Wednesday, October 20, 2021
Marlene Quaroni - Florida Catholic
MIAMI | The daughters of Delfin J. Diaz found a meaningful way to honor their father’s life of service by funding a legacy at Christopher Columbus High School: an annual $10,000 award to a student who excels at community service.
Sisters Hope Diaz and Christina Diaz Gonzalez, along with their mother, Esperanza Diaz, conceived the award as a means of supporting Columbus’ mission of “encouraging students to make service a part of their lives,” according to a press release issued by the high school.
Delfin Diaz died in 2020 at the age of 74. His widow and daughters were on hand at Columbus Oct. 13, 2021 to announce the establishment of the Delfin J. Diaz Marist Service Award. The award will go to a junior or senior at the 1,731-student school who demonstrates exemplary community service. In addition, the sisters committed to awarding a Columbus Squires Club member with a $1,000 Squire of the Year award.
Christina’s sons, Peter, ’16, and Daniel, ’19, are alumni of the all-boys school, which is operated by the Marist Brothers. Diaz attended a Marist school in his native Cienfuegos, Cuba, and was a Columbus Squire. He immigrated to the United States as a teenager through Operation Pedro Pan. He continued to be a Squire while attending Hialeah High School, where he met his future wife, Esperanza. At 18, he became a third-generation Knight of Columbus.
After graduating from the University of Miami with a degree in electrical engineering, he moved to Perry, Florida, to work for Proctor and Gamble. The family lived there for 15 years. His daughters, Hope and Christina, were born there. After moving back to Miami, Diaz started his own executive recruiting firm.
“In Perry, he started a Sunday Fish Fry to raise money for the local church, and a softball league,” said Christina. “He was always looking for ways to foster a sense of community and help those in need, while having fun along the way. Once he was back in Miami, he worked in the San Marcelino Champagnat Chapter of the Knights of Columbus here on campus.”
Their father inspired them to start the two awards in his name.
“We joke that he was so humble that the only thing he wouldn’t like about this is that it had his name attached to it, but that part’s for us,” said Hope. “We want his legacy to live on in this way and to inspire the young people he believed in so much.”
During the ceremony announcing the award, those present watched a video on Delfin Diaz’s life of service, “A Man of Faith and Service,” in which his friends described his life as a “Marista,” a life of simplicity, service and charity. The event took place in the Columbus High School cafeteria, where Diaz and his fellow Knights often brought food to be distributed to the needy.
Under the supervision of Marist Brother Al Rivera, the school’s director of Service Learning, juniors and seniors at the school will go through an application/interview process with a committee whose members will select the winner. The awards will be announced at the school’s annual awards banquet, which will take place April 7, 2022.
“We are grateful to Christina and Hope for supporting our school and for the generous aid that they will be providing to our students,” said Thomas Kruczek, Columbus’ president. “They are certainly following in their father’s footsteps with this charitable initiative. Delfin would be very proud of them.”
Brother Dan Riordan, the Marists’ U.S. Provincial who was visiting from New York, said that he was delighted on behalf of the Marist brothers at the announcement of the awards.
“We honor students for scholastic achievement and athletics, but not for service,” he said. “Such prestige for community service is at the heart of our Marist mission.”