When the 2017 hurricane season ravaged the Caribbean and the Gulf Coast, AFSCME members were there to help rebuild their communities. People who already dedicate their lives to service stepped up and devoted more time and more resources than ever to serving others.
No one embodied this Never Quit spirit better than Ana Candelario Figueroa, a social services worker in San Juan, Puerto Rico, and member of Local 3234/ Servidores Publicos Unidos (SPU) (Council 95). As Hurricane Maria destroyed much of the island, Candelario was left in an office with no power, no Internet access, and few of the tools she uses to help the people of Puerto Rico.
But Candelario didn’t let that stop her from getting the job done. She worked twice as hard, reuniting families that were separated in the storm, delivering essential goods and doing everything in her power to help the people of her community rebuild their lives.
In honor of her incredible work and resilience, Candelario was named the 2018 AFSCME Never Quit Service Award winner at the convention in Boston.
“We have to remember that there’s always someone in front of us who needs us. We have to put our mind, our heart, our soul, our spirit, our hands, everything we can do to rise up. Our first goal is to serve. We have a responsibility,” said an emotional Candelario, who was surprised with the honor. “I appreciate everything that you’ve done for us in Puerto Rico. I am so proud to be part of this organization.”
Her son, Jesus Antonio Candelario, was on hand to give his mother her award.
“I was lucky to have her there with me, and the people of Puerto Rico are lucky to have my mom there to work for them as we rebuild our island and our lives,’” he said. “She is not just a hero to me – she is a true hero who has dedicated her life to helping others. When I grow up, I want to help people just like my mom does.”
Delegates watched a video honoring Candelaria’s incredible work for the people of Puerto Rico.