Our Story

La Casa de los Niños was founded by Patti & Dave Martinez and Dulce & Jim Heinrich in October 2005.

A few months prior, the Martinez’s only daughter and her family - Lauren, Kailee, Cameron and Matthew - were killed in an automobile accident.

The accident occurred days before they were to depart for Lo De Marcos, where they planned to caretake the Martinez vacation home for a year so their children could experience a part of their Mexican heritage. Dulce and Jim were already residents of Lo de Marcos, and Dulce had been tutoring kids in her home and saw the need for a place where children could go for after-school help with homework and perhaps do art projects. The two couples met and decided to use the memorial fund established in honor of the Martinez children, to do something for the kids in Lo de Marcos. In short order, the dream became reality and on December 12, 2005, the doors of La Casa de Los Ninos opened and found 85 kids waiting to come in!

Within four months, La Casa had grown out of it’s first home so moved into a larger building. From a small room with a few art, study and game supplies, La Casa’s resources grew to include a wonderful library, many musical instruments, a room dedicated to art materials, a closet of sports equipment, computers to use for homework, a great kitchen for baking and cooking, and a large yard for sports and games. 

In 2008, Dulce and Jim lost their 18 year old son Fernando shortly after he was diagnosed with leukemia. Out of these tragic losses -the kind that most parents can’t bear to imagine- was born and grew a source of love and inspiration for an entire community of children - a place that encourages them to bloom, and provides resources they would not otherwise encounter.

La Casa’s has become a beloved and supported part of the community of Lo de Marcos. The founders are invited to the special events held by the two local schools and are honored to be a part of the yearly graduation ceremonies in the escuela primaria.

The townspeople have helped La Casa move, performed electrical, plumbing and roof repair, trimmed the very tall coconut trees and generously donated gravel for La Casa’s huge play yard.

"We have experienced healing to our souls…we feel…lucky."