Albuquerque woman remembered for commitment to community

[anvplayer video=”5090372″ station=”998127″]

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – Albuquerque’s International District honored a woman who spent her life trying to make her community a better place. Her name was Reynaluz Juarez.

Parents, students, friends, and families participated in the weekly "walking school bus" to Whittier Elementary Friday. It’s just one of many ways Juarez made a difference.

Normally this is a group of parents, school staff, and students who meet up to make sure kids make it safely to Whittier Elementary School.

“Reyna was about education, about making sure our kids are safe, and that’s the whole process of walking school bus is making sure our students are safe coming to school,” said Anna Flores, staff member at Whittier Elementary.

But this time – it was so much more.

"Today, we are here to honor the late Reynaluz Juarez, who has been a powerhouse of a human being in Albuquerque, in the International District, at Whittier Elementary,” said Flores.

Organizing the walking school bus is just one way Juarez made a difference in her community. In 2017, the Public Education Department identified Whittier Elementary as one of three failing elementary schools in Albuquerque. There was a chance each school would be forced to close if things didn’t turn around.

Whittier was saved, thanks in part to Juarez’s efforts.

“What we saw through Reyna’s work was a large drop in chronic truancy for the school,” said Kim Finke, principal of Whittier Elementary.

Juarez grew up in the International District, and she was known for doing everything she could to make the neighborhood a better place for families.

“You know from even fighting for stop signs and lights, and you know it was endless. There was no one like her,” Flores said.

It’s clear that Juarez’s impact will live on.

“And that is who our community has lost. Someone who originally and genuinely cared, and loved everybody. And I’ll always remember her bravery, and love because it can’t be replaced. And we’ve lost a tremendous community champion. And I’ll always love her and miss her,” said Bernadette Hardy, friend to Juarez.

As those who knew and loved her — there is hope others will learn from Juarez’s example and continue her work to make the Duke City a better place.

“Her shoes are huge to be filled and the city has had a tremendous loss because of it,” said Flores.

If you would like to support Reynaluz’s family, a GoFundMe fundraiser is accepting donations.