Sharisse Yoder learned more than just another way to approach soccer last summer as an American playing on an FC Indiana club filled with members of the Haiti Women’s National Team.
Yoder, a Bethany Christian High School graduate and Marian University sophomore center midfielder, became familiar with the troubling conditions in a country where economic depression, political violence, poverty and abuse — verbal, physical and sexual — is a grim reality, especially for young girls, and the damage of the 2010 earthquake is still being felt.
“You don’t understand the full effect until you are talking one-on-one,” said Yoder. “They inspired me to want to help other women around the world that are having issues.”
A large part of Yoder’s work has been selling Haiti soccer scarves, which she sells for $25 each with all proceeds going to a northern Indiana-based non-profit organization called the International Women’s Opportunity Foundation.
Yoder and longtime friend and fellow FC Indiana player Briana Schrock (a Westview High School graduate and Goshen College sophomore midfielder) are among those helping to generate support and fundraising through IWOF.
In the past six months, Yoder has brought food and clothing to women who have a lot less than her. “I have always been thankful to have been brought up by a very strong and genuine woman who taught me that the key to changing the world for the better is by helping those less fortunate than me,” said Yoder. “Of the many incredible Haitian women I have met in my life so far, I am always amazed to see how few of them understand how wonderful they really are.”
The IWOF is a non-partisan, all-volunteer group committed to improvement of humanitarian, social, cultural, educational and sporting opportunities for girls and women.
The board of directors includes Dr. Gayle Borkowski, M.D., Sharon Mast, Brent Barrow, Carl Salinas and Shek Borkowski, the head coach of the Haiti Women’s National Team and FC Indiana general manager.
The foundation’s objective is to raise the level of awareness and enlist the public’s aid for the needs of talented and disadvantaged female athletes.
Schrock was recently asked to be IWOF’s Goshen College representative and will organize fundraisers and get the word out around campus. A Feb. 8 sale of T-shirts and scarves is planned.
“I’ve met the Haitians a couple of times,” said Schrock. “They are very genuine. They are very sweet. They are very funny. They enjoy America from what I can see.”
The IWOF looks to help in areas such as education and career development, entrepreneurship development, health and wellness issues, eradication of domestic violence and family strengthening AIDS prevention, personal and leadership development and girls mentoring.
In 2013, IWOF is supporting a “Futbol for Haiti” campaign designed to assist Haiti in its effort to qualify for the FIFA women’s world cups.
With the mantra “Providing Opportunities. Changing Lives,” IWOF is working together with universities, clubs and teams.
Possible IWOF fundraisers include 2 v 2 soccer tournament, a 5K run, PES tournament, Flag Futbol Cup and auction.
For more information contact Sharon Mast at email@example.com or 260-336-1915.