Angels of Love, a nonprofit that provides emergency shelter for abused women and children in the Rio Grande Valley, honored Marissa Cano, regional director of South Texas for BCFS Health and Human Services’ Community Services Division, with its Courage Award.
The award was presented during the 2019 Black and White Awards Gala on November 21 at The Grand Banquet and Conference Center in McAllen, Texas. The Black and White Awards Gala raises funds for Angels of Love as it seeks to open an emergency shelter for abused women and children in South Texas.
Marissa is a survivor of domestic violence who made the life-changing decision to flee her abuser. When she came with her son to the Rio Grande Valley from Fort Worth, it was with only a few things they could fit in their car and no plans on what would be next. But she took that crucial first step to leave Fort Worth, and today has rebuilt her life. In her role now as regional director, Marissa leads a team that works to assist youth from foster care, the juvenile justice system and other at-risk situations. She also consistently supports survivors of domestic violence in the community.
Although it came with much pain and suffering, it seems it was Marissa’s destiny to be where she is today, helping and inspiring other survivors not only with her story but as an advocate as well.
“Marissa has a passion for helping others and is a true advocate for issues such as human trafficking, speaking out against domestic violence and sexual assault, child abuse prevention and suicide awareness,” said Karina Luna, chairperson for the Black and White Awards Gala, in a statement.
Domestic violence is a major problem in Texas and across the United States. Nearly 200,000 people in Texas were victims of domestic violence in 2017 and 74 percent of all Texans knows someone who has been a victim or has been a victim themselves.
In addition to her role with BCFS Health and Human Services in the Rio Grande Valley, Marissa also serves as co-chair of the executive team of the Rio Grande Valley Anti-Human Trafficking Task Force, co-chair for the Hidalgo County Family Violence Task Force, and president of Delta Tau Lambda Sorority Inc., Theta Lambda Chapter.
It was a bittersweet celebration as Marissa accepted her award on the day after she lost her grandmother and still feeling the pains of losing her father one year ago. Marissa’s father was her mentor, her guiding light and her inspiration. She says he was her motivation for pursuing an education, seeking a better life for her and her son, and helping others. It was evident that both her father and grandmother were with her in spirit.