HOPE: something that can be lost or displaced. It is a feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen. Corazon de Vida’s purpose is to give orphaned and abandoned children HOPE for a better future.
We are proud and overjoyed to celebrate our recent graduates: Emanuel (Sports), Angie (Nursing), Eliu (Business), Griselda (Business Administration), Magaly (Teaching), Antonio (Culinary), Josue (Culinary), Marta (Cosmetology), and Saralegui (Graphic Design).
CDV’s Executive Director, Dan Smith, organized an amazing event in Baja to honor the recent graduates from our Continuing Education Program. Over 50 people were in attendance to recognize the accomplishments of these graduates including loved ones, donors, the directors of both Ebenezer and Door of Faith Orphanages, and the Corazon de Vida staff. After dinner, which was fully prepared by Alexia, an aspiring Chef and current student of CDV’s Continuing Education Program, each of the graduates had an opportunity to speak about their struggles and how their CDV family helped them overcome them. Thanks to the generosity of many caring and compassionate Angels, Corazon de Vida has been able to shine the light of hope for these students, allowing them to pursue their dreams.
One of the graduates talked about how he had lost hope for his future, and how he believes that hope is nonexistent for kids like him. He further explained that with the support of CDV, he was able to regain the hope he had lost so many years ago which gave him the determination and drive to strive for a better future for himself and his family. He concluded his testimony thanking CDV’s Heart Angels and Mission Partners who helped him break out of the vicious cycle of poverty.
Every graduating student took the opportunity to express their heartfelt appreciation to all who contributed to support their education. They thanked the orphanage directors, who took them in as their own and provided a loving home and encouragement growing up. Mission partners Dan & Gina Streit and Steve & Mary Ellis were also present and were acknowledged by the students.
CDV also welcomed Alin, an alumnus, and holder of an MD degree, to share her experience with CDV and the impact of CDV’s support in her life. In an emotional and powerful statement, Alin personally thanked one of her CDV sponsors, John Haugland, for his support during her time in school. With tears in her eyes, she emphasized that what he believed was a mere monthly financial contribution to her education, his support was much more than that. He had given her hope and the opportunity for a better future. With not a dry eye in the room, Alin continued by asking John what she could do to repay him for his kindness. John’s humble and inspiring reply: “You can pay it forward”.
We are also proud to announce the establishment of CDV’s Alumni Program to keep in touch with those who have graduated and continue to hear about their accomplishments. We invite our graduates to be a part of the CDV family forever, become ambassadors for CDV, and share with other that where there is love, there is HOPE.
Last January, a group of Corazon de Vida’s University Students visited several schools in Southern California, and spoke about their experiences growing up in an orphanage in Baja. The schools visited included: Washington Elementary School and Redondo Union High School in Redondo Beach, Edison Elementary School in Santa Monica, Buckley School in Studio City, The Wesley School in Valley Village, and De Toledo High School in West Hills.
With the attention of the students, they described their lives being a former orphan and how Corazon de Vida inspired them to continue on with their education, attend college, and helped fund their finances to do so.
The interaction between the local students and CDV’s University students created, not only an eye-opening experience for the kids, but also an educational experience, as several of the schools visited maintained a Dual-Immersion program. The language barrier was not an issue, as the program’s students attempted to understand and speak in Spanish, which was created a pleasant and fun environment for everybody!
Corazon de Vida and the University student speakers concluded the days answering questions and did not leave empty handed! Handmade “Thank You” cards with special notes and drawings were created by the children and given to the speakers, many mentioning how the their presence made them appreciate their own upbringings and how happy they were that our foundation was able to help them break from the cycle of poverty.
We would like the thank all the schools who welcomed Corazon de Vida to speak about our foundation and our University students who were more than willing to share their stories and success with us!
The NorCal Chapter of Corazon de Vida hit the ground running with its first official event on Sunday, January 21,2018 at Make Westing, a bar in Oakland, California. The fundraising event, entitled "Heart to Heart: Connecting Nor Cal and Baja, Mexico", included amazing Salsa dancing lessons from Araceli Torres, great music by DJ Sonido Androide , and a passionate introduction of Corazon de Vida to Northern California by Kate Krumrei.
Three CDV university students attended the event and the featured guest speaker was our own Maribel Lane. Maribel explained how CDV provided life sustaining support at the two orphanages where she grew up. She went on to describe how the Corazon de Vida Family is the only reason she was able to attend university. Her incredible speech was captured on video and serves as a reminder of what we can do to make a difference in children's lives. Funds were raised at the event through a raffle, live auction, and the sale of merchandise - they will go directly towards sponsoring a university student.
The NorCal chapter is led by Kate Krumrei, teacher and coordinator for the CDV summer English program, and Mariela Guerrero, a tireless advocate and volunteer for Corazon de Vida. Special thanks to the owners of Make Westing for opening their doors to CDV, to Araceli Torres (Speaking from the Heart Founder) and Elena Restrepo for leading the Salsa dance lessons and Oscar Diaz for volunteering his time and talents as the DJ for the event.
If you live in the Bay Area and are interested in future NorCal events - please write to Dan Smith at email@example.com.
Our Noche de Gala 2017 event was held on November 3rd at the beautiful Coronado Island Marriott in San Diego. As our guests arrived to the reception they were greeted by a champagne welcome, and the magical live piano and trumpet music playing in the background. Artist Gloria Muriel was working on a beautiful piece that was live auctioned at the end of the night. Our guests enjoyed delicious appetizers prepared by featured Celebrity Chef Claudette Zepeda-Wilkins, and tastings of Baja wines poured by Baja United Group, and Mezcal by Mezcal Tribal.
The silent auction boasted amazing vacation stays, spa and massage packages, culinary experiences, and so much more!
Emmy Winner Anchor and Reporter Abbey Gibb and TV Show Host and artist Abelardo Rodriguez, were the dynamic Masters of Ceremonies of the night. 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, and Jorge and Ely Fonseca, Directors of Rancho de los Niños orphanage. It was a very emotional moment when the entire ballroom gave a standing ovation to Jorge and Ely for their hard work as directors of the orphanage. Hilda’s and Jorge’s speeches were 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. Our Masters of Ceremonies, shared some of their experiences with the children to encourage everybody to participate in the Live Appeal. 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 2017 did in fact make change because we raised over $200,000 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: Bird Rock Systems, North County Dental Surgery Center and SmileBuilders Children's Dentistry for generously sponsoring our event; Abbey Gibb and Abelardo Rodriguez for being outstanding Masters of Ceremonies; all the companies and individuals that generously contributed with a donation to make our silent action outstanding; 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, Vanessa and Eugene Kocherga, and to our dedicated San Diego Chapter because thanks to you, our events in San Diego are growing each year. Thank you for loving the kids so much! Amar Harrag, Sandra Slocum, John Haugland, Amanda (Mandy) Burstein, Brianna Woo, Alina Gordon, Mariann Sanchez, May Nguyen and Angela Aguilar.
Last but not least, thank you to our devoted and hard-working 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.
For more pictures of the evening, please visit our gallery: https://www.corazondevida.org/gallery
Brisa’s childhood was suddenly altered when she witnessed her mother lose her life to a violent death. The death of her mother remains on replay in her head to this day. Eventually, she began to visit a child psychologist to discuss her feelings and thoughts that were linked with the nightmares. Brisa realized how truly fascinating the human brain is! She wanted to understand herself and others. She was inspired by her own psychologist and childhood experiences to embark on a career in psychology.
After her mother died, Brisa was sent to live with a foster family. However, she explains that the family was abusive towards her. Therefore, when she was 15, she was sent to DIF—A social service program in Mexico—DIF ended up referring her to Casa Estrella. Casa Estrella was a house specifically designed for adolescents with the hopes of providing them a temporary home until a more permanent setting was found. The last chapter of her adolescence took place at the one of our supported orphanages; however, Brisa reluctantly admits, “I was rebellious.” She lived there for 2 years.
Her life at the orphanage was an improvement from her foster family. Brisa happily explained that she, “[…] loved living at Faro, but she was depressed at first” because she did not know anyone. Towards the end of her time at the orphanage, she admits that she, “Came to love it” and did not want to leave. Her favorite characteristic about the house was their sense of faith.
While at the orphanage, Brisa began to reflect on her life experiences and became passionate about her studies. She is currently enrolled at a university in Baja Mexico studying Psychology with the intentions of becoming a clinical psychologist.
When asked, “Why psychology?” Brisa explains that she, “Saw a lot of people in pain—emotional pain—she felt a need to help”; However, she did not know how. She knew that inside her own feelings, she treasured the feeling of being a part of the reason why someone smiles. It did not take long for her to realize that psychology was the answer to her urge to help people!
CDV is beyond honored to help Brisa with her academic endeavors! To Brisa, CDV means family. She laughs, “I know they are not my biological family. But for me, in my case, they are my Family.” She continued to say, “They never gave up on me. I am thankful for them and God.” To the donors: Brisa thanks you for changing her life claiming, “I have more opportunities; they always inspire me.” According to Brisa, support is contagious! To fellow abandoned children she says, “We have the best opportunities. CDV acts as the voice for us; making sure that orphans are heard.”
Brisa illuminates the beauty and potential that radiates through the human mind. She will continue to expand on her own intellectual capabilities in order to allow others to discover their true potential.
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!”