Hard times may be challenging, but the satisfaction that brings lending a hand to those who need it most, is the permanent fuel for Solmar Foundation. We spoke with Dinorah De Haro, Director of this remarkable association, which has helped many noble causes to thrive for almost 10 years now, creating a positive impact in Los Cabos’ community. We invite you to learn more about the titanic work behind Solmar Foundation and the many achievements attained along the years.
Q. What is the origin of the Solmar Foundation?
A. The association was founded in 2011, but the history goes back to 1955, when Luis Bulnes Molleda, founder of Solmar Hotels & Resorts, was appointed General Manager of the only tuna packing company in Mexico, based in Los Cabos. Even when this destination is classified among the best in the world, 60% of its population lives in poverty and with limited access to education and health services, as well as job opportunities. Don Luis —as he was respectfully known— was an empathic person who firmly believed that a destination is a reflection of its inhabitants: if they live a quality life, it directly impacts the well-being and tourist safety of the destination. So he looked for a way to help the community and founded the fire department and the nursing home.
Tenacity put to the test
Opened in 1974, Solmar Hotel was the first property to be part of Solmar Hotels & Resorts. After a few years of operations, the hotel faced a precarious financial situation. Don Luis asked a close friend, an American captain, to put him in contact with a Hollywood production company which was interested in filming the movie Fox Trot in Los Cabos. This event brought a great international projection to Los Cabos, placing the destination in the limelight for tourists and celebrities in the United States. This is just an example of Don Luis’ vision of making the best of adversity.
Companion in life and adventures
Everyone who knew Don Bulnes knows of the great love he had for his wife, Concepción “Conchita” Malo Hernández, a lively, musical, generous and very organized accounting woman, who was the perfect companion for her husband to carry out the many helping tasks he undertook for more than 45 years. One can say Don Luis was the heart of this spectacular match, and Doña Conchita represented the head. Always with a low profile, the remarkable work of this woman supported a large number of families and associations.
Q. When did the foundation start to support children with disabilities?
A. The program started from the very beginning. In 2011 a revolving fund was created to support different causes. We started by enlisting all those civil organizations and associations in need, prioritizing Don Luis’ main focus: the elderly, the children and the orphans.
But this titanic work would have not been possible without the support of people who join our efforts with dedication, hands and funds. It is about teamwork: for every dollar received, the Bulnes family adds a dollar.
Half of what we do is possible thanks to the generosity of Solmar Hotels & Resorts Members.
Q. What are the efforts held along 2020?
There are many efforts accomplished along 2020. So far this year:
- The foundation has supplied more than 55,000 meals to the homeless and impoverished members of the Cabo San Lucas community, including children.
- Nearly 600 full scholarships were awarded to aspiring students living in substandard conditions.
- Thanks to generous donations to the foundation, 120 children battling cancer are being cared for in La Paz, free of charge, while they receive much-needed treatment and get back on the road to recovery.
- More than $274,000 has been donated to different Non Government Organizations . Even throughout the pandemic these grants continues and helped these NGOs with operational costs and clinics.
- Direct assistance has been provided to 23 associations like Red Autismo, Corazon de Niño, Amigos de los Niños, Ciclovia, Senior care facilities and orphans.
- More than 2000 families receive monthly contributions to help supplement their income and provide crucial assistance with basic living expenses.
- More than 6000 food baskets are distributed every year and during the pandemic we doubled this amount it through our cooperation with the Alianza por Baja California that in total worked to help over 90,000 families.
- 245 children and young adults received scholarships and grants to continue their studies.
Q. There is an initiative to help people with disabilities to enter the Solmar workforce. How did you come about with this program?
This initiative was born out of the concern of the mothers of those people with disabilities we were already helping. I presented the initiative to the Committee and they immediately approved the program. So we started training and hiring them!
It’s a tremendous responsibility, and we rely on a public trade school, which holds a three-month training. They are certified in La Paz, with the help of an advanced technology machine called Valpar —owned by the Ministry of Labor— which quantifies and qualifies skills and prepares a curriculum with a very detailed profile of talents and abilities. This helps to detect the best areas of performance.
We also train our staff in equal treatment and inclusion to promote an optimal work environment.
We maintain a staff of 20 people with disabilities. The current health situation led to the reduction to 12 employees, as they were in the vulnerable range. Still, the support they receive has been permanent during these months.
The greatest pride I have about this program is that they are very loyal, hard-working and punctual people, and they have won many awards in recognition of their efforts!
Recognitions for this noble cause
Among the recognitions we have received for this initiative are: Hotel of the Year by global non-profit organization Community Hotels, for being the hotel group that most supports this type of cause in the world. The foundation was also recipient of the Palmera de Oro award, granted by Mexican Tourism Association (AMDETUR) for the great social responsibility of the foundation towards people with intellectual disabilities.
Q. What does it mean to head Solmar Foundation?
A. It is about having a personal and professional balance; it takes a creative mind and a generous heart to provide all the necessary help.
Baja California Sur is a world-class destination, but with many basic needs. It is the state with the highest number of leukemia and HIV cases. But we work incessantly to maintain the support and help our community demands.
Today we support more than 30 charities in Baja California Sur.
Q. Are there any success stories you would like to share with our readers?
A. We are very lucky to count many success stories on our trajectory. To mention just a few, Asociación Corazón de Niño, which was able to sustain the help it provides to the community in the diagnosis and treatment of Congenital Heart Disease. Just to give a glimpse to all the help needed, a surgery to treat this condition costs $1 million pesos (about $ 455,000USD). Thanks to the social assistance of this association, a Federal law was established in Mexico that dictates that all children have the right to ongoing free studies to detect this disease. More than 1,000 children were able to surpass this medical condition.
Another successful program is the self-generation of jobs. We have carried out 3 annual sessions for the last six years, with important personalities in their trade, such is the case of the prestigious Mexican jeweler Zoé Parodi who participated in the training of 30 women awarded by the foundation to start in the craft of jewelry. Today, four groups of entrepreneur women export their pieces of fine jewelry to different countries. One of them even opened a jewelry store in downtown Los Cabos.
During the current global health situation, we have supported different organizations to act efficiently in the treatment of Covid-19, which was acknowledged by ExpokNews, an IberoAmerican organism in social responsibility which placed us among The 27 Most Outstanding Companies and Organizations for Investment Destined to treat this disease in Mexico.
Pioneer Art Gallery
At 86 years of age, in 2011 Don Luis Bulnes set the first stone of Grand Solmar Land’s End, and expressed his last wish: that the support for Los Cabos, mainly for children and the elderly, continued through a foundation.
Today more of the tireless work of this exemplary man can be seen in the Pioneer Art Gallery, which serves as the headquarters of the Solmar Foundation. Los Cabos municipality set a statue in his honor at the Marina area, and many parks and plazas are named after him.
About Dinorah De Haro
With more than 20 years living in Los Cabos, Dinorah has a bachelor in Communication, specialized in Marketing and Public Relations. Being herself a mother of a child with autism, Dinorah has found her true vocation in helping others, a task she undertakes with passion and deep responsibility and that which has granted her many recognitions and honor mentions to her noble work. Please read her inspiring Thanksgiving message at this link.