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First Things First

Each year, HOPE celebrates a client who demonstrates HOPE’s values of perseverance, compassion, character, and creativity with the Thurman Award. Established in honor of HOPE’s first CEO and his wife, the Thurman celebrates clients who have not only experienced change in their own lives but have also extended that transformation to others in their community. Over the next couple of weeks, we will be posting the stories of this year’s winner and four honorable mentions to the blog. Today we celebrate Evangelista Osoria, honorable mention from the Dominican Republic. Evangelista Osoria rises well before the sun in Los Alcarrizos, Dominican Republic. The 52-year-old dreams of someday sleeping past 4 a.m., but for now, her elderly mother, three children, three grandchildren, and five employees are counting on her and her business, Yenis Empanada. Evangelista sells popular Dominican dishes directly to customers and sells flour and prepared dough to local vendors who rely on these products to run their own shops. Yenis Empanada has been in Evangelista’s family for years, but she found herself at the helm just a few years ago when her husband suddenly passed away. Even as she mourned his death, Evangelista knew it was now her responsibility to breathe new life into the business. One of her first decisions was to seek a loan from Esperanza International, HOPE’s partner in the Dominican Republic. “In the toughest moment, Esperanza opened their arms and helped us,” she recalls. With the nearly $200 she borrowed, Evangelista bought a freezer to preserve her perishable ingredients. DR_smaller

Start small, grow big

She continued to work hard, preparing the yanikekes, quipes, and empanadas that made Yenis Empanada famous. With a larger loan of roughly $350, Evangelista purchased a dough press, saving her hours of labor flattening dough by hand, a crucial step in preparing empanadas. A third loan of nearly $500 helped her increase her inventory and fulfill a large school contract she had won to prepare a daily supply of empanadas for students. Despite difficult circumstances, Evangelista has created a light-hearted, lively atmosphere that attracts customers and energizes her employees. She says her five employees have become like her own children, and it’s clear they love and respect her for the challenges she’s overcome. She hopes Yenis Empanada will continue to grow—not only for herself but also for her employees and her children, who have completed school and joined the family business. She wants to pay higher wages, improve working conditions, and provide more opportunities for those who work alongside her.

First things first

Most importantly, she wants to see those around her come to faith in Jesus Christ: “The first thing I tell my children they need is to receive the Lord. If you have the Lord, you have everything.” Esperanza’s teachings have continued to encourage Evangelista in her faith, and she plans to continue partnering with Esperanza to grow her business. “I dream big!” she says, and she trusts Esperanza to offer the tools she needs to help transform her family business into a large operation that employs many in Los Alcarrizos.



As Christ’s followers responding to His great love, HOPE International seeks physical, social, spiritual, and personal restoration in places of brokenness. Through Christ-centered economic development, we empower men and women to strengthen their families, build their businesses, and unleash their dreams.

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