CLEVELAND, Ohio - The stack of navy blue double extra-large T-shirts next to Ombeni Ebila’s work station at Esperanza Threads grew steadily throughout her morning shift. She had sewn dozens of them and enjoyed every minute of it.

“It’s a cool place,” said Ebila of Cleveland, who is originally from Baraka, Congo, and lived 13 years in a refugee camp in Namibia in southern Africa. “The staff is so good. The environment here is fine. Every day we find we can learn new things.”

Ebila, 32, is just over two weeks into her job at Esperanza Threads, which was established in 2000 and helps prepare people from various walks of life for employment in the sewing industry. Ebila went through Esperanza Threads’ three-week training program, took a job at a private vendor and returned to the nonprofit organization because she likes the people.

“Esperanza” is Spanish for “hope” and Ursuline Sister Mary Eileen Boyle, 70, who founded the program and has been its executive director throughout much of its history, has helped inspire hope in the lives of hundreds of women and men who learned in-demand skills and found employment in the sewing industry and beyond. Read More