In 1976 the state of Sonora, Mexico instituted a major social assistance and family development program designed to effectively address individual requests for support through community services segmented by municipality. This format not only gave the city control but also responsibility for the program yet under an umbrella of support from the state. This format made the program a natural conduit to attract charitable donations from the public and private sectors.
The initials from the Spanish name, D.I.F., have become the iconic acronym of this social assistance program. The acronym DIF is so closely associated with each city that, as in the case of Puerto Peñasco, it shares the same logo design. DIF, in fact is partially funded by the city, with DIF’s major funding efforts directed toward private individual and corporate contributions.
The guidelines called for leadership of the program to be by the First Lady of each municipal government which created an automatic change in leadership every two years, the maximum term of a mayor. While dictated leadership changes might signal insured organizational chaos for an operation of such complexity, it has actually worked in the opposite direction for its entire 36 year history. There are surely theories as to why it happened this way, but none are relevant since it has worked out this way.
What is relevant is that since there has been little or nothing to be fixed by the new leadership, the First Lady’s efforts have been focused on making the program better, leaner, meaner and more efficient while creating greater donations making it even more productive.
What makes this program so vitally important to the community are the ten arms of assistance it provides on a daily basis. That’s why you will see that almost every fundraising event, some portion of the proceeds to be donated will include DIF. It is not because DIF is part of the city and state governments, but because it does so much for the individuals in the community.
In our last blog we promised to give you more information on DIF to help you make a decision to purchase tickets to our big Las Vegas Night for Charity, 100% of which will go to DIF. This program is that important to our beloved beach paradise. Read on to get more acquainted with DIF.
First, lets get to know our First Lady and DIF President, Marcela Albelaiz de Zepeda. She is a passionate leader of DIF who took the helm during the international economic downturn that seemed to target the tourism industry of Puerto Peñasco. This in turn spiked the poverty numbers and the needs of families throughout the city.
It was Mrs. Albelaiz de Zepeda’s passion and creativity as well as her organizational skills that allowed DIF to continue its daily assistance programs in spite of the rising tide of needy families; a daunting task under the best of circumstances and crucial to salvaging the local populace from destitution and the subsequent ever clinging hopelessness that comes with the realization by the man of the house that he can no longer feed his loved ones: a will-breaker for the otherwise hard working, sensitive romanticist Mexican heart.
DIF has met the increased challenges thanks to the many individuals, companies and organizations that have continued to contribute time, goods and money to keep thousands of needy families in survival mode.
Among the vital services provided by the 36 year old DIF charity which is heavily supported by donations from community residents and business are:
- Boxes of food and milk; over 1.200 of them each and every month to families who could not feed their children otherwise.
- Daily food delivery to the elderly in need, much like our “meals on wheels” system.
- Medical services by a full time doctor and medicines donated through the community.
- For medical care in other cities, DIF will provide bus tickets or arrange other transportation to appointments outside Puerto Peñasco.
- DIF even provides all or part of the funeral costs for families in need.
- DIF provides professional physical rehabilitation and therapy sessions for patients requiring such services.
- DIF provides 3,500 breakfasts every day to the students of 21 kinder garden and elementary schools in Puerto Peñasco.
- During community days held several times per month in four centers throughout the municipality, DIF provides haircuts, craft classes, speakers who involve families in motivational programs and professionals who provide medical consultation.
- Also, on call are professional legal and psychological consultants.
Perhaps the most profound program of DIF is the children’s shelter home that presently cares for 26 children ranging in age from infancy to 11 years who are safe guarded from such traumatic circumstances as abuse, abandonment, neglect and molestation by dysfunctional family situations. While under the care of the DIF shelter, families of these kids receive intense psychological rehabilitation and the children are not released until full recovery has been achieved.
The children are housed in a new modern, ultra-clean building that opened last August 26, 2011 under the direction of our First Lady who is quick to say it could never have happened without the dedication and support of contributions, volunteers and concerned citizens from Mexico and the U.S.
In fact, during our meeting with the First Lady, she shared a partial wish list which, among other items, included a computer since the shelter had only one for all the kids to learn on. We knew we had a surprise to present to her during a tour of the shelter scheduled for the following day!
We called Mark and Barb Olszewski who founded the Adopt-A-Classroom program 9 years ago that provides school supplies and equipment to 10 schools and thousands of students. (Please see our blog on these miracle workers at http://www.sonoranresorts.mx/?p=4658 ). Sure enough, they just happened to have a working computer and brought it along on the tour of the shelter and set it up in the learning room! What a beautiful day!
If you were wondering why the Sonoran Resorts Group has made such a commitment to Las Vegas Night for Charity, we hope this cleared it up for you. We also hope you are now clearing your calendar for Saturday July 7 to attend this worthwhile event—and maybe end up with a weekend for free, a massage, or a great meal at one of the sponsoring restaurants!
Because you’re helping DIF, you’ll feel great no matter what!
This blog is brought to you by the Sonoran Resorts Sales Group, Jim Ringquist, Director of Sales and Marketing.