honorable Councilwomen Jan Perry, and Norma Benitez, Associate Director of the Health Programs honored and congratulated the class for this great achievement.

Class speakers also motivated the moment with personal stories and their experiences while taking the Promoter Training.  Brenda Chour,Irma Avila, Juan Martinez, and guest speaker Silvia Esqueda was also part of the emotive ceremony.

“Promoter at Heart” award was also presented by Esperanza Community Health Promoters in recognition to those who have demonstrated, leadership, motivation, generosity, and respect to our community. The “Promotores de Corazon” this year where the following:

An individual who has demonstrated great leadership within the Promotores circle.  His passion to enhance the Promotores awareness in the social and environmental justice area make him unique.  His mission is to help people growth, both personally and professionally, and create opportunities where Promotores de Salud can serve the community in diverse areas around health and social justice issues. Dynamic, sociable, humble, helpful and dedicated are words that describe Marlon Portillo.

One of our strongest women in the promotora field, mentor to the health promoters for the past twelve generations, and a great model for many women in the field.  Because of her great leadership, encouragement, and motivation many women have taken the training and have graduated as health promoters.  Direct, kind, and compassionate are words that describe Maria Cervantes.

She is the definition of genuine generosity, shares a lot with the little that she has, believes that everyone should be treated equally.  As a health promoter she identifies witht he pain of others, such as illness of a child or the loss of employment.  She has set the model of how to help others by finding resources and overcoming obstacles when a family is in need.  Charismatic, dedicated, humble and warm hearted are the words that describe Irma Chavez.

Hard working individual always serving the community with honesty and respect, and always making sure that families get what they need and deserve. As a health promoter, she encourages families to adopt healthier lifestyles through nutrition, and has organized people to take part of special events and community events.  Respectful, hardworking, passionate, and compassionate are the words that describe Georgina Padilla.

Special thanks to:  Marisla Foundation, Mizuho, Graduation Committee, SAJE, Magnolia Place Family Center, Antonia Esparza, Antonio Rubio, Cindy Huerta, Patricia Rizo, and to everyone who donated to make this graduation possible.

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