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.
Imagine moving into an orphanage with your family at the age of six--You no longer just have your parents and two brothers; now you have about twenty more brothers and sister to share your parents with. Life as you knew it has suddenly changed when Emanuel's parents decided to move into Casa de Paz orphanage to be the caregivers of the special need children.
Emanuel Moreno Garcia had no idea that his new life at the orphanage would guide him in the direction of his passion. A passion that CDV has supported from the start. Emmanuel saw potential in the children with special needs. He stated, “The world needs to learn love from the kids.” Once he felt the love of the children, Emanuel immediately knew that he wanted to pursue a career in physical therapy. With a smile on his face, Moreno-Garcia warmly admitted, “If you were to visit the orphanage, you would understand exactly what I’m saying.”
Emanuel is currently studying sports medicine and is determined to become a physical therapist. When asked, “Why did you choose physical therapy?” He confidently answered, “I chose it because of where I grew up.” He was saddened when he noticed that the mobility of some special needs children was not that great. Emanuel became familiar with their conditions and his heart felt experiences only fueled his career aspirations.
Emanuel became determined to attend a university abroad. He decided to apply for a scholarship and out of 10,000 applicants, he was one of the few selected! However, the scholarship only covered part of his tuition. Still, he did not let the cost of studying abroad scare him from living his dream. When CDV heard about Emanuel’s unique childhood and goals, they offered to help cover some of the expenses if Emanuel could save up to pay the rest. Moreno-Garcia was able to save up the money in only six months by working long hours after school and on weekends. His hard work paid off and he was able to study abroad at the University de Vigo in Galicia, Spain for a semester. He worked while attending school in order to travel around Europe and expand his horizons. He is now back home completing his bachelor's degree at UABC.
Children can impact people in so many ways; Emanuel allowed the children to be the light that guided him to his passion in life. Moreno-Garcia appreciates the support that CDV provided and continues to provide for his education. He enthusiastically explains that CDV has become his family. He feels that there is much love to go around and he can always count on them. Emanuel had one more message to tell: “If you like my story, please continue to support CDV. I have a lot of siblings back at home who will be leaving the orphanage in six months. Their stories are much better.”
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!
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!