Corona del Mar High School student Taylor Stefano has been named Volunteer of the Year by the Corazon de Vida organization, which raises money to support children in Baja, Mexico.
“I am super honored,” said Taylor, 17. “I was so surprised.”
Taylor first became aware of the organization her freshman year, when her mother, Brooke Stefano, urged her to visit an orphanage to earn community service hours.
“I thought, ‘Twelve hours, fine, I’ll do it all in one day and get it over with,’” she said. “But I fell in love with the kids, and the whole ride home I thought about how different life is just a few hours away.”
Taylor began telling her Corona del Mar neighbors about the children and their needs, and soon she founded a club at Corona del Mar High School. She and other club members have raised $15,000, and she organizes bus trips for students to visit children in several orphanages each year.
“They just love the company, and we bring crafts and games,” she said.
Corazon de Vida honors a standout volunteer with the “Volunteer of the Year” award every two years. The nonprofit organization was founded in 1994.
“Mexico doesn’t have welfare or a foster care system so orphanages must seek their support from individuals, corporations and foundations like CDV,” according to a statement. “Many of these innocent children are found living on the streets, while a lucky few have been taken in by well meaning families. These families offer help to one or two children in desperate need, and shortly find themselves running a home for as many as 75 or 100 children.”
CDV currently supports 16 orphanages.
The CdMHS CDV club has collected money along with clothing, sports gear and household supplies.
Taylor said she will be recruiting club members when school begins at Club Rush. Anyone with questions or who wishes to make a donation may email the club at clubcdv @ yahoo.com.
Photo courtesy CDV. Pictured from left are George Perez, CDV’s chief executive officer; Taylor Stefano; and Hilda Pacheco-Taylor, CDV founder and a product of one of the orphanages.