I’m just a regular everyday person who makes her share of mistakes. But I always find a way to learn from them – and I always strive to own up to the ones I make.
Marisa was raised in the Bronx but moved to St. Augustine, Florida when she was twelve. After high school, she worked for several years at a medical facility in Jacksonville as a doctor's assistant. She recently took a full-time position with AmeriCorps after having first done many hundreds of hours of volunteer work with the non-profit. As Marisa says, "The pay's not great, but the personal reward can't be matched. I love AmeriCorps' purpose and mission." Marisa's boyfriend, Kevin, is from St. Martens and will be attending Florida State University shortly. He will join Marisa on the cruise.
Marisa was an adopted child and is keenly aware of the angst and longings of children in the foster care system. She has been volunteering with at-risk kids since she was a teenager, and it is her life's calling. She worked with Helping Adolescents Reach Their Full Potential, where she provided summer and after-school activities for children in the community. She would find mentors for the kids, businesses to donate goods and services, and guests to help motivate the kids. In fact, in one great get, Marisa arranged for football players from Florida State University to meet with the kids, speak with them about positive choices, and answer their questions about playing sports at an elite level. She also arranged for the kids to help others in the community. She brought them to shelters and food kitchens so they could learn about empathy, and taught them how to make a positive difference in the lives of other people.
Marisa started volunteering with AmeriCorps about two years ago and has served three terms. Her first term was 150 hours, her second 900 hours, and her third 450. She wakes up every day knowing she can make a difference, and she loves going to work. She now lives in Tallahassee where she will work with AmeriCorps continuing her programs with at-risk kids. Marisa started as a mentor and takes great satisfaction in watching kids turn their lives around. Among other awards she has earned for her unwavering community service is the 2011 Humanitarian of the Year award.