Goya Foods, the largest Hispanic-owned U.S. food company, has had a close relationship with Marc Anthony and Maestro Cares and has been a supporter of the Maestro Cares Foundation. Notably, Goya donated $150,000 to the Maestro Cares Foundation to support the housing and educational needs of orphaned and underprivileged children in developing Latin American countries.
The 2012 donation went toward the development and construction of the orphanage the Dominican Republic. “Goya has always believed in lending a hand when it is needed most, whether it is here in the United States or abroad,” said Bob Unanue, President of Goya Foods. “We wanted to contribute to Maestro Cares and this new project in the Dominican Republic because of our close relationship with the people and children of the country that transcends to the Dominican communities here in New York and the rest of the United States.”
“We had a business relation-ship with both Henry Cardenas and Marc Anthony, and they came to us with the idea of building an orphanage in the Dominican Republic, a place where we have a substantial footprint,” said Rafael Toro, Director of Public Relations at Goya Foods. “We have a large facility there. We sell there. We also sell to many Dominicans in the states, and many of our customers and storeowners are Dominicans, so it just seemed like a natural fit. And obviously the cause of helping young people was something that appealed to us, so it was kind of a natural way for us to start working with them and helping them.”
The complex, which measures 30,000 square feet, features state-of-the-art designs and includes a kitchen, laundry room, cafeteria, library, chapel, classrooms, dorm rooms, a teacher’s lounge, workshop area, business center and a baseball field. “We’re grateful for this wonderful donation from Goya Foods and are pleased with the impact that Maestro Cares has made,” Anthony said. “The contributions that donors like Goya are providing today will help us change and improve the lives of our children.”
The donation helps to provide the staff to develop these children as well-rounded and adjusted individuals while attending to their most basic needs. “We are thankful for this generous donation from Goya. Their gift will help feed, clothe and educate children who desperately need it,” Cardenas said. “As we work to end homelessness, hunger and violence for our children in Latin America, it is important for us to know that we have supporters such as Goya who believe in our mission to build better futures for these children.”
From their initial involvement with Maestro Cares, Goya’s efforts on behalf of the foundation has grown over the years. Anthony’s partnership with Goya Foods has also led to the successful “Let’s Give to Kids” program last year to help build the Casa Hogar Alegría Orphanage in Toluca, Mexico. At that time, Goya donated fifteen cents to the Maestro Cares Foundation for every can of GOYA® Refried Beans sold during the month of October 2015 to help build the Mexican orphanage.
“We wanted to do something that not only involved us making a donation but getting everyone involved and getting our consumers involved,” Toro said. “Also by this time, the president of our company [Bob Unanue] was a member of the board. Our GOYA® Refried Beans promotion produced an $80,000 for the cause. We also added additional monies to the facility in Toluca, which opened April this year.”
“The support that Goya Foods has provided throughout the years has been admirable and valuable to the organization,” Anthony said. “Without the support from part-ners like Goya, it would be very difficult for Maestro Cares to accomplish all that it has in such a short period of time. We are grateful for all the support we have received from Goya Foods. They are valuable partners that have committed their time and heart to the organization.”
Over the years, Goya has provided financial support, donated over 100,000 pounds of food to feed the children and established a mentorship program with a select group of Goya employees that help support and guide the children through their school years. “We are so proud to work with a foundation like Maestro Cares, which shares our dedication and commitment to bringing aid to the children in Latin American communities who need it the most,” Unanue said.
“At Goya we have a mentoring program where our employees are actually working directly with the kids there and maintaining a relationship with them,” Toro said. “We have ten employees doing this. We bring them down there once a year, but they also have their own relationship they keep up with the kids at the orphanage at other times of the year.”
The results of the mentoring program are incredibly positive. “All the kids are doing much better in school,” Toro said. “I go down at least three times a year, and when-ever the kids do something they shouldn’t do -- as all kids do -- the worst thing you can say to them is, ‘listen if you keep acting this way we’re going to tell your mentors.’ That is like the worst thing you can say. They are very proud that they can say these people are in their lives. A lot of the kids are artists and have actually done portraits of their men-tors. A lot of the mentors bring their spouses with them. It makes the kids feel they are part of a family.”
This past July, the kids at Orfanato Niños de Cristo were visited by seven mentors from Goya Foods, Inc. In preparation for their arrival, the children had written cards and created beautiful works of art for their mentors. Over the course of the five-day trip, Goya sponsored a soccer tournament for the boys, gave them a tour of the Goya Foods factory in San Cristobal and took them all to the beach. On the last day, both the mentors and the children painted their handprints on the wall and said their goodbyes until next year.
Toro said that Anthony’s fervor is inspiring and contagious. He knew Anthony before he became a superstar and said he really hasn’t changed too much from the guy that played local clubs as a free stylist. “He’s still a nice guy. He loves kids.” His charity work with his promoter Henry Cardenas is all about enhancing the lives of children. “It all started when Cardenas was building a house in the Dominican Republic, and someone took him to an orphanage. It was basically a two family house, and he saw kids sleeping on the floor. And he thought there’s got to be a better way. So this Colombian man decided to start this foundation and get money to build this facility, and the first thing he did was he understood the power of having a celebrity spokesperson attached to the foundation, so he brought Marc down to the orphanage to meet the kids.” Cardenas certainly got more than he ever expected from a celebrity endorsement for his organization. “Marc fell in love with the kids, and that’s how Maestro Cares was born,” Toro said.
He also said that unlike many celebrity spokespeople, Anthony is directly involved with the children that he helps. Before his concerts, he has a video asking people to con-tribute to the cause, and he is no stranger to the orphanage and half-way house residents. “The kids all know him and he’s been to the facilities.” Toro said. “He goes to all the groundbreakings and ribbon cut-tings. And since he has a home in the Dominican Republic very close to where the orphanage is, he visits the orphanage. He has a personal stake in the facility and its children.”