Yesenia’s Humanitarian Foundation was begun in memory of, and to continue the good works of, an extraordinary young woman whose promise and purpose ended all too soon.
Yesenia Monett Orozco exuded compassion and leadership. Her vibrant smile and lively personality brightened the lives of so many; she was accepting of people from all walks of life. She sought out opportunities to use her leadership, creativity, business sense and passion to make a difference in the lives of those she knew, as well as mere strangers who crossed her path.
Even as a youngster, Yesenia loved children. When traveling with her parents, she always gravitated towards the children and could bring laughter to a baby that rarely ever smiled.
The Beginnings of Commitment
Yesenia was born in Orange County, California, of Ecuadorian and Mexican descent. She took great pride in her Hispanic heritage and treasured the cultural diversity that shaped her as a proud Latina woman, seeking to make a difference in the world.
While attending Chapman University, she was elected President of the Student Organization of Latinos and was often front and center at equal rights events, dedicated to protecting and expanding economic and education access opportunities for all races of humanity.
Upon graduating from Chapman University with a Bachelor of Science in Business and Marketing, she worked as an account executive for the American Legal Center while managing the Santa Ana Flower Shop. But Yesenia’s true calling was yet to come.
Reaching Out for the First Time
In March 2007, she was chosen Vi-Reina of Club Ambato, an Ecuadorian association that provides help to underprivileged communities in Ecuador, her father’s native country. She traveled to Ecuador as an ambassador of Club Ambato to distribute food, gifts and love to the less fortunate children in Ambato and surrounding cities. This leadership role opened her heart for developing the real passion in her life: helping children in dire need.
Yesenia believed, “It is in the giving, that you receive.” Her heart of compassion was evident in how Yesenia gave without question. On one occasion, while visiting a school in Ecuador, it was planned that each child wold receive a gift—but one little girl mistakenly did not receive a gift. Yesenia noticed this little girl admiring her necklace; without hesitation, Yesenia took off her favorite butterfly necklace and gave it to the young child, which made that child feel very special and happy.
And that was Yesenia. We will never know the full effect of her seemingly small acts of kindness, but we do know that such acts can bring about enormous changes in people’ lives.
Giving Back at Home
Upon her return to the US, she planned to spend more time improving the lives of children in Ecuador; she was planning a return trip to Ambato in April of the following year. But she also realized that there were many needs in her own back yard. So Yesenia started the Dream Dress Drive.
She began collecting gently worn dresses at her flower shop in Orange County from friends, family and patrons. She contributed dresses from her own closet that she would later distribute to underprivileged young women for prom night. Still, her vision went further.
The Dream Dress Drive was not only about a fancy dress and looking beautiful for one night. It was about helping young women find their own path in life, the way that Yesenia found her path through helping others.
To Yesenia, the prom dress was merely a conduit to reach the girls. She wanted to empower them with knowledge and skills by providing them free seminars and workshops in the areas of financial literacy, self-image, and social etiquette.
But on December 16, 2007, in the blink of an eye, Yesenia’s life was cut short by a drunk driver—just four days before her 27th birthday, just six months short of her first Dream Dress Drive.
Yesenia’s passions and dreams may have been cut short that December evening, but her legacy lives on.
Yesenia lit up every room she entered with her beautiful smile, great sense of humor and willingness to help anyone in need. Her life was marked by a dedication to serve others, a deep love of her family, and a sincere commitment to Christ. She was adored and admired by all who knew her, including her two Pomeranian dogs, Louis and Lola.
The impact Yesenia had on her family, friends, and communities is immeasurable. Today her dreams, compassion and goals are carried on through Yesenia’s Humanitarian Foundation: One prom dress at a time … one child at a time …