Five Years at a Glance by Corazon de Nina Shelter for Girls and Boys
Melissa & Juan - Corazon de Nina

August 6, 2017

A Message from Melissa & Juan

We are so pleased to be celebrating our 5th Anniversary! As of now, over 100 children and youth have slept safely in our home - some for one night, some for years.  Some abandoned, some abused, some having witnessed the death of a parent, some with what seemed like insurmountable trauma and despair... we have laughed, cried, prayed, healed and celebrated together, cemented our faith, learned forgiveness, practiced tolerance, patience and compassion... gained self-esteem, become good listeners, learned how to read and write, understand and defend our rights, study hard, eat healthy food, exercise, be responsible for our own actions and learning, communicate what we mean, tell the truth no matter what, respect ourselves and others, empathize, help others, live by the golden rule...

Ours is a place of transformation, where a girl who arrived unable to read or write her own name is now achieving a GPA of 95% at University sponsored by angels from California who have chosen to invest in her future and the future of Mexico...

We have not only overcome but we have triumphed beyond anything we ever imagined. With a community of close to 1000 supporters, a beautiful place to call home and our sixth student entering university in September, we are proud beyond words and so grateful to all of you who have remained focussed, stayed the course, remembered why we do this and made our children’s happiness your priority.

YOU are amazing and without your unwavering love and support, today's message could be very different. In a country where those most vulnerable are not even mentioned in the annual budget, our GEMS have been the very foundation on which these miracles have taken place together with those of you who fundraise heroically for our special projects moving us closer each year to self-sustainability, supporting our efforts to reduce costs through the generation of renewable resources and small businesses run by our youth… and then there are the warriors who roll up their sleeves and stand by us through good times and bad, all year long at our side, doing whatever needs to be done. We love and appreciate all of you.

Thanks to you, the faith and future of this family have never been so solid. We look forward to sharing many more wonderful moments with you in the years to come, for this and so much more, we remain eternally grateful.

University Bound

As of this Fall, six young people will all be in University!

• Leonardo - CULINARY ARTS at University of Vizcaya,
• Juan - SPORTS MANAGEMENT at University of Guadalajara,
• Alejandra - FINE ARTS, University of Guadalajara,
• Cristina - SOCIAL WORK at UEA,
• Eduardo - DENTISTRY at UNE
• Armando - SPORTS MANAGEMENT at UNIVA Guadalajara
Corazon Splash Pool
Just in time for Summer (it is sooo hot here right now) the CORAZON SPLASH POOL is up and running and such a hit! The funding for our dining patio area came last year in a donation from JUST ENERGY FOUNDATION and then, just recently gifts from the friends and families of our dearly departed Christina Hammer and Tim Dannemiller enabled us to finish the pool.  Such special people and such an amazing to gift to remember them by!

Featured Child with Eduardo

My name is Eduardo, I am 18 years old. I arrived at Corazon de Niña one year ago with my little brother Axel Andres.

In my life before Corazon de Niña, I was either working in the hotel with my mother or in the neigborhood, taking care of my brother and when I could get to school I did but I missed my childhood completely. Two years ago, my mother became ill and we discovered she had cancer. She began to fight for her life. While she was in treatment in the hospital, I was trying to find a solution for my little brother and I. What would we do? Then my mother told us one day about Corazon de Niña and we visited Melissa. At this time I admit, I was a very negative person. All I was speaking about, thinking or doing was bad. I was doing things that put me in danger I think because I was seeking attention. During this time I was really bad and it was so difficult but I thought a lot about the new life opportunity we could have living in Corazon de Niña because I really wanted to study and, above all, find a better place to live for my brother. My mother finally made the decision that Corazon de Niña was our best option and she brought us here with a friend. Melissa and Juan visited my mother in the hospital in her last days and she expressed her joy and gratitude as she believed we were safe with them. Two weeks later our mother died of cancer.

These were very difficult times and I reached my very bottom limit. Melissa and Juan pulled us through it. At Corazon de Niña we have tasks and we can’t do whatever we want, but it is the best place to live! I have some responsibility with the young children, with the ‘tortilleria’ and especially with my studies. I am proud to say that I am now a Corazon de Niña Leader. As one of the older youth, I help to teach right and wrong to the younger children and I also have a responsibility to Juan and Melissa.

While I could choose to leave Corazon de Niña or stay, when I think about my past life and all the problems, I really don’t want to return to that. Here I can think about the future and leave the past behind. Living at Corazon de Niña has taught me to share, to respect myself and others and Melissa and Juan always give me the help I need. They saved me from making the wrong decisions.

In a few weeks I go to University to start my career in dentistry. It will take me 4 ½ years to realize this dream, but it is what I have wanted since I was a child. I am very excited! When I finish University and start my career, I plan to help the Corazon de Niña with the children’s dental care.  I am studying English at Proulex (University of Guadalajara) and this is such a great opportunity. I really want to have English speaking patients when I have my own practice so am I improving my English classes.

Melissa and Juan have taught me that you can be anything you want to be and that there are no problems, only solutions. Before knowing them, I had no idea that life could be so good. At times, I even thought about leaving this world because I thought nobody cared. Then I arrived here, met my new family and I thought that “Yes God exists”.

Today, I want to study hard and do the best I can at University, because now I know that we can all be the best if we apply ourselves.  Thank you from my heart for your support!
Princesa’s Surprise!

Just when we thought all our dogs were spayed/neutered… Princesa surprised us with not one but four Darling puppies… so many helpers on the scene to help with feeding, cleaning, training!  Such a blessing and opportunity to learn! Next week it’s off to the spay and neuter clinic for Princesa!

Spiritual Life at Corazon

Our children continue on their spiritual path with our support, participating enthusiastically in every opportunity to learn more about Christ through prayer, bible study, catequism every Saturday and by helping others in our community which is how we at CORAZON teach our children to live their faith. These are such important milestones in their personal development. This year, we have celebrated five baptisms, three First Communions and three Confirmations. Christina and Eduardo are two of our Youth Leaders who chose this year to become Spiritual Leaders for our younger children. We are so proud of them - their commitment and desire to give back is a sign of good things to come!

Corazon’s Marina Thrift Store

More happy customers at our Marina thrift store! We have a large selection of very affordable brand-name clothing including L, XL, XXL sizes in MEN’S AND WOMEN’S FASHIONS – CHICO’S, BANANA REPUBLIC, ANNE KLEIN, PERRY ELLIS, POLO, ZARA and more. HUGE SELECTION of books, souveniers, gifts and housewares.

WE NEED VOLUNTEERS & we need donations!

Hours are: MON-THURS 10-6pm, FRI-SAT 10-8pm, SUN 10-4pm

Tourists in our own town!

On Sundays we love to walk the Malecón after Mass, with an ice cream in hand of course! It is one of the many traditions we have that we look forward to as a family. Living in Puerto Vallarta is such a blessing and the Malecon is one of the many breathtakingly beautiful places to visit.

Featured Volunteer with Jean Jewell

My Husband and I came to Puerto Vallarta in September, 2014 to enjoy the sunshine, the culture and the Mexican people. We met wonderful friends, toured Puerto Vallarta and the surrounding areas, and we fell in love with Puerto Vallarta.

I wanted to volunteer with a charity in PV to hopefully help make a difference. I researched all of the charities in the City and I was captured by the Corazon de Niña so I gave Melissa a call and went to meet her. I was absolutely in awe when I saw the magnitude of her work, her love for the children, and their love for Melissa and Juan. After I toured the house and heard Melissa’s story, I decided this was where I wanted to be.

Then, tragically, my Husband passed away suddenly in May, 2015. I literally walked in a fog the following year and I couldn’t commit to anything other than survival. Melissa kept in touch with me, allowing me time to grieve and try to pick up the pieces of my fragile life. It was over a year later that Melissa called to see how I was doing. I knew then that it was time to reach out to the Corazon de Niña.

Melissa told me that a donor had donated the equipment to build a tortilleria at the house so I started selling tortillas to the bars and restaurants. Juan and the boys make the tortillas, I take the orders, Juan and the boys deliver the tortillas and I collect the money from the restaurants. It is not a huge venture, but everything helps the bottom line.

Now I am helping Melissa in the office with the admin work. One of the big challenges was the filing system. You cannot imagine the paperwork that has to be done when you have 32 children. And, you can’t imagine the interruptions in the office when you have 32 children! The children come in and out of the office to tell Melissa their stories, show her their schoolwork, show her their book reports. Melissa loves the children so much and she stops what she is doing to listen to them, give them a hug, boost their confidence.

And I am loving the children too – I look forward to the hug when I arrive and the hugs when I leave. They are so beautiful!

Thank you Melissa and Juan for giving me a purpose!
Our First Date

Juan and Alejandra first met in July, 2012 and it was love at first sight.

Our rule of no boyfriends/girlfriends until the age of 18 has meant that these two have waited for five whole years to be able to date.  

We were moved to tears as they posed for their first photo on Alejandra's 18th birthday.  

They are an example to all that true love is patient and well worth the wait. They are off to university together next month.

Viva el amor!

Costco and Westin Resort & Spa feed the children of Corazon

Your unconditional love for the children of CORAZON is a blessing beyond words… we can’t ever thank you enough for your commitment to providing quality nourishment for our children and youth. YOU are the embodiment of Corporate Social Responsibility!

Melissa’s Trip Home

Seeing my family in Canada every two years is always bitter sweet. On March 31st, my grandmother turned 100 and I was so relieved to see her - she is such an absolute inspiration. I am always overcome by joy to see everyone, hold them in my arms, listen to all they have to tell me…

I truly wish I could be there more often - to pray with them as I pray with our children here, help them with their homework, cook for them, take them to the park, read them stories, kiss them goodnight. I ask them to forgive my absence and although I know they do… it always breaks my heart to say goodbye. I am so blessed.

Gratitude from Corazon   

On my trip home, I was pleased to be able to surprise our web designer and manager, Peter Bruce, with a CORAZON gratitude plaque.

Thank you Peter for hundreds of volunteer hours and above all, thank you for your love, patience and commitment to this mission.

Yours is such an important role and we are truly grateful that you have stayed the course. Thank you also to Randi, my dear cousin, for allowing so much of Peter’s time to be spent helping us… and, for the amazing muffins and coffee! Your home has always been one of my favorite places to be.

Love you both very much!
Thank-you Navy League & Intercam   

This year Navy League and Intercam Banco have demonstrated a huge level of commitment and support to our home providing our children and youth with much needed A/C in dorms and study areas making such a phenemenal difference in their day-to day life. They not only sleep better but they are not falling asleep when it is time to do homework and there is a notable difference in their overall interaction with one another now that they are so much more comfortable.

Words cannot begin to express the gratitude we feel for this sensational effort with special thanks to Carol Smith, Bill Liggett and US Coast Guard men and women of Navy League, Victor Guillestegui and Jason Lavender of Intercam. Below is an article written by Bill Liggett which we was retyped by Corazon volunteer Fany Boussard for easy reading...

"Corazon de Niña, a shelter for at-risk children, last week received a fresh coat of paint on the extorior of the building compliments of Puerto Vallarta Navy League, Intercam Bank and the U.S Coast Guard Cutter Active. The Active was in port for three days for provisioning and a bit of R&R, and took time out to perform this community relations project under the direction of the Navy League.

The Navy League and Intercam last year joined forces to conduct community improvement projects throughout the Puerto Vallarta Region.

Often these are with the help of visiting Coast Guard and Navy ships, and other times using only local residents and Navy League/Intercam members. They have a long list of potential projects awaiting completion, so expect to hear more about these needed improvements to community properties in coming months.

Now that the Coast Guard and Navy view Puerto Vallarta as their port-of-choice on the West Coast of Mexico, the Navy League and Intercam should be able to accelerate the number of completed projects thourghout 2017 and beyond.

Special thanks go out to Melissa Canez and the children of Corazon de Niña for providing a delicious lunch for all painting volunteers. We'd also like to thank local builder Miguel Vasquez for providing much needed scaffolding and Jon Murphy for handling a reception for crewmembers of the Active at Murphy's Irish Pub on the Malecon." Bill Liggett

Best Friends Forever

Special thanks to our dear friends Beth and Susan for your love, friendship and generosity! We always look forward to your annual visit. It means so much to us that you take the time and your gifts are always so thoughtful and necessary.
Corazon School

With great encouragement from so many of you, on August 21, 2017 we will open our very own CORAZON SCHOOL. This has been a long time coming as we have tried to fit our children into both public and private educational settings, each time experiencing disturbing situations including bullying, discrimination, misuse of funds wherein teachers are often grossly underpaid or sometimes not paid at all meaning they miss work and eventually quit.

For all of these and many reasons more we have decided to hire our own qualified teachers, create and maintain our own Montessori learning environment with enrichment in the areas of Reading, Math, Science, Language Instruction, Physical Education and Arts such as a Music, Pottery, Painting, Carpentry & Theatre, Music and of course an Organic Gardening & Yoga centre!

Our children are registered in the National Distance Education program called INEEJAD, a program that has functioned for us beautifully with several of our young people who have since graduated and gone on to University, like Cristina, Alejandra, Armando and more. It is a comprehensive Distance Education Program providing all basic curriculum required for primary and middle school graduation.

So far we have the commitment of two teachers and we continue to advertise for several more part-time who would lead workshops in the areas of enrichment.

Investing in our children’s education is a priority and to get this school up and running will require the help our CORAZON Community. Below is a list of our immediate needs in this regard.  Anything you are able to help with will be greatly appreciated.  You can choose to sponsor an item, a child’s educational needs or a lump sum amount - just follow up with a message letting us know your donation is for the CORAZON SCHOOL and which children/items you are sponsoring. Huge thank you in advance to those of you who are able to respond to this need. As donations come in, we will post children/items sponsored and by whom. If you would like your donation to remain anonymous, please let us know.

Sponsor our Students

Basic Expenses per child is 4000MXN ($224USD) includes books, uniforms, footwear, backpack, school supplies & insurance.

PRIMARY children include: Francisco, Dalia, Alicia, Jesus, Cristian, Evelin, Joanna, Andres, Angela, Lizbeth & Josue.

MIDDLE SCHOOL children include:  Alejandro, Arturo, Diana, Jose, Omar, Selena, Kenia, Alondra, Gabriela, Juan de Jesus

Sponsor School Environment

• Flooring 20,000 MXN ($1100US)
• Lighting 2000 MXN ($112US)
• Text Books 10,000 MXN ($560US)
• Library Enhancement 5000 MXN ($280US)
• 3 Microscopes 7500 MXN ($420US)
• Classroom Furniture/Equipment 15,000 MXN ($840USD)
• Video Projector 5000 MXN ($280USD)
• Overhead Projector 1500 MXN ($84USD)
• 2 PCs 12,000 MXN ($673USD)



GEM SUPPORT is crucial to the stability of our home. A heartfelt thank you to ALL OF YOU who help us on a monthly basis! If you would like to become a GEM please let us know and we will help you get started.  

We Love our Volunteers!
Volunteering at CORAZON requires a great deal of commitment as we as a rule do not accept temporary or short term requests. Most of our volunteers have been with us for 4+ years and have completed hundreds of hours of service. Some volunteer in more than one area and are also GEMS - a hard act to follow! We appreciate each and every one of you!

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  Learn about Corazon de Nina Shelter for Girls & Boys

  Learn about Navy League of Puerto Vallarta

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