Antonio was a long time resident of Casa Hogar Sion and had always dreamt of becoming a chef and having his own restaurant one day. While living at the orphanage, he used to help out in the kitchen to prep over 300 meals each day for the 100+ residents of the home.
After high school, he entered culinary school in Tijuana where he recently graduated. Antonio has collaborated as an intern with many U.S. restaurants such as: El Pollo Inka, Anepalco, and Enchanted Sweets . He also had the opportunity to work alongside celebrity chef, Javier Plascencia on the preparation of a meal generously donated by the chef and his team for the children of Rancho de los Niños orphanage. Being able to not only see his favorite chef in action but to cook alongside him was a dream come true for Antonio.
Antonio is currently on the first of three amazing internship opportunities in San Francisco at world-renowned restaurants including 2 with Michelin Starstatus! He is a living example of how we can overcome any obstacle with hard-work and determination.
With your support, we are breaking the cycle of poverty with every teen that enters our continuing education program. We are creating future leaders in their own communities. Your donation can help a child get one step closer to achieving their dream!
“When I was 12, I hosted a fundraiser in my backyard for Corazon de Vida. I had visited El Faro and Puerta de Fe, and I was so struck by the experience that I made all the neighborhood children participate in a talent show to raise money for CDV. I raised $2,000 that day! Which I split between donations and supplies like toilet paper and sanitary pads to bring on my next trip. One thing always bothered me about that day, though: I had set out a change collection jar that guests had contributed to, but I somehow lost it after the event. 13 years later, I am cleaning out my childhood bedroom and find a branded CDV coin tin with nearly $250 inside!
I'm glad not just to finally send along the money I raised, but also to have an excuse to reconnect with an organization that sparked what would become a lifelong passion for social impact. I took fellow students on CDV trips in high school. CDV was on my college application and in my undergraduate honors thesis, which focused on ethical volunteer tourism. My MA in Spanish literature truly began when a child at Sion taught me the word "pegajosa," and I fell in love.
In just a few weeks, I start work at a social impact nonprofit in San Francisco. I won't be working with Mexican children, but I do hope to change the world. CDV was the organization that first showed me how a few committed citizens could make a difference, and how that impact could be shared across communities.
Thank you for all you do and all you taught me, and I hope to take another trip soon!”
Our Noche de Gala 2016 event was held on November 11th in San Diego at the beautiful The Prado at Balboa. The open courtyard was the perfect setting with lights and decorations that hung across the top as the sun was coming to a set with beautiful sounds of guitarist, Agustin El Moro, playing in the background. As guests walked in past the grand fountain they got a preview of two full tables displaying just some of the many silent auction items we had for the night, and had a photo opportunity at the step and repeat banner.
Darren Sugiyama, Author, CEO, Motivational Speaker and CDV Board Member was once again Master of Ceremonies for the night. We had the honor and great pleasure of having San Diego Mayor, Kevin Faulconer join us to provide the official welcome speech.
Guests were delighted with two spectacular traditional folklorico dance performances by Danzarts. The silent auction boasted amazing vacation stays, spa and massage packages, concert tickets, and so much more.
Our Founder, Hilda Pacheco-Taylor shared with us her experience about living in the orphanage as a child and how her visions of Corazon de Vida came to life. We also had special guests join her on stage, some of the university students currently participating in our Continuing Education program. It was a proud moment that everyone in the room could share in. Her entire speech was truly inspirational and also served as a reminder to be grateful for what you have and to give to others who may not have as much. During the special ask, Master of Ceremonies, Darren Sugiyama, shared a few words and gave us another perspective when it comes to donating in the special ask. Before we knew it the room was rowdy and full of eager hands waiting to be called on to shout the amounts they donated. It was astounding to be part of the powerful energy of giving surrounding the moment.
When we give time, money or participate in events and activities that are for a cause, we may forget just how much our actions lead to impact and how with everyone’s help together we CAN make change. Our efforts at Noche de Gala 2016 did in fact make change because we raised over$140,000for the kids that night. It’s times like these where we feel especially grateful for everyone’s love and support because without your help, it would not be possible to continue with our mission.
We would like to thank the following amazing companies and individuals whom made this event possible:North County Dental Surgery CenterandSmileBuilders Children's Dentistryfor generously sponsoring our event; Our table sponsors: Del Toro Loan Servicing, Ortega’s Mexican Bistro, The Andreu Family, Bird Rock Systems, Supreme Lending, The Packard Companies and Warren and Burstein Attorneys; Darren Sugiyama for being an outstanding Master of Ceremonies; all the companies and individuals whom generously contributed with a donation to make our silent action outstanding; Agustin El Moro and Danzarts for their amazing performances; CDV San Diego Chapter Historian Omar Araiza for capturing beautiful memories of the event and also sponsoring a second photographer for the night; and to all of the beautiful people who attended, donated generously during our special ask and purchased items from our silent auction.
We also would like to send very special heartfelt thank-you to our amazing Host Committee: Carolina and Larry Katz, Carrin and Michael Goldstein, Debra and Larry Poteet, Tami and Bill Sandke, Mayra and Jim Matteo and Salar Baktash; to our dedicated San Diego Chapter because thanks to you our events in San Diego are getting bigger and better each year, thank you for loving the kids so much! Amar Harrag, Sandra Slocum, John Haugland, Omar Araiza, Amanda (Mandy) Burstein, Carolina Juarez, Brianna Woo, Alina Gordon, Mariann Sanchez, Lynn Marie Morski, May Nguyen and Angela Aguilar.
Last but not least, thank you to our devoted and hard-working team of volunteers: Carmen, Bachi, Miranda, Anna, Kiana, Rene and the Gap Team. Thank you for all the hard work you have put into the event to make it a night for everyone to remember.
On Friday, July 8th, Corazon de Vida hosted their annual La Noche Blanca dinner at the beautiful Santiago Canyon Estate. The evening couldn’t have been more perfect: the weather, the food and the joyful atmosphere.
Our guests walked down the stairway wearing their beautiful summer whites to have their pictures taken at the red carpet backdrop, sponsored by our generous mission partners Apogee Electronics and Chilo USA. Guests were greeted at the patio with the soothing music of the Orange Country Guitar Orchestra as they were mingling with each other and exploring our amazing silent auction.
It was picture-perfect! The sunset, the beautiful table centerpieces generously donated by Jonathons Coastal Living, the delicious dinner and the fun and interactive mezcal tasting and hand-rolled cigars.
Our Masters of Ceremony Darren Sugiyama, board member Alex Dastmalchi, and founder Hilda Pacheco-Taylor made a very inspiring presentation about Corazon de Vida’s mission and presented eight of our university students in attendance. One of the most awe-inspiring and heart-warming moments of the evening was when our culinary school student, Antonio Luna, presented a dessert table specially made by him for our guests. Antonio had stayed up all night to prep over 200 stunning dessert dishes for everyone. And by the look on everyone’s faces as they took a bite of Antonio’s dish, it was heavenly!
At the end of the night, we reached our goal of raising $100,000 in funds and pledges! All of this wouldn’t be possible without the support of all these amazing companies and individuals: Apogee Electronics and Chilo USA for generously sponsoring our event, Jonathons Coastal Living family for the beautiful donated center pieces and your help in setting up the event, Darren Sugiyama for being an outstanding Master of Ceremonies, Enchanted Sweet Shoppe and Ana Gonzales for mentoring and sponsoring the desserts presented by Antonio, Photographer Omar Araiza for capturing beautiful memories of the event, and to all of the beautiful people who attended, donated generously during our special ask and purchased items from our silent auction!
And finally, a very special heartfelt thank-you to our amazing and devoted team of volunteers. Thank you for all the hard work you have put into the event to make it a night for everyone to remember!
Supporting continuing education for teens aging out of the orphanage system is an important program for CDV, as it provides them with the opportunity to create a better future for themselves, their families and their community.
There are currently over 50 students enrolled in either trade school or college who are in the Corazon de Vida Continuing Education program. These students are receiving assistance for tuition, housing, transportation, and living expenses. CDV provides further assistance to students through English courses to supplement their education, and to increase their chances of success in the professional world.
Each student has had their own unique struggles, conquering various obstacles through their own willpower and determination. These are just a few stories from the first wave of graduates supported by CDV’s Continuing Educationprogram.
Isaac came to a Corazon de Vida supported orphanage with his 3 siblings when he was 9-years old. Noted as a handsome and kind-mannered young man, Isaac is graduating from the accounting and finance program at the Universidad Autónoma de Baja California (UABC), Baja’s public university. He pursued accounting/finance because of the job opportunities that would be available to him. He says that his degree will allow him to help his family and others so that he might make a difference in his community. Isaac has worked as a barber on the weekends throughout his schooling to help earn funds for his expenses.
Isaac recently completed an internship with and has the opportunity to work for the prestigious firm Deloitte, a firm that provides industry-leading audit, consulting, tax, and advisory services to many of the world's most admired brands, including 80% of the companies on the Fortune 500!
Cecilia was abandoned by her parents in her early teens, after years of abuse and neglect. With nowhere to go, she admitted herself into an orphanage for her own safety, and ultimately to get an education. After high school, Ceci entered the UABC Ensenada campus, working hard to obtain her degree while working just as hard to support herself. Ceci just recently obtained her degree in psychology, and hopes to assist others in the same way that she was supported.
"When I was at the orphanage, there was a need for us to talk about our lives, to get help, but no one was listening. I decided to get a psychology degree to one day return, listen, and help children living in orphanages. I was one of them. I know what they are going through".
Ceci received her U.S. Visa with the help of Corazon de Vida and frequently attends our events as a perfect example of what can be done with a helping hand.
Karla and her younger sister were taken from their home and placed at a CDV supported orphanage where they lived for 8 years. Karla, understanding the value of education in her own life, has just completed the Marketing program at UABC Tijuana.
Her dream is to become a business owner, having the means to support her family while also being able to give back to her community. A deep thinker, Karla specializes in virtues such as Listening, Perseverance, and Patience.
Jaqueline grew up in an orphanage in Maneadero. Jaqueline entered our program after she had already completed her first two years of UABC nursing school through the support of a local family that was not able to continue their support. Jaque’s grades were exceptional and she is a very dedicated student. With CDV’s financial and moral support, she has been able to graduate with a degree in nursing and will soon start her one-year of service. At her graduation, Jaque presented her Corazon de Vida family with a beautiful plaque with a touching inscription:
“For all the help you have provided during my academic formation. Because in the most difficult moments, you encouraged me to continue, and you believed in me. My success and my love are yours.”
It is only through the help of our community of loving and generous individuals that these stories are possible. Together we are changing the odds for hundreds of children like Isaac, Jaque, Karla, and Cecilia. With hundreds of children still relying on our life-sustaining support, donations are essential to ensuring not only their survival, but also their future success as productive members of their community.
Thank you for all that you do! Let us continue to do even more for the orphaned children of Baja. Please click on this link to support our Continuing Education program: http://tinyurl.com/cdveducation
On April 30th, México celebrates Dia del Niño (Children’s Day). On this day, children are recognized as an important part of society and the day focuses on the importance of loving, accepting and appreciating children. Our SD Chapter Managing Director, Amar Harrag, had the amazing idea to organize an extra special trip to visit Rancho de los Niños to celebrate the day.
The children were eager to welcome their new and old friends, as they arrived to the orphanage.They were running everywhere, laughing with one another and playing with the volunteers. Arts and crafts were also part of the fun as everyone made masks and had a great time showing off their masterpieces.
Then it was time to gather in the dining hall for lunch. Everyone filled their plates up with some yummy homemade Mexican dishes. Once they finished, it was time for everyone’s favorite desert: Ice cream! Since the celebration was all about them, the children each had an ice cream cone served with a big scoop of vanilla ice cream. What a perfect way to end the day!
A BIG thank you to Amar for organizing the trip and to the volunteers who joined us. You couldn’t have picked a more perfect day to spend some quality time with our beautiful children. You made them feel so special and loved as they should be.
Your donations and participation makes it possible for hundreds of children to live in a safe, positive and loving environment. They can be kids and do what kids do, be happy and carefree, and celebrate Child's Day because you care enough to help!
On Friday April 8th, Corazon de Vida held their annual Charity Golf Tournament at the Tijeras Creek Golf Club in Rancho Santa Margarita. Despite a little bit of rain, everyone had a great time playing for our beautiful children in Baja.
The players were greeted by enthusiastic volunteers who handed out goodie bags filled with treats, hats, golf balls, and more. They had the chance to take their pictures on the “Green Carpet” and enjoyed some mouth-watering tacos at our amazing taco stands before shotgun. Afterwards, the golfers all raced against one another to get to the nearest hole to start their game. We could hear the players shouting and cheering around the course. They were all happy to pose for candid shots and group photos.
After spending nearly five hours playing in the sprinkling rain, it was time to head back to the clubhouse for a delicious dinner and awards presentation. It was the perfect way to end the night full of laughter, cheering, and even some tears were shed. We raised $32,000 thanks to the 100+ golfers that came out to support our tournament and thanks to the following sponsors: Platinum sponsor Bernie Welk – Cliqpak and to our Tee Sponsors: Dan Streit - SST and SSTI, Craig Stoltz -Pacific Edge, Tomas Rallo - Rallo Law Firm, P.C., Tim Murphy - ASM, Mark Weiner - Omni Corp, Gabe Loya - Jellco, John Mikulka - Allen Packaging, Ty Reed - Keylink, Thomas and Ted Prenovost - Prenovost, Normandin, Bergh & Dawe, APC, and Frank Toms -Jeffrey Court.
We would like to send a heartfelt thank you to our host committee, for working hard for several months planning this event: Juan Pacheco, Gina Tillotson, Dan Streit, Ed Patrick, Nadim Mustafa and George Perez. Thank you so much to our celebrity friends for coming down all the way from LA in support of the children: Rick Najera, Momo Rodriguez, Emilio Rivera, Nicholas Gonzalez, Mark Hildreth (Official) and Neil Hildreth. Thank you for the love and support, we look forward partnering again with you in the future!
Also, thank you so much to all of our silent auction and raffle donors, Audi Mission Viejo for sponsoring the Hole in One contest, Tijeras Creek Golf Club for all your support in planning and executing the event. Thank you so much to our staff Irene, Leny and Natalie for your dedication and to our dearest volunteers, our events would not be possible without your selfless dedication to our cause: Ana, Maya, Sara, Lisa, Sevy, Daniela, Beckie, De'Anna, Yvette, Alin, Kiana, Jennie, Yicheng, Carmen and Luz Elena. And also, thank you Susie Albin-Najera Consulting for the beautiful pictures of the event.
Since December 3rd, the evening of our second annual Latin Night for the Giving Hearts & Art Exhibit Fundraiser, I could not feel more humbled and grateful for the individuals who supported us and who came together to make a difference for Casa de Paz Orphanage in Valle de Guadalupe, Mexico.
On this evening we were ALL more than volunteers, artists, entrepreneurs, philanthropists, founders, farmers, dancers, performers, world-makers and world-shakers. We were so much more than our titles could ever define us. We were a family who gathered for a common cause: to strip all of our predicaments, day-to-day lives, our little dramas and big ones. We put it all aside for humanity, the common and most important thread that connects us all. I know this simple fact will stay with all of those who supported us.
This was our second Latin Night for the Giving Hearts Fundraiser. The first was held in March with delightful and unexpected positive feedback. So, naturally, we had to do another one. This time, among our usual Latin-themed activities, including Latin cocktails, Latin dance lessons, Latin performances, Latin everything, we had a special art exhibit that really tugged at my heartstrings. My dear friend and fellow Artist, Ana-Perez Hurtado, featured more than 20 photographs of the children of Casa de Paz. The exhibit can be seen at 3RDSPACE Club For The Creative through January. Ana also helped me organize this event, and on her way to photograph the kids, she collected nearly 40 bags of warm clothes for the 65 children at Casa de Paz.
This fundraiser is unique because it is project specific. Latin Night for the Giving Hearts is specifically hosted to support the Farming Project at Casa de Paz.
A Little Bit About Our Farming Project!
With the support of Corazon de Vida and Suzie’s Farm, Casa de Paz has undertaken a special farming project that begun in late 2013. I have been so honored and blessed to have landed the opportunity to help manage this project. Less than two years later, we have two green houses, a field to harvest from and a healthy livestock that consists of various types of farm animals.
When we started our short-term goal was to offer the children access to healthy, organic, homegrown fruits and veggies as well as animal by-products and to share these goods with Rancho el Faro, an orphanage nearby. Our long-term goal remains to be achieved, which is to make this orphanage self-sustainable through organic farming. Our vision is to harvest enough organic produce and produce enough animal by-products to first open a store front at the property and later become one of the major supplies of local, organic ingredients for the many wineries and restaurants in the region. This aligns us directly with the mission of Corazon de Vida: to sustain, to improve and to educate. All of this while positively impacting those very important lives of children who live at Casa de Paz and Rancho el Faro.
The funds raised at Latin Night for the Giving Hearts & Art Exhibit will help ensure that this project continues. And, with exciting milestones and goals ahead, we are ready for the coming year.
A Special Thank You
Thank you to those who supported us and continue to do so as well as those who invest their time, resources and energy in believing in a better tomorrow. And that’s where it all starts: you just have to believe it’s possible.
I am especially grateful to Corazon de Vida for creating this opportunity for all of us to make a difference in the world.
Thank you Dita for the hard work you put into organizing this event and for your unconditional love and unwavering support to the children of Corazon de Vida!
My Name is De'Anna Nunez. I began running six months before I turned 40 years old. I was inspired by a family member that I considered a mentor at the time. She had taken up running to help her through a difficult period in her life and when I saw how happy and focused it seemed to make her, and well, I wanted to drink the kool aid.
I ran my first full 26.2 marathon three months after my 40th Birthday. I gave it to myself for a fabulous ‘I can rock it at 40’ birthday gift, and I’ve just kept going. Running soon became my favorite hobby and I started to see how following a training plan mirrored a plan for personal development. It felt amazing to break through mental limitations and adopt new beliefs about myself, as well as learning the art of following thru on a goal. Like Forest Gump, people started joining in and following the inspiration. So, I began training others on how to run their first Marathon too. I have now completed twenty eight full marathons and countless halves as well as a few UltraMarathons too.
Running marathons is much more than a physical feat. It is an opportunity to expand yourself and reach beyond any limitations that you might put on yourself. When I run marathons, I do it in a style that works for me. I don’t go for PR’s, I go for fun and achievement. I’ve learned there is more than one way to run a marathon and I prefer bouts of skipping, dancing and high fiving along the way. There is something pretty fantastic about all these people showing up to their lives with health and a yearning to thrive. Those are my kind of folks!
This go-round, I am really looking forward to running each step knowing I am supporting Esteban, my little four year old boy I have been paired with through Corazon de Vida. He will most likely spend his entire childhood in his orphanage home and it warms my heart to know I am helping to make it a safe and supportive place for him to grow up. He’ll be fed good meals, clothed and educated so that he can have a fighting chance at building a life for himself. I hope that he will have in his heart the same burning desire that I have to be a contributor in the world and give of his developed talents and abilities for the greater good.
"There are a few things in life that spark a fire in my heart and get me excited to wake up in the morning. One of them is being both a student and teacher of yoga -- connecting with something so deeply and personally, and then being able to make a career out of it. Next on the list is: the ocean, love, kisses from my dog, and delicious food that just so happens to be healthy. The final piece of the puzzle that completes my life and brings me so much joy is philanthropy and giving back to those in need. While there are many, many charities out there that tug at my heart strings, I've set an intention to focus all of my free time and resources on one organization in particular -- Corazon de Vida -- and make as big of an impact as possible.
I first got involved with CDV in 2007 while attending San Diego State University. My major, International Security and Conflict Resolution, required a study-abroad component, and since I grew up in Italy and finished High School in London, the typical Florence and Oxford exchange programs that everyone else was doing just didn't resonate with me. I thought . . . I live 20 minutes from an international border; if I'm going to learn something meaningful about international relations, why not do so in my own backyard? So, I contacted CDV Headquarters and they arranged a special program for me to visit their orphanages, form relationships with the staff and report back. This experience was one of the biggest highlights of my college career and brought me so much joy, perspective, and purpose.
Today, I get to combine two of my greatest loves: yoga and spending time at the orphanage. I organize yoga retreats in Baja, Mexico that always include a visit to Casa de Paz. Every time I take a group of people there, they instantly fall in love with the kids and come up with ideas for how to help.
I love watching the kids grow up! Even though life gets busy, I make a point to visit at least once a month. Dedicating myself to this one orphanage has allowed me to form deeper connections with the kids and watch them evolve. On our last visit over Thanksgiving weekend, one of the girls that I really bond with, Blanca, was so excited to show me that she lost her first tooth! It's moments like this that make my life so much richer. I truly believe in the famous saying -- we make a living by what we get, we make a life by what we give."