Rochelle Ruark, Director of Finance
Start Date: 2012
Rochelle takes care of La Puente's 3 corporate entities, our services 501(3)(c) La Puente Home, La Puente Enterprises which manages our 4 social enterprises, 3 Rainbows End Thrift Stores, Hunt Ave Boutique, and Milagros Coffee Shop, and La Puente Housing which cares for our physical structures and homes. Rochelle has worked for 30 years in the financial field. She loves her job, loves working with numbers, and loves being involved in the mission of La Puente. When she is not working, she sews quilts. She thinks quilts are a way sewing can embody love.
Shanae Diaz, Director of Service Volunteers
Start Date: 2015
Name: Shanae Diaz
Position: Favorite Quote/Pearl of Wisdom
"God doesn't look at how much we do, but with how much love we do it."
What do you do that is significant?
I get to recruit, encourage and plug in caring individuals for key community service positions that help the less fortunate to thrive.
What are the values that drive you to do this work?
I am driven by my belief that all people are of equal worth, that a healthy community is a redemptive force, and that everyone has something to bring in creating community.
What do you enjoy when you are not working?
I enjoy hanging out with my family and friends being active, relaxing and talking about life.
I enjoy being in my backyard relaxing and/or gardening.
Judy Mcneilsmith, Director of Services
Start Date: 2016
Judy is a licensed professional counselor and provided managerial oversight for multiple programs at San Luis Valley Behavioral Health for over 18 years. Prior to living in Alamosa, She worked in Seattle developing programs for persons who were homeless and struggling with mental health and addiction issues. Working with marginalized populations is her passion. She oversees all of our service programs.
Amanda Pearson, Development Director
Start Date: 2017
Position: Favorite Quote/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.
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 are the values that drive you to do this work: I work on a dignity and love based model.
What do you enjoy when you are not working- learning, singing, biking, my faith community, my family, meeting new people and taking new challenges.
Don Hanna, Director of PALS Program
Start Date: 2017
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).
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).
Values that drive my 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 am I not working? 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.
Tara 09/17/2013 Bay, Director, Adelante Family Services
Start Date: 2013
Position: Favorite Quote/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
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 are the values that drive you to do this 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.
What do you enjoy when you are not working
Hunting, Fishing, Camping, Spending time with family, and just having fun!
Teotenantzin Ruybal, Shelter Director
Start Date: 2008
Teotenantzin or "Tona" has served as La Puente Home's shelter director since 2008. A native of Antonito, a small town in the San Luis Valley, Tona has close ties to the people she serves. She holds a bachelor of arts degree in psychology from Adams State College (now Adams State University). Prior to her service with La Puente, Tona worked as an EMT and with at risk students in the Alamosa School District as well as working for many years with the SLV Behavioral Health Group, particularly with children and adults. She keeps the small successes she sees in mind to stay motivated and enjoys speaking with guests and community members who come through the shelter's doors. Outside of La Puente, Tona spends time hunting, fishing, hiking, riding ATVs, and caring for her horses and chickens.
Lyndsey Williams, Director of the San Luis Valley Food Bank Network
Start Date: 2017
Name: Lyndsey Williams
Position: Director of the Food Bank Network of the San Luis Valley
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.
Driving values: 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.
What I enjoy when I'm not working: 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.
Quote: "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.
Callie Adams, Director of Outreach Services
Start Date: 2017
Callie Adams is the director of outreach and homeless prevention services at La Puente Home, Inc. She has lived in the San Luis Valley for most of her life and that is where her understanding and desire to work at La Puente was born. After traveling around the country and globally, Callie realized that the most effective way to give back to the community and fight poverty was to join an organization that was already doing good work. Her experience in art and business go hand in hand when planning events and managing the workings of the financial assistance arm of La Puente. She has a Bachelor of Science in Graphic Design and Fine Arts.
Autumn Setzler, VEGI Director
Start Date: 2018
Director of the Valley Educational Gardens Initiative (V.E.G.I.)
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
Lance Cheslock, CEO/Executive Director
Start Date: 1989
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.