Founder | President and CEO
Growing up in a rural farming community in Upstate New York, April developed a heart for the underserved which would continue into adulthood. It was during her academic career at Wegmans School of Nursing that April realized her calling in nursing was in the care of disadvantaged peoples, particularly those in the impoverished country of Haiti.
After witnessing immense poverty, lack of resources, and nonexistent healthcare in her beloved Haiti, April established The Dirt Road Project, a NYS registered 501(c)(3) located in Rochester, NY, with the dream of building communities of hope for those in need, including an urgent care center and maternal/child wellness clinic.
In her free time, April enjoys gardening, swimming, raising her children, going to movies with girlfriends, reading books from her favorite authors, and catching the latest Netflix series. She gives thanks to God for the vision He put on her heart and looks forward to the day when she hears "well done, my good and faithful servant."
“Now all glory to God, who is able, through His mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.” Ephesians 3:20 NLT.
Summer Benson - field coordinator, Haiti
Summer is currently a student at Monroe Community College in Rochester, NY, and is pursuing her Bachelor of Science degree in Nursing. In 2012, Summer was given an opportunity to travel to Croix-des-Bouquets, Port-au-Prince, Haiti, where she found her purpose in assisting those affected by the earthquake of 2010. She would later return to Morne Oge, Jacmel, Haiti, in 2016, where she would serve in a medical capacity, leading a team of five Haitian young adults in a community health training program. With her excellent leadership, these newly-appointed healthcare workers gained essential training and became leaders within their community. Summer has a heart for children with developmental challenges and is passionate about the needs of orphans. She is employed at a local hospital on a medical-surgical unit as lead technician, providing patient-centered care and training to new technicians. When not working, Summer can be found found traveling, reading, and spending time with her family and friends. Summer looks forward to serving the underprivileged through The Dirt Road Project.
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” Philippians 4:6
Jill Stewart - Secretary
Jill has her BA in Music Theory and Composition with Elementary Education and Music certification from SUNY Geneseo, her Master’s in Education with Reading certification from Elmira College, and her Certificate of Advanced Study (CAS) in Educational Administration from SUNY Oswego. She spent 32 years in various school districts in New York State as a teacher and a school administrator. She retired after 24 years as a school administrator from the Syracuse City School District in 2012.
She is dedicated to educating underserved populations and spent much of her career advocating for those who live in extreme poverty, especially women and girls. She was a previous recipient of the New York State Family Life Education Award. Also, Jill spent the last 13 years of her career helping students find career paths in Health Careers fields, and she won an award from SUNY Upstate Medical University for these efforts.
Jill took her first mission trip to Haiti with TDRP in June 2019. She enjoyed teaching adults English in TDRP’s ASPIRE program and volunteered her help in the medical clinics. She has helped 25 children in a foster family in St. Maarten and has previously served as a member of the Council for Adolescent Pregnancy Board and on the Board of Directors for the Chadwick Residence (a residence for homeless women and children).
Diane bacon - fundraising chair
Diane Bacon is a realtor/broker with Howard Hanna in Rochester, New York. Having known April over the past 20 years, Diane has watched the level of commitment displayed toward individuals with disabilities and decided to join The Dirt Road Project as fundraising chair. Her culmination of experience with charitable fundraising and marketing as well as being the mother of two children with autism, Diane hopes to bring a plethora of experience to the organization as it builds an unique housing community for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities as well as other disadvantaged peoples living in the Rochester area.
Adam Visca - Development Chair
Adam is thrilled to have joined The Dirt Road Project (TDRP) in 2018. Adam learned the value of service in high school after volunteering with local youth as a football coach and at Gilda’s Club’s Noogieland. He ultimately decided to pursue service through healthcare and in college began work at a local hospital as a technician, where he worked on a team to provide patient- centered care on a surgical unit. It was here that Adam was introduced to TDRP by his coworker and friend, Summer Benson.
After graduating from SUNY Geneseo in 2018 with a Bachelors degree in Biology, Adam moved back to Rochester where he accepted a position researching treatments for spinal cord injury at the University of Rochester Medical Center.
Adam is a dedicated volunteer who has offered his time and talents to TDRP where he actively works on the Village of Hope (VOH) project, an intentional housing community designed for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities and other underserved peoples living in Rochester, NY.
In his spare time, Adam spends time with his family and friends, reads about science and philosophy, and writes short stories.
Sarah VolLmer - Housing Chair
God’s plans have taken me everywhere in my career and life. My strongest background is currently in self-direction through the Office of People with Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD). I have been working in this program since March of 2017. Prior to working in self-direction, I was a Medicaid Service Coordinator and a Direct Support Professional at various agencies in Rochester. I also have background working in programs that have oversight from the Office of Children and Family Services (OCFS) and the Office of Mental Health (OMH) in New York State. In college, I worked in a senior living facility specializing in the memory care unit working with aging adults with dementia. Also, I spent a couple summers working a summer camp program in the Southern-Tier of New York State that specialized in children and teens (ages 8-15) with emotional and behavioral disorders. I graduated from SUNY Geneseo in 2008 with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and hope to go on to pursue my Masters of Health Administration in the near future.
I have joined the board of The Dirt Road Project because I envision a Rochester where everyone has equal opportunities - be it for housing, employment, health care, or simply just relaxing. I believe that The Dirt Road Project will be able to work toward this vision - providing people in Rochester opportunities to live their best lives regardless of things, such as race, social status, education, or health status. I hope that we can begin to crack the surface of the crisis that our world is facing and become a leader in providing optimal care for the whole person. The Dirt Road Project’s focus in Haiti is already changing lives there, and I believe that as a team we can continue to grow that mission and expand ideas to the Rochester project.
“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV)