Mitchell Rivas of Berea has been named Humanitarian of the Year by the National Association of Letter Carriers.
The letter carriers union said Rivas was honored for his efforts to help hospitalized children and their families through his Maryssa’s Mission Foundation. Rivas and his wife, Mindy, began the foundation in 2015 shortly after the death of their daughter, Maryssa, at age 2, of congenital heart failure.
Rivas, a Marine Corps veteran, is assigned to the Berea Post Office. He was one of several Postal Service Heroes honored during a banquet in Washington, D.C., on Oct. 30. Frederic V. Rolando, president of the NALC, said Rivas “turned a very personal tragedy into a gift for others.”
The Maryssa’s Mission Foundation has supported more than 2,000 medically fragile children and their families with toys, food and lodging for families while children undergo treatment. Rivas also works with the Berea Police Department to collect and deliver toys during the Christmas season.
After Maryssa’s death, Rivas returned to work to find homeowners on his route had lined the street with pink ribbons as a show of support. “I feel their love,” he said at the time.
Rivas has “helped to inspire an entire community,” Rolando said during the award presentation.
As he accepted the award, Rivas thanked his fellow letter carriers and his fellow award winners. “We represent a small segment of what the Postal Service offers,” he said. “We put the Service into Postal Service.”
Rivas said he and Mindy started the foundation because “we knew we had to do something to make a difference.”
“Life is fragile, life is fluid,” Rivas said. “As a Marine, as a father, as a husband, as a letter carrier, there is nothing worth stressing about.”