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!
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.
“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!”
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
On April 30th, México celebrates Dia del Niño (Children’s Day). On this day, children are recognized as an important part of society and the day focuses on the importance of loving, accepting and appreciating children. Our SD Chapter Managing Director, Amar Harrag, had the amazing idea to organize an extra special trip to visit Rancho de los Niños to celebrate the day.
The children were eager to welcome their new and old friends, as they arrived to the orphanage.They were running everywhere, laughing with one another and playing with the volunteers. Arts and crafts were also part of the fun as everyone made masks and had a great time showing off their masterpieces.
Then it was time to gather in the dining hall for lunch. Everyone filled their plates up with some yummy homemade Mexican dishes. Once they finished, it was time for everyone’s favorite desert: Ice cream! Since the celebration was all about them, the children each had an ice cream cone served with a big scoop of vanilla ice cream. What a perfect way to end the day!
A BIG thank you to Amar for organizing the trip and to the volunteers who joined us. You couldn’t have picked a more perfect day to spend some quality time with our beautiful children. You made them feel so special and loved as they should be.
Your donations and participation makes it possible for hundreds of children to live in a safe, positive and loving environment. They can be kids and do what kids do, be happy and carefree, and celebrate Child's Day because you care enough to help!
Corazon de Vida and the San Diego Chapter held its annual fundraising event, “Noche de Gala,” at the University Club in San Diego on November 12th and it was a huge success. The alluring event was only more enchanting by the enthusiasm of the guests who came together in support of the children. With everyone’s wonderful participation we were able to raise over $200,000!
Over 200 guests were in attendance, they enjoyed a beautiful panoramic view of the downtown San Diego skyline, while listening to a live performance of the world renowned jazz band, Gilbert CastellanoS Trio. The food and libations were delicious and the silent auction included many prizes like vacations, restaurant certificates, sporting events and much more.
It was exciting to see so many new faces at the event that were new to our mission. It was thrilling to see how inspired and eager they were to participate after our wonderful MC Darren Sugiyama gave a speech about the impact that we can make on a child's future and showed a video about our university students and our education program.
A huge thanks to the Katz Family, Honoree of the night and friends for attending and being a huge support to the foundation. Since day one, the Katz Family have been nothing but generous and dedicated to us in helping our mission. It is so inspiring to see people who are devoted to giving back to the community. We know that our mutual love and friendship will last for years to come.
A heartfelt thank you to our generous funding sponsors who made this evening possible: Normerica, The Packard Companies, Bird Rock Systems, Viejas Band of Kumeyaay Indians, Warren & Burstein and Ortega’s Mexican Bistro!
This event was only possible thanks to sponsors and to our San Diego Chapter, thank you for your continuing love and support for Corazon de Vida. Also huge shout-out to our San Diego historian Omar Araiza and our two volunteer photographers Seana and Grace for the beautiful images. Thank you to Amar Harrag and Matisse Bistro for the exquisite dessert table. To Yummie Fountains for the delightful chocolate fountain. Last but not least to our volunteers, thank you for always staying committed and loyal to our organization, without you none of our events would be possible.
For the complete gallery of the event, go to: http://araizamp.shootproof.com/gallery/2058018/home
"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