Community series -Coping with COVID at Christmas “A Christmas Night Under the Stars

2021/2022 John Chalmers

By John Chalmers on the Winter 2021/2022 Edition

For the past year and a half, COVID-19 and its variants have raged around the world causing illness, death and harsh effects on many aspects of our lives. The tourism industry has been devastated. Businesses large and small, ranging from mom-and-pop operations to huge companies like airlines have all suffered from lack of income. The four charitable not-for-profit organizations with which I am associated have also experienced similar circumstances.

For non-profit operations that depend on revenue such as donations and attendance at special functions, revenue has dropped dramatically. Charitable organizations have experienced cancellation of major fundraising activities and events, with consequent loss of funding. As well, charities have seen a drop in regular financial support, donations and non renewal of memberships.

Coping with a difficult fiscal situation has been a serious challenge. In the case of Casa Hogar Los Angelitos (CHLA), a residential home for young boys and girls in the Manzanillo area, CHLA has fought back, rebounding with a vigorous program of events in spite of the pandemic.

Don Carstensen, a former member of the board of directors for The Children’s Foundation, the parent organization of CHLA, has seen the effect of the pandemic. “COVID has affected our lives in different ways, yet some of us are in a position to navigate its challenges,” he says. “But this is not the case for many non-profit organizations committed to serving the less fortunate in our communities. For CHLA, donations for the children have decreased, while operating costs have remained essentially the same.”




The annual fundraiser on January 27, 2022, will help address this issue. One good news story is that not one CHLA child has yet contracted COVID.”

For some 70 children ranging in age from toddlers to university students, CHLA provides a loving home for boys and girls who would not otherwise have such care. Some are orphans and others have come from abusive situations or have even been abandoned. At Casa Hogar they receive full-time food and shelter, medical and dental care, education and a chance to participate in the home’s amazing and successful Expressive Arts Program.

Nancy Nystrom co-founded Casa Hogar Los Angelitos in 1996 with her husband, Dave, whom she lost during this difficult year. She has noted the adverse results of the pandemic, but still remains positive in her outlook on life. “When I examine this past year through the eyes of Casa Hogar, I am filled with hope,” she says. “We were able to protect our children from COVID and they have come through this season healthy and ready to move forward. We had students graduate from college and more entering it. What a blessing for the future of these young lives! We have just received five new little ones that were lost and wandering the streets and who now have a whole life of hope ahead of them.”

The Program provides opportunity for dance, music and song that reflects Mexican culture and heritage. By staging special performances that highlight skill and talent, CHLA has show cased what the results of love, instruction, dedication and practice can do in providing splendid and meaningful entertainment.

The busier than ever schedule for Casa Hogar began on November 20, 2021, with a celebration of the Mexican revolution. It was followed on December 18, 2021, with a dinner and performance at the Centro de Artes Los Angelitos (CALA). On the very appropriate theme of “A Christmas Night Under the Stars,” the cast of Casa Hogar’s Ballet Folklórico Los Angelitos presented the story of Christmas through pageantry, dance, music and song in a dinner event at the facility which is perfect for showcasing young talent.

With splendid costumes and flawless footwork in the dances, it was more than simply a fine show. It was a Christmas gift of a timeless story for all who attended. The classic characters of the Christmas story were all there  shepherds, angels, the Three Magi, and of course, Mary and Joseph, the parents of baby Jesus.

In the months ahead, CHLA will offer more spectacular productions. Coming up on January 27, 2022, is the Annual Casa Hogar Los Angelitos Gala Dinner and Show. The performance for that event always leaves me in awe and admiration of the kids, the costumes and the quality of instruction they receive.

The poster for that event follows this story. It is always a sell out and tickets should be booked early.

A Celebrity Golf Tournament will be held on February 11 and on February 12, a Valentine’s Day celebration will feature dinner and entertainment with a “Welcome to Spring” show on March 12. All events will be held at the CALA facility except for the golf tournament. It will be held at the beautiful El Corazón Golf Club near the town of El Naranjo, just north of Manzanillo. For more info and to order tickets, click here.

Attending any or all of those events is more than just a fine experience! It is an opportunity to contribute to making a better community. As Nancy Nystrom has said, “What I know for certain is that regardless of pandemics, storms, or personal loss, we cannot let our project fail.”










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