Casa de Esperanza began in 1982 with a group of Latinas committed to ensuring that Latinas experiencing domestic violence found emergency shelter and advocacy support. Today, Casa de Esperanza is internationally recognized as a leader in the movement to end domestic violence against women and girls. While Casa de Esperanza still maintains a Refugio (domestic violence shelter), the organization has expanded its outreach and impact by continually focusing on supporting Latinas and Latin@ communities in culturally relevant ways. By the late 90's, the organization knew it was not making the greatest impact, and that shelter alone would never end domestic violence. Casa de Esperanza conducted listening sessions in the community and heard from over 160 Latinas who provided clear direction and set high expectations for change. The lessons learned from this process inspired a philosophical transformation that still informs Casa de Esperanza’s work today: Latinas should have options for advocacy services beyond shelter; and Casa de Esperanza needs to support the community to work together to end domestic violence. Casa de Esperanza revised its mission statement to reflect an ongoing organizational commitment to this transformation: Casa de Esperanza mobilizes Latinas and Latin@ communities to end domestic violence.
Casa de Esperanza and its National Latin@ Network for Healthy Families and Communities have a few simple yet powerful principles that guide their work:
- Casa de Esperanza will not end domestic violence; it will end when Latin@s and their allies end it.
- People do not live in systems, they live in communities. Social transformation happens with knowledge and information that propels action.
- Latin@ identity is intrinsically tied to family and community.
- Tapping into informal networks of support is a viable strategy to enhance community capacity.
- Allies play a key role in supporting Latin@ communities to create social change.
- Effective programming builds and enhances strengths and assets, rather than “fixes” needs and deficits.
These principles are further supported by Casa de Esperanza’s organizational values of: Latina Leadership, Entrepreneurship, Organizational Excellence, Living Free of Violence, and Community-Driven Solutions.