During the photoshoot for this feature, Brianna Davis, founder and CEO of Esperanza de Tejas, INC., was answering calls to arrange for a family to get a car seat from her house. It’s what she does — no questions asked, any time of day. Emphasis on no questions asked, as the judgment-free, low-barrier concept of the non-profit makes all the difference when it comes to providing locals with diapers, wipes, food, car seats, scholarships and literally anything else it can.
If someone is in need, she fights tooth and nail to meet them where they are to assist. It’s no wonder Esperanza de Tejas, spearheaded by Davis, has been able to quickly scale its efforts to meet the needs of 8,000 people and counting since 2020. “I’m in my sunshine era,” she emphatically proclaimed. “I have a loving husband, I have my children, I have a community who backs me and I back them. I’m living the dream now and I’m so thankful.” If she could speak to a younger version of herself, she would say to never, ever give up.
Propelled by the desire to meet basic needs in the community and by using her own childhood experiences and career as a social worker, Davis essentially started Esperanza de Tejas as a triage service. She began by partnering with Corpus Christi Produce to distribute produce bags to the elderly and people with disabilities during COVID-19. Since then, partnerships with Driscoll Health Plan, the Free Store and local schools have allowed pop-ups serving six counties, community gardens for kids to learn how to grow their own food and a children’s free store, where parents can have a dignified shopping experience at no cost. In early 2021, the day before her scheduled cesarean to deliver twins, Davis was out distributing water in the middle of the winter freeze.
Esperanza has built a scholarship program that’s not granted solely on academic performance, but rather community service through the non-profit. Kids are also able to learn about the college application process and resume writing, and most importantly, they are asked how they will spread amor y esperanza — love and hope — to their community.
The foundation of the work Davis does is ensuring that nothing prevents someone who needs help from getting help. She’s rejected funding from potential partners who wish to implement financial components or other forms of questioning before receiving help. No address? No ID? No problem. Davis has witnessed countless single mothers breathe a sigh of relief when they can access basic needs without question. “Sometimes this leads to uncovering other needs and sometimes it doesn’t and that’s okay,” Davis emphasized. “You don’t even have to tell us your name.”
If there’s anyone who can speak to the gravity of having someone who has overcome hardship to be the one lending a helping hand, it’s Davis. “I want to help kids. I want to show kids that you don’t have to go down the same path I went,” she said. “In my childhood, I’ve seen things that people probably shouldn’t see at that age, but I feel like all of my experiences make me relatable to a lot of the families I serve. I will never judge anyone, only help.”
Her road to self-actualization was paved with adversity and heartache, but also with hope and love triumphant. Through challenging childhood relationships and adolescent years, her grandparents and mom always showed up with boundless love, slowly but surely infusing hope in her that would reveal itself in her current endeavors. “Esperanza is like a love letter to my community, but also a way for me to honor their legacy, because their name will forever live on through me and the work that I do here,” she said. An “angel walking this earth” in Davis’ words, her mother was always the one giving away her last $5 to a person in need and taking Davis to the Feast of Sharing every Christmas during her childhood. Her grandparents were her cheerleaders and the ones who empowered her to get her bachelor’s and master’s degree in social work, even when the odds were stacked against her. They emphasized the importance of returning home to use her skills to benefit the community.
Success for Davis is a child being able to go to daycare because they have diapers; a mom and dad excelling at work because they aren’t worried about affording basic necessities; or a kid who hears one of the staff’s stories and decides to go to college. Soon, this will without a doubt be a reality for even more families as Esperanza de Tejas works to expand and spread hope across Texas. For Davis, this is just the beginning.