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 - SECRETARY | 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
Sarah VolLmer - Housing Chair
God’s plans have taken me everywhere in my career and life, including now as I represent The Village at Shelter Creek as House Chair of the Board of Directors.
At present, I am employed as a broker at CP Rochester and have been a longtime advocate to those in need.
Prior to working in the self-direction model at CP Rochester, I was a Medicaid Service Coordinator and a Direct Support Professional at various agencies in Rochester. My background includes 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 and working as a college student in a senior living facility that specialized in memory care for aging adults with dementia. A couple of summers were spent working at a camp program in the Southern Tier of New York State, specializing in children and teens (ages 8-15) with emotional and behavioral disorders. In 2008, I graduated from SUNY Geneseo with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology, and it is my desire to further my education by obtaining Masters of Health Administration degree in the near future.
I joined the Board of The Dirt Road Project because I envision a new Rochester where everyone has equal opportunities - be it for housing, employment, health care, or simply just relaxing. I believe The Dirt Road Project is capable of accomplishing this vision - providing underserved persons with numerous opportunities to live their best lives, regardless of race, socioeconomic status, education, or health. I believe together we as Rochesterians are capable of cracking the surfaces of the many crises affecting world, starting by becoming a leader in providing optimal care for the whole person within our own community.
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.
Danielle Pfuntner - Committee chair
As a teenager I became keenly aware that my mission in life was to love, help, and encourage people. This revelation led me to pursue a degree in social work. After graduating from Robert's Wesleyan College, I was employed as a manager with Heritage Christian Services. I learned so much about inclusivity and celebrating small gains just as much as the significant ones. Love being the universal language was one of my favorite themes working in that environment.
I gradually moved on to supervise the Family Services Division of Action for a Better Community's Head Start Program. With a high percentage of the clients living at or below the poverty line, my eyes were opened to a whole new world and in my heart, I was determined to be a ray of hope and an encouraging influence. Seeing those precious faces each day and knowing they were getting a jump start on their education was such a bright spot in my life.
Several years later, I joined the Foster Care Management unit within Monroe County's Child Protective Services. Currently, I am a stay-at-home mom, building into my children and teaching them compassion and gratitude for the many blessings we have. This world is a broken place with systems that operate in disfunction. So many people are searching for direction, belonging, and hope.
I believe that The Dirt Road Project is one of the organizations that can provide a variety of opportunities for folks from all different backgrounds. The goals of inclusivity, safety, education, life skills, medical care, and employment make TDRP a unique, up-and-coming, powerhouse organization of which I am honored and excited to participate in as a board member, and a Builder of Hope.
"Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight."