Hands of Hope is Casa de Esperanza’s service year program which recruits recent college graduates and other highly qualified young adults, from throughout the United States. These passionate individuals have a desire to help abused, neglected and HIV positive children through work with our agency. This program brings together approximately 25 young adults annually to live and work with some of our society’s most vulnerable children. The Residential Program is the backbone of Casa de Esperanza, and at its core are the Hands of Hope Interns. Hands of Hope Interns commit one year to live and work with these vulnerable children in the Residential Program’s agency foster homes. Responsibilities include daily care of the children, household management, and the coordination of medical appointments and therapy sessions. The Hands of Hope Interns also work with caseworkers, psychological staff and community volunteers on a routine basis to ensure that the children in placement receive the highest quality of care.
Ensuring the safety of the children in placement and meeting their emotional and developmental needs are the primary responsibilities of the Hands of Hope Interns. There is only one reason a child ever comes to Casa de Esperanza – because they are not safe. Almost all children arrive having experienced trauma, neglect or chaos in their short lives. Their need for safety, stability, and reassurance is immediate and often intense. The children require a great deal of time, energy and emotional resources from the house parents. For this reason, the Hands of Hope Interns participate in an extensive 2-week training program to enhance their abilities to meet the needs of the children. We strive to educate all interns on the importance of early intervention when working with emotionally and behaviorally challenged, and often medically fragile, children. The skills cultivated while participating in the Hands of Hope internship program are excellent life and work experiences for individuals pursuing careers in social work, medicine, psychology, education, public health, non-profit management, and social justice.
• At least 21 years old
• Willingness to make a one-year commitment (Shorter term commitments are considered on a case-by-case basis)
• College degree preferred
• Ability to establish and maintain positive relationships with others
• Flexibility and Patience
• Good general health, with a high energy level, and able to lift 35-40 pounds
• Valid Driver's License (Required to operate agency vehicles)
A criminal history, background check, and drug screening of each Hands of Hope Intern will be completed prior to placement with the agency.
• To care for the children placed in your home
• To promote skills to develop healthy attachments
• To participate as a team member in implementing the children's Plan of Service and therapeutic regime
• To complete household duties including, but not limited to: cooking, cleaning, laundry and maintaining the house, and vehicles
• To transport and participate in medical and therapy appointments
• To support the children's primary attachment to biological parents
• To complete all necessary paperwork in a timely manner
• To communicate regularly with supervisors regarding the welfare of the children
• To complete 20 hours of ongoing training on an annual basis
• To follow the policies of Casa de Esperanza at all times
Typically, four Hands of Hope Interns live in an agency foster home with four or five children under the age of six. One of the interns will be licensed as the foster parent. Together, the Hands of Hope Interns share responsibility for providing 24-hour care to the children in the home.
Compensation and Benefits
• Monthly stipend of $600/month
• Health Insurance
• Life Insurance
• Two weeks paid vacation per year
• Successful Completion of Internship Award
Casa de Esperanza accepts applications year round.
Working at Casa de Esperanza has been an amazing experience. I feel privileged to be part of this community. The challenges here are ever-present, but the joy and happiness that comes with fostering children is overwhelming. I have learned so many things that cannot be taught in a classroom. I have learned the value of patience and compassion time and time again. These children are truly amazing, from their wild imagination to their resilience. One of the most important things I have learned is to live in the present; otherwise I would miss all of the amazing accomplishments and moments that happen every day at Casa. Although my heart breaks as I witness the effects of abuse and neglect, I also recognize how valuable we are. With our help and love, these children can succeed. I have fallen in love with all of the children that have come through our door and I hope that I make as much of an impact on their lives, as they have on mine.
|Brittany – Former House Parent from Connecticut
During my time at Casa de Esperanza, I’ve learned so much. The driving forces that have impacted me most are: the reciprocity of love and affection, acceptance, and generosity. I receive limitless amounts of love and affection especially from my children, followed by my housemates, the neighborhood, staff members, and the wonderful volunteers. I truly admire the way everyone at Casa de Esperanza accepts an
individual for who they really are. Religion doesn’t matter, race doesn’t matter, age doesn’t matter, gender doesn’t matter; the list is endless. There’s so much diversity here and I’m grateful to be a part of this experience. Before coming to Casa de Esperanza, I’ve never really volunteered in or for any organization as big as this one. I’ve never encountered so much generosity at one time. The way that people give in abundance simply leaves me speechless. I’ve witness many people giving from the goodness of their hearts. I’ve really interacted with phenomenal human beings here at Casa de Esperanza. This is a life-changing event and it has helped to mold me for the remainder of my life.
|Ciara – Former House Parent from Mississippi
Though I came to Casa de Esperanza to serve children, I have found through my time here that they are the ones who serve me every day. With chalk-covered clothes and
play dough under their fingernails, these children have taught me to love unconditionally, laugh often, and have an open heart. Each and every second with the kids is invaluable, whether it is spent quietly reading in waiting rooms or madly dancing to Disney songs in the hallway. As house parents, we tell stories in silly voices and dress in ridiculous costumes to amuse our kids and in the moment it is not about saving face or being worried about our embarrassment. It is simply about fostering a safe environment where laughter is encouraged. The children’s smiles are a gift forever etched on our hearts.
|Rachel - Former Foster Parent from Michigan
Casa de Esperanza has taught me that no matter what difficult situation a young child may be coming from, I have the opportunity to greet them with open loving arms and a safe home. The biggest impact on my life here has been the children I have had in my care. Through providing the children with a safe and nurturing home environment, I have been able to witness the change and progress in their lives every single day. Continuously, I have been reminded that it is the little moments in a day that matter most. It is the moments such as seeing a child say a new word or a baby crawl for the first time that remind me why I love what I do at Casa de Esperanza. The children at Casa de Esperanza have ultimately impacted my own life. They have been impacted by challenging situations early in life, but are still able to experience love and security while at Casa de Esperanza. They remind me that children are resilient and even though I cannot change what has happened in their past, I am given the opportunity to impact their present. I am truly thankful to have the opportunity to build relationships with and love these beautiful children. Even though the children in my care may not be mine forever, each one of them has already made a lasting impact on my own life that I will never forget.
|Gabrielle - Former House Parent from North Carolina
Working at Casa de Esperanza for the past 6 months has been a wonderful learning opportunity and I’ve learned so much in so little time. These children have taught me the true meaning of patience, understanding and happiness. Most importantly, they have taught me the meaning of unconditional love. They have had people walk out and give up on them when all they needed was love. Being able to be that person who provides them with love, safety and a sense of family has to be the most rewarding part of this job. Some of best moments are when they remember your name and excitedly shout for you, and when they look at you and say, ‘I love you.’ I never knew how much I could love a child I had never met before, until I met my children. I am so grateful to work with an organization such as Casa de Esperanza and to be surrounded by other wonderful foster parents who have become my second family. Never in a million years did I expect to be a foster parent at 22, but the best things in life come unexpected.
|Berenice - Former House Parent from Illinois
Before coming to Casa de Esperanza, I thought that I was going to be the one teaching the children what love looks like, but really it has been the other way around. The children I have met at Casa de Esperanza have taught me so much about unconditional love, forgiveness, compassion, and resilience. These children did not choose to be in foster care; they are here due to circumstances beyond their control. The children have been through so much in their short lives, yet they love so deeply and so sincerely. It has been beautiful to see and truly life changing to experience! Being with them makes me want to be better each and every day. I especially cherish the little moments— eating breakfast together, dancing around in the living room, comforting them when they are sick, hearing them laugh, and singing nursery rhymes before bed. It is the little things that make a family and if only for a short period in time, we, the other house parents and I, are their family. I am so grateful to Casa de Esperanza, and all who support this amazing organization, for this incredible experience!
|Wendy - Former House Parent from Maryland
Working at Casa de Esperanza has completely shifted my perspective in life. Just like many people who come to Casa de Esperanza, I came thinking I was going to make a difference in the children’s lives, but really, they are the ones who have made a difference in mine. Everyday these children give me strength. They inspire me to be a better human, and to be grateful for the many blessings we often take for granted. One of my favorite things has been watching how much each child grows from the moment they walk in our door to the moment they leave our home. One child in particular constantly reminded me that I was a stranger, and with teary eyes would say this place was not home. One night, as I was reading a book, this child looked at me and said “I'm happy here.” I was overjoyed to know that the little things we do every day can go a long way. These kids are not here by choice, yet despite all the hardships they experience, they have so much love to give. Casa de Esperanza is a magical place. I feel privileged to be part of this amazing organization.
|Victoria - Former Foster Parent from California
Casa de Esperanza has given me a deeper look into the lives of children in need, and I will forever yearn to help them. The bonds I have created with the children here are unbreakable. Coming here, I never expected to love kids that aren't my own so much, especially when there was a time in my life where I thought kids and I didn't mix, but it has definitely happened. I can't even imagine not waking up and seeing their little faces every day. They have totally stolen my heart, and I am perfectly fine with that. There's no way after being here at Casa can't be impacted by these beautiful little beings. They have shown me how important it is to provide children with safe, loving environments, to allow them to flourish and grow. I will never forget my first set of children, they'll be leaving soon, and it truly breaks my heart to even imagine having to part with them. And anyone who knows me, knows that I'm in total denial about it all. But I'll be ready to provide a loving environment for the next set.
|Jasmyn - Former House Parent from Texas
Working at Casa de Esperanza has opened my eyes to a new world that I have never experienced before. A world where the simplest things can mean so much. A world where nothing good is taken for granted but instead it is celebrated. I have learned that my “work” at Casa de Esperanza is actually one of those jobs where it’s not considered work because I love doing it so much. I love waking up to hugs and snuggles, and being able
to watch the children grow. One of my favorite things about working at Casa de Esperanza is seeing all of the milestones these children accomplish; whether it is
learning first words, or learning to walk. The kids inspire me every day to look at life through a new perspective. Instead of them thanking me for everything I do, I think I should be the one thanking them. The kids have taught me that you can love and learn even when life has been tough in the beginning. They show it every day as they grow with us. I am so incredibly blessed to be a part of this organization.
|Erica - Former House Parent from Wisconsin
One of the most important things I have learned is that what I thought of as ‘normal,’ will never be how I see 'normal,' again. So far, every child that has been in my care, has come from a different situation and station in life. They have lived through what was a ‘normal’ day, week, year or lifetime for them, and their version of what is ‘normal’ for a child and mine are miles apart. Yet with all of those differences, I have learned that they all need the basics. They all need the basic necessities: food, clothing, shelter, and LOVE. I have learned that I am capable and willing to give my love unconditionally to a child that has no blood ties to me. That I can place another human being’s well-being before my own voluntarily and unapologetically. ‘I might be temporary in their lives. They might be temporary in mine. But there is nothing temporary about the love or the lesson.
|Starr - Former Foster Parent from Michigan
My time here at Casa de Esperanza has been incredible. One of the greatest lessons I have learned is the importance of compassion and unconditional love. Rocking a child all night while he is sick or running to respond to his cries in the middle of the night is completely worth it. It shows him that someone loves him and someone will be there for him, especially if no one has been before. When a child first comes to our home, it is easy to be angry and upset about what he has been through in his short life. I have learned to set aside my own feelings and focus on what I can do at the moment. There are certainly days when I am overwhelmed, but there are so many more bright moments in each day that inspire me to keep going. Watching my children laugh, sit, crawl and stand up for the first time were unforgettable experiences. I am honored and blessed to have been
present for these milestones. My heart has opened up in ways that I thought were not possible, and I know that the children I have cared for will forever hold a place in my heart. Casa de Esperanza has shown me that there is so much love that I can give and receive every day.I will forever be grateful for this amazing opportunity, and I can’t wait to see what the rest of my time here brings me.
|Nicole - Former Foster Parent from Texas
Coming to Casa de Esperanza, I knew I would be challenged and stretched
beyond myself, but I did not realized the extent to which this would happen. For the first time in my life, I have to put someone else’s needs and wants entirely before my own. That knowledge seems to hit me the hardest at 4 o’clock in the morning when I’m trying to comfort a crying infant. In that sleep-deprived state, you see a whole new side of yourself. Then there are the moments of pure joy: playing Jenga on a rainy day, the first time a child who is learning to talk says your name, riding bikes, and laughing uninhibitedly together over the smallest things. All of this comes together at Casa de Esperanza, sometimes all within the same 24 hours. These children need us to love them and keep them safe, to look past their labels and previous trauma, to advocate for them and see them as the unique person they are. But I have also learned how much I need them, to make me a better, healthier person, one who can fully give myself to caring for them in the way that they deserve. Sometimes people - with the best intentions - comment on how we (the Hands of Hope Interns) are putting our lives on hold for our children. I have to disagree with those statements because being here with these kids I’m truly living. When I’m with them, I am truly present and they make me come alive. That is such a gift to receive every day.
|Rebecca - Former Foster Parent from Georgia