Coping with COVID at Casa Hogar

2021 February 2021 John Chalmers

By John Chalmers on the February 2021 Edition

One type of organization that has suffered as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic is non-profit charitable operations that have cancelled vital fundraising special events. They are essential to generating income needed to keep an operation going. In the Manzanillo area, one such event that was cancelled in 2021 was the gala dinner evening that supports Casa Hogar Los Angelitos (CHLA).

Founded by Nancy Nystrom in 1996, with care for seven children, CHLA now provides a home for some 75 girls and boys ranging from three years old to their early twenties. They have come to the embrace of Casa Hogar as orphans or from a diffi-cult home environment that did not provide the care that children need.

CHLA provides a loving home with medical care and educational opportunity. One measure of the great success of CHLA is that seven young people who have grown up there are now college graduates, with another five now in university. CHLA also offers a superlative Expressive Arts program that enriches the lives of its young participants with music and dance that are part of their Mexican heritage and culture.

For many years, a gala dinner event with silent and live auction components has raised funds for Casa Hogar to maintain its facilities and care for its residents. As well, donations from sup-porters and sponsors contribute to funding that allows CHLA to operate. The annual dinner event, attended by some 300 people each year, always concluded with an outstanding program of music and dance presented by the young people who live at Casa Hogar. This year, however, due to COVID-19, that sterling event was cancelled.

With fewer people spending time in México this winter who would have attended a benefit dinner that raises 30% of funding for annual operations, alternatives were considered. “I was aware that other organizations had been doing virtual events and felt we could do that,” says Nancy. “I believed we could put a team together with our staff and directors and do something spectacular. It hasn’t been easy, with no prior experience, but if you put forth your best effort and don’t give up, you can al-ways find a way for success.”

So the pandemic did not stop the show! The resilience of Casa Hogar and its young people to cope with a difficult situation was shown by staging a marvellous performance at the Centro de Artes Los Angelitos (CALA).

This time, there was no dinner and no audience! Instead, the performance was recorded on video to show online via the internet on January 28.

Even without the applause of an appreciative audience, the musicians and dancers presented a stunning, precise, polished and professional program that showcased culture and color of México. The quality of performance is a great credit to the talent and dedication of the participants, and to the high level of training they receive from their instructors.

On the big stage of CALA, and recorded by three video cameras, the non-stop show more than an hour long moved swiftly and flawlessly from one number to another. Beginning with its first number by the players wearing spectacular costumes that portrayed Aztec history, to the dances by beautiful girls in swirling skirts and handsome young men with clashing machetes, all in traditional costumes, the performance was seamless in its presentation.

In every number, whether a song by a soloist or a dance with 20 people on stage, the performance was outstanding. As well as cast members from Casa Hogar, other members were from the community, having an opportunity to perform on the stage at CALA, which serves the broader Manzanillo area.

For its online program of January 28, the virtual show began with an interview with Nancy Nystrom and Kevin Skeens of The Children’s Foundation, which is the parent organization of Casa Hogar Los Angelitos. That was followed by a live auction of eight special items of travel experience. One such item was a 5 day/4 night guided tour to the historic city of Morelia and a sanctuary of Monarch butterflies, donated by Mex-ECO Tours

The main event was the dynamic Ballet Folklórico performance of music and traditional regional dances of México. The love of their country was seen on the smiling face of every participant.

Dr. Guiber Núñez, a physician who is also the director general of the CHLA program, has stated that, “Casa Hogar Los Angelitos, with love day by day, builds to change the lives of many children and young people, transforming difficult situations of broken hearts and dreams into strong hearts and spectacular dreams with unconditional love for México.”

To add your support to the wonderful work of Casa Hogar Los Angelitos, and provide a good life for children in need, visit the web site of the parent organization, The Children’s Foundation, at There you will find information about Casa Hogar and how you can donate.

You will see a button at the top of the page to DONATE NOW and lend your support to the very worthy cause that provides education, a loving home and an amazing Expressive Arts pro-gram. Your contribution is needed, and is an investment in the future of young people.

The complete performance, including the interview with Nancy Nystrom, can now be seen on YouTube at this link.

At the conclusion of the performance, in his closing remarks, Dr. Núñez stated, “Our philosophy is to help form children who are resilient and strong, children who can face adversities in life with strength, and move forward to live a life victorious with happiness and success.”

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