My husband and I moved to Del Norte County a year and a half ago from San Jose. I had previously worked as a deputy district attorney both in San Joaquin County and San Benito County, and budget cuts seemed to follow me wherever I went. We came to Del Norte County because I was offered the chance to continue my career as a deputy district attorney.

We were not sure what to expect moving to a rural city, so far north from everyone we knew. We need not have worried, for Del Norte County embraced us with open arms. Through my work and community service, I truly learned what it meant to live in a small town.

People may say there is nothing to do in a small town, but I disagree. In a small community there is everything to do. I became a board member for the North Coast Marine Mammal Center and worked on several of its fundraising events.

In addition, I became a member of Sunrise Rotary, and just last month was elected to the Board of Directors. Through Rotary, I became a volunteer for the Schools of Hope. As a volunteer for the Schools of Hope, I dedicate my lunch hour once a week to helping two first grade students learn how to read. The two students always manage to put a smile on my face, and I look forward every week to seeing their progress.

Through Rotary, I met wonderful leaders in our community who serve in many difference capacities. I started attending public meetings. In attending the City Council meetings and Harbor Commission meetings, I saw elected members and volunteers of the community dedicate their time to make Del Norte County a wonderful place to live in.

I started attending the local Chamber of Commerce mixers and had the opportunity to meet such wonderful people who care about enriching Del Norte County and making it a wonderful place to work and to live. At the Chamber's annual dinner, it was a joy to see such members awarded for their outstanding service to our community. Just this week, I was afforded the opportunity to join their ranks and serve as ambassador for the Del Norte Chamber of Commerce.

Working for Jon Alexander and the District Attorney's Office also has truly been a blessing. I was able to achieve my career goal, and be assigned to working sexual assault and domestic violence cases while also continuing my work in prosecuting narcotics and asset forfeiture cases.

I was blessed to be introduced to the outstanding officers who make up the Del Norte Sheriff's Office and Crescent City Police Department. Never, in all my years, have I met such dedicated officers. Each officer I have worked with puts tremendous effort and time into cases starting from the time or arrest all the way through to the end of the case. I have never seen officers who care so much about making sure justice is done.

The officers I work with are always willing to work with me on their days off to help me prepare my case for trial or be present during an interview with a victim. It is because of their work that the District Attorney's Office is successful.

I simply cannot imagine working or living anywhere else. I am eternally grateful for Jon Alexander and the District Attorney's Office for hiring me and introducing me to this wonderful county.Thank you, Del Norte County, I am proud to call you my forever home.

Annamarie Padilla is a Del Norte County deputy district attorney.