Marissa Villa

  • One former Express-News journalist helps another

    Travis Poling
    Travis Poling

    Jen and I received an invite on Facebook to help out Marissa Villa, a former reporter for the Express-News’ Hispanic publication Conexion who was laid off earlier this year. The guy who organized the fundraiser for Marissa was former Express-News Business Writer Travis Poling, who also left the paper.

    Marissa Villa
    Marissa Villa, left
    Travis is a beer connoisseur. When he was a business writer, he reviewed beers and covered many news beats, including the interesting battles and conflicts in the San Antonio liquor industry. Travis left the paper to work on his new book, “Beer Across Texas.”

    Travis organized a beer tasting to raise money for Marissa, who is embarking on an 11-country mission trip to help the poor.

    Travis wrote in his invite:

    Marissa Villa, a journalist whom many of you may know from her byline in the San Antonio Express-News’ Hispanic publication Conexion, has committed to helping people all over the world as part of The World Race mission group. Beginning in August, she will spend a total of 11 months in the poorest of conditions to help people in Ireland, Romania, Uganda, Kenya, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Cambodia, Thailand and Vietnam. She will be living on as little as $6 a day even as she helps others with so much less, but travel expenses are still a concern.

    Marissa herself was a victim of this country’s economic downturn when she was one of many talented journalists who lost their job at newspapers around the country earlier this year. The paycheck she was using to bankroll her mission went away, but her desire to serve her fellow humans did not. And now — and I say this at the risk of sounding all Sally Struthers — she needs our help. Even if you think you don’t like beer, there’s no way you can be against helping teenagers out of prostitution in Thailand or battling starvation in Uganda. Come hear from Marissa how this mission, which is the “Amazing Race” meets hardcore humanitarian work, will change lives. You also can read her blog entries leading up to her August departure here.

    In a backroom at the Blue Star Brewery in King William, about a dozen people showed up on Friday, chipped in $20 apiece, and listened to Travis extol the benefits of Shiner Smokehause brew and other beers. Marissa told us she was leaving everything behind and traveling across the world with nothing but the items she could carry in a backpack. She wanted to live up to the Christian ideal of helping others. She said she was tired of Christians who monopolized the air waves with what she said were hateful messages. She said she wanted to care for the poor, not demonize them.

    The tough thing about leaving journalism is losing something you love. But it’s nice to see Marissa and Travis have pursued new dreams.