Blanca Crane’s eyes light up when she talks about her love for the Casa Hogar Orphanage near Puerto Vallarta, Mexico.
The Vernon hairdresser, owner of Blanca’s Hairstyling on 31st Avenue downtown, immigrated to Canada in 1972 at age 10 from her home in Acapulco Guerrero, Mexico. She first visited the orphanage in 2011, then upon returning to Vernon, she made it her mission to fundraise and collect clothes, foods, and toys for the kids.
The orphanage is run as a non-profit and receives no government funding, relying on donations from people like Crane.
In 2019, Crane held her last fundraiser before COVID-19 hit and raised $1,000 in donations, clothes and school supplies.
She had a friend deliver the items along because she was too sick to travel.
Crane was on dialysis and awaiting a kidney transplant, a wait that lasted seven years before earlier in 2021, her patience and prayers were rewarded when a donor from the North Okanagan was found and she received a new kidney on Good Friday at St. Paul’s Hospital in Vancouver.
“I feel good,” said Crane.
“I have a little bit of pain in the back.”
The operation means a couple of things: One – she can only work two days a week with two clients as she recuperates from the transplant – so she’s looking for a stylist for her salon.
Two, if things continue going as well in recovery, and after she receives her second vaccination in the fall, she can return to the orphanage for the first time in several years.
“I’m not going to tell them I’m coming, I want to surprise them,” said Crane who, in a 2018 interview with the Morning Star, said she wants to help because she didn’t have any food when she was young and growing up.
“I’m from Mexico and, growing up, I had no food at all and had to walk miles to get to the ocean and get food. So every time when I go for holidays and I see moms and little kids selling things on the beach – peanuts or watermelon or whatever – I’ll buy everything and give it back to them because it reminds me of what I used to have to do to have food to eat.
“Now I’ve been in Canada all these years and worked my way up so that now I can help and give back.”
Crane said that as a child she would watch customers enter a local beauty salon and leave looking “beautiful.” She said that before moving to Canada with her sister, she dreamed of one day opening her own studio. Today, it is a reality.
Anybody wishing to help out at Crane’s salon can phone her at 250-308-1037 for more information.