Angélica M. Flores-Figueroa
Diocese of Arecibo, Puerto Rico
Angélica M. Flores-Figueroa is executive director of Oficina para la Promoción y Desarrollo Humano (Office of the Promotion of Human Development—OPDH) in Arecibo, Puerto Rico. The mission of OPDH is to educate, empower and support individuals to form a healthy community.
The organization was founded in 1992 by Sister Roberta Grzelak, CDP, to respond to the critical social needs of the community, located in an impoverished area of northern central Puerto Rico. It seeks to give participants greater self-confidence and economic independence. A Catholic organization, it serves Catholics and non-Catholics as well.
Starting with OPDH as an administrative assistant, Angélica was appointed its executive director in 2000. “She was given this position because of her intelligence, energy, objectivity, sensibility and vision,” said Bishop Daniel Fernández Torres. “There is no doubt that since the beginning, she embraced Sister Roberta’s dream to ‘…promote respect for human dignity and facilitate the development of the common good and life in the community.’ Through the years, OPDH has impacted thousands of lives by recognizing their dignity and most of all, showing them that they are loved.”
The organization has many services. The first group of services is aimed at keeping the family strong: The Women and Family Program has helped 975 women since its beginning. The Parenting with Love Program offers parents the tools needed to improve child-rearing skills, prevent child abuse and improve family stability and has served 1,120 parents. A related initiative, Parenting Fundamentals, is a skills-training program for low-income families, immigrant families and families that are involved with court and social services.
A second area is centered around community and business and has two components: Community Development Program that empowers community groups, and Community Economic Development Program that creates, develops and implements community and micro enterprises to transform the tough socioeconomic realities of individuals and communities.
A third area is called META (Improving Your Self-Esteem) Program. Through conferences and workshops, this program serves adolescents and young adults and has helped 2,550 young people.
In 2014, a young man sought the services of META because of his troubled family and his exposure to drugs and weapons. Going through the program changed his life. He currently volunteers with the program, mentors young people and brings them into the program. His experience with META was so profound that he became interested in joining the Catholic faith. The program employees guided him through this process and were sponsors for his baptism, First Communion and confirmation. In 2018, he was married in the Catholic Church. He believes that META gave him a second chance at life.
Under Angélica’s direction, META has successfully helped many people who struggle. She summarizes her commitment to serve by saying, “Be compassionate to those that for some reason have lost the power and direction to fulfil their lives. Be grateful. Daily, put all your effort in God’s hands and see the answers. Having faith is not just believing but demonstrating it with your acts.”