A staple in the immigrant community for its health, education and legal services, the nonprofit began serving clients Monday around the corner from its longtime home, at the Assisi House, located behind St. Patrick’s Church at 1728 E. Bank St.
The center was forced to close after suffering extensive damage from a Sept. 7 fire at Budeke's Paints.
“We were very lucky our building didn’t burn, but the entire building was damaged by water and smoke,” said Valerie Twanmoh, the center’s director.
From the temporary location, the Esperanza Center is offering client services, including referrals and English as a second language classes. It expects its health clinic to reopen next week. In the meantime, clients can still renew prescriptions and get answers to basic health questions.
Since the fire, the center’s lawyers have continued to provide immigration legal services to existing clients, operating out of other offices in the community, but haven’t determined when they’ll be able to begin taking new clients.
Family reunification and assistance to immigrant victims of human trafficking have not been interrupted.
Twanmoh said the center’s 37 employees have been busy since the fire ordering supplies, getting equipment and setting up to provide services at the temporary location, where the center could remain for as long as six months.
“It's more important than ever for us to be here … and meet the needs of our clients, support them, make sure they’re armed with accurate information about what’s going on so we’re very grateful to be able to start doing that again this week,” Twanmoh said.