ANAK KO (“My Child” in Filipino”) is named for the founder’s unborn child, Angel Nevaeh Rendón, who was miscarried on Halloween and buried on Día de los Muertos (“Day of the Dead” in Spanish) 2018. Angel’s family fortunately could afford to pay for her funeral and tombstone at the time, but not all families are blessed with funds for the unexpected — which can cost thousands of dollars (including for babies).
ANAK KO founder, Dr. Elaine Dispo-Rendón, Ph.D., GC-C, PGSS-C, considers this foundation as her life’s calling, to commemorate the lives of her babies: Ángel Nevaeh, Asia Felina Catalina and Divine Mercy. As angel mother, she also is cat mama to Annie, Leónidas, Lilo, Santo Niño (a.k.a. “Chuy,” short for “Baby JESUS”) and Rosario (a.k.a. “Left Eye Levi”). Her husband and AKO co-founder, David Rendón, is Corporate Executive Chef who also taught culinary arts. “Dr. DR” has worked as an educator for over a baker’s dozen (13) years, teaching college communication and business, and having served as a campus administrator. Dr. DR, as AKO Chair, also serves other Boards-of-Directors, as Vice President of her PhD alma mater, Our Lady of the Lake University’s Alumni Executive Council, and as Secretary of the Filipino American Association of Brownsville, Texas. Before releasing Our Babies Have Angels & Wings, Dr. DR also defended and published her dissertation on intercollegiate college coaches’ leadership, in addition to writing many articles on community, culture, education, fitness and sports. As lovers of nature, Dr. DR and Chef Dave dedicated to Angel a Marian garden, where they buried Asia and Divine, whose resting place now is called their Queen of Angels Marian Garden, which attracts butterflies and hummingbirds. After founding ANAK KO in 2020, Dr. DR reached the following goals with GOD’s grace and mercy, as tributes to her babies:
• published Our Babies Have Halos & Wings in 2021
• published Fly Pies in the Sky with Chef Dave in 2022
• earned the Our Lady of the Lake University Outstanding Alumni Award for Service to the University in 2022
• co-presented Navigating Grief: Healing & Growing from Loss at SWPA & NSTA with Doc Rod in 2022
• completed her certifications in Grief Counseling (GC-C) & Pet-Loss Grief Support Specialist (PGSS-C) from the AIHCP’s American Academy of Grief Counseling in 2022
• published Annie’s tribute, PAWSitive PURRspective, on her Emotional Support ANNIEmal’s 13th birthday
ANAK KO founder, Dr. Elaine Dispo-Rendón, self-funded the Angel Nevaeh & Divine Mercy Rendón Memorial Scholarship at her PhD alma mater, Our Lady of the Lake University, for students who also experienced loss, and to help fulfill their potential, like she had hoped her own child would’ve, had s/he been born. The ANAK KO Vision Statement indicates its goal to establish endowments in memory of children, to help future students. Dr. DR’s babies’ causes appear in OLLU Alumni Donor Spotlight:https://www.ollualumni.com/s/888/Hybrid/wide.aspx?sid=888&gid=1&pgid=252&cid=5211&ecid=5211&crid=0&calpgid=1032&calcid=2886
Marigolds represent Día de los Muertos (“Day of the Dead” in Spanish).🕊ANAK KO co-founder Chef David Rendón planted them at Asia Felina Catalina’s grave the summer after their family’s oldest cat died.🐯When he and ANAK KO co-founder Dr. Elaine Dispo-Rendón did ANAK KO’s very first Pregnancy & Infant Loss (PAIL) Balloon Release on PAIL Remembrance Day, he pointed out how they started to blossom in their Marian garden.🪂By All Souls’ Day, an abundance already had bloomed exponentially.💐Just like these aromatic orange flowers, ANAK KO plans to grow and offer awards to scholars who, like these founders, have lost a loved one and want to make the world, like their garden, a better place.🧡
Lauren Elizabeth Gonzales upheld AKO’s mission even before we established our foundation by making a heartfelt (literally and figuratively) condolences poster—with her artistic brother, Tristan’s aid—to comfort the founder when she returned to work (teaching for Texas A&M University-Kingsville) from miscarrying and burying Angel Nevaeh, for whom ANAK KO is named. Our Marigold Scholar’s award-winning essay told about her grandmother, who died shortly prior to the pandemic and whose value of caring has been instilled in Lauren, as she lives on a legacy of that same compassion to others. During the COVID-19 quarantine, Lauren graduated as Salutatorian of Lasara High School’s Class of 2020 and started college at The University of Texas at San Antonio. The UTSA President’s List and Psychology major aspires to become an Educational Diagnostician and has leadership roles as a Resident Assistant, on her dance team, and in the American Sign Language Club. Lauren is from a household of scholars, with her mother, Lisa García, attending Texas State Technical College Harlingen and Tristan going to UT Rio Grande Valley.
These Rio Grande Valley-based founders of ANAK KO lost their first baby, Angel Nevaeh, during their first year of marriage, followed by their oldest cat, Asia Felina Catalina, and their second unborn child. Divine Mercy, during the pandemic and while they established their foundation. As they honor their Heavenly angels, Elaine cares for their feline family: Annie, Leo, Lilo, Sto. Niño and Rosario, while teaching for the University of Maryland Global Campus and Purdue University Global as a veteran college communication educator, in addition to the Grief Diversity curriculum that she designed for fellow AIHCP-Certified Grief Counselors. Dave is Corporate Executive Chef of El Santuario Tacos & Cocktails in Olmito, TX.
Linda Johnson, CPA, wears many hats as a proud mother, grandmother, wife of her Heavenly husband, outgoing OLLU alumni president and many committee leadership roles. She has led a career in accounting and business that took her all around the world, including Barcelona for the 1992 Summer Olympics. Two of her prides-and-joys include her daughter & son-in-law, who both are Air Force Commanders.
Ida Serna is a happy and humble servant of GOD, plus wife and mother of three children on Earth and two babies in Heaven. She is an educator and was chair of her department who she always encourages, as Dr. DR’s former boss and fellow faith warrior. As the original officer appointed to ANAK KO upon its founding in 2020, she reviewed the first Our Babies Have Halos & Wings prior to publication in 2021. Furthermore, in 2022, Ida started and will finish within 1 YEAR her Master’s of Education degree in Curriculum and Instruction from The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley!
Nora Lawler-De Luna is a wife, mother and criminal justice graduate who has worked as an educator and a long-time team leader in the food industry. As a compassionate friend who rendered empathy for the ANAK KO founder, she is a proponent of how important support systems are in times of grief, and she helped review ANAK KO’s first book’s manuscript prior to the first Board meeting. Nora is a strong writer who tends to be meticulous about organizing and remembering special dates, plus her love language is gift-giving, which makes her generosity and thoughtfulness very fitting for her new AKO Board of Directors role.
Dr. Jaime Rodríguez, also known as “Coach Rdz.,” is an education administrator and the Chief Executive Officer of MGR Pathfinders, LLC, a leadership consulting firm. He has backgrounds in natural and social sciences, including specializations in biology and psychology, as well as has served as head tennis coach at one of his school districts. “Doc Rod” knows all too well about experiencing loss and can empathize with bereaving families, having lost his father, three brothers, and his Ima Southern Belle miniature schnauzer. In 2022, Doc Rod and Dr. DR presented their workshop, Navigating Grief: Healing and Growing from Loss, at the Southwestern Psychological Association convention in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, as well as virtually at the National Science Teachers Association conference in Chicago, Illinois, in addition to The Marigold Garden (on the aforementioned Día de los Muertos flower) at the Conference of Advancement for Science Teachers in Dallas, Texas. As of his birthday month in September 2022, Jaime started serving as OLLU alumni president.
Bernadette Aniag is the mother of two Earthly children and a Heavenly son, EJ, whose memory of kindness and positivity forever is cherished by her, their family and his friends. EJ had so much to live for, and his mom leads her life to preserve his legacy.
Christine López García is the mom to her Heavenly daughter ~ Savannah Elizabeth (a.k.a. “Mona”) ~ & 2 lively boys, she knows what it’s like to have a baby born & buried way too soon. Her & her family’s faith inspired ANAK KO founder’s family in its losses, as they all honor theirs forever… Christine brings her experience of recording meeting minutes, including when she did them for her & her husband, José’s Engaged Encounter. On September 10, 2022, the Garcías experienced another deep baby loss of their 15-year-old canine, Cha Cha, who, along with her puppy brother, Pepe, had been around for their family milestones of marriage, newborns, and new home.
Hector Burnias comes from an influential family in his hometown, which he helped put on the map with both of his restaurants: El Santuario Cocktails & Tacos + Flying Pig Grill & Cantina in Olmito, Texas, where the ANAK KO founder’s husband, David Rendón is Corporate Executive Chef. As a hardworking husband and father, Hector also has resident dogs and cats around his gastropubs, where he hosts arrays of events, including raising money for food at no-kill animal shelters and awareness of pet adoption needs.
Dr. Ronilda Henson, also known as “Nildz,” holds her Doctor of Philosophy and profession in early childhood education, with expertise in special education. Dra. Nildz is a proud grandmother and mother, including to a son and daughter-in-law who both follow in her footsteps with their doctoral degrees pursuits. Nildz is a leader in the Filipino-American community, including as a multiple-term/-position officer with the Fil-Am Association of Brownsville (an ANAK KO sponsor) and the Philippine-American Chamber of Commerce at the Texas state level.
ANAK KO Board-of-Directors will meet virtually on a quarterly basis (four times per year, every three months) — likely on the second Monday every third month, at 5PM Pacific/6PM Mountain/7PM Central time, or at a mutually-agreed time that’ll work for all board members. The Board has an odd amount of members for voting purposes, and each Director’s term is different, to stagger time between elections. Board members who’ve contributed financially to ANAK KO are denoted by asterisks, according to their tier levels: *Bronze, **Silver, ***Gold and ****Platinum.
🏆3-Peaters: 3+ Donations
🎀Hope Votes: •••$50 ••$25 •$10
🏆Dr. Samuel Landero, MD, Arroyo Vista Family Medicine ~ highest total worth of donations
🏆EMILIANA POPATCO ~ original & most
Adrián & Élvia Arriaga, AAA Real Estate & Investments
Amiel Danugrao (individual) & Filipino-American Association of Brownsville (group sponsor)
🏆Estrella R. Dispo, RN
🏆Joanne Dispo Cooley, FNP MHP
🌷Cristina Aldape ~ initiated Grief Ministries & pitched in more
🌷Sylvia Arrellano ~ gave bonus contribution
🌹Rosa María Kilroy
+📿Nancy Lambert ~ gifted Rosaries in addition to donation
🗣️Kathleen Reyes Ganzon
🌷Mark Rodríguez ~ in memory of his father, Seferino Rodríguez, & to honor his mother, Matilde Rodríguez
💒Women’s Prayer Group of St. Helen’s Catholic Church in Rio Hondo, TX
🏆🌷🥈••Pam Alston, NSA ~ also AKO Loyal Reader (purchased ALL published books so far)📚📕📗📘📙
••Dr. Seth Batiste, Ph.D.
••Bishop Michael D. Pfeifer, OMI
•• •Jacqueline L. Walter, MA
😻Both the first and last Hope Voters/Promoters are Breast Cancer Survivors
THANKS to ANAK KO donor, Nancy Lambert’s devout faith & craftsmanship, her Rosaries are here to raise funds for our CARE gift packages (Community Advocates Render Empathy)📿
Board-of-Directors’ Babies & Children of Bereaved Families who ANAK KO has helped (some have not been listed to respect privacy of families—yet their souls still are in our prayers)
Angel Nevaeh Rendón (2018) ~ ANAK KO’s namesake & Co-Founders’ 1st unborn child
Asia Felina Catalina (2006-20) ~ Co-Founders’ oldest cat
Divine Mercy Rendón (2020) ~ Co-Founders’ 2nd unborn child
Andrew Nathan Serna (2008) ~ Founding Chaplain’s 2nd child & older son
Chloë Rose Serna (2016) ~ Founding Chaplain’s 4th child & 2nd daughter
Savannah Elizabeth García (2012-13) ~ Secretary’s 1st child & daughter
Cha Cha (2007-22) ~ Secretary’s dog
Boo Boo De Luna ~ Founding Secretary’s & Gift Officer’s 1st hamster
Ima Southern Belle Rodríguez (2008-21) ~ Former Parliamentarian’s longtime dog
Enrique Rodríguez (died 2021) ~ Former Parliamentarian’s younger brother, along with their other brothers & father
Elijah James Antone Humphrey (2003-19) ~ Founding President’s son & EJ 5K namesake
Christopher Madriaga Dispo (1971-2022) ~ANAK KO CHRIS namesake + EJ’s GODfather + Founder’s & Founding President’s cousin
Ricky Cantú (died 2021) ~ Co-Founder’s cousin
Adrián Sanchez (died 2021) ~ Founder’s former college student