A.C.E. AWARD WINNER FOR 2013
ELLY MARISOL ESTRADA CRUZ
Marisol’s story is one of triumph and hope, but is also a story of fear, abuse and heartache – obstacles she has overcome time and again since fleeing Mexico with her family. She was too young to understand the substance abuse or her father’s physical abuse of her mother, but she was thankful to at last escape his unpredictable rage and grateful to find refuge in Chicago. Her mother took a job that meant leaving Marisol and her siblings alone for a week at a time. Then, in an attempt to provide for her children, her mother connected with a stream of boyfriends. To substance abuse and physical abuse sexual abuse was added to Marisol’s lit of heartaches. The last boyfriend brought the family to Savannah and fathered Marisol’s three younger siblings. Her brother got tired of the abuse and ran away from home. Then, this man was arrested for DUI and drug possession and deported.
Life ins Savannah has become a better life for Marisol. She works as a waitress and faithfully assists her mother with finances and with caring for the younger siblings. She wants for them to have a better life.
In spite of her many responsibilities, Marisol is dedicated t academics and is a leader among her peers. She was the leader and organizer of a student initiative that sought relief for children in India. Through her devotion, she was able to lead the students to raise $1,000.00 for the relief of these impoverished children.
Marisol says, “Nothing comes easily in life. I waitress to support my family, teach my little sister to read, translate for my mother, and maintain an A average. Nevertheless, life is not about what benefits you, it’s about helping others…In all things, I will keep in mind: no matter what, I can change my community, never allow others to bring me down, and I will always bring others up. Small things matter! My goal is to positively transform the future: to teach my little sister that there are better things out there for her, and to teach my community the same.