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Meet Our Leadership Team

Meet Our Leadership Team 2019-05-09T20:04:05-07:00

Meet Our Dynamic Leadership Team

“Everyone has a purpose in life and a unique talent to give to others. And when we blend this unique talent with service to others, we experience the ecstasy and exultation of own spirit, which is the ultimate goal of all goals. “

Lance Cheslock

Lance Cheslock is the Executive Director of La Puente, a non-profit organization in Alamosa, Colorado that provides emergency shelter, food assistance, transitional housing, self-sufficiency services, homelessness prevention, community outreach, and job training for persons living without homes and those in crisis. Located in Colorado’s San Luis Valley, a region of extreme poverty covering more than 8,000 square miles, La Puente is one of the oldest and most comprehensive rural / frontier homelessness programs in the United States. Blending social enterprise with dynamic civic engagement, more than 70 percent of La Puente’s funding comes from non-Federal sources.

Lance has served as the executive Director of La Puente since 1989. He is a strong advocate who believes in sharing the story and dynamic of the silent epidemic of rural homelessness, in Colorado and nationally. Lance loves listening to the stories of those who experience and overcome homelessness and has enjoyed many adventures going undercover to stay at in homeless shelters throughout the United States and abroad.

What do you do that is significant?
What values drive you to do this type of work?
When you’re not working, what do you enjoy doing?
Pearl of Wisdom

Amanda Pearson

What do you do that is significant?

My role at La Puente is to support organizational capacity by seeking funding, hosting events, celebrating our successes, problem-solving our difficulties and sharing what gifts and talents I have to meet our mission

What values drive you to do this type of work?

I work on a dignity and love based model.

When you’re not working, what do you enjoy doing?

Learning, singing, biking, my faith community, my family, meeting new people and taking new challenges.

Pearl of Wisdom

When the problems of the world seem insurmountable, when my own efforts often seem fruitless, I remember that Rosa Parks was not the first one to refuse to give up her seat on the bus. I do not get to choose when the tipping point will be reached, I only get to decide if I will add to the momentum.

Catherine Trumpis

What do you do that is significant?

I find significance is regularly volunteering for causes and organizations that mean something to me.  In the past, I have found significance through activism.  More recently, I volunteer for the Scandinavian Alliance of Colorado, as well as actively promoting and encouraging the furthering of Colorado History.  I believe the culture and history within our great state is something worth promoting, and I find power in any organization that promotes that.  At La Puente, I find that the non-profit itself promotes community within the San Luis Valley and has become part of both this area’s history and culture, which is incredible.  You don’t see many organizations that promote social welfare while still playing a vibrant role in the history and culture of an area.  I think that really makes La Puente home unique, and that’s something I’ve come to respect.

What values drive you to do this type of work?

The values that drive me to do this kind of work consist are compassion and community.  The people I have met through La Puente are devoted to the organization through their compassion, and I think that really helps bring the entirety of the San Luis Valley community together.  Before I was hired at La Puente and when I was researching the area, everyone I talked to in the area spoke so well of the organization and their mission.  It was inspiring to see.  I feel that it takes real heart to work at this organization, and that aligns perfectly with how I strive to live my life

When you’re not working, what do you enjoy doing?

In my free time, I enjoy writing.  I am currently working on an urban fantasy story (although, it’s becoming more of a novel) that I have been drafting for the past few years.  I also enjoy reading.  Some of my favorite authors include Neil Gaiman, Rafael Sabatini, and Nick Hornby.  Finally, I like coupling a good craft beer with a nice vinyl record.  Music has always been a cathartic outlet for me – whether it’s just listening to an old, familiar tune or picking up my guitar.

Pearl of Wisdom

“Nothing ever becomes real until is is expected.” – John Keats

Judy McNeilsmith

What do you do that is significant?
What values drive you to do this type of work?
When you’re not working, what do you enjoy doing?
Pearl of Wisdom

Autumn Setzler

What do you do that is significant?

 I empower youth and San Luis Valley residents to grow their own food as a way to grow themselves and their communities.

What values drive you to do this type of work?

VEGI values the power that fresh, healthy, locally grown foods have to impact our environment and our communities.

When you’re not working, what do you enjoy doing?

Rock climbing and music are two of my biggest passions. I try to climb whenever possible and listen to or play music (guitar and mandolin) just as often!

Pearl of Wisdom

Be joyful though you have considered all the facts.” – Wendell Berry

Tara Bay

What do you do that is significant?

I don’t believe what I do is significant, it is an opportunity to help others when needed. What they do is significant I just walk along side providing support when needed and let them fly when they are ready.

What values drive you to do this type of work?

I am a woman of Faith and my beliefs bought me to do this work and keeps me doing this work despite any challenges that may arise. Faith in humanity and the preservation of human dignity is what drives me. It is a calling I was not able to ignore.

Providing service to others without judgement is a high priority. Everyone has a story and that story is what makes all of us unique. I believe that all people deserve to be treated with Dignity and Respect despite their past or present situation. Life can be difficult and I believe in second and third changes, and if needed more.

When you’re not working, what do you enjoy doing?

Hunting, Fishing, Camping, Spending time with family, and just having fun!

Pearl of Wisdom

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” Maya Angelo

Rochelle Ruark

What do you do that is significant?
What values drive you to do this type of work?
When you’re not working, what do you enjoy doing?
Pearl of Wisdom

Callie Adams

What do you do that is significant?

My work in Outreach provides a financial safety net for those in financial crisis and prevents homelessness by offering a way to pay for bills that would otherwise cause someone to become homeless. We also provide case management to assist clients in stabilizing their own lives so they will no longer have to use services like Outreach for crisis.

What values drive you to do this type of work?

Living independently and with dignity are the particular values we are taking in to account in our work in Outreach. Clients need to feel that once they have received an assist, they can move on with their lives without obligation to the organization and with a sense of independence going forward.

When you’re not working, what do you enjoy doing?

Painting

Pearl of Wisdom

“Sometimes it’s better to be kind than to be right. We do not need an intelligent mind that speaks, but a patient heart that listens.” — Gautama Buddha

Teotenantzin Ruybal

What do you do that is significant?

I think that taking time to get to know our guests and clients is a significant and important part of what we do here at the shelter.  Each guest has a unique story and when we take the time to listen to their story we can begin to understand what has brought them to us.  This helps us to better serve.

What values drive you to do this type of work?

I am driven to provide service to others  without judgement.  I am motivated to help others to build their own tool belt so they can be empowered to better their situations with pride and respect.  I understand that others battle with addiction and I try and be somebody to encourage them, I will give them a pat on the back or a hug if needed but will also hold them accountable when they are failing themselves.

When you’re not working, what do you enjoy doing?

When I am not working i enjoy being outdoors.  I love to fish and hike and I hunt as well.  I enjoy the quiet of the mountains and the peace being with nature  brings.  I also love to craft and make jewelry and pottery.  I love spending time with my young nephews and cousins and have been known to have some pretty fun kids crafting parties.

Pearl of Wisdom

“But for the grace of God go I” .  I never take for granted all the blessings God has given me.  I wake each morning thankful for another day and I pray that I make good use of the time I have been given and that it may be used in service to my fellow human.  I am eternally thankful for all that i have.

Israel García

What do you do that is significant?

I inspire others to action and compassion.  I am true believer in the power of community and the amazing things that happen when you treat community as a verb and not noun.  Through my work I seek to educate others about the realities of homelessness, hunger, and poverty and inspire them to be part of our community based solutions.

What values drive you to do this type of work?

I grew up a poor kid in this San Luis Valley so I understand the struggle many of those we serve face.  It is my empathy and love for this community that drive me to continue to share La Puente’s story in hopes of inspiring others to join us.

When you’re not working, what do you enjoy doing?

I am the fur father of two dalmatians, Pongo & Perdita.  I enjoy spending time with them and my fiance.  As an introvert in an extroverted position, I relish my alone time to refuel to continue the fight.

Pearl of Wisdom

I am the man I am.  I am not yet the man I ought to be.  But the man I ought to be will never be content with the man I am.  So forever will I toil to be the man I ought to be, perfect only in the light of God’s divinity.

Lyndsey Williams

What you do that is significant?

I oversee the Food Bank Network of the San Luis Valley which feeds over 13,000 residents in the SLV. I’m the only paid staff member in a network of 15 pantries, which are otherwise operated by a team of over 50 passionate and committed volunteers.

What values drive you?

Without access to healthy food, individuals are already left behind at the gate. Food is such an essential part of living that everyone deserves. While everyone knows you need food to survive, many don’t realize that access to food can affect a child’s ability to succeed in school, a person’s health, or a senior citizen’s quality of living. Therefore, I believe that promoting food justice in our community helps create a more equitable local society.

When you’re not working, what do you enjoy?

I love experimenting in the kitchen. Have an adventurous recipe? Send it my way. I adopt far too many plants and then accidentally torture them because I really don’t have a green thumb. I’m a big fan of getting outside – I’m a very slow hiker and a novice climber, but I’m over-the-moon when I have the opportunity to do either of these things.

Pearl of Wisdom

 “The only way that we can live, is if we grow. The only way that we can grow is if we change. The only way that we can change is if we learn. The only way we can learn is if we are exposed. And the only way that we can become exposed is if we throw ourselves out into the open. Do it. Throw yourself.” i C. Joybell C

Don Hanna

What do you do that is significant?

Something I do that is significant is that I love children. There are a lot of hard days at PALS but at the end of the day, I feel like just being present with kids has made a world of difference in their lives (and mine).

What values drive you to do this type of work?

 I really do feel the call to “love one another,” and their is ample opportunity to do this with kids. I’d say that a sense of exploration and curiosity are also values that I have and that these are a great fit in working with children.

When you’re not working, what do you enjoy doing?

I do enjoy hanging out with the family, cooking, eating, playing music, wood work, gardening, working with animals, art, camping, and so much more. I love just living.

Pearl of Wisdom

My family toast, “There’s few like us, and there all dead!” After several years of doing hospice chaplaincy, this quote took on a deeper truth for me – death is always just around the corner (not in a morbid way, but just reality).

Mandy Turner

What do you do that is significant?
What values drive you to do this type of work?
When you’re not working, what do you enjoy doing?
Pearl of Wisdom

Shanae Diaz

What do you do that is significant?

We provide the opportunity for people to serve in the best way they can, thereby creating a community of generosity and collaboration.

What values drive you to do this type of work?

Action-oriented equity and daily service, which to me means anyone can make a difference at any time.

When you’re not working, what do you enjoy doing?

Being active! I love to play, no matter the sport, especially alongside friends and family.

Pearl of Wisdom

“The purpose of life is to discover your gift. The work of life is to develop it. The meaning of life is to give your gift away.” David Viscott