A lot of us are loving life in Puerto Vallarta today, but it’s easy to forget that just a few decades ago this global travel destination was just a tiny fishing town on the Banderas Bay with a relatively small population. PV’s explosion in profile has brought tremendous investment from major international companies, but the reality is that most everyday people often struggle to get by due to low wages and seasonal fluctuations in the tourism-driven economy.

That’s why a resource like Desarrollo Integral de la Familia (DIF) is central to helping families in the area make ends meet. Their recently renovated offices just off the Libramiento at Av. Paseo de las Palmas 105 provide a range of services for underprivileged families, and the best part is DIF makes it easy for anyone who truly loves PV to make a direct difference in their lives.

In many cases donations are catalogued upon contribution, and DIF will even send you a picture of a benefactor receiving your individual donation, creating a satisfying connection with the individual or family to which you have extended a helping hand.

One of the core tasks of DIF is their daily distribution of over 2000 dispensas, packages of essentials such as food and household goods, to local families. Employees at DIF prepare these packages by hand each day, and the dispensas themselves are filled with donations from the local community, including readers like you.

The distribution center will even break down bulk donations from big box stores into individual household sizes, and these donations can include items such as the following:

  • food (fresh and canned)
  • soap
  • linens
  • clothing
  • detergent
  • toilet paper
  • feminine products

If you’re only going to be in town for a few days these donations can be brought directly to the DIF offices (Av. Paseo de las Palmas 105, Barrio Santa Maria) or long-term additions to the Vallarta community can arrange to have large donations picked up by a DIF delivery truck.

Services for the Disabled

Another important service that DIF provides is assistance for the disabled, who are particularly susceptible to the socioeconomic factors that can place so much pressure on citizens of PV. These programs include equipment refurbishing for devices such as wheelchairs and walkers, and so both used and new mobility devices along with parts such as wheels and hand grips are in frequent demand for this department.

Single Mother Assistance

With a national minimum wage of approximately $5 USD per day as of October 2019 and limited opportunities for career advancement in many industries, single mothers represent a particularly vulnerable group. DIF also provides services including free or discounted daycare as well as skills training to help them earn more money with limited resources, and donations such as diapers, bottles, formula, children’s clothing, high chairs and other child care essentials can bring a world of relief to some of Vallarta’s most heavily burdened residents.

Physical and Sensory Therapy

Ensuring our society makes the most possible use out of each member is indispensable to our continued success as a species, and DIF’s physical and sensory therapy resources reflect a concerted effort to help individuals make the most of their capabilities.

These onsite therapy resources include a full mobility training suite as well as the only hot pool in the state, allowing the physically impaired to strengthen their skills in everyday tasks and motor skills. DIF also takes a focus on improving the outlook of children, providing speech therapy lessons, sensory development programs, and other transformative resources.

Services such as these can be prohibitively expensive for the typical resident of the city, but DIF offers these children and families access to them at a greatly discounted rate, or even for free based on an individual’s ability to pay. Services in this program can cost up 60 pesos, although the difference in cost is subsidized through cash donations.

DIF provides a range of other outstanding services to disadvantaged locals, but these are just a few examples of how practically anyone can contribute. Donating to DIF makes it easy to make a tangible impact on the quality of life for everyday residents of Puerto Vallarta, and since the services are open to anyone, every individual who needs assistance can receive it through the organization’s programs.

Thousands of individuals and families in the area rely on the resources of DIF each day, and as folks fortunate enough to enjoy a more privileged position in life–for instance, I’m betting you can afford a passport–it is our responsibility to ensure that the people who make this sunny city by the sea what it is can enjoy a better life as a result of Puerto Vallarta’s recent evolution.

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