On January 2, 2012 while thousands of parade goers were enchanted by the elaborate floats that make up the annual Tournament of Roses Parade, Maribel Guillen Lane, 19, was on the opposite end of the spectrum, sitting on the Kit-Cat® Clocks float representing faith and opportunity.
Maribel was chosen by the Corazon De Vida Foundation, a 17-year-old non-profit organization that supports 800 Latino orphans in 16 orphanages in Mexico, to represent the foundation’s work, which is partially supported by The California Clock Company, manufacturers of the Kit-Cat Clock.
In an interview with Quinceanera.com prior to the parade, the aspiring journalist told her story of arriving to one of the Corazon De Vida homes at age five with her younger brother in hand. She shares that although at first she felt unsure about her future, it was the comraderie and lessons taught at the shelter that encouraged her to value life, people, as well as the things that she had and did not have.
Maribel states that while many young girls may think that being in a difficult situation or growing up differently than others may prevent them from having a bright future, that is not the case. “Your situation does not matter. Not even if you are 13, 15, 16 or even 30 years old,” she states. “All you have to do is believe in yourself and put effort into accomplishing your goal.”
Hilda Pacheco-Taylor, founder of Corazon De Vida, also grew up in an orphanage. She states that it was because of children such as Maribel and her personal need to give back to the orphanage that raised her, that she founded the organization. “In my case, I lived in an orphanage from the age of 8 to eighteen and am a product of the great work that some of these homes offer.” She goes on to state that for her, it has been gratifying to witness the flourishing “little seeds”, such as Maribel, that the foundation’s homes have cultivated. “I’m very proud of her because she is a college student now and I along with all the people from Corazon De Vida share the joy in that success.”
When asked what she will be thinking about when sitting on the Kit-Cat® Clocks float and traveling along a 5.5 mile route through the city of Pasadena, an emotional Maribel answered “…my brothers. Because everything I do is for them and because of them.”