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Closet of Living Hope: How Surfside's Sergeant Marian Cruz Empowers Survivors of Domestic Violence

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Sergeant Marian Cruz

Sergeant Marian Cruz, a Surfside Police Department veteran with over 18 years of experience with the Town, found her purpose by aiding the most vulnerable.

It started as an act of service five years ago when a former Surfside commissioner wanted to donate clothing to the local women’s shelter. Cruz, a devoted Christian and active member of her church, offered to receive it and make sure the donations landed in the hands of those who needed it.

“I continued to do it throughout the years and everyone started to know me as the person to receive and deliver donations to the shelter,” said Cruz.

Alongside a group of women from her Church, Cruz began to organize events at the shelter on special holidays such as Easter, Mother’s Day, Thanksgiving and Christmas. They take prepared food, music, toiletries, used clothing, and offer prayer and fellowship. The goal, she said, is to make them feel they are not alone.

That was a catalyst that ignited Cruz to found Closet of Living Hope a non-profit organization that aims to put resources in the hands of not only women and children who have been victims of domestic violence but anyone who has experienced hardship.

Cruz collects gently worn clothes and shoes, toiletries and feminine products to give to the people staying at the shelters and those suffering through a tribulation. Cruz partners with Safe Space an agency that provides shelter for domestic violence victims and survivors. Safe Space has several shelters throughout the county.

“Serving people is my passion,” Cruz said. “It’s not only about the material things that we can give but it’s also about bringing a word of hope and letting them know that their current circumstance will not last forever. It will get better.”

There was a particular incident that impacted Cruz’s life. While visiting the woman’s shelter she met a mom of four who was a recent victim of domestic violence. Unbeknownst to Cruz, the mom had decided to end her life and the life of her children by ingesting poison later on that same night. However, it was thanks to the encouragement Cruz imparted to her, the mom felt there was still hope for her and her family. As soon as Cruz left, the mom asked for help and turned her kids in to social services sparing their lives and her own.

“It’s not I who deserves any praise, it’s all God,” said Cruz, as she held back tears. “I am just a vessel and it was God speaking through me to that woman, I believe that He was the one that saved her life. He was the one that saved those children’s lives that day.”

Closet of Living Hope is Cruz’s first venture into the non-profit world. Although, Cruz is nervous she is also confident that God will open up doors and lead her to the right path. Recently, her husband made space in his rented warehouse in Homestead to store all donations. She organizes the gently worn articles by size, it will have a section for toiletries and essentials to prepare the care packages that go directly to the people who need them.

“The warehouse is my happy place, there is truly more in giving than in receiving,” Cruz said. “This is my passion and my purpose.”

She confesses that even though there is no air conditioning at the warehouse, she joyfully spends hours organizing and making sure it’s all presentable. She envisions a time soon to come when Closet of Living Hope can have its own location where she can invite the victims and their children to shop and select the items they like and need—all free of charge.

Cruz thanks all the support she has received from her coworkers, people at church, family and friends. On Oct. 25, the Aventura Marketing Council recognized Cruz for her efforts to help survivors of domestic violence.


Sergeant Marian Cruz

“I want people who are suffering to feel and know that there is a community that cares and there is a God who loves them,” Cruz said. “They are not alone and I want to help them achieve a fresh new start.”

If you’re interested in volunteering, donating, or need help from Closet of Living Hope, please contact Cruz via email at marian@closetoflivinghope.com and follow them on Instagram @closet_of_living_hope.