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The Red Barn
The name Esperanza en Jesús is Spanish for HOPE IN JESUS. The ministry began through a recurrent dream God gave to Margarita Hart, founder and Executive Director of Esperanza Ministries, in which she and her husband Jerry had a big red barn with a water fountain in the center. Every day in the dream, they would invite people to come, take them to dip their hands in the fountain, feed them, and prepare them to go out the back door for work. She put her dream into action when they started going into mission trips and eventually realized that the Red Barn of her dream was Esperanza Ministries.
Established in 2002
Jerry and Margarita Hart founded Esperanza Ministries in November of 2002. After serving communities in different countries bringing medical teams and other services, God called them to serve Hispanics and eventually all international immigrants in Johnson County. From the doctors that accompanied them in the original mission trips, they created a board of 10 members for the ministry.
Selling Their Business
Before founding Esperanza Ministries, Jerry and Margarita owned Hart Designs, a global solutions business that provided them with the contacts needed to go to third world countries to serve in missions. But when God told Jerry it was time to serve here in Johnson County, the business was sold in 60 days! With the help of a lawyer who volunteered his time, the couple incorporated Esperanza Ministries in record time. God was moving and confirming his plan for them.
starting the ministry
Without a location yet, they started the ministry with Homework Club at Isom Elementary School and Greenwood High School, where they met a young lady who had moved to Greenwood from Mexico three years before and was struggling with English and academics. After participating in Homework Club, she improved her grades and her English, graduated from high school, and now works as a Teacher’s Assistant at Greenwood Middle School. Another student they helped was a 4th grader from Mexico who had a learning disability. He thrived with help and eventually went to C9, a local vocational school, where he studied mechanics. Now, he is married and lives with his family in Mexico, where he owns his own mechanic shop and works as a professor at a vocational school.
A Multicultural Ministry
From the beginning, Esperanza Ministries wanted to provide medical assistance, advocacy and other services to the Hispanic community, so after several months of serving at the local school, they found a space that they were able to rent. At that point, they were equipped to start creating relationships with community partners to be able to bring these additional services to the Hispanics in the Johnson County area. But as time went by, the community grew more diverse, with Punjabi and then Burmese immigrants and refugees moving in and experiencing the same needs as the Hispanic population had faced previously. Responding to this new need, the board decided to make Esperanza Ministries a multicultural ministry. Now, we serve immigrants from around ten different countries.
esperanza ministries today
Today, Esperanza Ministries provides many more services to the community, including education programs like Comienzo, the Princess Warriors girls’ group, Boys of Honor, a free clinic and medical screening, health fairs, chronic illness maintenance, advocacy, and much more.
Filling the Need in the Community
Shortly after moving into their new space, the team quickly started to create partnerships in order to create systemic solutions to meet the needs they saw. Many of the immigrants needed to go to the doctor, or see a dentist, or understand how to pay their bills, for example. Now that Esperanza had a space, they could offer services through partnerships to provide their solutions to the immigrant community. And that is what they did. Because the county didn’t offer any dental clinic for low-income families of any ethnicity, Esperanza started with a dental clinic, provided dental care to all people, natives of Greenwood and immigrants alike. Due to Jerry’s business connections, they were able to receive equipment donations and recruit several volunteer dentists to provide services. The goal was to form a team of dentists in the community that would provide dental services in their own clinics. Through a relationship with Partnership for Healthier Johnson County, they accomplished this goal in four years, and now they have a system of care with 40 to 50 providers that have committed to four to five cleanings and two extractions a year. Some of the doctors even provide dentures to those that need them.
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