Introducing: 2015-2016 Long Term Volunteers

Rachael Salamone

My name is Rachael Salamone and I am from Buffalo, New York. I am the middle of five children and I have two amazing parents, Tim and Janet. My father is a homicide detective for the city of Buffalo and my mother manages the family security business. Prior to Amigos, I was an undergraduate student at The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., majoring in History and minoring in Media Studies. In addition to this, I was also a soldier in the United States Army for three years. I enjoy running, exercising, photography, playing sports, and anything that involves hanging out and having a good time with friends!

I was motivated to do long term service, and more specifically the Amigos program, from my previous experience on an international mission trip to Jamaica. I hope to gain from my year of service more confidence in myself, others, and grow in my faith and my relationship with God.

Role at Amigos:

Rachael teaches Kinder (preschool), physical education, and computer classes at the ADJ school. She is also in charge of all things photography, and assists with social media and communications

Jillian Gerrity

My name is Jillian Gerrity and I grew up in Sunnyvale, California. My family includes my parents, three older brothers, two sister-in-laws, and one nephew, who is the light of my life. I graduated from Santa Clara University in June of 2014 as a biology and public health science double major, with an emphasis in biomedical sciences. I spent my year between graduation and coming to Amigos as a lab technician managing a biology research lab at Santa Clara University and a private tutor for middle and high school students. Outside of work, I enjoy spending time with family and friends, volunteering, learning, being active, trying new food, and cheering on any Bay Area sports team. I hope to attend medical school and eventually work with underserved communities and engage in research aimed at reducing health disparities.

Listening to that little voice inside of me, whatever you may call it, is what brought me to Amigos de Jesus. I found my love of service around age 14 and since then have worked within a variety of communities including the homeless and impoverished, the severely ill and disabled, and children from all sorts of backgrounds. Throughout those years, there was a big part of me that felt called to serve abroad for an extended period of time. Finally, after graduation, I decided to listen and follow this dream. I looked into a number of programs but Amigos de Jesus immediately captivated me and continues to as I learned more about their philosophy and mission. Over this next year I look forward to being challenged spiritually, socially, emotionally, and intellectually. I hope to grow and transform as I keep my mind and heart open to all that I encounter. Most of all, I hope to provide support in whatever capacity I can to every individual I cross paths with.

Role at Amigos:

Jillian is the head of medicine at Amigos. Apart from caring for sick and injured children, administering medications, and scheduling doctor appointments, she has taken on the immense task of organizing the children's health records. Jillian also helps teach Kinder (preschool) and leads a weekly science lab for students in the EducaTodos program (a program at the ADJ school for students who had little or no schooling before coming to Amigos. Students range from ages 8-16 and are at 1st-6th grade learning levels).

Keri Grove

Buenos! My name is Keri Grove and I am from South Bend, Indiana. I attended John Carroll University, a Jesuit University in Cleveland, Ohio. I majored in Peace, Justice, and Human Rights, as well as Religious Studies with a minor in Spanish. My hobbies include activities such as running, writing, playing sports, and going on just about any adventure. As strange as it may sound, my favorite place to be on earth is under a bridge, or on a sidewalk, conversing with one of my homeless friends in Cleveland. I am full of energy, laugh way too uncontrollably, enjoy skipping in the rain, moving conversations, and times of silent reflection.

I have been wanting to do a year of international service for quite some time now. My motivation in choosing Amigos de Jesus has been greatly shaped by my past service experiences. I studied abroad in El Salvador, and there I completely fell in love with Latin America. Last summer, I also interned at a shelter for immigrants, and there met several Hondurans fleeing their country. In many ways, my decision in choosing Amigos stems from y desire to give vulnerable Honduran children a chance to remain in their country, avoiding the dangerous journey to the U.S. I hope that this year of service will be challenging and allow me to grow as a person. I also hope it will be challenging and allow me to grow as a person. I also hope it will allow me to form deep relationships, as my soul is touched by others.

Role at Amigos:

Keri teaches math for Level 1 of EducaTodos and English for Special Education. She is also a resource teacher for Level 3 of EducaTodos. Outside of school, she works on case management for all of the children at Amigos and assists Jillian in the medical office.

Pat Kluesener

Hey all! My name is Pat Kluesener. I'm from Kentucky and graduated from Berea College in 2011 with a Math Degree. This is my second year as a volunteer at Amigos de Jesus. After college and before Amigos, I volunteered for two years, one with Colorado Vincent Volunteers, and one with AmeriCorps NCCC. After that I worked in California and then came to Amigos.

Volunteering in Latin America has been a goal of mine since college, and when I got here, I felt at home. I love being involved in the kids lives and I wanted to stay for another because now that I have made these relationships I feel like I can make a bigger impact on these kids lives. I love to  stay active by playing sports and working out and I'm excited for the coming year!

Role at Amigos:

This year, Pat is working largely with the "jovenes," our teenage boys who are learning to live independently in several nearby houses owned by Amigos. Pat drives the boys to school, helps them with their homework, and, in general, acts as a role model for them. He also serves as a liaison between the volunteer group and the madrinas and padrinos (the adult caretakers at Amgios).

Ashley Argall

Hi! My name is Ashley Argall and I am from Madison, Wisconsin. This past May, I graduated from Marquette University with a major in public relations and Spanish and a minor in human resources. I love to play piano, travel, tap dance, try new recipes, and spend time with friends and family. My family is made up of my mom, dad, and brother, Adam, who is just a year younger than me and a senior at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. My favorite place in the world is my grandma's farm in Mineral Point, Wisconsin. Some of my best childhood memories come from playing in the fields and barns there with my cousins.

A combination of events have led me to Amigos de Jesús. During my junior year of college, I had the opportunity to study abroad in Madrid, Spain, where I lived with a Spanish family, attended Spanish university, and gained a newfound interest in intercultural relations. Then, in January 2015, I participated in a week-long mission trip with my home parish at an orphanage in Fond Blanc, Haiti. The children there captured my heart and the experience led me to consider longer-term international service after graduation. When a friend from Marquette told me about Amigos de Jesus after attending a service fair, it felt like a perfect fit. I am excited for the opportunity to combine my Spanish skills, love for children, and desire to serve beyond the borders of the U.S. I was incredibly fortunate to grow up in a large and loving family and I look forward to continuing to be a part of love at Amigos de Jesus.

Role at Amigos:

Ashley teaches English to Levels 1, 2, and 3 of EducaTodos and Valores (religion) to all grades at the ADJ school. She is also in charge of social media and communications.

Audra Hoffmeister

My name is Audra Hoffmeister and I graduated from The Ohio State University in May with a  Bachelor's of Science in Civil Engineering and minor in Spanish. I grew up in Hudson, Ohio with my mom, dad, and older sister. I love playing soccer, playing guitar on the porch, knitting, and spending quality time with family and friends.

I was blessed to go to Honduras during my sophomore year of college for a service project and I fell in love with the country. Ever since then, the Lord has put on my heart a desire to give fully of myself through international service. When I found Amigos, it seemed like the perfect fit. Throughout this year of service, I hope to grow in my dependence on the Lord and for the Lord to increase my capacity to love unconditionally. I hope to gain new friendships and a better understanding of how the Lord wants me to serve when I return home. In the words of Mother Teresa, "The more you have, the more you are occupied, the less you give. But the less you have, the more free you are. Poverty for us is a is joyful freedom."

Role at Amigos:

Audra teaches math to Levels 2 and 3 of EducaTodos, and is in charge of the library and computer lab at the ADJ school. Her engineering skills are also continuously put to use in the face of technological problems in Honduras!

Allison Kaufman

My name is Allison Kaufman. Before coming to Amigos, I was teaching preschool in a small Catholic school, substitute teaching, and working as a humane educator in a local animal shelter. I am originally from Buffalo, New York and but most recently resided in Rochester, New York. I attended SUNY Genesco for my undergraduate degree in Childhood and Special Education, and I received my master's degree as a Literacy Specialist from Nazareth College. I have an older brother, Gregory, and a younger sister, Mikaela, who was adopted form Korea. I love to read, swim, take photos, spend time with animals, and most of all, teach! My favorite place to be (other than Amigos de Jesús) is anywhere by the water.

I have felt called to serve abroad the past several years, and this led me to finding Amigos de Jesús last year. I served the children of Amigos last summer as a summer camp volunteer. My life was changed forever by having the privilege of living, learning, praying, and playing with these children. After returning to the states, I quickly realized I truly am called to teach in an environment like Amigos. I also came to realize how the kids I served last summer have become a part of my heart, their faces and stories popping into my mind every day. I am thrilled to have the opportunity to return to Amigos and serve all of the children with the joy they brought to my life.

I am excited to continue learning Spanish this year and to learn how to live simply. I hope to gain teaching experience and help each child find a passion for learning. I know this year will help me grow in patience, compassion, and wisdom, and I am looking forward to discover the Lord's path for me!

Role at Amigos:

Allison works with two of our students with the greatest level of special needs. She also teaches science to a more advanced class of Special Education and serves as a resource teacher in the EducaTodos program. Outside of school, she assists Rachael with photography.