Hi, my name is Alberto, this is my story. When I was 11 years old, my two siblings and I arrived at an orphanage due to domestic abuse. While living at Puerta de Fe, I met Corazon de Vida. They would come to us with groups of people who wanted nothing more than to spend time with us. I got to talk to them about the dreams I had of one day getting ahead in life. That made a big impact on me, I felt that someone cared about my future.
I remember my time in the orphanage with great affection because I learned many things that have been very useful to me to this day. I spent my days helping and playing with the little ones, I was always fond of them. I really enjoyed assisting them with their homework and advising them on topics they didn't understand. I liked motivating them to continue studying. That is what inspired me to decide on a career in education. So, I studied for a Bachelor of Science in Education and I am currently studying for a Master's Degree in Education. Corazon de Vida was always there for me during my college years. I had some setbacks but they never doubted me and continued to support me.
Now, I am an honest person with values, who likes to support others. I have a wife and a daughter that I love with all my heart. Without CDV’s help, I probably wouldn't be where I am right now. I work at CUT University, Ensenada Campus as a coordinator, and a writing and reading teacher.
To all the donors, thank you very much! It really is a blessing to know there are people helping children who have been suffering since they were very young. Thanks to your donations, you can fulfill the dream of a child who perhaps thinks they have no more opportunities. It is with your help that you uplift that child and allow them to become a good person, breaking a cycle that is sadly repeated in some cases without such help.
My name is Fernando Ibarra, I am 29 years old, I am a civil engineer. This is my story. I first arrived at an orphanage as a newborn and a few months later my mother picked me up. Eventually, my mom was unable to care for my needs, so I ended up at an orphanage again at three years old. I remained there throughout my childhood and adolescence.
I remember the small dorm rooms at my orphanage would sleep two or three on one bed when it was at its peak capacity of 120 kids. It was then that Corazon de Vida came along and began a project to build a new boys dorm for us. Since the project became expensive, the orphanage directors asked us older boys to help out with the construction labor. It sparked an interest in me, so, I continued to get involved in every construction project at the orphanage. This is exactly how I came to choose Civil Engineering as my area of study.
The support of Corazon de Vida means pretty much everything to me. If I could describe the foundation in one word, it would be FAMILY. They have watched me grow from the time I was eight or nine years old. I would sincerely like to thank the people who donate. The truth is, you contribute so much. Thanks to you, I have a university degree in Civil Engineering! With my work, I am able to support myself and my mother too. I am doing well, I feel happy and fulfilled. You should know, your help changed my life and I know it will do the same for others.
Corazon de Vida: We are so proud of Fernando’s accomplishments! He is currently employed at an engineering firm in Tijuana, working on several build-projects in Valle de Guadalupe and managing a crew of 20+ construction workers! If you ever wonder whether your donations make a difference, think of the life-changing difference it made in Fernando’s life!
Hello! My name is Magaly and I would like to share my story with you. When I was 12 years old, my mother had to work the night shift and this made our daily routine very difficult. I was absent from school many times because I had to care for my siblings who needed to be fed and taken to school. The school that we were attending at the time had a church and also an orphanage within the same parcel of land. I decided to talk to the orphanage director to ask for the opportunity to live there while I was attending school.
When I finished high school, I knew that my next step would be to become a teacher like I always dreamed of. I researched my options and decided to apply for Baja's public university, UABC. The public university did not offer an Education/Teaching major and I was advised to look into a private university instead. I felt crushed with the news thinking that my dream was now unreachable because I didn’t have the money to pay for the tuition. It was then when Corazon de Vida offered to cover 50% of my expenses so I could apply to the university of my choice. I was speechless! I knew this was my one and only opportunity to become a teacher.
Halfway into university, I had to leave the orphanage and move in with my father. There were more expenses to pay and things were getting tough. My grades were going down and every payment towards school seemed impossible to make but Corazon de Vida did not allow me to give up. They decided to cover my school expenses in full and I happily graduated with a degree in Educational Technology in 2017.
Right after graduating I began working at a Corazon de Vida supported school called San Juan Bosco and one year later I completed my master's degree. I currently work at a private school as an Elementary School teacher and at an institute teaching Middle School and High School. In my free time I work from home giving private lessons to those who fall behind in school and I also help young children around my block to learn how to read and write. I am very proud to also be giving back by collaborating with Corazon de Vida in a workshop that I helped develop to prepare other students like me for university. I don't have many hobbies other than teaching but I do enjoy painting, playing guitar, and most importantly spending time with my son.
Teaching is my reason to be, my passion, and on behalf of myself and each child benefiting from your donations I want to say THANK YOU for the opportunity of reaching out for our dreams!
I arrived at an orphanage for the first time when I was 8-years-old because I had a dysfunctional family. My mom couldn't take care of my brothers and me because she was sick and died of cancer years later. I lived with my grandmother and uncles where I was abused by everyone until the neighbors reported it to the authorities. I grew up separated from my brothers as we were placed in different orphanages.
Since I was a little girl I always wanted to be a veterinarian because when I suffered abuse from my family, I would find refuge in animals. They took care of me when I had to sleep alone in the streets... so I promised myself that one day when I grew up, I would take care of them like they took care of me.
At the age of 16, I escaped from one of the many orphanages I was in but was soon picked up by the authorities and placed at yet another orphanage, El Faro. It was there where I decided that I would stop escaping and that I would finish my studies to get ahead in life.
It was then when I met Corazón de Vida through George, who told me that they could help me to continue my education and that if I had good grades, they could help me fulfill my dream of completing a degree.
As promised, they supported me with my university studies and with everything I needed during those years. They continue to check on me even after I graduated and started working. To this date, they are still a very important presence in my life, they are like part of my family.
Currently, I am working as a veterinarian at Xel-Há- an incredible park in Tulum that houses several marine and exotic species. I take care of many animals and I am very happy. I will be forever grateful for the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that Corazon de Vida gave me, for supporting me to achieve my dream and get ahead in life.
Above all, I am grateful for all of you who wholeheartedly support this beautiful organization. All the generous donors that without expecting anything in return give us your love and support. Thank you for helping hundreds of children in need break the odds and achieve their dreams. Without your support, none of this would’ve been possible. Thank you!!!
Now that the school year is over, the children are “officially” on summer vacation. But what does “vacation” look like at the orphanages? Vacation is usually a very fun and busy time for the children, with lots of activities and visitors. However, visits are not possible now, so the orphanage directors and staff are looking for creative ways to keep the children active and healthy.
Outdoor play is an important part of the children’s lives, so one of the activities that the children have been enjoying a lot has been hiking together. Nothing like spending time in nature! Time in the outdoors improves children’s mental and physical health, teaches them about teamwork and communication skills and to love and care for the planet.
Jaque and Alin, both former orphanage residents and CDV alumni, are on the front-lines of combating the COVID-19 pandemic in Baja California. They have been working strenuous hours to save the lives of those who have been affected by the virus in an area that has been hit hard with surges in cases. Jaque, a registered nurse and doctor Alin, have worked around the clock, often in 12-hour shifts for 30 consecutive days in order to provide the necessary coverage for COVID patients, both risking their lives to help those in need.
If you have ever wondered whether your donations make a difference, this is a perfect example of how your support is the catalyst for our children to dream big and accomplish big things. Alin and Jaque have completed a full circle of transformation that is creating a ripple effect in their lives, their families and communities.
We are extremely proud of Alin and Jacque, these two bright and determined young women who are making a difference in the world – paying it forward!
As we continue to adapt to the changes in our lives during the quarantine, life inside our supported orphanages is no different. The children are adjusting between online schooling and afternoon activities to keep them busy. Orphanage directors are doing their best to overcome the challenges brought by the pandemic and are making sure that above all, everyone at the home remains healthy.
The children continue their online classes for the remainder of the school year which ends July 17th. The orphanages are coordinating the best that they can to ensure each child is provided with learning tools. Due to minimal computer access, it's been a challenge to provide each student with the screen time they need to complete their assigned tasks but orphanage staff is making it happen.
The children of Casa de La Esperanza orphanage have been talking about how much they would like to have a farm for a while, so they used the free time they had due to the quarantine to make it happen. They finished putting together a barn where they already welcomed three sheep and two goats. The children are pouring so much love and care into tending for the animals!
After the barn was complete, they moved onto another project; a chicken coop and an area for bunnies! Children of all ages are involved in this project. The younger ones help to gather and count fresh eggs for the home. Daily chores are a good way to introduce structure into a child’s routine in a way that can be fun since they’re taking care of a pet. It teaches them about contributing to the household, too.
With your support, we can continue to improve the quality of life for hundreds of orphaned and abandoned children. Together, we have the power to ensure that the Corazon de Vida kids feel safe and secure knowing that we care and will be there for them during these difficult times.
Please support our online fundraising “COVID-19 CONTINGENCY FUND” campaign HERE
We are proud and overjoyed to celebrate our recent graduates: Elizabeth (Law), Maribel (Marketing), Lourdes (Information Technology) and Alberto (Education).
On Sunday January 26th, 2020, CDV’s Executive Director, Dan Smith, organized an amazing event in Baja to honor the recent graduates from our Continuing Education Program. Over 100 people were in attendance to recognize the accomplishments of these graduates including loved ones, donors, the directors of our supported orphanages and Corazon de Vida's staff. After a delicious lunch, each of the graduates had an opportunity to speak about their life and academic journey including their struggles and how the CDV family helped them overcome each one of them.
Every graduate took the opportunity to express their heartfelt appreciation to all who contributed towards their education. They thanked the orphanage directors who took them in as their own and provided a loving home and encouragement growing up. They also thanked all the incredibly generous sponsors who believed in them since day one. Because of the generosity of many caring and compassionate Angels, Corazon de Vida has been able to shine the light of hope for these students and has allowed them to pursue their dreams.
Our new graduates will now be part of CDV’s Alumni Program aiming to keep graduates in touch with each other and to continue sharing their accomplishments. We invite our graduates to be a part of the CDV family forever, become ambassadors for our mission and always remind each other that where there is love, there is HOPE.
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