October 2015
 Helping Other Makes Us Happy: A Message from the 
Executive Director

Concert for the Kids 2015 Recap

Meeting the Need at the
Tijuana Dump


A Recent Medical Mission to the Tijuana Dump Orphans
Less than 45 minutes away from downtown San Diego sits a community that seems a world away. The Tijuana Dump is not only the receptacle for the trash of Tijuana but also home to hundreds of families and children. For years, the economically disadvantaged families at the dump have been constructing homes from the debris of the city, collecting buried scrap metal to sell or repurpose.
Despite its close proximity to San Diego, the dump remains isolated from medical facilities and care. That's where staff at Hospital Infantil de las Californias come in.
Hospital Infantil's nutritionist Alejandra Guzman travels to the Tijuana Dump regularly to facilitate pediatric screenings for its young residents. On a recent trip, she traveled with ten college students studying health and nutrition from Universidad Iberoamericana Tijuana.
As the group approached the dump, children from nearby makeshift homes began to appear. And then the children saw the stuffed bag of plush toys. Their shyness melted away as they fixed their eyes on stuffed animals of every variety. The students then explained that following a health screening, the children could pick a toy.
One by one, the children came forward for their brief examinations. Every child was weighed, measured, had their teeth, throat, ears and eyes inspected and as promised, walked away with a new toy.
Throughout the examinations, the students identified which children required further care at Hospital Infantil. One seven year-old girl had eight cavities, which needed quick attention. Another five year-old girl, Rosita, had a constant cough that had persisted for three weeks, sometimes with the presence of blood. Alejandra called the hospital to arrange appointments for the children, organizing transportation with the concerned parents, most of whom were unable to provide transportation to the hospital or medical care for their children. 
The children from the Tijuana Dump will be treated free of cost through the P.A.P. I. (Programa de Apoyo a Pacientes Indigentes) offered at Hospital Infantil. Without the critical outreach from the hospital, many of the children would go without medical care indefinitely. While the Tijuana Dump may seem to be a world away, in reality, there are children suffering without medical care in our very own backyard.
Services To Date Stats


Consultations: 448,821

Surgeries: 11,993

Volunteer Hours: 383,737

Education Hours: 305,977


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Helping our fellow man is a powerful way to boost our own happiness and well-being, as well as those around us.  The people we help may be strangers, friends, family members, young, old and in-between, and far away folks we will never meet.  Our supporters help approximately 3,500 kids per month, and most likely will never see their smiles in person.

They know that children living in our own communities as well as our neighbors in Baja can use assistance--some critically. It isn't just about pulling out a credit card or check book.  You don't need to have deep pockets to help others.  In our case, it can be as simple as volunteering for a few hours, sending a toy or pair of shoes or riding a bike in our Salsa Ride.  It's about giving time, care, skills and financial gifts (if it is possible) and knowing that a great deal of good is done with contributions.

Some take the time to visit our facility to see first hand the good work being accomplished. I have never brought a guest to the Hospital Infantil de las Californias that did not leave with a sense of happiness and an abundance of positive emotions.

It is scientifically proven that helping others makes you happy.  I read recently in Caring Magazine, that a brain-imaging study by the National Institute of Health showed that the "pleasure centers" in the brain, i.e. the parts of our brain that are active when we experience pleasure (like dessert, money, intimacy) are equally as active when we give gifts to charity as when we receive gifts ourselves.  Giving to others even increases well-being above and beyond spending on ourselves.

In a revealing experiment published in Science by Harvard Business School professor Michael Norton, participants received a sum of money.  Half of the participants were instructed to spend the money on themselves and half were told to spend on others.  At the end of the study, participants that had spent money on others felt significantly happier than those that had spent money on themselves.  The old adage that giving feels better than receiving proved true!

We had an abundance of positive feedback from volunteers and guests attending our "Concert for the Kids" event earlier this month.  Over 50 wonderful people came to our aide with a donation of time, to make sure the evening went smoothly for our participants.  We had close to 800 paying attendees.  Of those, over 300 made a contribution to auctions and the "copter drop opportunity" and an amazing 156 guests gave straight donations that garnered themselves nothing but good will in return.  

People are amazingly good and proof that helping others makes us happy!

Eileen Benjamin
Executive Director
Concert for the Kids 2015 Recap  Naomi
The Doobie Brothers performed at the Santaluz Club on October 2nd to raise funds for a sophisticated electronic monitoring system (among other initiatives) for the Hospital Infantil de las Californias. This monitoring system will track usage of medicine and equipment in the facility's surgery center.  
The "Concert for the Kids" featured four-time Grammy winning and legendary rock band, the Doobie Brothers. With their unique harmony-rich vocal and guitar-driven style, the Doobie Brothers have sold more than 40 million albums--3 multi-platinum, 7 platinum and 14 Gold albums. Their Best of the Doobie Brothers (1976) has sold more than 12 million copies-and is a rare "diamond record."

A crowd of over 800 attend ed the event , which included a gourmet dinner, "copter drop," live and silent auctions and a lively opening act, Katy Guillen and the Girls. The crowd embraced our humanitarian hospital, which provides care for children from the "mega-region" of San Diego county, Baja California and beyond.  A matching challenge for $250,000 from philanthropist Becky Moores was surpassed.
For more pictures from the event, click here!


It's 9:30 am on Saturday at Hospital Infantil and already the hot July sun is beating down, warming the hundreds gathered. Some are shaded, beneath the tents set up on the patio in front of the hospital. Others line railings leading up to the hospital and watch as children run around the bright playground. But they are all there  for the same purpose: to obtain, or help a loved one obtain, a wheelchair, free of cost.

UCP Wheels for Humanity, formerly Wheels for Humanity, 
is a nonprofit organization devoted to increasing self-sufficiency, mobility and education to children, teens and adults with disabilities throughout the world. They provide those with disabilities appropriately fitted wheelchairs, while also ensuring partner organizations have the resources necessary to sustain support for those with disabilities.
For the past five years, UCP Wheels for Humanity and Hospital Infantil have teamed up to provide wheelchairs for children, teens and adults in Tijuana. Once a year, UCP Wheels for Humanity volunteers descend on Hospital Infantil and help hundreds of individuals with disabilities become mobile. This year, volunteers helped over 130 people into new wheelchairs.
The children, teens and adults at Hospital Infantil were diverse in their mobility needs: some had grown out of their current wheelchairs, some were being pushed in strollers and some were even carried by a caretaker. Completely dependent children quickly learned to propel themselves forward in a new wheelchair, mobile and independent. The smiles on their faces said it all: empowerment.
As the shining, newly-mobile children wheeled by, the tireless volunteers looked on with even bigger smiles. Most spent over an hour with their client, first measuring their limbs and torso, then selecting an appropriately-sized wheelchair from the hundreds brought by UCP Wheels for Humanity. Next, volunteers sat their client in the chair and made adjustments based on comfort, mobility and posture. All throughout the event, enthusiastic and efficient volunteers sawed, cut, nailed and screwed parts to ensure the greatest comfort for their client.
One volunteer looked upset when the  child she was helping cried out as soon as she was placed in the chair. Her mother said to the nearby translator, "it' s because s he's used to being carried." The mother and volunteer shared a smile, recognizing the independence and empowerment one afternoon can bring.