Valley Life for All: La Esperanza de Emily |

Valley Life for All: La Esperanza de Emily

Annie Uyehara
Special to the Daily

Editor’s note: The Vail Daily, in conjunction with Valley Life For All, continues a monthly series of profiles about people in our community who have different abilities. As we all share a new challenge labeled COVID-19, we can learn from our friends and neighbors who have grown strong making their way through a life that has been out-of-the-norm. In this new reality of challenge, they are the leaders.

Coronavirus can be a bit too much to handle while contending with online schooling, child care and jobs. But for parents with special needs children, it can compound the hardship.

That’s why La Esperanza de Emily is so needed during this time.

LEE is an organization designed to support Spanish-speaking families whose children have special needs. Its motto is to “Inspire, Educate, Change.” Its founder, Cecilia Rios, whose daughter Emily inspired her to start La Esperanza de Emily, has collaborated with the Roaring Fork School District to help families during the coronavirus crisis.

Norma Teran, along with Rios and several other parents, is a LEE volunteer. “We work with the school district by giving out resources to understand the importance of wearing masks and social distancing,” says Teran, whose 21-year-old son, Louis, has autism.

LEE also helps families cope with the challenges of COVID-19. “We check in on families through Zoom twice a month, or contact them when they have questions about exposure to COVID,” says Teran, who has been working with LEE for three of the eight years of its inception. “We also give them Visa gift cards for any difficulties they are having.”

The families LEE has helped has increased up to 20 families, due to COVID-19. “At first, they were afraid to ask for help, but I’m happy to say that these families are not alone anymore.”

Nora Gomez is grateful for the help. “La Esperanza de Emily has kept me informed about resources and support from other organizations, as well as being aware of our needs and those of our children.” LEE provides her with the necessary tools “to empower ourselves and defend the rights of our children with disabilities.”

LEE meets regularly with RFSD officials during online schooling. “With COVID and online learning —- it’s hard to do it with regular classroom learning — can you imagine doing it online, and with an English/Spanish translator?” Teran asks. LEE eases the stress, she explains. “It’s hard. Some families are giving up, but we are reaching out to them.”

Gomez’s family benefits from LEE’s efforts. “We have formed close ties (with the RFSD) for the well-being and education of children with disabilities. I am very grateful to both parties for the effort and support they have given my son and me.”

Teran’s happy to help. “The name of our organization says it all: Hope. It’s inspiring to know that we can educate others to know there are resources and support. We are always here for you.”

Local nonprofit Valley Life for All is working to build inclusive communities where people of all abilities belong and contribute. Find us at or on Facebook.

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