This past June marked a milestone for PEAK6’s DEI Council — they announced their first long-term partnership. Esperanza Community Services works with intellectually and developmentally disabled populations in a variety of age ranges.
Throughout June 2022, our PEAK6 DEI Council and PEAK6ers had the honor to support Esperanza Community Services.The work they do for children and adults is reflected in their name. Esperanza means hope, expectation, promise, prospect, and confidence.
PEAK6ers engaged with an employee philanthropy activation, gala sponsorship, and employee volunteering opportunity in Esperanza’s back garden. The strength and joy from the community and its members were palpable for all PEAK6ers. It’s clear why the DEI Council chose this organization to become our first long-term partner.
What is Esperanza Community Services?
Based in Chicago, Esperanza employees are dedicated to providing “opportunities for children and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities to reach their fullest potential toward a productive and independent life in the community.”
Founded in 1969 by Guadalupe Reyes, the school was a response to the lack of programs and amenities available in traditional classrooms for children with developmental disabilities. Guadalupe saw the need for more help for her son, Bobby. Thus the Esperanza School was born There, students with developmental disabilities can receive the education, skills, support, encouragement, and a community that they need to thrive. Later, a program for extended age ranges was created to welcome and support older populations.
PEAK6 and Esperanza’s Meet-Cute
PEAK6ers across the firm gathered to make boxes that appealed to and stimulated the five core senses: taste, smell, touch, sight, and hearing. Usually, sensory boxes are used for play, learning, relaxation, stimulation, and exploration.
Korene Smith, Corporate Philanthropy Manager at PEAK6, identified Esperanza as a potential place our firm could donate the boxes. All it took was one phone call and a tour of this inspiring community, and Smith and the DEI Council knew they had found a special organization.
A Gala for Good
On June 16, 2022, Esperanza Community Services held their annual gala to raise funds for the more than 200 students and adults they serve. This year’s event, New Dawn Gala, was sponsored in part by PEAK6.
Guests, employees, and Esperanza students and artists mingled at Ignite Glass Studios in Chicago. A silent auction was held for art by the students, day trips, wine and whiskey tastings, and even a pair of demure peridot earrings. Students explained their art to guests over heavy hors d’oeuvres and drinks. The evening had live music and culminated with speeches from the program director as well as 2022 Bobby Reyes award recipient Aixa Alfonso.
Planting Good Will While Volunteering
The next day, PEAK6ers gathered at the Esperanza School to help make their yard beautiful and welcoming again. PEAK6ers rolled up their sleeves to pull weeds and plant new flowers and ferns around the yard where students and adults spend their outdoor recreation and playtime.
Afterward, PEAK6ers and the staff gathered for a few drinks.