Potter Patterson Becomes a Pop:
Caring for the Kids of Corazon de Vida
“It is impossible to forget that the orphaned and abandoned children the foundation cares for are mostly located less than 15 miles south of San Diego.”
Mick Patterson has 750 children. At least that is what he says whenever he talks about “his kids,” down in Baja. Mick is responsible for having spearheaded Apogee’s initiative and involvement with the Corazon de Vida foundation that supports fourteen orphanages in Baja California, Mexico.
Mick has been working for Apogee since its inception in 1985 and laughs when he recalls, “making filters out of the garage that doubled as our first office.” Apogee’s first products were 944G and 944S anti aliasing anti imaging filters. The filters were made in Switzerland and federal expressed to Santa Monica where Mick, Apogee’s very first employee, would pot them with thermally conductive epoxy, which inspired the nickname Potter Patterson.
Since those early days Apogee has grown considerably and so has the company’s commitment to both its immediate community and the global community so well represented in Apogee’s diverse staff.
While Corazon de Vida is technically an international charitable organization because its work is focused in Mexico, it is impossible to forget that the orphaned and abandoned children the foundation cares for are mostly located less than 15 miles south of San Diego.
What is most striking for the people who board the special Corazon de Vida buses for the first time from Los Angeles, Irvine, and San Diego is the stark contrast between the glitz and glamour found everywhere in Southern California and what lies just twenty minutes south of the boarder.
BMWs are replaced with old beat up trucks filled with sometimes ten to fifteen people looking for work, groomed pets on leashes are replaced with hundreds of stray and diseased emaciated dogs, some of which have died and are left on street corners. Sadly, the condition deteriorates further the closer the buses get to the orphanages.
During the workweek Mick, who supervises cable assembly and quality control, is constantly surrounded by cables, connectors, extrusions and various other rubber bits and bobs. During his free time and on weekends, however, Mick finds himself surrounded by bouncy balls, crayons, hot dogs, grubby hands, giggling and quite a bit of crying as well. Mick first learned about Corazon de Vida from Apogee’s founder and CEO, Betty Bennett.
Betty convinced Mick to make the trip down to one of the orphanages one Saturday over six years ago. Mick wasn’t too excited about getting on the Corazon Bus from LA to Mexico only to return to LA later that day. It sounded overwhelming and he says, “I just wasn’t that interested.” Mick did go, however, and has never looked back.
Mick fell in love with the children and wonderful women that look after the little ones in the 14 orphanages Corazon de Vida supports. He has since brought many members of the Apogee team down with him to visit the kids and the organization has become incredibly important to Apogee.
Apogee covers school fees, electricity bills, and the cost of food for many of these children with monthly donations. In addition, Apogee has installed water filtration systems, new showers, and helps with various other projects to improve the lives of these children that have become a part of Apogee’s extended family.
What makes Corazon de Vida particularly special for those at Apogee, Mick explains, “is how easy it is to jump on a bus and visit the children. I’ve watched these kids grow up, and directly see the benefits of our company’s contributions as well as the immediate benefit of the time we spend with the kids.” In many of the orphanages there are often only three or four “mothers” to look after over 75 children
The children love visitors as they get much more one-on-one attention than they do during the week. Mick frequently talks about his “kids” that live in the two orphanages he most often visits, La Hacienda and El Faro. He always encourages new visitors to jump on a Corazon de Vida bus and experience the magical feeling of being bombarded by a bunch of laughing children as soon as you walk through the front door.