The nonprofit organization Rose 2 Hope has secured a location for its first office headquarters on Bergenline Avenue in North Bergen. The new location, above restaurant Café Per Tutti, will be the main office for the Rose 2 Hope chapter that covers North Bergen, West New York, and Union City.
Hillary Vargas is the founder and president of the charitable organization that helps youth break free. It serves people who have been through trauma, depression, or attempted suicide and helps them find their place in the world.
“We serve youth and young adults who just need a person to believe in them and a mentor to guide them to their higher purpose,” Vargas told the Hudson Reporter. “The biggest thing is for those people to know they’re loved and that life is worthy of living.”
Rose 2 Hope aims to cut the statistics of young people committing suicide and abusing alcohol and drugs. Vargas said it wants to help mentees find a true sense of happiness, whatever that means for them.
The program offers a holistic approach to therapy, aiming to heal from a spiritual standpoint in addition to mental and emotional healing.
“If the mind and the spirit and the soul is not well, then it doesn’t matter how much money you make or what you’re doing,” Vargas said. “You’re not going to be happy.”
Vargas said Rose 2 Hope is a safe haven for mentees to learn to cope with intense emotions, such as rage, loss, sadness, or heartbreak.
“Sometimes you want to do something, and your family is telling you no, you’re not good enough, or you’re not worthy of that, or you can’t love this person,” Vargas said. “We created this extended family environment where anyone is welcome. We don’t discriminate; we are a second home that believes in you.”
Those involved in the Rose 2 Hope program often come from strict backgrounds that aren’t supportive. Vargas said that the organization strives to create an environment that counteracts the negative home life many of the youth at Rose 2 Hope have experienced.
Spreading hope, one life at a time
Hanzel Escorcia is a prime example of how Rose 2 Hope can help turn a young life around.
Vargas first met Escorcia two weeks after his brother committed suicide. At the time, Vargas said Escorcia didn’t care about his life and was okay with dying.
“[Escorcia] was going to end his life at 22,” Vargas said. “Now he’s an amazing photographer, videographer, and he’s just living life to the fullest.”
Through the Rose 2 Hope mentorship program, Escorcia has seen that life is worth living.
“I am so proud to call myself one of her “kids,” like she likes to call us,” Escorcia said. “Through the mentorship program, I realized that I have a lot to live for, that I have so many goals and dreams I want to accomplish.”
Rose 2 Hope has chapters in various states that coordinate in a program that brings youth from different cities together to build kindness and understanding. In summer the nonprofit gathers all mentees for a week-long summit in New York City. Vargas said companies like Sirius XM and RocNation have opened their doors in their NYC headquarters to give mentees an experience to cherish.
“Words are cheap, so we show mentees these high-end workplaces, so that they can see what they can strive for in their life,” Vargas said. “It gives them something to hold onto when they go back to their streets, a little sense of hope.”
Rose 2 Hope partnered with Café Per Tutti because Vargas believes the restaurant’s values align with those of her organization.
“They want to be transparent with their food and teach people what they’re eating, and I think I’m doing the same between the mind and the soul with mental health awareness,” Vargas said. “You can tell people to work out and be healthy, but if your mind and your heart and your soul is not well, then you’re not healthy.”
Café Per Tutti, the downstairs neighbor, has partnered with the Rose 2 Hope Foundation to offer cooking classes for youth and young adults of all backgrounds looking to find their purpose in life. Vargas said that the foundation has found valuable mentors in Chef Michael Licata and owner Catherine Licata.
“I believe in staying true to ethics and morals, and I believe that Cathy and Michael are in sync to what we believe in,” Vargas said. “Michael shared his story, and I asked him to be a mentor to my guys, because I have young men who want to be cooks. Culturally, they grew up with families that told them that men can’t cook or be photographers.”
Rose 2 Hope will open its first headquarters in North Bergen, directly above Café Per Tutti.
“We’ve always had a presence in Hudson County, but now we have a place,” Vargas said.
For updates on this and other stories, check www.hudsonreporter.com and follow us on Twitter @hudson_reporter. Dan Israel can be reached at email@example.com.