Our Expansion in Kensington Has Begun!
We are excited to announce that the expansion of Esperanza Health Center in Kensington is underway! Renovations to the former Kensington Trust Bank building on the corner of Kensington & Allegheny Avenues (photo, L), which we purchased on November 18, 2016, will begin soon. When complete—projected for early 2019—we will increase our medical and dental care capacity in Kensington by one-third, serving an additional 3,000 patients per year. Substance abuse services will be integrated into our existing comprehensive behavioral health program. A second Esperanza Café will be open to patients and the public on the beautiful first floor lobby area. We have served in Kensington since 2007 and are grateful that God has called us to deepen our commitment there by firmly establishing Esperanza on one of the busiest intersections in the city.
On July 13, 2017, we acquired an empty lot behind the bank building bordered by H, Shelbourne, and Westmoreland Streets (photo, R). It was the location of a factory that made horse blankets that burned to the ground ten years ago and destroyed many homes in the area (Philly.com article, 6/28/17). Neighbors have worked hard to redeem the lot and have embraced Esperanza’s vision of creating a community center for health and wellness programs, a fitness center, classrooms, program space, possibly a day care, and parking. A year-long environmental study of the ground has been initiated while plans are being developed for new construction.
The needs of the Kensington community are well known: it is designated as a medically-underserved community, poverty is high, the opioid epidemic is rampant. Yet God reminds us again and again that He is there and already at work! Hector Torres, Esperanza’s Environmental Supervisor, and his team were at the H Street lot within days of our acquisition. As they started to clear trash, debris, and needles, neighbors came out and one by one started helping them. One woman—through tears—told Hector that she had been praying that this lot would be cleaned up, and feels Esperanza is the answer to her prayers. A police officer shook Hector’s hand and thanked him for being there. In the words of Susan Post, Esperanza’s Executive Director, “Often we think about what we are going to add to our community through what we do, but I think this was a glimpse of God already at work through the community and the power of each of us helping the other.”
The ministry of Esperanza Health Center is expanding through God’s grace and love for Kensington. We are humbled and deeply grateful that He has chosen us to be a part of His work there.