..., because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4 perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5 And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.
1 John 3:17-18
17 If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? 18 Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.
35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
A Living Sacrifice
12 Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. 2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
Humble Service in the Body of Christ
3 For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you. 4 For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, 5 so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. 6 We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your[a]faith; 7 if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; 8 if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead,[b] do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.
Love in Action
9 Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. 10 Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.11 Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. 12 Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. 13 Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.
By Oscar Contreras
Esperanza.Foundation is not just another non-profit organization. We were born out of a need to be more effective in contributing to the changing of society; a need to support and improve on the existing programs and services, and the need to offer the community an alternative philanthropic and community empowerment initiative. In other words, Esperanza Foundation draws from experiences learned from over 30 years of working in the non profit sector.
I have been working for social justice and non-profits all my life. In El Salvador I volunteered with Christian Base Communities from the time I was 12 yrs old. In Canada, I’ve helped found , organize, and fundraise for different entities including a cultural organization, a soccer association, a community radio station, various church groups and a non profit organization working on affordable housing in Regina, SK.
I learned over many years of community organizing about the reality (obstacles, frustrations and needs) the non profit sectors face.
I have also been a recipient of assistance and emergency services over the years. I battled with homelessness and addiction in the streets of East Hastings in Vancouver. I have needed food, clothing, counselling and training. And yes, I have even felt the frustration and desperation people sometimes feel when dealing with service providers.
All of this, plus the wisdom of those I have worked with over the years, have helped me see the bigger picture. I understand the problems and therefore started working on a solution in 2015. I started to dream big, to cast vision, to pray, to prepare conditions and the seed of Esperanza Foundation was planted in my heart. By the beginning of 2016 I was committed to seeing this initiative, this vision, bear fruit and started developing a work plan.
Here are just some of the problems:
- Most non-profit organizations depend heavily on government and private funding, donor dollars and the volunteer sector for much of their work year after year.
- Donors often feel there is not enough money to go around and fear their dollars are not reaching the needed but are spent on overhead.
- Volunteers often get discouraged that their contribution potential are not maximized and often wonder about the effectiveness of their efforts, etc.
- People often believe there is no help for them or are being denied services:
- Due to the service provided biases
- Or another variety of reasons
The list goes on and on as the perceptions only reflect a partial reality.
I witness first hand how community organizing, community empowerment, community development and, equally important, community accompaniment and sustainability do change the world.
Therefore Esperanza Foundation must:
- Engage the whole community
- Diversify it's causes
- Diversify it's programs and services, partnerships, membership base and clientele.
- Seek the sustainability of all it’s programs.
- Support other charities.
- Streamline processes.
- Develop leaders.
How we got here:
After discussion with my family, we decided to sell our rental property and use the equity towards the start up of the non-profit. However, the house didn’t sell, tenants moved out and I got laid off from work. By the end of September it became obvious that I could not get the ball rolling; I needed a job, the non profit would need funds, and all I had was the vision for the charity and nothing else. Again, I reached out to the wisdom of friends and people who supported the idea in principle, and out of those conversations came the decision that we could not wait for all the resources to be in place. This meant that if we wanted to get the ball rolling, we just had to start pushing the ball.
Esperanza Foundation would have to be a family effort from the start. So a family foundation became the venue. Further analysis revealed the need to incorporate a second class of membership to allow for the vision to be fulfilled. We enlisted friends and family members. By the end of September 2016 we had our first board meeting. We were incorporated as a non-profit corporation in the province of Saskatchewan under the name Esperanza.Foundation Regina Inc. on October 27, 2016.
We started some of the ground work right away and in December we launched our first program titled “give us this day our daily bread”, and our "pay it forward services" marking the beginning of a new future.
We soon realized we did not have the capacity to move forward with both initiatives and we kept the pay it forward services during 2017.
We are now ready to launch our membership drive campaign beginning January 2018.
Board of Directors
We believe in community development and community empowerment. Hope is what motivates entire civilizations to thrive and achieve greatness. The capacity of individuals to change their current conditions is invaluable.
Let’s be the change.
President & CEO
Oscar Contreras: Born in El Salvador, Oscar migrated to Canada at the age of 17. He now lives with his wife and two children. Oscar has worked and volunteered for the non profit sector for over 25 years.
Carla Contreras: Born in Regina, SK, Carla has worked for the RCMP for nearly 29 years. Carla has volunteered with two churches keeping the books for two years.
Andrew Ferguson: Born in Regina, SK, Andrew is the father of 3 kids. Andrew is a black belt in TaeKwonDo and has volunteered with this organization for many years.