A First Foundation Blog

Focus on Philanthropy – Villa Esperanza Services

3 minute read

The charitable organizations selected each year for First Foundation Bank’s “Supporting Our Communities” grants make a tremendous impact on the lives of those in the community every day, including members of our own executive team. Hugo Nuno, Chief Banking Officer of First Foundation Bank, saw first-hand how the programs and services of one of those organizations made a significant improvement in the life of a member of his own family. That organization is Villa Esperanza Services, a non-profit based in Pasadena, CA that serves intellectually/developmentally disabled individuals in Los Angeles and Ventura counties, offering individualized programs and a continuum of care over the course of the individual’s lifetime. Its comprehensive programs for children include the Villa Esperanza School, the Hjelte-Phillips Speech and Language Center, and occupational therapy clinic. Villa’s personalized programs for adults integrated throughout the community include employment services, family-style residential homes, independent living skills coaching, and multiple day programs for adults and seniors.  

Because of Hugo’s advocacy and commitment, First Foundation was first introduced to Villa Esperanza Services in 2018. Hugo has been an active member of the organization’s Board of Directors since 2018, and recently accepted the position of Chairman of the Board for the upcoming school year term beginning in September 2023. Also, he serves as the Vice Chair of the Program Advocacy and Education Committee and is a member of the Audit Committee and Finance Committee. The cause and the organization have a strong personal connection for Hugo, as his youngest brother, Senen, has intellectual and developmental disabilities that require additional support services. After years of struggling to find a program to support his brother’s needs, he was referred to Villa Esperanza in 2007. Senen has now been a successful member of their day program, Dimensions, for over sixteen years. Hugo shared, “What Villa has done is nothing short of amazing. They stuck with him even in difficult times, when others turned him away. I don’t think he would be the person he is today if we had not found Villa.”  

First Foundation saw Hugo’s passionate commitment to the organization and wanted to support his efforts to carry out the impactful work that Villa is doing within the community for intellectually and developmentally disabled individuals and their families. Our support for Villa began in 2018 with two donations to the organization. Building upon Hugo’s extensive involvement with the organization, First Foundation made a commitment to continue facilitating a stronger partnership with Villa Esperanza in 2021 with a “Supporting Our Communities” grant and an additional offer of pro-bono consulting services.   

The three-year grant commitment from First Foundation directly supports its Residential & Independent Living Skills Program for Adults with Intellectual/Developmental Disabilities (I/DD), which provides housing including apartments for those in an independent setting, as well as supervised group homes for those who require more care. The program includes an Independent Living Skills component that trains and supports clients living in their own apartment in budgeting and money management, finding and securing employment, education and life skills, home/community safety, nutrition and meal preparation, accessing transportation, socialization and communication, housekeeping, and personal hygiene.  

In conjunction with the grant funding, our Director of Philanthropy Services, Marty Dutch, began offering support services for the organization. Marty has provided CliftonStrengths training for Villa’s staff and is slated to provide strategic planning for the organization’s Board of Directors. 

Acknowledging the impact of the partnership, Kelly White, Villa’s Chief Executive Officer remarked, “We are grateful for our partnership with First Foundation Bank. This partnership would not be possible were it not for the involvement of Villa family member and Board member, Hugo Nuno. Hugo has been a fantastic asset to Villa’s Board, bringing years of business experience and a deep appreciation of Villa’s mission, and he is a great ambassador for Villa in the community. First Foundation Bank’s kindness and generosity have helped Villa immensely, whether through the gift of dollars or the gift of time from their staff. On behalf of our children, adults, and seniors with special needs, we thank you.”    

First Foundation Bank is proud to support the way that Villa Esperanza Services changes lives, from teaching a child with autism how to say "hello", to giving an adult with Down Syndrome the skills to earn a paycheck and the pride of having a job, to providing an intellectually disabled senior the opportunity to give back to the community through volunteering and helping others. 

To learn more about Villa Esperanza Services and the great work they do in the community, visit: 


Philanthropy Services provided by First Foundation Bank, Member FDIC, Equal Housing Lender.

Heather Tice, VP, Marketing Manager, Events and Community
About the Author
Heather Tice, VP, Marketing Manager, Events and Community