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/
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!
If you want to see some of our amazing pictures we took from that night, visit our page here: https://corazondevida.smugmug.com.
And if you took any pictures at the photobooth, they are also online for you to see at https://whatablastphotobooth.smugmug.com/Corazon-De-Vida/i-tSxHw5k
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
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!
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
This past July 16th, Corazon de Vida held it's annual summer benefit "La Noche Blanca 2015" at the Santiago Canyon Estate and it was a raging success!
Over 170 guests attended, the venue was breathtaking, the food was delicious, the live music was perfect and the silent auction was filled with amazing items, vacation stays and experiences. Everyone was dressed in white and looking impeccable!
We had six past orphanage residents that are attending college representing all the students currently supported through our continuing education program: Flor, Grecia, Angelica, Natalia, Ceci and Antonio. The students shared with guests their stories and how they are on their way to obtaining a degree and making their dreams come true.
The enchantment of the event’s setting was only upstaged by the warmth of all the beautiful guests, coming together with the common goal of supporting the children. With your participation, we were able to raise $85,000 in donations and pledges. These funds will go a long way in providing the children at all the Corazon de Vida family of orphanages with security, nutrition, shelter and access to a reliable education.
We would like to send a very special acknowledgement to our evening sponsors Apogee Electronics and Dastmalchi, Inc, for their support, and to Jonathon’s Coastal Living for the beautiful décor that made the event look spectacular!
This event was only possible thanks to our Host Committee who worked for many months organizing the event and to our amazing and devoted team of staff and volunteers, many of them who help us continuously year after year to make our events possible!