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Core Team Volunteers:
Having spent the last ten years restlessly roving the planet, Melissa Schilling, a published writer and photographer, has spent time volunteering at an orphanage on the Mayan Riviera, riding bicycles through Patagonia, cooking Basque food in the Pais Vasco and deep-sea fishing off the coast of Cuba. Melissa speaks in sparkles. Her ideas are known to cause tremors of activity, and her movements cause ripples in those around her. Underneath her skin lies the spirit of Beryl Markham and the tongue of an auctioneer. She learned everything she knows from her mother and she’s proud to admit it.
After earning a B.A. in Communications and an M.S. in Soil Science, she launched her cheese and wine consulting entity, Praise Cheeses. She has been providing delight and education for Microsoft, Ebay, Yahoo, Hewlett Packard and Google, as well as teaching cooking classes to special needs children at a small art studio. She also regularly contributes food articles to Edible East Bay Magazine and the Santa Cruz Sentinel newspaper. When she’s not teaching, roller skating or knee deep in her garden, you can find Melissa Schilling capturing the fluidity of life through her photography site, MelissaSchilling.com
With a grasp of five languages, including French, Kreyol, English, Spanish and German and a deep understanding of disaster relief landscapes – Queen Delphine is a core team member on the ground in Haiti. She arrived in Haiti in June 2010 and has dedicated herself to multiple roles, including international volunteer coordinator, Cholera Education Coordinator, MAPS (Men Ansanm Pou la Sante), and Community Outreach Director.
Delphine, a co-founder of Haiti Communitere, is our In-Country Programming Director and the lead on translating, communicating and providing the framework for our Haitian Artists and Project Partners.
Contact Delphine Bedu: email@example.com
THE SOCIAL WORKER
Elizabeth Ancker has spent the last 5 years working with homeless families as a social worker in San Francisco and has been very active in the homeless community advocating for safe, clean shelters. She also has worked at the Thailand/Burma border doing disaster relief following the 2008 cyclone in Burma, and through her legal background has experience appealing and defending death penalty cases in the deep south. All of her human rights work has stemmed from a love of people and love of the world, so she has also made it a point to be dedicated to laughing, playing, and traveling as much as possible and has been very successful! She also loves all things sparkly, glittery and shiny.
Liz manages our federal and state grant applications and maintains our non-profit status.
Contact Liz Ancker: firstname.lastname@example.org
A fearless dreamer since birth, life continuously leads Aimee Gaines here and there in search of truth; and she never fails in finding beauty and wisdom in every step along the way. Equipped with degrees in environmental science, natural resource management and peace studies, she began her solo journey working with farmers as a Peace Corps volunteer in Haiti in 2001. Since then, Aimee has grown in many directions through her experiences working as an activist, community organizer and kindergarten teacher. Aimee gets her biggest kicks out of nature and is enthusiastic in finding ways to harmonize with it. On an ordinary day in Haiti, you may spot her cycling through shanty towns, doing yoga on rooftops, haggling in the marketplace and laughing with the locals. She’s most fulfilled by getting her hands dirty, helping things grow and by living and working in functional, cohesive community with others. Her strengths are in observing, understanding and leading by example. Aimee finds great inspiration in the sustainability movement and aims to apply and build upon her current knowledge of permaculture in all that she does. Despite being thrifty as hell, Aimee considers herself one of the richest people alive.
Contact Aimee Gaines: email@example.com
Our In-Country volunteers improvise, create and execute projects and workshops at the Project HOPE Art Center at Haiti Communitere in the Clercine District of Port-au-Prince. They are trained in a multitude of arts disciplines: Electronic Media, Upcycled Sculpture, Urban Agro-Ecology and Intentional Whimsy.
Fanel Duce was born in Port-au-Prince, Haiti in February 1983. He has lived in Grand Rue since 1984. He grew up in a house with his mom and my dad, though his mom was murdered in 1995. Supported by his single father in the same childhood home, he was encouraged to attend school. When he was finished with classic schooling, his father did not have the means to send Fanel to University. Instead, Fanel was to become an auto mechanic. One of the best ways in the ghetto to make money, but Fanel’s heart was not in the profession. He began looking for other ways to make a living. Fanel grew up in the ghetto with a lot of bad temptation and also a lot of positive creativity. In 2004, at 20 years old, Art triumphed over everything else to shape Fanel into the person he is today. An artist.
Now working with Project HOPE Art, he says “it feels so good be creating.”
Contact Fanel Duce: firstname.lastname@example.org
THE COMMUNITY ORGANIZER
If you need a proactive go-getter, Winter of the RAJEPRE School in Cite Soleil is your guy. We gifted him 2 baby Moringa Tree seedlings and a small packet of information in April of 2012 and by the summer he had read so much about the Miracle Tree he had designed and executed a community planting of 200 trees. His students composed and performed a song about Moringa Trees for visiting teachers and artists. And his students are our go-to activity partners for new and exciting projects.
Living in the neighborhood where he works, Winter is a tireless advocate for learning, doing and sharing. He is the most proactive community partner we have ever encountered. The greatest joy is watching Winter’s school grow and blossom.
We are very lucky to have him on our team.
Contact Luc Winter: email@example.com
You can’t talk about a good teacher and not mention this young lady: Bengie!
A graduate in communications and journalism, with an apprenticeship in advanced English at the EIM Institute. Bengie started as a tutor at Rebuild Globally. Now she is a proud English Teacher at Project HOPE Art.
She loves life, children, travel, jokes and surprises – though her greatest love is her son. A single mom, she enjoys showing her son how to grab ahold of life with dignity, love and hope.
Having lived a miserable childhood, Bengie dreams to open an orphanage where children can live emotionally supported and happy.
She is sure she could have done better if she’d had a good childhood. But! all she has is now. Today.
She’ll use her courage to enable her to resist downward spirals. She’ll use her optimism which pushes her to work and her internal strength which enables her to reach her fondest dreams. Passionate, dedicated, optimist, intelligent, concerned, patient, tenacious are adjectives that reflect Bengie. She is sure about one thing: EDUCATION IS THE KEY OF ANY SUCCESS.
Contact Bengie Seme: firstname.lastname@example.org
Our Part-Time provide back-up support and assistance for all of our programming and fundraising efforts.
Click. Track. Crossfade. We are lucky enough to have a woman on our team who brings chromakey, jump cuts and posterization into our art vernacular. Sylwia Jarosz brings people together to produce varieties of projects ranging from video production, to dance and graphic design. Jarosz picked up her skills getting her Associates of the Arts in Digital Video production and working in a variety of media fields. Her most memorable production experience involves documenting a high school football team in Seattle, and producing her own Public Access show to share the team’s success with the world.
A Jill of many trades, Sylwia also loves gardening, animals, and helping other artists and funtrepreneurs jump start their projects and ideas. She believes in the importance of networking people and ideas together. Just like spiders in the beloved animal kingdom, she understands and promotes people to collaborate and weave their beautiful life webs together in harmony.
One of her favorite quotes is attributed to Charles Darwin,
“In the long history of humankind (and animal kind, too) those who learned to collaborate and improvise most effectively have prevailed.”
Contact Sylwia Janosz: email@example.com
Stefanie Gesiorski lives to make others smile and laugh. Her first foray out of the US and into the world of service was a trip with Habitat for Humanity to dig ditches and distribute clean water to the squatters’ villages near Matamoros, Mexico, where she was promptly reprimanded by the trip leader for singing and clowning around with the locals to make them laugh. So of course Stefanie was thrilled to discover Project HOPE Art, where spreading joy and whimsy is not only tolerated, it’s the main goal of the project!
An accomplished seamstress and clothing/costume designer, Stefanie has produced and participated in multiple fashion performances in San Francisco as a driving force within the Cloud Factory Design Collective. Most of her time is currently spent writing, promoting and producing super fun events and fundraisers in the Bay Area, attempting to recreate delicious foods she has tasted in her travels, hatching and executing creative plans for whimsical adventure, and performing feats of strength in the great outdoors. Her most recent feat was successfully completing the 545-mile bicycle journey from SF to LA to raise awareness and funds for the fight against AIDS with AIDS/LifeCycle.
Stefanie manages the back end of most every project, perfecting outcomes and processes. She is also the instigator of impromptu dance parties that usually include tutus and the soundtrack to Xanadu.
Contact Stefanie Gesiorski: firstname.lastname@example.org
“Design like you give a damn” is a constant and fundamental philosophy shared by Elizabeth amongst a global community working on designing and building responses to humanitarian crises. Collaboration amongst multiple organizations and bringing varied resources together for such environments to thrive is at the core of how we make it work. Such collaboration spans the universe to converge such things as alternative construction, disco, composting toilets, social sculpture.
Elizabeth assembles ideas and transforms them into novel next steps in her assorted design projects. She has stretched into architectural, mechanical, industrial design and engineering realms as they pertain to environmentally and socially responsible fabrication and community building. Elizabeth collaborates with other artists, designers, scientists, engineers, and anyone else interested in the process, instilling the belief that our built environment is more effectively designed and implemented by interdisciplinary teams with the greater whole in mind.
She holds a B.Arch from Southern California Institute of Architecture (SCI-Arc), Los Angeles and strives to integrate safe shelter, clean water, sustainable food, and alternative energy systems into cohesive kits that work for places stricken by unexpected natural disaster, and to rebuild infrastructure in a modular way. Elizabeth currently is developing new ways for sustainable, modular construction to happen in Haiti and other countries where limited building materials is a challenge. Foldable desks where kids can draw and paint, vertical gardens that grow nourishing food along with providing a place to play, rainwater catchment system design, and alternative energy systems design with solar or gasifiers (energy from trash) are among some of the things she manages with HOPEArt.
E handles all of our technical drawings and gives a visual voice to most of the HOPE Art ideas and projects.
Contact Elizabeth Marley: email@example.com
If she were to be described in one word, it would be vibrant. Sarah Boll was born with a flare for the spectacular and the outrageous. In her early days she fell in love with the stage playing princesses in musicals. Nowadays she translates her creativity into fashion and performance at an array of striking events. Her portfolio includes costume design, catwalk displays and dramatic performances.
She earned her BA in Theater and Art and later studied Patternmaking and Design. Boll has worked in professional costume shops and designed for gift and accessory companies. She is one of the founding members of the San Francisco-based theater company the Primitive Screwheads, where she serves as a costume designer and performer. She is best known for her recurring role as the Sparkle Tossing Unicorn. She performs as a dancer with local bands and enjoys creating absurd spectacles with local variety shows. Dress up is her favorite activity and she believes people should wear costumes as much as possible.
Sarah coordinates Self-Expression and Empowerment Workshops through textile design for HOPE Art and can’t wait to make fabric party hats with all the girls at OJFA.
Contact Sarah Boll: firstname.lastname@example.org
Jason DeCook, better known as Woodshop lives by the word: YES!
Functional. Nourishing. Elaborate. Kind.
These are the words that provide the framework of Woodshop’s life.
He is known for being a bit challenging in all the right ways. Living life with a big heart, fitting too many things into every long day and bear hugging everyone in his path. His work with HOPE Art encompasses the world of permanent and semi-permanent creative spaces. He brings 20 years of craftsmanship and carpentry experience to the table. He excels at overcoming the challenges (read: taxed resources and tiny little places) of establishing visual art and functional spaces.
Prior to his work with Project HOPE Art, Woodshop, spent most of his time in a very conventional way building big buildings in cities for wealthy contractors and their clients. He much prefers designing and building classrooms, art tables, upcycled sculptures for teachers and students all over the world.
Woodshop has enjoyed building projects with the Carpenters Union 22 of San Francisco as well as various art projects with Burning Man, like building The Man, The Bottlecap Gazebo and the Temple of Flux.
Woodshop, helps makes all of our permanent art installations come to fruition, on the ground in Haiti.
Contact Jason DeCook: email@example.com
Photo: Melissa Schilling
THE MED STUDENT
Jacquelyn Knapp stands for three things: Trust, Love …Inspiration
In order to best weave a web of these actionables, she spends her time wisely and emphatically. She has served in the Peace Corps in Guyana: teaching computer fundamentals in a small rice farming community and working with HIV at-risk youth. She has worked in the corporate snow globe of IT analysis, logging seven years of strategic data mining and software development. Most meaningful to her dream of becoming a doctor, Knapp volunteers at Children’s Hospital Oakland in their school program. She performs bedside rounds to assist children with their homework. Additionally, Knapp uses her technical background at CHORI (Children’s Hospital Oakland Research Institute) to assist with African American youth diabetes research. Knapp lives in Oakland, Calif overlooking the oldest bird sanctuary in North America. She enjoys fresh farmers market produce, running, and reading Science magazine. Most often it is Knapp’s commitment to trust, love and inspiration that forces her out of her comfort zone and onto new walking paths of life.
Contact Jacquelyn Knapp: firstname.lastname@example.org
THE FORMER RESIDENT OF HAITI
To get a good idea about who Julie Ulm is, you must know that her core being is a vortex of virtue. She is passionate, creative, and determined. She tells a tale that not many of today’s youth can repeat as their own. A California girl, born and bred she is steeped in the Western United States lore of frontierism and adventure. As a young girl her family first moved to Florida and then to Haiti. It was in the Western Hemisphere’s poorest nation that she truly learned important aspects of life.
She learned …
Candles are not only for being romantic, but also serve as a great way to do homework.
Play-dough doesn’t just come from the store, but could be made with flour, salt, and water.
When the Peugeot (unreliable hand-me-down car) breaks down a mile or more from school, 2 feet work just as well as 4 wheels.
Since moving back to the US, everyday the sun rises, so does the spirit of the Haitians in Julie. A selflessness that extends far beyond lending a neighbor a cup of sugar. A mind to know that even when things are at their worst here, there is always someone who has it worse somewhere else. It’s time for Julie to be able to give back to the Haitian people what they gave her; a new look on life. At the current exchange rate every US dollar is equal to 8 Haitian dollars. Please help us help them has become Julie’s mantra. And she won’t stop exploring ways to give and help.
Contact Julie Ulm: Julie@projecthopeart.org