My name is Araceli and I’m a speech-language pathologist. I was born in Guadalajara, Mexico and I came to the United States when I was 8 years old. During one of my trips to visit family in Guadalajara, I had the opportunity of volunteering at an orphanage. I didn’t know then, that this trip would change my life. After I came home, I couldn’t stop thinking about the children and how little support there is for people with disabilities in Mexico.

So in November 2012, I developed Speaking from the Heart (SFTH), a program designed to provide special education services to children residing in orphanages sponsored by Corazon de Vida. Since SFTH was founded, we have taken over 30 trips to work with children residing in 4 orphanages, hosted donation drives, and provided specialized instruction to over 50 children/young adults. In addition, we started training teachers in special education, and we are hopeful that this will help the children feel supported and understood.

Developing this program was a big undertaking, but I never felt alone, and for that I am very grateful. The moment I shared my vision with others, the support came pouring in and it hasn’t stopped since. This started as an idea, and it has turned into a community of compassionate and loving people who want to make a difference. I started SFTH to empower children to use their voice and to teach them to advocate for themselves, and this continues to be our vision, however, the children have taught us so much over the past 7 years. These beautiful children show us over and over what it means to be resilient, loving, and accepting of others. Their love towards each other and acts of kindness are a testament to all the work and effort of the volunteers, caregivers, directors, and Corazon de Vida. It takes a village, but together we can spread love!


We are proud and overjoyed to celebrate our recent graduates: Elizabeth (Law), Maribel (Marketing), Lourdes (Information Technology) and Alberto (Education).

On Sunday January 26th, 2020, CDV’s Executive Director, Dan Smith, organized an amazing event in Baja to honor the recent graduates from our Continuing Education Program. Over 100 people were in attendance to recognize the accomplishments of these graduates including loved ones, donors, the directors of our supported orphanages and Corazon de Vida's staff. After a delicious lunch, each of the graduates had an opportunity to speak about their life and academic journey including their struggles and how the CDV family helped them overcome each one of them.

Every graduate took the opportunity to express their heartfelt appreciation to all who contributed towards their education. They thanked the orphanage directors who took them in as their own and provided a loving home and encouragement growing up. They also thanked all the incredibly generous sponsors who believed in them since day one. Because of the generosity of many caring and compassionate Angels, Corazon de Vida has been able to shine the light of hope for these students and has allowed them to pursue their dreams.

Our new graduates will now be part of CDV’s Alumni Program aiming to keep graduates in touch with each other and to continue sharing their accomplishments. We invite our graduates to be a part of the CDV family forever, become ambassadors for our mission and always remind each other that where there is love, there is HOPE. 


Noche de Gala was truly a night that we will remember in our hearts for years to come. With the sun setting on the historic Hotel del Coronado there couldn’t have been a more spectacular way to celebrate our 25th anniversary of changing the lives of thousands of orphaned and abandoned children throughout the years. With the generous hearts and participation of all of you, we are thrilled to announce that we surpassed all of our attendance and fundraising records to date raising over $260,000 in support of the children!

Words cannot begin to express the gratitude we feel towards each and everyone of you as we look to the future of Corazon de Vida. Today, after 25 years, we are stronger than ever knowing that we have an amazing community standing by our side helping us fulfill our mission to transform the lives of the children of Baja, giving them the opportunities to succeed and empowering them to achieve every dream for many years to come.

A very special thank you to our Main Sponsors Bird Rock Systems, Aeromexico and Mandy and Devin Burstein. To our product sponsors: Ortega's A Mexican Bistro for sponsoring the design and printing of promotional materials, Harumi Floral Design for the beautiful centerpieces, Tahona Mezcaleria, La Reina Raicilla, El Tesoro Tequila and CDV Mission Partner Baja United for the delicious tastings provided at the champagne reception; ChicExecs and Alternative Strategies for all the support with the PR campaign and Chuao Chocolatier for the delicious chocolate treats. Also, to our musicians Sol y Sombra, Sergio D Tala and DJ Alina, and to our team of talented photographers and videographers: Omar Araiza, Julie Ferneau Photography, TJ Sinsay, Reeni Aloha and Aero Perspective. We are also very grateful to the companies and individuals that donated items to our silent auction, your contributions made a huge impact in our fundraising efforts.
We are extremely grateful for our San Diego Chapter, not only for your hard work and commitment leading to the event by inviting your network, securing donations, sponsorships and silent auction items, but also for your love of the children and commitment to Corazon de Vida's mission for the past 6 years! To our amazing Host Committee for working hard for months leading up to the event. To our superstars Masters of Ceremonies Yarel Ramos and Abelardo Rodriguez for working the crowd throughout the night in such a magical way. And to our ever amazing team of hardworking volunteers, none of our events would be possible without your support. Thank you for your love of the children and for believing in our mission.

We are overwhelmed with the increasing support we get each year. We truly believe YOU are the key to our mission. Your loyalty to Corazon de Vida is the reason our children have hope for a better tomorrow. On behalf of the kids, GRACIAS!

Gallery of photos: GALLERY 1   GALLERY 2
📸 Photo credits: Julie Ferneau Photography ( Tj Sinsay, Reeni Aloha.


We are so grateful for our amazing community who gathered together in support of the children by providing backpacks, school supplies and the much-needed funds to purchase essentials like new uniforms and shoes. The kids can start school feeling proud, prepared, and ready for the new school year! In addition to funds donated directly to the campaign, we allocate a percentage of each our fundraising events to education to cover not only school start-up expenses but also ongoing expenses such as tuitions, transportation, excursions and graduations! Every dollar counts!

We believe that supporting the K-12 education needs for children in the orphanage system and continuing education through college or technical school once they age out of the system, is key to helping them break the cycle of poverty and provides opportunities to create a better future for themselves, their families and their communities. Because of this, our Back to School campaign is one of the most impactful fundraising campaigns of the year.

There is still time to support our education campaign! Help us transform their lives by making a donation to our Back to School campaign HERE


Six years ago, I took a bus trip with the Corazon de Vida organization to visit an orphanage in Tijuana. This one bus trip to Mexico changed the course of my life as a teacher! In anticipation of spending the day with a lot of children at the orphanage, I brought workbooks, flashcards, and other learning materials. I was shocked that, despite all the fun crafts and games that were provided to entertain everyone, a huge crowd of kids ended up at my learning station. As a teacher, I was moved by how much these children actually wanted to learn and how much they craved education. I had not seen such motivation from students in my 15 years of teaching here in the United States.

Upon returning home, I felt an urgent need to do something to provide these kids with greater access to education. I thought about how fortunate the students in my district were to have access to so many learning tools, and how fortunate my tutoring students were to get extra support with their areas of need. I also thought about how most kids, unlike these orphans, end their evenings with a bedtime story from their parents. I had a strong desire to help these kids who were missing out. I researched the education system in Mexico, and became further motivated when I learned that if a child arrives in an orphanage after the school year has begun, they often have to wait a full year before they can return to school. It pained me to know that children in these situations would also be removed from the social and educational resources that school offers. It is unfair that an already difficult experience would also make them fall even further behind in education.

During this time, I was working on my Master’s degree in Special Education. All of my coursework pointed to how important early intervention is to support successful student learning outcomes, making it very clear that I needed to help these children. On another day trip to Baja, I spoke with George, the Director of Corazon de Vida, at length about my desire to help. I told him that my very favorite online learning program, Raz-Kids, offered an extensive library of Spanish books and Spanish literacy resources. I explained how this program would enable the children of Corazon de Vida to read books at their level in both English and in Spanish and I started fundraising for Chromebooks, headphones, and Raz-Kids licenses.

A short time later, the Raz-Kids program was running successfully in several different orphanages, with the help of tutors and with older students acting as mentors/facilitators for the projects. Not only are we providing early intervention for the children within the Corazon de Vida network; we are also giving children access to hundreds of books and a library filled with literacy resources that they otherwise wouldn’t have. This program is also enhancing the children’s computer literacy skills, essential for success in the 21st century. We have even been stunned to observe special needs children, some of whom we thought were non-verbal, learning to read as a result of this program.

By Corazon de Vida volunteer Leah Alagna


 Supporting the k-12 education needs for children in the orphanage system and continuing education through college or technical school once they age out of the system is key helping them break the cycle of poverty and abandonment and providing the opportunity to create a better future for themselves, their families and their community.

Corazon de Vida’s Back to School campaign covers tuition, uniforms, backpacks, school supplies and transportation costs for over 500 students from kinder to university. All Baja public schools require uniforms, which is good because orphanage students do not look different than any other students. CDV’s education program provides scholarship-based funding for teens aging out of the orphanage system and it includes funding for inscriptions, tuitions, housing, living expenses and transportation, all depending on each student’s situation.

Corazon de Vida started its Continuing Education Program with 3 students who entered university in the 2011/ 2012 school year. Currently, 45 past orphanage residents are in college or technical school in Baja, with 15 that have graduated with a bachelor’s degree in majors such as accounting, psychology, education, culinary, medicine, nursing and business. CDV Alumni are now serving as role models to their younger ‘siblings’ at the orphanages!

Together, we can help our children go from victims to empowered future leaders! Help us transform their lives by making a donation to our Back to School campaign HERE

You could also help our children have everything they need for a successful school year by donating any of the Back to School items in our Amazon Wishlist



CORAZON DE VIDA :: LA NOCHE BLANCA 2019 Posted on 1 Aug 15:08

La Noche Blanca 2019 was a resounding success! Corazon de Vida’s annual all-white attire fundraising gala was held at the stunning Santiago Vineyards in Orange County on July 20, 2019. We are very excited to announce that thanks to all the ticket purchases, donations, sponsorships, and auction participation, we were able to raise an incredible $220,000 in support of the children.

The arrival of guests in their best summer whites marked the beginning of the evening’s festivities. They were met by a beautifully arranged venue adorned with beautiful centerpieces sponsored by Harumi Takata Designs. Displayed on the auction tables for the guests to view were the alluring silent auction items which garnered much enthusiasm and anticipation. The items featured included tickets to sporting events, vacation experiences, and various other adventures. From the very start of the festivities there was an atmosphere of excitement for the evening’s events and what laid ahead. After the lively reception that included a signature welcome cocktail and tequila tasting sponsored by Tequila Partida, Mezcal tasting provided by Tahona Bar and Baja wines tasting by Baja United, the guests were delighted by a mouthwatering buffet style dinner that included made to order gourmet tacos and delicious desserts, sponsored by Taco Rosa and Taco Mesa.

Leading the evening's presentation was the Master of Ceremonies, Bob Miller followed by our founder, Hilda Pacheco-Taylor who gave a brief but powerful speech about the early beginnings of our organization. They were then joined on stage by several university students who over the years have been assisted by Corazon de Vida. The students recounted anecdotes about how they have been able to persevere in spite of hardship and achieve success as a result of the support of generous sponsors. It was an inspirational and uplifting moment and their testimonies served as an authentic illustration of what your support of Corazon de Vida and the children can achieve.

A very special thank you to everyone that attended, donated, participated in the silent and live auctions, and a heartfelt thank you to our Presenting sponsors Apogee Electronics and Hosa Technology, to our Impact Sponsor Aeromexico and our Dinner Sponsor Taco Rosa for the delicious dinner- including made to order gourmet tacos! Additionally, thank you to Taco Mesa for the delicious desserts, Harumi Floral Design for the beautiful centerpieces, Primal 24/7 for the special Paleo desserts that were a big hit, Partida Tequila for the tasty welcome signature cocktail and tequila tasting, Tahona Mezcal Bar and Amar Harrag for the always popular mezcal tasting and CDV Mission Partner Baja United for bringing us the best wines from Baja with your tasting. A thank you also to Ballast Point Brewing Company and Chihuahua Cerveza for the beer donation, the Bittick family and Penman Springs Vineyard for the wine donation and The Paper Company for the eco-friendly paper products donation. We are extremely grateful to the companies and individuals that donated items to our silent auction. Your contributions made a huge impact on our fundraising efforts.

A heartfelt thank you to our Host Committee for your hard work and commitment leading to the event by inviting your network, securing donations, sponsorships and silent auction items, to our superstar Master of Ceremonies Bob Miller for working the crowd throughout the night in such a magical way and to our amazing team of hardworking volunteers. None of our events would be possible without your support. Thank you for your love of the children and for believing in our mission.

We are overwhelmed with the increasing support we get each year. Every La Noche Blanca is a reminder of the loving and generous community that believes in our cause. We truly believe YOU are the key to our mission. Your loyalty to Corazon de Vida is the reason our children have hope for a better tomorrow. On behalf of the kids, GRACIAS!

Click HERE for the gallery of photos.


On Sunday, May 26th, some of the most renowned chefs in Baja, Mexico, united on an exclusive Chef Collaboration Dinner in Valle de Guadalupe in support of the children of Corazon de Vida. We are very grateful to announce that we raised over $17,000 thanks to everyone’s participation.

It was a magical day for a 6-course dinner at Cava Maciel, the sun set spectacularly in the distance while feelings of love and compassion flooded the hearts of the 50 guests that attended.  Guests enjoyed an exquisite dinner paired with the best wines and beers of the region, which is becoming a well-known spot for food and wine around the world. As the guests arrived, they were treated with a signature cocktail and delicate appetizers. From the reception, they proceeded to sit down at the tastefully decorated wooden tables with colorful centerpieces, and the beauty of Valle de Guadalupe was the perfect backdrop scene.

We are deeply grateful to Chef Cosmo Goss (Carne y Vino) who put in all his energy to organize the chef collaboration dinner and ensured its success, to Oscar Torres (Animalon) who also participated with two delicious dishes and donated three In-house Chef Dinner Experiences along with chef Cosmo (a hit in the silent auction). We also extend our heartfelt gratitude to chefs Tony Petracca (Da Toni), Tania and Memo (Criollo Taqueria and In Bocca al Lupo) and Mike Raskin (Carne y Vino) for participating on this unforgettable chef collaboration dinner.

We would like to also highlight and thank: Cava Maciel and Jorge Maciel for hosting the event, Julia Goss for the beautiful photos of the evening, to Jim Brown and Jim Seman for their help in planning the event, recruiting guests and the wines for the dinner, to Oh My Handmade Jewelry for donating to our silent auction, and to all the local wineries that contributed with delicious wines for the pairings – Cava Maciel, Henri Lurton, Trevista Vineyards and Roganto.

We look forward to more event like this one in Valle de Guadalupe to help us raise awareness about our mission of breaking the cycle of child poverty and abandonment in the area. On behalf of all the beautiful children currently living in our orphanages, we thank you.

Click HERE for the gallery of photos


We are getting very close to completion of the baby dorm at the Casa Hogar Sion orphanage! Your support of this project allowed us to procure the land in 2017-2018 and start construction in late December 2018, and despite a very wet winter, we have made great progress. The construction team plans to finish the building by the end of next month. The Mexican social services agency will be ready to place infants as soon as the dorm is completed, giving these babies a chance to start their lives in a safe and stable environment.

CLICK HERE for photos of the project to date, from bare land to a beautiful 1100 sq.ft dorm that will house up to 13 infants, a caretaker, a small kitchen and laundry room!

Over $77,000 has been raised for the construction via the BABY DORM FUNDRAISING PAGE, from individual donors, team fundraising, matching funds, and events. Others donors helped with the land purchase and the hiring of a Tijuana real estate attorney to record the sale and receive title. 

We just added another $15,000 to the budget  to secure the perimeter of the dorm which is in an open space adjacent to the orphanage. The additional funds will be for a half block wall and wrought iron fence in the rear and front and to level the ground surrounding the building for proper usage. We are asking for one last push of donations to help us reach our goal. If you can help, please make a donation via the FUNDRAISING PAGE, or send a check to Corazon de Vida. 

In the Fall, we would like to invite you to the inauguration of the nursery and to share in the joy of one day having a full house of 13 infants. We will keep you informed of the date with hope that you can join us. 

Thank you for your love and support of Corazon de Vida and especially for the blessing of allowing us to build this dorm. We hope that with this last donation push, that we can complete the project within the next month. 


We are so proud to announce that we had 2 additional college graduates this past month! Ivette is our first Law School graduate, and Obed our first  Bioengineer.

Ivette and her siblings lived at the El Faro orphanage in Tijuana for many years and she overcame unbelievable challenges in her life to reach this goal. She struggled in her first year of university with her education major, but an incident at a part time job changed her career path to law school. She will focus on employment law that will give others a voice and justice when needed.

Obed moved into Rancho de los Niños at the age of 4 when his parents became the voluntary orphanage directors. When he was 10, he realized that one of his friends in a wheelchair was not able to play. Obed always remembered his friend and sought to help immobile children by going to university where he could learn to make prosthetics and other medical technology with an engineering degree. He wants to help other people, like his friend, who are immobile live a better life.

They both had to overcome so much to reach this milestone, however, the love and support of their Corazon de Vida family carried them through the difficult times in their journey. The children currently in the orphanages find inspiration in the over 20 university graduates in the last 7 years and the many more coming up. Thank you to our many sponsors who support the Corazon de Vida education program.

YOU can change a life by sponsoring a teen’s journey through high school and university.

Change a young life. Create a success story! Support our Education program: