Villa Esperanza: 60 Years of Aiding Those With Disabilities


Hard work and dedication on all levels is what it takes to be successful. It is with the commitment of Villa Esperanza Services’ board of directors, executive leadership, staff, donors, volunteers and the support from the community, which has allowed Villa to strengthen and thrive for 60 years. “Villa’s mission of providing love, care and hope for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families stands true today as it did 60 years ago,” a spokesperson said. “It’s one of many attributes that makes Villa special.” On June 10, Villa held a small event on its campus to commemorate the 60th anniversary milestone. The afternoon included words of congratulations and presentations of proclamations were bestowed on Villa CEO Kelly White by Pasadena Mayor Victor Gordo and city councilmember Felicia Williams; Dominick Dorrey, district representative for state Sen. Anthony Portantino; Hector Rodriquez, field representative for assemblymember Chris Holden; Savannah Moore, assistant field deputy for L.A. Country Supervisor Kathryn Barger. A large mural created in collaboration with and Nickelodeon was unveiled at the event. Joel Robinson, board chair of Muralism, Dr. Ricki Robinson, board member of Muralism and Villa Esperanza, and Ernie Merlen, executive director of Muralism, all shared inspiring words about Villa and the creation of the mural, which showcases Nickelodeon’s show “The Casagrandes” and includes individuals with special needs. “I want to acknowledge, thank and congratulate our wonderful staff for all their hard work, especially this past year,” White said. “It was a difficult year and you all rose to the challenge, showing tremendous care and compassion for those we serve.” Villa Esperanza Services began its mission of serving individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities in 1961. “It was impossible to imagine then that the evolution would take place over the next 60 years,” a spokesperson said. “With increasing public awareness and landmark legislation, the community embarked on a mission to meet the growing demands of the population it served and Villa Esperanza was at the forefront. “As more people required services, Villa expanded. As children grew up, Villa met that challenge with the addition of programs and services for adults with special needs. Thousands of families have been fortunate to have Villa in their lives. Villa’s heart, as well as the adaptability and willingness to see the needs and provide solutions are what keep Villa a leader in the community.” In the 1970s Villa began a residential program for adults, then created work programs for adults in the 1980s, and launched its first autism class in the early 1990s. “Over the past 20 years, Villa has helped individuals with special needs fully integrate into their community, giving them the opportunities to learn, work and play and be active members of their community,” a spokesperson said. Today, Villa serves 740 individuals and their families with a 225-member staff. The budget, including its HUD homes, is more than $20 million. Villa’s programs include a school, speech and language therapy, occupational therapy, three adult day programs, adult residential homes, independent living skills and employment services — serving all ages and all abilities in L.A. and Ventura counties. To learn more about Villa or to make a donation, visit or call (626) 449-2919.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here