La Noche Blanca 2017 was nothing short of a success! It was held on Saturday, July 15th at the breath-taking Santiago Vineyards located in the rolling hills of Orange County. There was a beautiful scene outside as our guests arrived in their graceful white attire. Attendees embraced the cheerful atmosphere as the sun went down, the DJ's kept many dancing, the bartenders provided cooling beverages and an exquisite dinner was served.
Commotion quickly rose, as excited guests made their way over to the silent auction table. A table lining the whole side of the spacious mansion with goods ranging from Dodger tickets to international vacations were becoming the center of attention! Next door the wine pull was quickly running out of wrapped mystery bottles to sell. Within only two hours, all sixty bottles were sold. One lucky guest took home the prize bottle valued at $60!
The evening's program was led by our dedicated Board Member, Darren Sugiyama, who was our Master of Ceremonies and included heartwarming presentations that our guests enjoyed over a candle-lit dinner. Founder, Hilda Pacheco-Taylor, during her presentation called university students (depicted in photo below from left to right) Antonio, Eliu, Emanuel, Ivette, Flor, Maribel, Damaris, Saralegui and Lupita up on stage. Their noteworthy academic achievements brought to life the meaning of our cause, and served as inspiration and hope for the future of other children who are abandoned or orphaned.
The message of the night was as clear as the summer sky: together we can achieve anything! Emotions were also overflowing when a beautiful tribute video for our Director George Perez was played, honoring his dedication and commitment to improving the lives of orphaned and abandoned children in Baja.
The highlight of the night came with the close of our final fundraising efforts - we raised a record breaking amount of $171,000! Every dollar raised, big or small, is going to improve the quality of life for a child. Congratulations to all attendees and thank you for your generous donations and lively presence.
A very special thank you to Fera Shivaee, of Centaurus Financial who has been a long-standing supporter of Corazon de Vida bringing in thousands of dollars in donations to support our education program, and Alex Dastmalchi, also a long standing supporter and Vice President of the board for kicking off the donations with an amazing $29,000 and $25,000 respectively. Their generosity alone inspired the crowd to surpass our nightly goal. By 9:30 PM, everyone had pulled together to break last year's fundraising record and ended the night with dancing and cheering!
A special Thank You to Apogee Electronics, HOSA Technology, Chilo, and Aurora Capital Partners for sponsoring the event.
To Fera Shivaee and Centaurus Financial, Inc. for generously donating the delicious dinner, Harumi Takata for donating the beautiful flower arrangements, Rockwell Bakery and Enchanted Sweet Shoppe for donating the desserts for the night, and to our Culinary School graduate Antonio Luna for collaborating with Enchanted Sweet Shoppe to make the scrumptious desserts.
Ortega's, A Mexican Bistro and Host Committee member Andrea Bittick for donating wine for the bar and wine pull, Suelo Rojo - Enoteca Itinerante and Valle Wine Life for sponsoring the delicious Baja Wines for tasting. And to photographer Jonathan Paris and Visual Open House for the stunning photos of the night.
Thank you to our Master of Ceremonies, the one and only Darren Sugiyama for your outstanding energy throughout the night. And let's not forget the amazing presentations of Alex Dastmalchi, Amir Mofidi, and Siavash Tabrizy PhD.
To our wonderful host committee Emilia Sugiyama (Committee Chair), Mayumi Martinez, Susie Albin-Najera, Parisa Golafshan, Dana Southworth, Andrea Bittick, and Alex Dastmalchi. Also a big thanks to the sponsors of our silent auction for all the amazing items they donated. Last but not least, thank you to our hardworking Volunteer Committee and volunteers for going the extra mile to organize the event and making sure that everything was in place!
CLICK HERE for the complete gallery of the night.
La Noche Blanca 2017 from Corazon de Vida on Vimeo.
We are so excited to announce that Alex Dastmalchi has been appointed as Board Vice President! Alex is a passionate supporter that has dedicated himself to our cause since joining Corazon de Vida in 2009. In the time that he has been with us, Alex has served on our Board of Directors and is now joining the executive committee as vice president.
“I am truly honored and humbled for the appointment, I look forward to serve alongside the other members of the board.” said Alex Dastmalchi about the big news.
Alex is an established entrepreneur and CEO of Dastmalchi, LLC., a successful marketing company developing progressive products and innovative co-op marketing programs which resulted in a unique and fine balancing between company profitability and customer value.
We are fortunate to have an amazing group of caring and compassionate business leaders as part of our board, providing guidance and support to the organization. Alex’s love and dedication to the children we serve is evident in his active participation since he was introduced to Corazon de Vida in 2009. As a member of the board since 2010, Alex has consistently used his leadership expertise and resources to help the board move initiatives forward, this appointment is in recognition of his leadership and commitment to our cause.
Thank you for all that you do Alex, we are confident that you will continue to help us make tremendous advances in our programs for the future of our children in Baja. Congratulations!
Corazon de Vida held its annual Charity Golf Tournament on Friday April 8th, at the award-winning Tijeras Creek Golf Club in Rancho Santa Margarita. It was a sunny and beautiful Southern California day and everyone had a great time playing for our beautiful children in Baja and raised $20,000!
The players had a chance to take their pictures on the “Green Carpet” featuring platinum sponsor CHILO
, and enjoyed some mouth-watering tacos at our super-popular taco stand before shotgun. On their way trough the course, golfers participated in three fun field games including the “Hole-in-One” sponsored by INFINITI of Mission Viejo
. We could hear the players shouting and cheering around the course, and all were happy to pose for photos on the green.
A delicious dinner and fun awards presentation was the perfect way to end the night full of laughter and cheering! We raised over $20,000 thanks to all the golfers that came out to support our tournament and thanks to our event sponsors: Gold Sponsor CHILO - Bernie Welk, Tee Sponsors: Dan & Gina Streit - SST and SSPI, GG Express, Rallo Law Firm, Jellco, John Mikulka - Allen Packaging, Prenovost, Normandin, Bergh & Dawe, Judicate West, Frank Toms -Jeffrey Court, Trenton Taylor - Club Hombre, Travel to Go and Southland Flooring.
We would like to send a heartfelt thank you to our Host Committee members, for working hard for several months planning this event, recruiting golfers, collecting raffle donations and securing sponsorships: Juan Pacheco, Dan and Gina Streit, Tom Rallo, Susie Albin-Najera, Frank Toms, Nadim Mustafa and George Perez.
Also, thank you so much to all of our silent auction and raffle donors – Jay Mangel, Dastmalchi, Inc., Mexico Tourism Board, SL Group, Trevista Vineyards, Joanna, Newport Beach, Hi-Times, Thomas Parenovost Jr., for all of the wonderful items donated and to Tijeras Creek Golf Club for all their support in planning and executing the event. A special acknowledgement to our staff Leny, Claudia and Bachi for their hard work and dedication, to the team of CalSate Fullerton “Without Limits PR” for all their invaluable support before and during the event; and to our dearest volunteers: Dan, Daniela, Jennie, Alexia, Sevy, Petra, Mauricio, Sergio and friend, our events would not be possible without your selfless dedication to our cause!
Visit our gallery for more fun pictures of the day! CLICK HERE
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 Star status! 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 $140,000 for 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 Center and SmileBuilders Children's Dentistry for 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.
For more pictures of the evening,please visit our galley: https://corazondevida.smugmug.com/Noche-de-Gala/
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 Education program.
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
Corazon de Vida and the San Diego Chapter held its annual fundraising event, “Noche de Gala,” at the University Club in San Diego on November 12th and it was a huge success. The alluring event was only more enchanting by the enthusiasm of the guests who came together in support of the children. With everyone’s wonderful participation we were able to raise over $200,000!
Over 200 guests were in attendance, they enjoyed a beautiful panoramic view of the downtown San Diego skyline, while listening to a live performance of the world renowned jazz band, Gilbert CastellanoS Trio. The food and libations were delicious and the silent auction included many prizes like vacations, restaurant certificates, sporting events and much more.
It was exciting to see so many new faces at the event that were new to our mission. It was thrilling to see how inspired and eager they were to participate after our wonderful MC Darren Sugiyama gave a speech about the impact that we can make on a child's future and showed a video about our university students and our education program.
A huge thanks to the Katz Family, Honoree of the night and friends for attending and being a huge support to the foundation. Since day one, the Katz Family have been nothing but generous and dedicated to us in helping our mission. It is so inspiring to see people who are devoted to giving back to the community. We know that our mutual love and friendship will last for years to come.
A heartfelt thank you to our generous funding sponsors who made this evening possible: Normerica, The Packard Companies, Bird Rock Systems, Viejas Band of Kumeyaay Indians, Warren & Burstein and Ortega’s Mexican Bistro!
This event was only possible thanks to sponsors and to our San Diego Chapter, thank you for your continuing love and support for Corazon de Vida. Also huge shout-out to our San Diego historian Omar Araiza and our two volunteer photographers Seana and Grace for the beautiful images. Thank you to Amar Harrag and Matisse Bistro for the exquisite dessert table. To Yummie Fountains for the delightful chocolate fountain. Last but not least to our volunteers, thank you for always staying committed and loyal to our organization, without you none of our events would be possible.
For the complete gallery of the event, go to: http://araizamp.shootproof.com/gallery/2058018/home
Education is one of our three main programs in which we support the children living at the orphanages. We provide funds to buy uniforms, backpacks, school supplies and pay school fees. We also have been able to implement programs like Raz-Kids to enrich the children's literacy skills while also teaching computer/tech skills. Raz-Kids, lead by our volunteer teachers Leah and Karissa, is a computer system that teaches reading skills in both English and Spanish.
We have some of the most dedicated leaders in the orphanages on board, striving to help the children with their lessons.
In Ebenezer, Eli and Lulu are dedicated to the Raz-Kids program. They have such positive energy and love that transcends into the home. With the school year starting they are still trying to get into the hang of things. Internet can be slow at this orphanage but we were able to give two laptops from a recent donation to the home to help with the program.
In Hacienda, house leader Elizabeth is dedicated to keep the Raz-Kids program into the home. The kids are in a new school this year with higher demand in homework to help them learn and keep their mind flowing. They were also able to receive three laptops from our donation to help out.
Sion has the highest Raz-Kids use for the past month mostly due to the new fast Internet connection and the house leader Mayra, who is working harder than ever to help the kids use the Raz-Kids program. Mayra expressed how the kids are begging to use Raz-Kids after they finish their homework!
With the support of our leaders and the wonderful donation of the laptops by High Tech High North County in San Marcos, we are happy to say that the reading program is working well in the orphanages! If you have any laptops or desktops in good condition that can be used in the computer labs, or if you like to support a specific home with better satellite internet service for a more reliable connection, please contact us for more information.
"I spent hours researching local volunteer opportunities, before I honed in on one. Corazon de Vida is a non-profit organization that supports the well being of orphaned children in Baja, Mexico. I registered online to join an orphanage trip, not really knowing what to expect. I convinced my Mom to join me as well. I read rave reviews of the organization and the trips as a whole, which put me at ease… to an extent. I’ll admit I remained a bit weary of the notion of heading into Mexico...
The young girl beside me, aged 6, was extremely giving and ensured that all the other children around her had what they needed, often offering her supplies to them, before gathering replacements for herself. If she left my side to go grab more supplies, or check on a friend, I’d watch as she would peek over at me and smile so innocently as she made sure I was still there.
As our visit came to an end, the thought of leaving this child behind and going back to the comforts of my home became unsettling. She knew our time together was over for the day when she grabbed me around the neck, and as I picked her up she said in Spanish, “I want you to stay here. I want you to never, never, never leave me.”
The majority of orphans stayed behind as the visitors approached the gate, ready to walk back down the dirt road. But my sweet girl stayed in my arms until I had to reluctantly put her down and make my way back to the bus. She stood at the gate, her tiny hands holding onto the fence as she watched us walk out. I couldn’t just walk away, so I went up to the gate from the outside and we gave each other a kiss through the fence. She quietly stood there watching as we walked away, and I kept turning back to see her until she was gone.
I expected the trip to be worthwhile, eye opening, and a great experience, but I didn’t expect it to be life-changing.
I thought it’d be tough to see the way the children live, but it wasn’t. The orphanage is nicer than I anticipated, well organized, and seemingly has all the basic needs of the children covered. Additionally, the children appear to be surrounded by love and well cared for by the staff and other children. But, it has been truly gut-wrenching since we departed. To have a sweet little girl ask me to never leave her, and to have to leave, crushes me. I think of her there, whether she be happy, sad, or scared, and not having a mother to cradle her, hug her, and give her the one on one devotion that every child deserves. My only goal now is to do all I can for her and the other children, and to let them know how valuable they are and how much they are loved. I’ve always loved children, and I’ve dreamed about being a mother since I was a little girl, but this child took that motherly instinct to an entirely new level. She was so selfless, so innocent, so caring, and all she desired was a little attention and recognition. Not toys, not money, not gadgets – just love.
Before our trip, I commented on a photo posted by the organization, saying I was excited about it. When I got back and checked their social media, I realized who was in the photo. Out of the 10+ orphanages they visit, and out of the 700+ orphans they support, it was those very eyes that found me <3"
To read Breanna's complete story, please visit: http://www.breannaphotos.com/corazon-de-vida/nggallery/thumbnails