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 Starstatus! 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$140,000for 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 CenterandSmileBuilders Children's Dentistryfor 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.
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!
On Friday April 8th, Corazon de Vida held their annual Charity Golf Tournament at the Tijeras Creek Golf Club in Rancho Santa Margarita. Despite a little bit of rain, everyone had a great time playing for our beautiful children in Baja.
The players were greeted by enthusiastic volunteers who handed out goodie bags filled with treats, hats, golf balls, and more. They had the chance to take their pictures on the “Green Carpet” and enjoyed some mouth-watering tacos at our amazing taco stands before shotgun. Afterwards, the golfers all raced against one another to get to the nearest hole to start their game. We could hear the players shouting and cheering around the course. They were all happy to pose for candid shots and group photos.
After spending nearly five hours playing in the sprinkling rain, it was time to head back to the clubhouse for a delicious dinner and awards presentation. It was the perfect way to end the night full of laughter, cheering, and even some tears were shed. We raised $32,000 thanks to the 100+ golfers that came out to support our tournament and thanks to the following sponsors: Platinum sponsor Bernie Welk – Cliqpak and to our Tee Sponsors: Dan Streit - SST and SSTI, Craig Stoltz -Pacific Edge, Tomas Rallo - Rallo Law Firm, P.C., Tim Murphy - ASM, Mark Weiner - Omni Corp, Gabe Loya - Jellco, John Mikulka - Allen Packaging, Ty Reed - Keylink, Thomas and Ted Prenovost - Prenovost, Normandin, Bergh & Dawe, APC, and Frank Toms -Jeffrey Court.
We would like to send a heartfelt thank you to our host committee, for working hard for several months planning this event: Juan Pacheco, Gina Tillotson, Dan Streit, Ed Patrick, Nadim Mustafa and George Perez. Thank you so much to our celebrity friends for coming down all the way from LA in support of the children: Rick Najera, Momo Rodriguez, Emilio Rivera, Nicholas Gonzalez, Mark Hildreth (Official) and Neil Hildreth. Thank you for the love and support, we look forward partnering again with you in the future!
Also, thank you so much to all of our silent auction and raffle donors, Audi Mission Viejo for sponsoring the Hole in One contest, Tijeras Creek Golf Club for all your support in planning and executing the event. Thank you so much to our staff Irene, Leny and Natalie for your dedication and to our dearest volunteers, our events would not be possible without your selfless dedication to our cause: Ana, Maya, Sara, Lisa, Sevy, Daniela, Beckie, De'Anna, Yvette, Alin, Kiana, Jennie, Yicheng, Carmen and Luz Elena. And also, thank you Susie Albin-Najera Consulting for the beautiful pictures of the event.
My Name is De'Anna Nunez. I began running six months before I turned 40 years old. I was inspired by a family member that I considered a mentor at the time. She had taken up running to help her through a difficult period in her life and when I saw how happy and focused it seemed to make her, and well, I wanted to drink the kool aid.
I ran my first full 26.2 marathon three months after my 40th Birthday. I gave it to myself for a fabulous ‘I can rock it at 40’ birthday gift, and I’ve just kept going. Running soon became my favorite hobby and I started to see how following a training plan mirrored a plan for personal development. It felt amazing to break through mental limitations and adopt new beliefs about myself, as well as learning the art of following thru on a goal. Like Forest Gump, people started joining in and following the inspiration. So, I began training others on how to run their first Marathon too. I have now completed twenty eight full marathons and countless halves as well as a few UltraMarathons too.
Running marathons is much more than a physical feat. It is an opportunity to expand yourself and reach beyond any limitations that you might put on yourself. When I run marathons, I do it in a style that works for me. I don’t go for PR’s, I go for fun and achievement. I’ve learned there is more than one way to run a marathon and I prefer bouts of skipping, dancing and high fiving along the way. There is something pretty fantastic about all these people showing up to their lives with health and a yearning to thrive. Those are my kind of folks!
This go-round, I am really looking forward to running each step knowing I am supporting Esteban, my little four year old boy I have been paired with through Corazon de Vida. He will most likely spend his entire childhood in his orphanage home and it warms my heart to know I am helping to make it a safe and supportive place for him to grow up. He’ll be fed good meals, clothed and educated so that he can have a fighting chance at building a life for himself. I hope that he will have in his heart the same burning desire that I have to be a contributor in the world and give of his developed talents and abilities for the greater good.
"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
"A child without education, is like a bird without wings" - Tibetan Proverb
Last week was a very important week for the CDV family and for our education program. We were lucky to witness the culmination of one of our student’s Medical School journey and held our annual “Career Day’ at the local university where we had the opportunity to inspire a group of more than 70 teens from five of our supported orphanages that will soon enter college or technical school.
It’s hard to believe how fast time went by. It seems like yesterday when five years ago, a very outgoing and well spoken teen girl stood out of the crowd at one of the first Career Day events, and went straight to the University’s Vice-Chancellor and CDV representatives, asking for support to enter Medical School.
Alin grew up in Estado 29 orphanage and from a very young age, she had a clear dream about her future, she always knew she wanted to be a doctor, although she did not know if her dream would ever become a reality. Alin’s drive and determination was very inspiring for all of us since day one. Corazon de Vida provided the support she needed to make her dream a reality, however, the work, effort and determination was all hers! Alin overcame many obstacles to continue studying, including an unplanned pregnancy. Once again, Alin’s determination proved her unstoppable. She asked her professors for help with a plan for completing all required classes and work through her pregnancy. She was determined to complete her schooling and she did, with some of the highest scores in her class! In an emotional testimonial at Career Day, Alin shared with our prospective students how her desire to not let Corazon de Vida and her sponsors down, she knew her only option was to work harder and not give up!
Seeing her walk to receive her diploma was a very inspiring moment for all. Alin will complete a one-year residency in the state of Colima, and then a year of service in a yet to be determined location.
During Career Day, future generations of university students were able to experience what life in a university campus is like and about some of the careers available to them.
We are grateful to the University of Baja California (UABC) Ensenada Campus and the Science Department for organizing a very informative and interactive event, with a group of science students that traveled all the way from the Mexicali campus and brought interactive Biology, Physics, International Trade and Engineering exhibits to the teens.
Thank you to all the sponsors that believe in and support our mission. We continue changing lives together by investing in the future of our kids, who will generate a positive social and economic impact as future leaders of their communities!
This past Memorial Day Weekend we hosted our “Baja Wine Country and Orphanage Weekend Trip” in beautiful Valle de Guadalupe, Mexico
Combining the love of discovering new places and flavors around the world while getting the opportunity to give back creates an experience that becomes life-altering for many people. Valle de Guadalupe in Baja has become an area known as Mexico’s Wine Country. With over 50 wineries and many world-renowned restaurants, the area is also home to three of Corazon de Vida’s supported orphanages and has become the perfect location for a combined vacation/service trip!
There is no better way to immerse yourself in the Corazon de Vida experience than joining one of our weekend trips! The connections you make with the beautiful area of Baja California, the kids living at our supported orphanages and the interactions with your fellow trip participants create memories that will last a lifetime. Our guests enjoyed tastings of some of the most amazing wines of the area, delighted themselves with an incredible dinner at Trevista Vineyards, a boutique vineyard; and most importantly, got to spend time with the children of two of our supported orphanages: Casa de Paz and Rancho El Faro.
Read what some of the participants are saying!
"We went to Mexico and visited an orphanage and did 'Vino’ tour. All the proceeds from the expenses, including lodging benefited the Corazon de Vida Foundation and their sponsored orphanages. WARNING: despite of the good cause, this was a trip filled with fun times and an overload of 'group selfies' see the photos at your own risk” - Shanti Ananda
"A great weekend with my pops and the Corazon de Vida family. It was a fulfilling visit with the orphans of Casa de Paz, El Faro and the university students. Many thanks for the beautiful wine dinner at Trevista, Hilda, George & Daniel!” - Laura Ibarra
"So blessed to watch this beautiful girl grown into such an wonderful young lady. Thank you Arraiza Omar for capturing this moment.” - Shelley Honingbaum
Thank you Omar Arraiza for the beautiful images! Visit the gallery for more pictures of the trip: http://araizamp.smugmug.com/Corazon-De-Vida/May-wine-trip-2015-Corazon-De-