About 100 people gathered to dedicate the Ofelia Bringas Memorial Bridge at Cathedral Canyon Drive and the wash in Cathedral City Thursday morning.
Driving the news: Congressional representatives, city leaders, and family members were all in attendance at the dedication ceremony for the 599-foot, four-lane bridge that stretches over the wash.
- Planning for the project started in 2008, but construction began in the summer of 2020.
Why now: Before the bridge was in place, Cathedral Canyon would be damaged and inaccessible from floods resulting from heavy rain, cutting off one of two North/South connections between the city’s downtown and residential areas.
- Funding for the project came from the Federal Highway Bridge Program, the Coachella Valley Association of Governments, and Cathedral City.
Why it’s important: Ofelia Bringas was a youth counselor in the city who dedicated her life to the children she worked with, many of whom considered her a second mother. “She was a pillar of the community who supported thousands of families struggling with childcare, poverty, and language barriers,” said Cathedral City Mayor Ernesto Gutierrez.
- Bringas was instrumental in ensuring lower income kids in the Coachella Valley experienced trips to Disneyland, Dodgers games, and trips to the beach. “She knew to change the trajectory of the lives of poor children and get them out of gangs, you have to get them involved and instill in them a sense of hope and opportunity,” Gutierrez said.
The dedication ceremony was more of a family reunion than an official ceremony, with her extended family members dotting the crowd and giving speeches about her impact.
There were also people in the crowd who weren’t directly related to her, but counted her among their family, nonetheless.
- “I can’t go a week without running into someone in our valley who brings up her name or something she represents,” her son Henry said during the ceremony. “She was my mother, but a second mom to many. She was not a person that needed awards or accolades, but she would be truly touched by the beautiful gestures as of today.”
Even Mayor Gutierrez himself was influenced by Bringas. “When I moved to the States at 14 years old,” he said, “I spoke zero English and she helped me become the person I am today.”
Bringas worked into her 70s and died in 2006 after helping generations of kids through her work with the Boys and Girls Club of Cathedral City and Agua Caliente Elementary School.