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
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 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.
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!