George Cartagena was born and raised in Jersey City where he witnessed the devastating effects of poverty on young women in the inner city. At the age of 10, his family moved to a quiet steel town south of Pittsburgh. Aspiring to provide a better life for his parents, who were both raised in poverty as children, he attended the George Washington University School of Engineering. These aspirations were met with great disappointment when both of his parents were taken into the presence of God within a year’s time. With great spiritual, emotional and financial needs, he decided to leave school. Over the next six years, he developed a promising culinary career until God saved him at age 25 while visiting his older brother in Jersey City. He once again made Jersey City his home where he met his wife, Maribel, and started a family. Through the lens of God’s truth and his own humbling life experiences, George now understood the greatest need of those around him: salvation through Jesus Christ. With this in mind, he and his wife chose to homeschool their only child, Priscilla. With great devotion, they actively provided for all her educational, emotional and spiritual needs. As a freelance web developer with a flexible schedule, George became actively involved in the homeschooling community where he taught Algebra and served as the President of the North Jersey Homeschoolers Association from 2012 until his daughter graduated in 2015. He now lives in Totowa, NJ, where he builds an expanding coffee business, serves as the President of the Cathedral Choir, and donates his time to teach Algebra to homeschoolers. George greatly desires to translate his life experiences into prayerful support and active involvement that will positively impact the lives of unsupported mothers, their children and future generations through Expect Hope.
Pearl Corbin, Vice-Chair, is one of the founding members of New York’s Life Team, a collaborative work of Christians from both evangelical and Catholic traditions. She is actively involved in sharing the pro-life message, particularly among fellow evangelical pastors and believers. Ms. Corbin believes that one of the greatest reasons death and destruction runs rampant in any nation is the taking of innocent life in the womb. Ms. Corbin, a native New Yorker, spent 16 years in Asia, where she met her wonderful daughter, Deborah, whom God gave to her as an extra special gift while in China. As the Founder and President of AICHINA, Inc. in both Hong Kong and the USA, Ms. Corbin conducted leadership and discipleship training among house churches in China, and eventually throughout Southeast Asia, laboring in nations such as the Philippines, Malaysia, Singapore, Korea, Taiwan, and Macao. AICHINA extended God’s love to special needs babies, abandoned in the north central region of the People’s Republic of China, from 1996 through 2014. AICHINA is currently transitioning to minister to the needs of babies and children by training and partnering with existing struggling orphan ministries, globally. As someone with ‘hands on’ experience and a long term commitment to missions, Sister Pearl is sought after as a keynote speaker in conferences & training seminars across the US and internationally. She is honored to have the opportunity to serve on the board of Expect Hope. She sees Expect Hope as a very loving and practical application of sharing the love of Christ, offering hope to young mothers in desperate need.
Eileen Den Bleyker, Esq., Chair, lives in Sea Girt, NJ and is an attorney at law licensed in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Ms. Den Bleyker has a B.S.W. and prior to becoming an attorney she was a social worker for the State of New Jersey’s Child Protective Services agency (DYFS) where she investigated cases of child abuse and neglect and provided counseling and other social work services to children and families in crisis. After becoming the court liaison for DYFS, Ms. Den Bleyker, who was a single mother of three at the time, went to law school and earned her J.D. degree from Seton Hall Law School in Newark, NJ. Ms. Den Bleyker has a deep concern for women and children’s needs and has served on the Board of Directors for Solutions Pregnancy and Health Center, a crisis pregnancy center and licensed medical clinic located in Shrewsbury, NJ, for over 10 years. She is currently appointed as Secretary of the Board of Directors also serves on the agency’s Medical Oversight Board. As Vice-Chair of Expect Hope, Ms. Den Bleyker is passionate about protecting the life of the unborn and for assisting women who are struggling to manage as a single parent.
Natalie Fisher was born in Jersey City, but raised amongst the Amish farmlands of Lancaster, PA by her Polish parents, John and Elizabeth. She returned to the Jersey City/NYC area at the age of 18 to dedicate a year to volunteering at the NYC Rescue Mission in lower Manhattan. It was within this year that she felt called to become a Social Worker, and while attending Nyack College School of Social Work, continued working for two more years at the NYC Rescue Mission as a Volunteer Coordinator. While at NYACK College, she later interned at Bethany Christian Services helping clients through the challenging, yet life-affirming choice of adoption. Natalie went on to work at Bethany Christian Services for over 6 years before transitioning to a new role as Client Advocate at a local pregnancy resource and support center in midtown Manhattan. Natalie has always felt that God has called her to advocate on behalf of life. She has been involved with various organizations in the NYC/NJ area, including serving as an active Commission Member for the Archdiocese of Newark Respect Life Office. Natalie and her husband John are the blessed parents of two little girls. Natalie is so very grateful for this opportunity to be a part of Expect Hope, and is eager to see how God uses it to serve the lives of expectant mothers and their children in NYC.
Vilmaris Guzman, Secretary, is a Senior Program Associate for Women, Infants, Children (WIC) services in the Bronx, NY. Among her responsibilities, she checks income eligibility for WIC applicants and trains mothers ages 14-40 in breastfeeding and a healthy lifestyle. Vilmaris also counsels her clients in appropriate nutrition for pregnant mothers, breastfeeding mothers, postpartum mothers, and children up to age five. She is knowledgeable about the specific needs of unsupported expectant women and knows the services that are available to them through New York City. Vilmaris has been a part of the Bronx Household of Faith her whole life. She is currently involved in Pacesetters, a ministry to girls ages 12-18 and Leap of Faith, a worship dance ministry. Additionally, she is a key administrative staff member of the New York City Christian Athletic League (NYCCAL) which aims to provide boys ages 12-18 with the opportunity to play organized sports and hear the gospel on a weekly basis. Vilmaris is supported by her loving husband, Guillermo.
Meena Lildharrie received her Bachelors degree in Psychology from the College of New Rochelle, her Masters degree from Queens College in Public Administration, and a degree from St. Rose University in School Administration. She has been employed as the Business Manager for the NYC Department of Education for the past 23 years. For the past 20 years, she has been a member of Van Nest Assembly of God in the Bronx. Meena is happily married to her wonderful husband of 19 years and has four beautiful children. She understands the importance of this ministry and as a child of God desires to be used for His honor and His glory. She is a firm believer in the word of God and understands the importance of being a servant. Meena is honored and blessed to be a part of Expect Hope and deeply desires to make a difference in the lives of mothers and children in New York City.
Dr. Edward Prins, Treasurer, is a Senior Attending physician at Hackensack University Medical Center. He is the President and Director of Summit Avenue Medical, Hackensack where he has practiced internal medicine for over thirty years. Part of his career involved donating his services treating economically disadvantaged patients in the HUMC medical clinic. In 2012, he led a medical missions team in El Salvador, ministering to families in local villages. He has served on various church boards and is currently on the board of trustees at Calvary Chapel North Jersey. He and his wife Beth reside in Hawthorne, New Jersey. They have five children and five grandchildren. Proverbs 21:11 says, “If a man shuts his ears to the cry of the poor, he too will cry out and not be answered.” Dr. Prins believes God calls each one of us to respond to the cries of the needy, especially innocent children. Serving on the board of Expect Hope is one way that he can follow the heart of God.
Jeannette Sepulveda is the mother of an eight year old son and has raised him as a single parent over the last six years. She teaches preschool at Manhattan Christian Academy. Prior to this, she worked at the Police Athletic League (PAL), as an assistant director and later became the director of her own site. Jeannette recently earned an Associate’s degree of Applied Science in Aircraft Operations. She attends Crossroads Tabernacle in the Bronx. Jeannette has an intimate knowledge of the need her community has for Expect Hope. She was once an expectant mother who felt alone and helpless, facing an unplanned pregnancy. As a part of Expect Hope, Jeannette will be able to reach out to mothers who might think that no one understands what they are going through in a personal and effective way.
Kirk van der Swaagh has served as pastor of Neighborhood Church of Greenwich Village since 1987. In addition, he serves on the board of the National Pro-life Religious Council (NPRC), a Christian coalition of pro-life ministries and denominations called to affirm and bear witness to the Biblical standard of the value, dignity, and sanctity of human life. He is currently the vice-president of the NPRC. Kirk has led workshops with fellow NPRC board members at the annual National Right to Life convention and contributed devotional selections to the 40 Days for Life prayer guide. In the late 1980s, Kirk was an active participant in Operation Rescue, working with others to impede access to abortion clinics, while challenging the clinic workers to examine their consciences in the light of the practice they were supporting. Kirk graduated with highest honors from New Brunswick Theological Seminary, obtaining a Master of Divinity. He and his wife Barbara have six children. He looks forward to the transformation that will take place in the lives of the women Expect Hope will be serving.