April is the Month of Hope!

As we embrace the season’s change, we at Esperanza want to shed light on those in search of healing and hope. Esperanza means hope. Since our founding 35 years ago, this word has been essential to who we are as an organization, as we seek to provide affordable, quality healthcare to those in need. Hope is a guiding principle, backed by filling every interaction with compassion, empathy, and unwavering belief in healing, embodying the spirit of Jesus Christ. It is the reassuring words of our clinicians and the collective prayers from our community. Through all the challenges and uncertainties that overcome our world, Esperanza Health Center stands as a beacon of hope, offering services to those in need and fostering a sense of belonging grounded in faith. 

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A Heartfelt Farewell: Honoring Karen Norris on Her Retirement

“I see my biggest achievement in the gift of partnering in God's work throughout my career. Currently that shows up in the relationships I am privileged to have with our volunteers, praying for them, encouraging them. But God was there wherever I've worked, whatever I've done.” said Karen Norris, Volunteer Coordinator at Esperanza Health Center, as she reflects on her time at Esperanza, preparing for retirement later this month.

Karen began her journey into healthcare in 1985 where she graduated with her Masters of Science in Marriage and Family Therapy. She worked for twenty six years with the Archdiocese of Philadelphia in organizations that served children, youth and families. In 2011, Karen left the Archdiocese and six months later landed at Esperanza in April of 2012 as the Director of HIV Care and Social Services. In addition, Karen was instrumental in the vision for and start-up of Esperanza’s “Young at Heart” Seniors’ program, working together with our Community Health and Wellness Department; the Young at Heart group has continued to meet every Tuesday morning at our Hunting Park site on a regular basis since 2014. Eventually, she sought a position that required fewer hours and was less intense with grant, supervision, and director responsibilities. With a desire to help connect potential volunteers to Esperanza and provide direction in this area, after discussing with Susan Post, CEO, the Volunteer Coordinator position was created, and Karen has been the driving force behind Esperanza’s volunteer initiative since February 2019.

Former Esperanza staff (2014) holding hand-knit beanie hats for patients.

Karen (back row, third from right) with members of the first "Young at Heart" Seniors group, 2014.

Karen shared a few fond memories from her work over the years, including one with Ana Lapp, RN, a former colleague at Esperanza, who taught her how to loom knit; together they made over 200 hats for Esperanza patients for Christmas. As far as next steps, Karen plans to wake up when she wants to, spend more time with her children and grandson, and stay active in her church and community. “We'll see what God has in store. He'll be there, whatever that next step is!”

Celebrating a Spring Fling


Our Spring Fling event on Friday, April 26th at Esperanza’s community space at the corner of H & Westmoreland Streets in Kensington was a blast! Families and community members enjoyed an array of activities, including free water ice, pretzels and hot dogs, a live DJ, face painting, games, and arts and crafts for children to help decorate our new fence. We’re grateful to the McLean Contributionship for their generous grant that funded the new fence as well as new sidewalks. Thank you to everyone who came out to enjoy an afternoon of fun and success, bringing together members of the community—stay tuned for additional information about upcoming events at our H & Westmoreland community space! 


Embracing Hope: Justin's Story

Justin's journey from addiction to recovery is a testament of hope and the power of compassionate care. Facing a battle with addiction that started in his teenage years, Harry's life took a turn with the loss of his mother, leading him into a deeper dependence on drugs and a profound state of depression. “I smoked a lot of PCP. Three years ago when my mother passed, that was my downfall,” he recalls. It was a challenging period in his life, marked by a desperate need for change but a lack of direction on how to achieve it. The turning point came when he became a patient of Esperanza family nurse practitioner Kristin Romeo, CRNP, MSN. “When I started seeing Kristin, she didn’t judge me. She really got to know me. At the end of every visit, she asked, ‘Can I pray with you?’ I used to brush it off, but she continued to say positive things that stayed in my mind.” Kristin helped Harry develop a holistic care plan to help keep him healthy. Said Justin, “She’s a really good doctor!” Since then, he has begun regularly attending and volunteering at church, helps feed the homeless, and is able to spend more quality time with his wife and daughters. He encourages everyone to talk to God.

*Patient's name has been changed to protect identity.

This poem, Hope, was submitted by Christy Concepcion, one of our patients at Esperanza Health Center.


By: Christy Concepcion

So many emotions we have while we sleep.

Always know it's God who gives you peace.

We lay awake wondering what we can do?

Always asking what will help us through?

Picture a child who was born and knew his fate.

Growing up with people's lives he must save.

He could have chosen to run from God's way.

No, instead Jesus chose to save us even today. 

We all need to ask ourselves a simple question.

Where do you think your souls are destined?

Then get right with that heavenly man above.

He has so much more to show us than just love.

There will come a time when you wished you did.

Now I hope this helps the life you choose to live.



Support Esperanza Health Center by giving the gift of high-quality physical, social, emotional, and spiritual care to our patients, programming at our new community wellness center, The CORE, and more! Your generous gift makes it possible for us to provide a wide range of integrated services for our patients and others in our North Philadelphia communities, without regard for insurance status or ability to pay.

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Compelled by the love of God in Christ Jesus, in cooperation with the Church and others, Esperanza Health Center is a multi-cultural ministry providing holistic healthcare to the Latino and underserved communities of Philadelphia.

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