Her Vision of Tourism is Tied to Love
By Pat Tyson
Since February 2015, Marisa Comella has been the Executive Director for Los Cabos Children’s Foundation, which has been around Southern Baja for the past 14 years. She is proud to belong to this non-profit organization, explaining the reasons for its inception.
“The essence and inspiration for LCCF is a perfect expression of the magic of this place,” she says proudly. “A businessman from South Dakota, with a home in San José del Cabo, acted on the desire to give back to the community that had warmly welcomed him.”
It was Tom Walsh who gathered his friends together to assist him in helping children in Los Cabos with health needs; in those early days, it was mainly cancer. These friends were other expats captivated by this land and its people who, like him, are still around as board members and advisors that guide the daily work. Also, many friends in the U.S. medical community began to offer their selfless support to these Mexican children.
Over the years, the helping became serious and turned into a major fundraising effort to advocate for the availability of better health services for children in the state, as well as to empower local organizations to do their part in many other issues related to children’s health. Since then, more than $15 million dollars have been invested in the children of Southern Baja.
“Now you understand why I feel proud to devote my work, my passion and my energy to this cause,” Comella says. “For me LCCF is a God-sent opportunity to discover the gift of love in mankind; the love that moves a donor to share his good fortune with less-fortunate fellow human beings; the love felt by a mother living in poverty who has to care for her sick child and receives life-saving help from a stranger. That love creates bonds in a community and makes it strong; it erases cultural barriers; it brings peace and unveils mankind’s true loving nature.” Her vision is also tied to love.
In LCCF, fundraising programs are promoted in the local tourism industry through which the hotel and restaurant owners, as well as their visitors, can be socially responsible with the destination that offers them prosperity in the first case, and joyous memories in the second. It’s a matter of keeping love as the main motivation for everything you do, whether it’s personal relationships, work, investments or vacations.
“LCCF has traditionally been associated with alleviating health issues for children, but since 2016, we began investing in prevention,” Comella states. “We want to prevent children from falling into unhealthy habits that ultimately end up in childhood or adult obesity, diabetes and other illnesses; or dropping out of school, substance abuse and violence. Promoting a healthy lifestyle through good nutrition, physical activity and regular medical surveillance is the goal for now. We all have to do our part for safety and many other needs in our world today.”
Born in Mexico City to Cuban immigrants who fled the loss of freedom imposed by the Castro regime in 1960, Mexico became home. Being the youngest of six gave her an interesting perspective on life; a childhood surrounded by adults – parents, their friends, siblings, from whom she learned so much. As a Catholic, her education followed that path from elementary school through a Jesuit university. Majoring in International Relations, with a minor in politics, she worked in both private and social sectors, exposing her to people of diverse ages, backgrounds and cultures. But most influential in her life have been her parents.
“My father, a lawyer, taught me to seek rational structure, discipline and integrity,” she relates. “My mother, a homemaker, reinvented herself to go out into the world to make a living, showing me resilience, finding or creating beauty in all I do, and a strong faith in God’s perfect plan, in the good in human nature and in myself. Today, I find inspiration in my three children – teachers for life and givers of joy.” Comella describes her motive for moving to Cabo ten years ago.
“I always felt a special connection to the ocean, but the desert was completely new to me,” she explains. “After a few months, I felt I belonged to BCS; I fell in love with the contrasts: Marine exuberance and landscape; small towns with a cosmopolitan feel; life as busy or relaxed as you choose; a different kind of Mexico and like no other place on earth.” And she tries to name some of her favorite spots, food and music.
In Cabo; its beaches, especially El Médano for paddleboarding to the Arch, Chileno or Palmilla for swimming and relaxing; mountain biking and hiking at dawn in the Tezal mountains for a magical experience. There’s San Miguel de Allende, Merida, and Aztec and Mayan artheological sistes. In La Paz it’s the Malecón; the Sierra de la Giganta in Loreto; in San Ignacio – the Mission and town square. Food preferences include chiles rellenos, nopales, ceviche and all corn dishes. But she believes there’s nothing like the moment a Mariachi band appears: the costumes, vibrant vocals, profound lyrics make her heart sing! As for her career:
“What I love most is that it is a great privilege, as well as a huge responsibility, to make a living out of helping others,” she says with obvious delight.