I Am Protective

Images of Cabo San Lucas with its picturesque beaches against the backdrop of the Sierra de la Laguna mountains reveal why the city on the southern tip of Mexico’s Baja California Peninsula is a popular vacation destination. But not far from the high-end resorts and golf courses, Casa Hogar, a refuge for children and teenagers unable to live with their parents, is celebrating a recent renovation that provides them expanded access to clean water.

Led by Jayson Stirrup, executive director, Casa Hogar provides care to 38 boys and girls, and prepares them for adoption or to be reunited with their families. The organization also gives older teens, who transition out of the home at 18 years of age, opportunities to attend college or obtain a job. While the children are entrusted by state and municipal child protection agencies, the social assistance center receives no government funding and instead relies solely on money raised through two annual fundraisers – and the generosity of others.

Over 2,000 miles away in Birmingham, Alabama, ProEquities was preparing for the annual Elite Summit for its advisors, scheduled for April in Los Cabos, Mexico. The Protective Life Corporation subsidiary, under the leadership of ProEquities President and CEO Christopher W. Flint, had established a tradition of raising money for a non-profit during this peer-to-peer networking event. This was the first time the Elite Summit would be held outside the United States, and the group felt it was important to support a local charity in Los Cabos.

“With so much to be thankful for, we thought we’d continue the benevolent tradition in Los Cabos,” said Ellen Michael, ProEquities marketing and communications director. “Giving back doesn’t have to have boundaries.”

Through a series of connections, Michael was put in touch with Stirrup at Casa Hogar to see how ProEquities could help the social assistance center.

The fundraisers organized by Casa Hogar support the operation of the home, but Stirrup explained that the organization faced additional challenges, such as access to potable water. Municipal water is typically sent once a week to the neighborhood, but leaks and maintenance problems with the city’s desalination plant can result in delays of water shipments. When there are water shortages, the home must pay for water to be trucked in. The home wanted to be less dependent on city water by installing water cisterns.

Additionally, the rooftop wiring of the home’s video surveillance and security system that helped ensure the safety of the children and teenagers was damaged by the sun and in dire need of repair. A donation of a few thousand dollars would help Casa Hogar address these challenges.

Michael knew it was an ideal charity for ProEquities to support, and she set a goal of raising $6,000, based on the needs outlined by Stirrup and her previous fundraising efforts. This year, she proposed the silent auction feature artwork made by the children at Casa Hogar using art supplies donated by ProEquities. For the live auction, artist Ivan Guaderrama graciously agreed to provide three prints, but after becoming so moved by Casa Hogar’s mission, he decided to also donate two additional items.

Stirrup, along with five of the children, attended the fundraiser to watch as their artwork and that of Guaderrama was auctioned off. The Elite Summit attendees were gracious in their bidding. At the end of the night, the event soared past its $6,000 goal, raising over $37,000. One hundred percent of the money raised went to Casa Hogar.

“The children were flattered that their paintings fetched high bids, especially when I clarified to them that the amounts were in dollars, not pesos!” Stirrup says. “There was definitely a sense of accomplishment and pride in contributing to the financial wellbeing of their home.”

The funds enabled Casa Hogar to install a concrete platform and roof for a 55,000-liter water storage system, previously donated by another charity. This platform essentially allowed the organization to triple its original water cistern project, eliminating the need to truck in water in the event of a shortage. The organization was also able to repair a pressure washer, rewire the video surveillance system and purchase new security cameras, repair the wastewater treatment plant, and purchase a new front gate and motor for additional security.

Knowing Casa Hogar can better provide for the children through money raised at the Elite Summit gives deeper meaning to the artwork that hangs in Bob Coode’s home. Coode, a managing partner with Skoda Minotti Financial Services in Cleveland, Ohio, attended The Elite Summit with his family and was deeply moved after meeting the children and seeing their artwork on display.

“My granddaughter Avery fell in love with a painting of angels, and my wife fell in love with a painting of a turtle. I’m not sure where the bidding stopped but my granddaughter wasn’t about to lose that angel,” he says. “Those paintings now hang in our home in Hilton Head and remind us every time we look at them how lucky we are.”

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