Meet Cristina Alfonso of The Be Love Movement | Voyage MIA Magazine

Thank you to Voyage MIA for featuring our work at the Be Love Movement! Full article listed below.

Meet Cristina Alfonso of The Be Love Movement

Today we’d like to introduce you to Cristina Alfonso.

So, before we jump into specific questions, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.

Since I was just a kid, I’ve always felt a calling to help others. When I was old enough to venture out on my own, I would get involved in as many service projects, donation drives and charitable experiences as possible. Through these experiences, I met countless selfless individuals who would take it upon themselves to start a collection or aid a cause. They didn’t have a relationship with a specific charity or organization. They only acted because they felt they had to lend a hand to another soul in need. As I learned more about the efforts of these everyday individuals (or as we like to call them: micro-philanthropists), I realized most people do have an innate desire to help out.

What often stops the average Joe from organizing help for a certain cause? The answer, in my experience, is twofold: they won’t know who to help or where to begin their individual journey of charity. From this realization, the Be Love Movement was born. At its core, it’s a combined effort between the unsung heroes of our community and those with the true desire to help others and inspire love.

Has it been a smooth road?

At the start, I was fueled by the excitement of starting a new initiative. We had a few local micro-philanthropists lined up to help and many different projects we wanted to tackle. During the inaugural year of the Be Love Movement (2016), we aided four major collections for a handful of different local causes. From school supply collections to toy drives, we loved helping several different Miami-based heroes see their passionate efforts transform into a lasting impact on our community.

A few years later, the challenge has become less about managing pending projects and more about highlighting causes that speak to our community on an intimate level. The journey hasn’t always been smooth, but it’s been a rewarding ebb and flow of wholeheartedly dedicating time, energy, and resources to local micro-philanthropists that need a platform.

So let’s switch gears a bit and go into The Be Love Movement story. Tell us more about the business.

Here’s the spiel. The Be Love Movement provides a supportive platform to those disruptors and change-makers wanting to impact our community for the better. Our goal is to highlight small, unassuming acts of love and kindness in a way that motivates others to become involved with their community. We try to create relationships with special individuals, or micro-philanthropists, that happen to have minimal resources but are never short of charitable ambition. For example, a physician who manages a shoe drive for her home country during her spare time is a micro-philanthropist. A college student who visits hospitals during the year’s slow season to distribute gifts is a micro-philanthropist. A girl who hand-delivers school supplies to children attending a local, underserved school is a micro-philanthropist.

The Be Love Movement serves to give them credit, highlight them, tell their story, and strengthen their resolve in order to continue their work. Maybe even more importantly, the Be Love Movement seeks to create momentum and instill passion in others to begin engaging alongside them.

By highlighting unassuming acts, those acts become influential to an entire segment of individuals that follow us. They could be young adults, grandmothers, dads, kids, etc., from our community. Essentially, they can be people from any background, age, or gender looking to make a difference. By promoting the most modest acts of compassion, we “Spread Love” and champion our vision; “a world filled with faith, restored by love.”

Now I think that’s something worth spieling about.

How do you think the industry will change over the next decade?

In 5-10 years, I see growth. I see a movement where the masses come together. A movement where the changemakers and the trailblazers on the forefront of social change and social justice can unite under one purpose: to serve and to do so with love. There are endless amounts of opportunities within our community to do good and to make a difference in the lives of others. And our ever-growing Be Love Movement army will be there to answer the call to serve.

What’s your favorite memory from childhood?

When I really think about it, my greatest memory from childhood would probably make the average kid growing up today roll their eyes, my three kids included. Nevertheless, I absolutely loved waking up on the weekend and watching Saturday morning cartoons. I was always joined by Dad, while Mami whipped up café con leche and a Spanish tortilla with patatas and chorizo. If I was lucky, I would get to visit Abuela’s house afterward. This would entail a new episode of ​The Price is Right​ and a few reruns of ​I Love Lucy​, followed by multiple outdoor games with the neighborhood kids in the front yard.

Now looking back, I can honestly say my personal happiness and fulfillment has come from the simple things in life. Life IS about the simple things, or rather, simple moments shared together with a foundation of love.

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First Impressions Last a Lifetime

Some say first impressions have a sneaky way of leaving lasting impressions on new faces. This thought can apply to budding friendships, strangers on the street and even potential employers. When it comes to meeting a potential employer at a job interview, it certainly helps to dress and look the part of a successful employee. Whether we like it or not, our modern society deems presentability as a strength in the workplace.

For those less fortunate, clothing is certainly not of the utmost priority; survival is.​ According to Miami-Dade County’s Homeless Trust Census conducted in 2018, the homeless population in Miami-Dade county is 3,526. This number reflects those who are able to find occasional shelter and those who are unsheltered.

How has our community combatted this challenge? Camillus House, a notable local charity, offers the homeless a place of refuge. The organization provides emergency housing, transitional housing and permanent housing to homeless all over the city. Emergency housing is just as the name describes; it’s an immediate solution, a place to rest your head at night. That’s not all they do. In addition, Camillus House offers healthcare, treatment, breakfast several times a week, daily lunch, the ability to take a shower and obtain a fresh set of clothes, as well as career placement.

Photo courtesy of Camillus House

I had to find a way to get involved on a deeper level. This meant learning more about the organization firsthand. Recently, I had the privilege of touring Camillus House’s incredible facility. I was in awe of the men and women living on the streets of Downtown Miami that this organization had touched. These individuals had the opportunity each and every day of making one line, which in turn, allowed them access to food, a shower and their choice of an outfit for the day provided to them by the Camillus “store.” These gifts are not exclusive to regular attendees. No, they are for anyone.

The store at Camillus House is run by volunteers and outfitted by the many donations sent in from the community. Every corner of the women’s department was filled with ample clothing in most sizes, shoes and accessories. However, the men’s department did not seem to be so fruitful. It was clear there was a need for more men’s goods. More specifically, professional occasion wear for men. Suits and ties.

You see, Camillus House provides career counseling and placement for participating individuals. Camillus House too believes in first impressions and the importance of attending an initial job interview with a fresh face. That being said, menswear is very much needed at Camillus House, and we were prepared to answer that call.

And so, the Dress for Success donation drive was born. To do this, Be Love partnered with Belen Jesuit Preparatory School upperclassman, Luis Gonzalez. Luis is now a senior and gearing up for the second round of professional menswear collections. In February, he set up various collections bins throughout the community. From Little Havana to Key Biscayne, the collection focused on collecting men’s dress pants, oxfords, suits, ties and dress shoes. Our joint mission was clear: we wanted the homeless to have clothing options in order to feel confident and complete a successful job interview.

Photo courtesy of the Be Love Movement

The second collection will take place from September 23rd through October 3rd.

The following menswear items are in great need:

  • Suits
  • Slacks
  • Dress shirts
  • Sports Jackets
  • Belts
  • Ties
  • Shoes

Photo courtesy of the Be Love Movement

Bins will be placed at Belen Jesuit Preparatory School, ​500 SW 127th Ave, Miami, FL 33184​ as well as Value Store It Self Storage facility located at 7500 NW 25th Street, suite 120. For more information regarding donations, please contact Cristina at For more information on Camillus House, please visit

Words from Cristina Alfonso

Spread Some Holiday Love to Lotus House

Feeling generous this holiday season? Spread some festive cheer, and donate to our 2018 Holiday Collection. This year’s drive will benefit Lotus House, an organization dedicated to improving the lives of homeless women, youth and children.

Lotus House Holiday Drive Be Love Movement

Photo courtesy of Lotus House

Lotus House was formed to support holistic, innovative solutions to bring an end to child and family homelessness. The organization recognizes the fastest growing segment of homeless in our country are single, female heads of household with young children. With trauma-informed, evidence based, best practices, Lotus House empowers women and children to heal, learn, grow and blossom into who they are meant to be.

Be Love Movement Lotus House

Photo courtesy of Lotus House

We are collecting new baby goods and new, unwrapped toys until December 17th. Check out the full list of acceptable, new items below to learn what you can donate.


  • New diapers (size 4, 5, 6)
  • New hypoallergenic baby toiletries
    • Full-size bottles of baby wash
    • Full-size bottles of baby lotion
  • Bottles
  • Teething rings
  • Stroller/car seat combinations
  • Double strollers
  • New car seats

*Please no baby powder or wipes*


  • New toys and gifts (for ages 0-17 years)

*Please leave toys and gifts unwrapped*

To donate, please contact Cristina at or Caty at The deadline to donate items is December 17th!

For more information on Lotus House and all the hearts this organization touches, visit their website:

Lotus House Holiday Drive Be Love Movement

Words from Be Love Movement Team

The Magic of a Toy Drive


Photo courtesy of Angelina Capote

Growing up, I loved everything about Christmas. I loved the way freshly baked gingerbread smelled coming out of the oven. I loved putting ridiculously tacky Christmas sweaters on my Maltese, Sassy. I loved the yearly trips to Mall of the Americas to fight my cousins for a seat on Santa’s lap. But most of all, I loved waking up on Christmas morning to a sea of presents under my decadently adorned Christmas tree. I didn’t care for the actual gifts as much as I cared for what each gift represented. Somehow, someway, all of my presents endured magical travels to reach their final destination: my living room. Each present had a purpose and a story.


Photo courtesy of Angelina Capote

As I unwrapped my gifts every year, I would always catch a glimpse of my parents’ expressions. Papi would sit on the couch admiring from afar with a giant smile on his face, while Mamá was right next to me, front and center, wanting a close play-by-play of each unveiling. Over the years, these Christmas’ have gotten me plenty of toys, but the only memories I keep with me are the ones that encompass the way those presents made me feel.

In 2008, I was rushed to the hospital with terrible back pains like never before. The doctors later discovered I’ve had a kidney problem, hiding quietly undiscovered since birth. Being 14 years old, spending my Christmas break in the hospital was not an ideal situation and something I was not looking forward to. Due to the severity of my condition, I was forced to stay in the hospital for almost two weeks, missing my school’s 8th grade Christmas play and all my holiday celebrations. For the first time in my life, I had to face the reality that Christmas wasn’t going to be the same old holiday I had grown to love.

One day during the second week of my hospital stay, I was laying down and watching the usual string of television channels with my mom. Suddenly, a group of cheerful people dressed in holly jolly Christmas attire came into my room with smiles from ear to ear. They sang all my favorite Christmas songs to me and my mom and gave me a gift. Truthfully, it was the happiest I had been during my hospital stay. All because of an unexpected act of kindness from pure strangers. The holiday spirit they carried through their melodies and thoughtful present grew my heart, and my kidneys, three sizes that day. It made me think about all the time and effort that went into planning their small toy drive, helping me appreciate the role of a volunteer.

Just last month, I began to have a pain in my back that mimicked the one I had back in 2008. I prayed this Christmas would be different and, there would be no need to go to the hospital. Thankfully, after a lot of rest and medication, the pain went away. Even so, my thoughts and memories of my last hospital stay didn’t fade into the past. This was the moment I decided to give back. There was something I could do to spread the holiday magic to kids deserving of a bit of spirit. A toy drive would do the trick.

I began posting about my toy drive on Facebook and Instagram through my personal accounts. Friends liked and shared my post, creating a small buzz around our community. I also reached out to the tenants of my office building, asking to leave a toy collection bin at the front of the office lobby. Schools even got involved, like Glades Middle School, as they hosted a mini collection on behalf of the drive. Within three weeks, I received over $600 in cash donations as well as over 200 toys from local donors just like you. The response from my community has been a huge shock and a major blessing. I could’ve never imagined the success of this toy drive, bringing my mind back to those happy feelings I felt when I opened presents on Christmas morning. This time the magic was coming not from receiving, but purely from giving.


Photo courtesy of Angelina Capote


Photo courtesy of Angelina Capote


Photo courtesy of Angelina Capote

On December 17th, I had the privilege to go to my first toy drive event at Baptist Hospital of Miami to give out a batch of fresh gifts. My team and I were able to distribute almost 100 toys to ages ranging from one week old to 16 years old. Experiencing the magical jaw-drops, ooo’s and ahh’s made all our hard work worthwhile. The second distribution on December 22nd took place at Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital, as we worked with a group of children at an arts and crafts session. Coloring, glueing and creating together made for an even more special event, ending with presents given to each and every miniature artist. The final distribution will unfold at Kendall Regional Medical Center on Christmas Eve – perfect timing for a whimsical holiday surprise.


Photo courtesy of Angelina Capote

Again, I couldn’t be more thankful for all the wonderful souls who’ve come together to make this Christmas miracle come true. My only wish was to touch the heart of at least one child spending the holidays at the hospital, as I once did so long ago. May the selfless and magical Christmas spirit continue, and the thoughtful acts of kindness spread into the new year.

Until 2017.

Words from Angelina Capote

Are You a Generous Sole?

Dr. Alicia Hirzel: physician, wife, mother of four, daughter, sister, and unofficial philanthropist. An unsung hero of charity, Dr. Hirzel has quietly and selflessly been dedicated to giving back to the needy children of her home country, Belize. She spearheads several projects throughout each year including backpack and school supply drives, educational teaching supply drives, and special holiday goodie bag deliveries for children at a local preschool she personally sponsors. Her experiences with these individuals have led to her positively humbling attitude and a collection of inspiring moments shared with her community. Dr. Hirzel has devoted countless years to these projects, and she refuses to let the love stop there.

image1Photo courtesy of Alicia Hirzel, M.D.

When Be Love initially spoke with her, Dr. Hirzel’s unwavering desire to support others immediately captivated our team. She left us changed by her infectious kindness and gentle spirit. Like most micro-philanthropists we meet, they do not perform service work in the hopes of becoming a philanthropist and most certainly wouldn’t boast the title. These individuals simply want to give back and hopefully through the process, change someone’s life for the better. In Dr. Hirzel’s case, her motivation is straightforward and grounded: these children need our help.

Poverty can be found all throughout Belize; however, the lack of resources strikes the Central American country’s youth powerfully. It is estimated that among children ages 17 and under almost 40% live in poverty. Dr. Hirzel has seen firsthand the economic scarcity experienced by the innocent and most promising of Belize natives. Belizean children show up to school with just the clothes on their backs. Most students don’t even own a pair of shoes. Imagine that? Preschoolers and elementary aged children trekking to school under rough, and sometimes unsanitary, conditions completely barefoot. Everyday. In that moment of awareness, the idea of a shoe drive was born.

image2Photo courtesy of Alicia Hirzel, M.D.

As a mother, I think of my own children and how blessed they are to own several pairs of shoes. We take for granted the luxury of being able to replace a shoe that simply doesn’t fit or update a pair because it’s gone out of style. I think about all the shoes my children must have worn over the years and all the opportunities of hope that could have blossomed from these forgotten pairs. For a Belizean child, the idea behind whether the shoes are new or used is irrelevant because these pairs represent acts of pure grace. The smile on that child’s face from a small act of grace would symbolize the first day of leaving those barefoot walks to school behind.

untitled-designPhoto courtesy of Alicia Hirzel, M.D.

Be Love is excited to partner with Dr. Hirzel to collect as many pairs of shoes as we can, new or gently worn. This shoe drive will bring together all the “generous soles” within our community as well as any other dream makers willing to touch the lives of children.

Know that each pair of shoes donated will be worn by a bright eyed and contagiously appreciative Belizean child. Imagine, showing up to school on the first day with a fresh backpack and a pair of shoes… now I would say that’s a great way to start a new school year.

For more information on how you can help the children of Belize, please contact Be Love at


Words from Cristina Alfonso

St. Teresa of Calcutta

September 4, 2016: certainly a day I will remember, as will so many others. A day for the record books. Mother Teresa of Calcutta, a humble nun dedicated to reaching those in the slums of India, would be canonized to sainthood by the Roman Catholic Church. Some would argue they already believed she was a saint, as did my ten year-old daughter. It’s not often you are lucky enough to witness the life of a living Saint and ultimately live to see them officially canonized. I’m blessed enough to say I’m one of the lucky ones.

I'm a pencil in the hand of God.png

Photo courtesy of the Be Love Movement

Influence, as defined by Wikipedia, is the capacity to have an effect on the character, development, or behavior of someone or something. Looking into Mother Teresa’s, or Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu’s, upbringing, I can only imagine how her own mother must have sparked the flame of influence, which eventually spread to Mother Teresa’s strong following.

In a book about Mother Teresa’s life, Beyond the Image, Anne Sebba makes several references to how pious and compassionate her mother, Dranafile, was. Dranafile was no stranger to the community, as she frequently invited neighbors from all walks of life to share a meal in their home. She would tell her daughter, “My child, never eat a single mouthful unless you are sharing it with others,” and when Agnes would inquire if their dinner guests were family relatives she would simply state, “Some of them are our relations, but all of them are our people.” Often times when her father would travel he left enough money behind so the family could feed whoever came to their door. Agnes would accompany her mother to deliver parcels of food and small, but still generous funds to the poor in their community.

Although not many more details are well known about Mother Teresa’s early life, there is still enough information to connect us with the missionary’s underlying principles. Perhaps a little mystery behind her background was her way of focusing the world on her efforts rather than on themes that may undermine her core message. Even so, I have always been intrigued by her life, particularly the many years of sacrifice and humility she experienced. At the ripe age of 18, Agnes embarked on the journey of self discovery, as many of us only wish we could try, and later transformed into the Mother Teresa we know today. Witnessing the life and work of Mother Teresa has never failed to amaze me. I admire her steady hand undoubtedly guided by an unyielding sense faith.


Photo courtesy of the Be Love Movement

September 4, 2016: as I watched the proceedings in Rome, I stared at the crowd that gathered to affirm Mother Teresa a Saint. My thoughts immediately roamed to Dranafile and how she must have instilled a sense of belief in her, a sense of purpose that drove her daughter’s conviction. I am reminded how we can be influenced by our parents and how we can similarly influence our children; how our children resemble us and we resemble our parents; and how we should throw logic out the window and begin to think from the heart. Dranafile certainly did not anticipate sainthood for her young Agnes, but she succeeded in setting the foundation for Mother Teresa’s life of simplicity, selflessness and, as always, humility.

Words from Cristina Alfonso

Finding Joy in the Journey

This might sound crazy, but I’ve had a long journey. I was born in a large, dimly lit place with millions of brothers and sisters. Weekdays were crowded to say the least, and I was constantly being manhandled by gentle giants with dull matching outfits. They looked nothing like me though, as I was glowing in a bright shade of hot pink trimmed with jet black detailing. The gentle giants admired my colorful character and unique design, but that didn’t seem to be enough to keep me around. They mumbled to me, “just wait until you see what’s waiting for you. Your purpose is greater than you can imagine.” At the time, those words left me confused. My purpose, as I knew it, was solely to exist among my brothers and sisters. How could I possibly be capable of so much more? I’m only a backpack.


Photo courtesy of Cristina Alfonso

Tucked away in the heart of Little Havana, Shenandoah Elementary embodies the culture of Miami blended with the spirit of innovative education. The original school was erected in 1926, and it was later renovated in 1975 to provide a better learning environment for students and educators alike. The student population consists of approximately 1000, of which 96% are Hispanic, 2% are white, 1% are Black, and 1% are Asian.

Although Shenandoah Elementary has flourished with its diverse community, powerful values and tireless work ethic, the Title I School still faces its fair share of challenges. The District disburses Title I funding to schools based on the number of low-income children and poverty stricken areas, allowing the school to spend the funds on approved early childhood and exceptional student educational programs. There was still a yearning need for an important element in the educational mix: supplies. Once micro-philanthropist, Caty Villavicencio, caught wind of Shenandoah’s struggles, she decided to dedicate this year’s backpack and school supply drive to the elementary school and its thriving community. She agreed to collect supplies and raise funds to pull together 100 backpacks stuffed with fresh, new school supplies for the Shenandoah kiddos.


Photo courtesy of Cristina Alfonso

Caty, along with her supportive philanthropic team, met up with Principal Gloria Garcia a week before the first day of class to gift the family of backpacks to Shenandoah Elementary. The gates to the face of the school opened slowly, and Caty’s SUV pulled up into the welcoming driveway. Immediately, Principal Garcia was ready to greet Caty and her donations with bright eyes and a giant smile. She knew how much this project meant to her staff and even more so, to her beloved students. As they all transferred the backpacks to their temporary home in the main office, everyone couldn’t help but picture the little recipients faces when they would finally see their very own backpack. To accept these backpacks as a donation would mean to truly know generosity, humility and happiness.


Photo courtesy of Cristina Alfonso

Thanks to your charitable efforts, kind attitudes and open hearts, 100 children have had the opportunity to experience school in a different light. They were able to arrive prepared and maybe for the first time, excited about coming to class. These new backpacks and school supplies will be the finest tools to allow the Shenandoah kids to do more than just learn, but learn with a smile.


Photo courtesy of Cristina Alfonso

After many months of adventurous travels, I’ve finally landed in a strange, but comforting room. It has four freshly painted white walls, a steady flow of crisp, cool air, and some delightful sounds. Unfamiliar gentle giants surround me as they grab my brothers and sisters from the table we lie on. Where are they taking them? As this question begins to cloud my thoughts, I’m briskly picked up by a gentle giant and we head in the direction of my siblings. Reunited at last! The sounds become louder and the lights become brighter and… “Thank you, thank you, thank you!” These words flooded my soul as I was embraced by a teeny tiny giant with a smile larger than life. She exclaimed, “I’ve waited so long for you; this is the best!” In that moment I realized what I was told so long ago actually meant. I did have a purpose, and it meant more than being just a backpack, but a symbol of happiness – even to the tiniest of giants. My journey was now complete.


Photo courtesy of Cristina Alfonso

Words from Amanda Camejo

Shop ‘til You Drop Caty Villavicencio Style

There are several things a Miami girl knows well: the trending styles, the cultured hot spots and the best shopping deals. She is no stranger to all the different shops around the city, which allow her to bring home quality goods within her budget. This summertime, the crowds will swarm retail shops to snag the cutest bikinis, the newest tech gadgets and the strongest SPF sunblock. Caty Villavicencio, however, has only one retail department in mind: the school supply section.


Photo courtesy of Cristina Alfonso

After kicking off this year’s school supply and backpack fundraiser to support struggling Miami students, Caty and her team of dedicated micro-philanthropists decided it was almost time to start making purchases for their cause. Her goal began at $1,000, and within a week, enough funds were raised to fuel the shopping spree. Before they could hit the retail aisles though, Caty knew her team needed to come up with a plan to maximize their school supply shopping budget. Long nights of online researching, Sunday flyer stalking and coupon discovering led to a perfectly played out strategy to tackle the sales.


Photo courtesy of Cristina Alfonso

As a bargain shopper, Caty knew there was more than one right way to go about this school supply shopping experience. Being familiar with local wholesalers, her team was able to purchase 100 backpacks for under $4 a pop. Not too shabby, huh? The remainder of the budget was to be spent between two other retailers, Target and Walmart. Not only did these stores provide weekly school supply discounts, but freebie rollbacks using Target’s Cartwheel App and tax-free week perks made the trip even sweeter.


Photo courtesy of Cristina Alfonso

Target truly set the scene for the easiest, and by far most colorful, shopping experience. Since it was their first official stop, and the excitement was at all-time high, the Target shopping trip called for collecting most of the school supplies in bulk. Between four team members, two ruby red shopping carts and countless good vibes, Caty was able to stock up 100 packs of crayons, 100 scissors, 100 packs of markers, 400 pencils, 200 glue sticks, 100 pencil pouches, 200 highlighters, 100 erasers, and 300 folders for the drive.


Photo courtesy of Cristina Alfonso


Photo courtesy of Cristina Alfonso

Once Target was taken care of, Caty and her team visited Walmart to collect the final details of the haul. The troop gathered 100 rulers and 288 notebooks, as the other 12 notebooks were donated previously by generous drive participants. The 600 packs of paper, however, will be purchased at a local retail store to complete the school supply load. In total, each of the 100 backpacks would contain all of these school supplies:

  • 3 notebooks
  • 3 folders
  • 6 packs of paper
  • 1 pencil pouch
  • 1 ruler
  • 1 pack of crayons
  • 1 pack of markers
  • 2 highlighters
  • 4 pencils
  • 1 scissor
  • 2 glue sticks
  • 1 eraser


Photo courtesy of Cristina Alfonso

With the new school year just around the corner, Caty’s supportive team of micro-philanthropists will be organizing, stuffing and distributing the backpacks asap. This year, all the backpacks and school supplies raised by Caty’s drive will be received by Shenandoah Elementary, a Title 1 Miami-Dade County School with a student population of approximately 1,000. So, what did we learn Miami girls? It just goes to show that a little retail therapy can go a long, miraculous way.

Words from Amanda Camejo

Meet Caty Villavicencio: A #BeLove Micro-Philanthropist

1606921_988313811195651_1563504792602187781_n (1) Photo courtesy of MDB Concepts, LLC.

Most children eagerly await the start of each new school year and all the excitement that comes along with it. An 11 year-old Caty Villavicencio would be no exception. During the summer of 2010, Caty would be starting at a new school. She wanted brand new school supplies, preferably all in her favorite shade of pink. Her mother, Annie, wisely reminded Caty to be mindful of the costs of all these matching pink supplies, as the expenses were mounting quickly; uniforms, a new laptop required by the school as well as tuition costs all piled on. It was an opportunity for Annie to gently remind her daughter of how fortunate she truly was. Annie pointed out how many children go without the simplest of necessities because their parents can’t afford one thing from the long list of school supplies. Caty had never really realized some kids may not even show up to their first day of class with so much as a pencil case.

  12 year-old Caty Villavicencio (Fall 2011)IMG_1427Photo courtesy of Caty Villavicencio

In that moment at the Target school supply section, Caty had her “epiphany.” She asked her mother if she could give some of her stuff away, and that’s exactly what she did. She took it one step further and started collecting donations by reaching out to friends, neighbors and family members. That summer, her ultimate mission became clear. She surpassed her goal of helping just a few students and collected enough resources to donate 15 backpacks filled with supplies. Now 17 years old, her resolve is the same: to provide children with the basic materials to start the school year prepared.

As parents, we have the incredible ability, in the most unimposing way, to positively influence our children. In turn, it is magical how our children, in their innocence, influence us back. So why did Be Love chose to support Caty’s school supplies and backpack drive, using her service project to launch the Be Love Movement? The answer is simple… we were inspired. The idea that just a few backpacks can impact change is perhaps idealistic; but having the conviction to believe it can actually do just that is refreshing. It is an idea that renews hope, is rooted in love and serves a sole purpose of spreading love. Individuals like Caty are the very reason Be Love was created. It is our desire to highlight those individuals within our community who are choosing to be the “light” in someone’s life and do so with such humility that they often go unnoticed. It is our hope and our mission that these unassuming heroes who are “light” be brought to light and by doing so fulfilling our vision: a world filled with faith, restored by love.

   16 year-old Caty Villavicencio (Fall 2015)FullSizeRender    Photo courtesy of Caty Villavicencio

I am happy to announce Caty’s annual school supply and backpack drive is in full gear! Caty and her team are accepting monetary donations as well as school supply donations until the end of this summer season. As always, even the smallest amount of your generosity and kindness will make the biggest difference for a child in need. For more information on how you can be a part of the drive, please check out her GoFundMe HERE or contact Be Love at

Give Love, Spread Love, Be love

Words from Cristina Alfonso

The New “Flash Mob” of Philanthropy


Photo courtesy of Cristina Alfonso

It is Mother Teresa like, a humble and simplistic approach to all things “Love.”  Micro-philanthropy meets crowd-funding, social idealism, a Wayne Dyer like spiritual awakening, an “FDR” type call to action and Reaganesque resolve packaged up in the most practical and simple acts.  “Be Love” is built for today’s Millennial faith activists and their families.

Take everything you know about philanthropic activism and put it on its head.  The Be Love Movement is the quintessential “flash mob” of love, faith, social and community activism.  Gone are the days of the foundation board culture and the fancy titles, forget the “BS” rites of passage – no need for a resume here.  The Be Love Movement does not discriminate; rather it is an attempt to be overly simple and outwardly inclusive.   Sure, there is a philanthropic nature and effort – call it “micro-philanthropy” whereby every contribution is valued the same, not because of the dollar amount of each contribution, but because of the act of giving itself and its exponential effects.

Pure is the purpose, valiant is the cause; the movement aims to make a mark on today’s millennial society…call it social crowd-funding… Therefore, it engages head on, face to face, yet it strengthens and comes together via snapchat, iMessage, Facebook or Instagram.  There are no limitations for engagement, no stuffy board meetings – each participant decides how they can best help and chooses to engage in whatever manner they wish.  Each project has a singular purpose and is rooted in the act of pure love, compassion and kindness.


Photo courtesy of Cristina Alfonso

Who takes credit is less important; more important is how being involved “made you feel” and perhaps your willingness to “do it again.” The Be Love Movement makes a bet with society, a social gamble, that we as a people will respond to the pure acts of love with the fascination and intrigue we’ve put on the proliferation of “hate” and – hopefully – in the process create a new breed of leadership and philanthropist; however, “hate” as depicted by today’s media culture is only a perversion of who we are as a society.

Why? Because we can simply do better, because Be Love is rooted in the idea that altruistic philanthropic social activism can change the world, and because we care enough to try.

Words from Be Love