Bishop Garmendia and Mr. James P. McLaughlin
The Resource Center
In the late 1980s, Bishop Francisco Garmendia was a priest at the St. Thomas Aquinas Church on Crotona Parkway in the South Bronx. As the first Hispanic Bishop for the New York archdiocese, he advocated for the Hispanic community and worked hard to uplift people within his church and all of the South Bronx. He saw the needs of his mostly-immigrant congregation and wanted to help provide access to resources many struggled to attain.
He sought help from Mr. James P. McLaughlin, a devout Catholic and President of the United Parcel Service (UPS). Together they founded the Resource Center for Community Development, Inc, in 1990. And as the Resource Center established itself as one of the first multifaceted centers that catered to Hispanic immigrants, the South Bronx experienced one of the worst fires in Bronx history–the Happy Land fire.
On March 25, 1990, the Happy Land fire happened just steps away from Bishop Garmendia’s church. A total of 87 people were killed by the reckless act of a disgruntled boyfriend whose girlfriend was one of the few survivors. Nearly all of the victims of the Happy Land Social Club fire were immigrants who struggled with language barriers when accessing resources. It was in direct response to this fire that the Resource Center became The HopeLine, a beacon of hope for those affected by this tragedy. Born out of the ever-pressing need for mainly immigrants to have a place to call for help, The HopeLine became a referral line to connect more people directly to the services they really needed to live better lives. The HopeLines was at first an extension of the Resource Center, but soon became the name it is known by today. For those that speak Spanish, it is “La Linea de la Esperenza,” but even they call it simply HopeLine.
The HopeLine Today
The HopeLine provides an ever-evolving family assistance program that, through the years, has offered various services from ESL classes to home health aid training, and food security to baby care. Our services are established with our mission in mind–to intervene in the cycle of poverty by meeting the basic needs of disadvantaged families and helping empower those living in the South Bronx.
Today, we still focus on our local community, the South Bronx, and provide access to all New York City residents in need.