25 years ago, Corazon de Vida first opened its heart to making a difference in the lives of hundreds of orphaned and abandoned children in Baja, Mexico. It all started with one orphanage, Puerta de Fe, and grew into providing funds and support for 9 more. Over the years we have seen children walk into these orphanages uncertain about their future and have seen that uncertainty transformed into hope when provided the opportunity to live in a safe and nurturing environment. Our mission started with one special woman who knew she wanted to make a difference, our founder Hilda Pacheco-Taylor.
Hilda grew up at Puerta de Fe Orphanage, the place that gave her and her siblings a place to call home. Years after she left the orphanage, Hilda went back to visit and found that the orphanage had lost most of their financial support and was no longer able to sustain the children that were living there. From that day forward, she became determined to give those kids the same opportunities she was provided, and this is where Corazon de Vida’s mission of ending the cycle of poverty, homelessness and abandonment first started.
It is hard to believe that within just a few hours from our California/Mexico border there are people living drastically different lives. It is estimated that there are more than 6,000 kids living in the streets in Baja. Since day one, we have seen a community come together in an effort to provide a better life for the children. There are so many beautiful stories of people practicing compassion and generosity in support of the children: supporters asking for donations instead of presents for their weddings or birthdays, corporate sponsors raising funds and awareness through their products and services, children hosting bake sales, working lemonade stands, and forming high school clubs, athletes running marathons and Ironman events, volunteers joining our trips every month and forming beautiful bonds with the children, and so much more! It may take a village to raise a child but when a whole community comes together, we are able to truly make a lasting impact that sends ripples of change across the border.
With the support of our donors, sponsors, chapters and volunteers, CDV has raised over $13 million in the last 25 years for the everyday needs of the orphanages – food, water, utilities, and for special projects such as facility repairs, construction and upgrades, medical and dental services and more. Knowing that education is the key to breaking the cycle of poverty, homelessness and abandonment, a focus on funding education has been a pivotal program for us throughout the years. In 2012, we started funding college and technical school for teens aging out of the orphanage system and to date, twenty students have graduated, forty students are actively attending school and ten students are set to start university this next fall and spring!
CDV is more committed than ever to continuing with our mission. We are profoundly devoted to helping more children and making a bigger impact in their lives. Our journey has only just begun and we know that with our wonderful supporters by our side, we will be able to bring hope and keep transforming the lives of many more children.
We cannot wait to see what these next 25 years have in store for us!
Noche de Gala was nothing short of a resounding success! Corazon de Vida and the San Diego Chapter held its annual fundraising event at the beautiful Coronado Island Marriott on November 3rd, 2018. The event was made more enchanting by the enthusiasm of the guests who came together in support of the children and with everyone’s wonderful and generous participation we were able to raise over $120,000!
Nearly 300 guests took in the beautiful panoramic view of downtown San Diego while enjoying delicious tastings of Baja wines and artisan mezcals. The silent auction was amazing and included many prizes like exotic vacations, unforgettable experiences and much more. It was exciting to see so many new faces at the event that were eager to learn more about Corazon de Vida.
The evening's program was led by Tim Altbaum as Master of Ceremonies and included heartwarming presentations that our guests enjoyed over a candle-lit dinner. Founder Hilda Pacheco-Taylor called university students up on stage during her presentation. It was a very emotional moment for everyone in the room. Their stories of overcoming adversity and their noteworthy academic achievements brought to life the meaning of our cause, and serve as inspiration and hope for the future of hundreds of children living at the orphanages supported by CDV.
This event was made possible thanks to our generous sponsors: Aeromexico, Bird Rock Systems and Warren & Burstein. Thank you to product sponsors Casta Tribal Mezcal and Baja United Wines for sponsoring the tastings, Harumi Takata and Harumi Takata Floral Designs for the beautiful floral arrangements, Ortega’s A Mexican Bistro for donating the food and refreshments for our volunteers, and to all the companies and individuals that contributed items to our silent auction.
We’d like to thank our incredible San Diego Chapter for your hard work, your love of the children and unwavering commitment to our cause as well as give special recognition and thanks to Noche de Gala’s Host Committee: Carolina and Larry Katz, Carrin and Michael Goldstein, Mayra and James Matteo, Mandy and Devin Burstein, Debra and Larry Poteet, Tami and Bill Sandke and Lisa and James Littman.
And finally, we would like to thank our wonderful and hardworking Volunteer Committee and volunteers, your presence and support is what made Noche de Gala so special!
Visit our GALLERY to view all the photos of the evening
La Noche Blanca 2018 had an overwhelmingly successful outcome this year! Corazon de Vida hosted the all-white fundraising gala on July 21, 2018 at the serene and breathtakingly beautiful Santiago Vineyards in Orange County. The evening began as guests arrived in their beautiful summer whites and were greeted with smiling faces. At the reception, they enjoyed delicious tastings of Mezcal sponsored by Casta Tribal and the best wines from the Baja, Mexico region sponsored by CDV Mission partner, Baja United. As everyone settled in their seats for a delightful dinner, they were surprised with a serenade by Mariachi Nueva Generacion.
Excitement grew throughout the evening as the attendees checked out the many impressive silent auction items available. There were items such as culinary experiences, incredible vacation stays, and so much more! There was also a lot of eagerness revolving around the highly-anticipated live auction that included incredible items like a trip to Fiji, a full day on a luxury speedboat, a stay at a beautiful villa in Cabo, and a VIP experience with a racing team.
The evening's program was led by Bob Miller who was the Master of Ceremonies. He introduced our founder, Hilda Pacheco- Taylor, and some of the university students that have gone through Corazon de Vida’s program. The students gave heartwarming testimonials about how drastically Corazon de Vida has impacted their lives - there was not one dry eye in the crowd. Their inspiring words touched the attendees’ hearts and reminded us that everything we do to help the kids and students really does make a difference.
Thanks to everyone’s participation, generous bidding and big-hearted donations, we were able to break our fundraising records and raised over $220,000 in support of the children! Thanks to your endless support, this year’s Noche Blanca exceeded all expectations!
We would also like to give a very special thank you to all of the amazing companies and individuals that helped make our event successful: Apogee Electronics for generously sponsoring our event and for their unwavering, long-standing support. To Bob Miller for being an incredible Master of Ceremonies, to our amazing Host Committee for working very hard for months to help make our event a success: Emilia and Darren Sugiyama, Alex Dastmalchi, Parisa and Chuck Horning, Andrea Bittick, Angelina and Quan Ha, Sonya Bella, Shannon and Mike Mancini, Setareh and Majid Kashanian, and Todd Vande Hei. Thank you to Casta Tribal Mezcal and Baja United for sponsoring the tastings. Harumi Takata and Harumi Takata Floral Designs for the beautiful floral arrangements. Thank you to all the companies and individuals that contributed with product donations and to our silent auction with an item donation.
And finally, we would like to thank our wonderful and hardworking Volunteer Committee and volunteers, your presence and support is what made La Noche Blanca 2018 so special!
Visit our GALLERY to view all the photos of the evening
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Elizabeth Ontiveros is a compassionate and strong willed woman that grew up in Casa Hogar Ebenezer. Her life there began at the age of eleven after her mother could no longer care for them. Ontiveros’ mother struggled to hold together her family of six; when her boyfriend became abusive she knew she had to make a change. She took Elizabeth and one of her sisters to Ebenezer.
The decision of her mother to place two of her daughters in an orphanage troubled Elizabeth for a long time. As time progressed and her mother stopped seeing them, Elizabeth struggled to come to terms with her place. However, Ontiveros made the best of her situation. Her favorite memory at Ebenezer Orphanage is one of a little girl who would run into her arms for a loving hug. It was growing up at Ebenezer that Ontiveros found her passion to work with children.
Her experiences have shaped her career goals and led her to enroll in college where she is now working on a bachelor’s degree in Human Resources. She wants a professional career that can give her the opportunities to give back to children like those that she grew up with. Ultimately, she wants to find a way to help the orphanage that raised her into the intelligent and compassionate young woman she is today.
Ontiveros has always viewed Corazon de Vida as a lending hand of emotional support for the past 15 years of her life. Without a doubt, she says they have been her biggest support through her childhood. They were the motivation she needed as a child to bring her up when she was down. Her message to the children that come to Corazon de Vida is this: think about others before yourself. She stressed that one should remember to be sensitive of others’ situations. Everyone has a different reason for being there but they all want the same thing: a family. Ontiveros thanks God and the organization for the children she has met whose big hearts welcomed her and gave her a family.
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.”
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!
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