We remember Samariz Hernandez Cruz: a legacy of advocacy, strength, and leadership

We mourn the loss of Samariz Hernandez Cruz, mother, daughter, and friend to many on Grandville Avenue. 
"That fact that she came to work on Grandville isn’t a coincidence. This area had a lot to do with how we were raised and she wanted to give back." -Francisco Velazquez, brother of Samariz Hernandez Cruz. 

On Grandville Avenue, the name Samariz Hernandez Cruz, is synonymous with laughter, light, and advocacy. She called herself "tough love," but there was nothing "tough" about it. She loved her community enthusiastically, unconditionally, and willingly.

Many of the narratives and relationships we have been able to highlight for On The Ground have been thanks to Hernandez Cruz, who so willingly connected communities to each other because she believed relationships mattered above anything else. Read here to learn more of the ways Hernandez Cruz took initiative to advocate for a more connected Grandville Avenue. 

Hernandez Cruz never thought Grandville Avenue would become her home when she moved from Chicago to the area with her mother, Maria Cruz, and her three siblings when she was twelve years old. 

As Kent School Services Coordinator at Cesar Chavez Elementary School, Hernandez Cruz worked very hard to develop meaningful relationships with every family; she wanted to ensure the families had equitable access to resources. 

"Grandville is where I am supposed to be. These are the people I should be helping. I can see the struggle—I don't know it, but I can see it. I can and want to help," shared Hernandez Cruz in an On The Ground interview with Rapid Growth Media on August 30 of this year. 

Even though Hernandez Cruz is no longer with us, her legacy is remembered by the hundreds of people who were touched by her. “Her spirit and contagious laughter are sprinkled all over Grandville Avenue,” said Javier Cervantez, a friend of Hernandez Cruz, during the memorial gathering held at Cook Library Center this past Wednesday, November 8. 

At the event, residents, neighbors, friends, and families gathered together to remember and celebrate the legacy Hernandez Cruz left behind.

Hernandez Cruz will not just be remembered for her infectious laughter, but for her compassion for others, and authenticity. She leaves behind countless family and friends who were deeply touched by her loving spirit. 

"She was smart, funny, and always laughing. It was infectious and I’m so glad that people were affected by her," emphasized Velazques. 

"When I got the job at Cesar Chavez Elementary, I realized Grandville is where I am supposed to be. We are rooted in the neighborhood.” – Samaríz Hernández Cruz | 06-26-1980 - 11-08-2017 

To help support Zöe Cruz, daughter of Hernandez Cruz donate to the following scholarship fund:  https://www.youcaring.com/samarizhernandezcruz-1007775