By Robert Bradley
There are some who refer to Garry Vacher, founder, and director of Hogar de Esperanza, as a curmudgeon, or just a plain old sourpuss. His scrappiness is well known, his phenomenal contribution to the community less so.
Numerous location changes have inhibited his mission to care for those afflicted with HIV, and there were times when he appeared to be unable to find firm footing. All of that is behind him now.
Hogar de Esperanza has bloomed into a major resource for the city of Cuenca, and those living with disease, hunger and desperation.
Hogar’s stats are impressive.
In the last six months, Hogar de Esperanza has served 25,000 meals to the homeless, distributed over 5,000 food baskets and contributed in excess of $10,000 to support those in need of medical assistance. More than 200 people have been pulled out of homelessness and provided temporary housing and counseling to assist them in securing a stable place to live, keeping families intact and on the road to a more productive life.
The role Garry took on at Hogar has become a beacon of light for many since the foundation fine-tuned its efforts to target those in critical need of help when there is nowhere else to turn. He has prioritized the strong suits that fit them best, and where they can be most effective. Victims of HIV, the elderly, single mothers, and those with debilitating disabilities are front and center in his efforts. So is the role of the Catholic church in providing physical space and logistical support as well as guidance by having a seat on the Board of Directors.
Hogar de Esperanza is not for everybody which is a relief from an earlier era when it attempted to be all things for all people. Strict guidelines now allow the foundation a firm hand in focusing on the most pressing problems confronting those in need — and instilling a work ethic that requires clients to be their own best advocate by taking responsibility for their prior decisions and making good on improving their lives.
Nearly every client is referred by partner agencies that focus on those in need of receiving out-patient hospital care, recent prison inmates yet to arrange transportation home, and folks evicted from their homes due to an inability to pay rent. Accommodations are also provided for those living on the streets with drug or alcohol addictions who are committed to turning their lives around.
It is important to note that every client is expected to adhere to very specific obligations such as volunteering at the center for a minimum of five hours a day, be it cleaning, building maintenance, or cooking. In exchange, they are provided with food, housing, clothing, medical treatment, and job training.
Hogar’s primary partners, the Turi Correctional Institution, the National Police, publicly funded hospitals, the Municipality of Cuenca, Casa del Migrante, and the Afro-Ecuadorian Society, are all working to make the project successful.
Just last week, Hogar de Esperanza announced that it was selected by La Favorita Group to receive weekly food donations — an important milestone for the foundation. After going through a vetting process, it was selected to receive donations from two locations, the new Supermaxi at El Vergil and Gran Aki on Calle Arizaga. This adds to the donations already received from Tutto Freddo and NutriLeche substantially increasing the food distribution program allowing a degree of assurance that those most in need will receive the nourishment needed to bear the weight of poverty.
We are fortunate to have foundations like Hogar de Esperanza toiling in the fields of neglect giving hope and faith to those who need it most.
Donations to Hogar de Esperanza can be dropped off at Esperanza Thrift Shop, 8-18 Juan Montalvo y Mariscal Sucre, Monday to Friday 10 AM – 5 PM, and Saturday 10 AM – 2 PM. They also do pick-ups of donations, so feel free to contact them to arrange a time. Email: email@example.com or phone 099 094 7611 (Call after: 6 AM).