Villa Esperanza Services is 60! How did Villa create an environment of love, care, and hope for so many? Let us set the scene for Villa’s founding – mother Rachel Keith is forging her own path when it comes to raising her son Ronnie, who was born with Down syndrome. Rachel believes in a radical idea: that her son does not need to be institutionalized or hidden away from society. With this in mind, Rachel and a small coalition of like-minded mothers begin an informal school for children with Down syndrome in the comfort of Rachel’s home. By 1961, the culture and societal norms finally start to catch up to Rachel’s vision. With the help of the Pasadena Civitan Club, an old storefront property on Villa Street is bought for the mothers to create an official school for students with Down syndrome. Incorporated as a non-profit in 1961, Villa Esperanza is now open for business.
With the purchase of buildings by Civitan Club of Pasadena, Villa is able to expand our school to provide increased education.
Villa purchases our first residential home in Pasadena, and then later the Ranch in the West Region. Over the course of the next several years, Villa purchases a total of 9 residential homes for adults with special needs in Pasadena, while the Ranch serves as both a home and day program. Villa also begins providing job training and employment opportunities by opening the Hope Chest Thrift Store and employing adults with special needs.
In 1993, Villa is the first to open a classroom for children with Autism, a highly desired need of the community. Villa continues to expand our adult programs, adding the Dimension and Adult Day Programs and partnering with businesses in the community to expand job opportunities for individuals with special needs.
Villa Esperanza launches its Capital Campaign, re-envisioning and developing our campus to match how we care for individuals with intellectual/developmental disabilities. This new campus allows Villa to serve more participants with special needs. In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic brings with it a unique set of challenges, but Villa rises to the occasion, quickly pivoting to provide virtual services.
Villa Esperanza’s story continues. Where will our next chapter take us?