La Casa de los Niños was conceived between Patti & Dave Martinez and Dulce & Jim Heinrich in October 2005.  We had lost our family Lauren, Kailee, Cameron and Matthew, in January and wanted to use the memorial fund established in their honor to do something for the kids in Lo de Marcos.  Dulce had been tutoring kids in her home and thought that a place for kids to go after school to get help with homework and perhaps do art projects would be a good thing.  We decided then and there that we would find a small place in town and call it La Casa de los Niños!  Well, on December 12, 2005 we opened our doors and found 85 kids waiting to come in!  Luckily, we had a number of volunteers recruited from the snowbird ranks that come down to Lo de Marcos and split everyone into groups and went off to various parts of town and the beach, as our small space couldn’t manage that many kids.  We soon grew out of the small space and moved into a larger space within 4 months.  We have had English classes, ongoing art classes, computers to use for homework, a great kitchen to bake and cook, a game room, sports activities and most recently the creation of a library.  Our kids have performed community service work, cleaning trash from the beach and streets, baking treats and taking them to the senior center, educating others about the importance of recycling, and participating in bi-yearly spay clinics hosted by La Casa.
Out of the tragedy of losing our family in an auto accident in 2005 and most recently the loss of Dulce and Jim’s son Fernando from Leukemia, we have learned to accept the love of many children and return it as part of our healing.  We have enjoyed being a part of and accepted by the community of Lo de Marcos.  We are all invited to the various special events held by the two local schools and are honored to be a part of the yearly graduation ceremonies in the escuela primaria.  We have had a number of people from the US and Canada come to La Casa to volunteer their time and share their special skills with the kids over the past years.  In our recent move to yet another location to the center of town next to the new town plaza we received the overwhelming support of the townspeople by helping us move, performing electrical, plumbing and roof repair, the trimming of the very tall coconut trees and the generous donation of gravel for our huge yards path and sports field.  We have experienced healing to our souls…we feel…lucky!


  1. Hi! I’m Yvette Strom, a friend of Renee’s. She has talked about you guys for years, and all the good works you do in your community. My, husband Gordon and I have been living in the state of Veracruz for the past year and half. We have a little English school in our little town, and are always looking for ways to help our community.

    Congratulations on the success of your project. Hopefully our paths will cross one day.

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