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Applause erupted from the adjacent conference room as we peered out over the Sea of Cortez from our vantage point in La María, tucked away into the classic Viña del Mar hotel atop the rocky edge of the malecón. Glancing over at the celebration, I readily made out the figure of “la Maestra”, Puerto Peñasco’s First Lady and President of the local DIF Rafaela Félix de Figueroa, alongside Samuel Ortega, DIF Director, accompanied by staff and volunteers that have helped direct the local Office on Integral Family Development over the past three years. As their term winds down, volunteers from the local DIF had gathered precisely to acknowledge the work of “la Maestra” as leader of the social service organization.
According to a press release issued after the celebration, accomplishments lauded by the DIF volunteers included Félix de Figueroa’s leadership, ability, and understanding to know how to listen to the people and particularly to the most vulnerable within the community. “Undoubtedly, you have left a tremendous mark during your time at the DIF,” remarked volunteer Martina Márquez Corral.
The First Lady, whose warm smile and keen ability to remember and greet just about any individual who has crossed her path, has indeed worked tirelessly in her role over the past three years – accompanied at all times by the just as focused DIF Director Samuel Ortega. Along with the office’s work encompassing social services particularly geared at children, families, the elderly, physical rehabilitation, health needs, and individuals with disabilities, Félix de Figueroa has also dedicated herself to fulfilling the vision of developing the city’s first dialysis center.
As the change of administrations nears, many of the programs such as providing family food baskets at community centers, school meals, the overall function of the Amores de Peñasco children’s shelter, assistance with transportation for medical emergencies when possible, training and vocational classes, and others will continue to be a mainstay of the DIF itself. Still, Rafaela’s goal of seeing the dialysis center through will remain firm as she is also President of the civil association created to support the project, Proyecto de Asistencia Comunitaria Integral, A.C. (Comprehensive Community Assistance Project).
In response to the examples of support provided by each of the volunteers, Mrs. Félix de Figueroa expressed her appreciation saying that through their backing, as well as that of the outgoing administration of Mayor Gerardo Figueroa Zazueta, it was possible to shed a positive light on the Puerto Peñasco DIF system.
As the applause subsided, the DIF volunteers accompanied “la Maestra” and Sam out into the sunshine for a final group photo with the Sea of Cortez serving as background.