HOPE: something that can be lost or displaced. It is a feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen. Corazon de Vida’s purpose is to give orphaned and abandoned children HOPE for a better future.
We are proud and overjoyed to celebrate our recent graduates: Emanuel (Sports), Angie (Nursing), Eliu (Business), Griselda (Business Administration), Magaly (Teaching), Antonio (Culinary), Josue (Culinary), Marta (Cosmetology), and Saralegui (Graphic Design).
CDV’s Executive Director, Dan Smith, organized an amazing event in Baja to honor the recent graduates from our Continuing Education Program. Over 50 people were in attendance to recognize the accomplishments of these graduates including loved ones, donors, the directors of both Ebenezer and Door of Faith Orphanages, and the Corazon de Vida staff. After dinner, which was fully prepared by Alexia, an aspiring Chef and current student of CDV’s Continuing Education Program, each of the graduates had an opportunity to speak about their struggles and how their CDV family helped them overcome them. Thanks to the generosity of many caring and compassionate Angels, Corazon de Vida has been able to shine the light of hope for these students, allowing them to pursue their dreams.
One of the graduates talked about how he had lost hope for his future, and how he believes that hope is nonexistent for kids like him. He further explained that with the support of CDV, he was able to regain the hope he had lost so many years ago which gave him the determination and drive to strive for a better future for himself and his family. He concluded his testimony thanking CDV’s Heart Angels and Mission Partners who helped him break out of the vicious cycle of poverty.
Every graduating student took the opportunity to express their heartfelt appreciation to all who contributed to support their education. They thanked the orphanage directors, who took them in as their own and provided a loving home and encouragement growing up. Mission partners Dan & Gina Streit and Steve & Mary Ellis were also present and were acknowledged by the students.
CDV also welcomed Alin, an alumnus, and holder of an MD degree, to share her experience with CDV and the impact of CDV’s support in her life. In an emotional and powerful statement, Alin personally thanked one of her CDV sponsors, John Haugland, for his support during her time in school. With tears in her eyes, she emphasized that what he believed was a mere monthly financial contribution to her education, his support was much more than that. He had given her hope and the opportunity for a better future. With not a dry eye in the room, Alin continued by asking John what she could do to repay him for his kindness. John’s humble and inspiring reply: “You can pay it forward”.
We are also proud to announce the establishment of CDV’s Alumni Program to keep in touch with those who have graduated and continue to hear about their accomplishments. We invite our graduates to be a part of the CDV family forever, become ambassadors for CDV, and share with other that where there is love, there is HOPE.
Last January, a group of Corazon de Vida’s University Students visited several schools in Southern California, and spoke about their experiences growing up in an orphanage in Baja. The schools visited included: Washington Elementary School and Redondo Union High School in Redondo Beach, Edison Elementary School in Santa Monica, Buckley School in Studio City, The Wesley School in Valley Village, and De Toledo High School in West Hills.
With the attention of the students, they described their lives being a former orphan and how Corazon de Vida inspired them to continue on with their education, attend college, and helped fund their finances to do so.
The interaction between the local students and CDV’s University students created, not only an eye-opening experience for the kids, but also an educational experience, as several of the schools visited maintained a Dual-Immersion program. The language barrier was not an issue, as the program’s students attempted to understand and speak in Spanish, which was created a pleasant and fun environment for everybody!
Corazon de Vida and the University student speakers concluded the days answering questions and did not leave empty handed! Handmade “Thank You” cards with special notes and drawings were created by the children and given to the speakers, many mentioning how the their presence made them appreciate their own upbringings and how happy they were that our foundation was able to help them break from the cycle of poverty.
We would like the thank all the schools who welcomed Corazon de Vida to speak about our foundation and our University students who were more than willing to share their stories and success with us!
The NorCal Chapter of Corazon de Vida hit the ground running with its first official event on Sunday, January 21,2018 at Make Westing, a bar in Oakland, California. The fundraising event, entitled "Heart to Heart: Connecting Nor Cal and Baja, Mexico", included amazing Salsa dancing lessons from Araceli Torres, great music by DJ Sonido Androide , and a passionate introduction of Corazon de Vida to Northern California by Kate Krumrei.
Three CDV university students attended the event and the featured guest speaker was our own Maribel Lane. Maribel explained how CDV provided life sustaining support at the two orphanages where she grew up. She went on to describe how the Corazon de Vida Family is the only reason she was able to attend university. Her incredible speech was captured on video and serves as a reminder of what we can do to make a difference in children's lives. Funds were raised at the event through a raffle, live auction, and the sale of merchandise - they will go directly towards sponsoring a university student.
The NorCal chapter is led by Kate Krumrei, teacher and coordinator for the CDV summer English program, and Mariela Guerrero, a tireless advocate and volunteer for Corazon de Vida. Special thanks to the owners of Make Westing for opening their doors to CDV, to Araceli Torres (Speaking from the Heart Founder) and Elena Restrepo for leading the Salsa dance lessons and Oscar Diaz for volunteering his time and talents as the DJ for the event.
If you live in the Bay Area and are interested in future NorCal events - please write to Dan Smith at email@example.com.
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.
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.
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!
“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