Marissa Riordan Named YR’s Youth of the Month For Her Work in Haiti and At Home

When 18-year old Marissa Riordan went on a mission trip to Haiti in October 2017, she saw a need in the community for shoes. The Mater Dei senior, with the encouragement of her dad, was able to start a project that provided shoes to the people of Haiti and those in need in the local Evansville area, too.

“While I was in Haiti, I often played soccer with the kids. Every kid would take their shoes off and line them against the wall before starting the game, because they did not want to wear out the soles. What really stuck out to me was how all of their shoes were already worn out or too small,” said Marissa.

Halfway during her time in Haiti, the town was hit by a flood, with water levels rising above the knees in many areas.

“We ran to the school to try and get the books above the water. As we were running one of my friends I had met while there, stepped on a cactus. I ran back to my room and grabbed all the shoes I had brought with me on the trip and started giving them to the people helping us. The next morning I told my dad what I had to do.”

Once home Marissa started e-mailing shoe companies and churches, asking for donations of new or gently used shoes. She dropped off collection barrels and organized pick-ups at area businesses. With an original goal of 500 shoes, Marissa was floored when she learned that after only two weeks, she had collected over 2,000 pairs of shoes.

“Every day after school I would go into my garage and clean, tie, and organize the shoes. I then had to fundraise money to ship the barrels of shoes to Haiti. Our community was so generous. We shipped the barrels in March of 2018. There were so many more shoes than we expected, that we were able to donate the surplus to St. Vincent De Paul’s.”

Marissa was able to return to Haiti in October 2019 and help distribute the shoes to community members in need. At the end of the trip, almost every student in both the elementary and high school received a new pair of shoes.

“Visiting Haiti opened my eyes to the real word and the endless ways to help people. It was extremely rewarding, stressful, and emotional. I was able to help so many people and they were all so thankful. My trips have taught me that even though I’m a senior in high school, I can start a business or collect shoes or fundraise or do anything really as long as I can set my mind to it,” Marissa said.

Marissa was nominated for Youth of the Month by her friends and fellow members of Teen Advisory Council: Sam Syroney and Becca Samuel, as well as TAC College Advisor, Sarah Fruit.

“She took time out of her already incredibly busy schedule to go and serve not just the local community, but the global community as well. You can just see the joy she brings to those people when you see the pictures that she sends. It is truly remarkable how many lives she is touching with her kindness and servant heart. Marissa is an inspiration to us all,” they said in their nomination form.

Aside from her involvement with YR, Marissa is a member of the National Honor Society, Student Government, St. Joseph Haiti Missions, Pep Club, Service Club, Fresh Beginnings, and Peer Mediation. Marissa is also a member of Resurrection Parish in Evansville.

“Marissa is a hardworking, uplifting person. Not only does she organize the speakers and games at every TAC meeting, but she also goes out of her way to make everyone feel loved and included. Even at 5:55 a.m., she greets everyone with a loving smile and a hug,” said Sarah Fruit, a TAC College Advisor.

“I enjoy being involved with Youth Resources because of the community it provides me. Everyone is so encouraging and supportive. I have found my best friends and role models through YR,” said Marissa.

To nominate a student ages 5-18 for Youth of the Month, click here.