La Mano of Hope was founded in 2011, birthed out of a vision to mobilize individuals willing to volunteer time and resource in an effort to meet real needs in communities where resources are limited. Its founder, Melissa Linn formerly lived in Ecuador and worked with teams from all over the United States who came to assist missionaries in a variety of humanitarian outreach projects all over the country. Additionally, she traveled in missions work in multiple countries and cultures including Guatemala, Mexico, Malaysia, Cambodia, The Dominican Republic and others.
The name “La Mano of Hope” (The Hand of Hope) was chosen to represent the English and Spanish diversity of the leadership team as well as the diversity of the cultural outreach. The team of leadership that developed as the vision was birthed is comprised of individuals with a similar heart and passion to reach across cultural boundaries and provide real humanitarian services to those in need. The vision has grown through needs assessment to include a variety of outreach facets including: medical, mental health, construction, sports clinics and education services.
Through her experiences she was able to experience firsthand the effective work that can be accomplished through strategic partnerships and relationships. After working for six years in Maryland as a professional counselor, she founded La Mano of Hope out of a desire to partner mental health and medical professionals to reach out to assist organizations providing rehabilitative services for women and girls rescued from human trafficking.
As the vision was shared with other people with whom she had traveled in missionary work previously, the leadership team began to form. Dr. Jill Ciccarelli and Melissa had traveled to The Dominican Republic and Ecuador previously together directing medical teams. Dr. Ciccarelli shared the vision and helped incorporate the organization. Alex Ortiz-Cañas helped co-found and incorporate the organization as well. A native of El Salvador with a passion to serve others, Alex’s experience in leadership with other non-profit organizations that reach the Hispanic Community along with his expertise in the area of bilingual media communications is a great value to La Mano of Hope.