Meet our Founders
Jenn Schenk, CO-founder and President
Born and raised in Dallas Fort-Worth, Texas, Jenn attended the University of North Texas, where she studied math, business and kinesiology. The summer before her final year of college, she and a friend decided to take a trip to Haiti to volunteer for a few weeks. She imagined playing basketball and soccer with Haitian school kids, a dream that quickly vanished when she realized they’d chosen to volunteer at an organization that was home to infants and toddlers all under the age of two. There wasn’t a child old enough to dribble a basketball anywhere in sight! But the babies tugged at her heartstrings, and she extended her trip an extra month before returning to the USA to finish school. The following December, she returned to Haiti to join the team of long-term volunteers.
Jenn is responsible for the operations, business and strategy of Second Mile Haiti. In her free time, she loves playing basketball, running on the beach, reading the news and walking her dogs.
“This is my ‘out of the box’ job. In fact, I actually don’t call it a “job” or “work.” I am a firm believer that if you love what you’re doing then it’s not work. I have the opportunity to learn about solar panels, irrigation, sustainable farming, goat medications, and 2009 Ford Rangers maintenance issues. This is the type of work I always envisioned myself doing, but didn’t know was possible until I stepped on the ground in Haiti.”
Amy Syres, CO-Founder
Amy grew up in Northern California and graduated from Azusa Pacific University in 2009 with a Bachelor’s degree in Nursing. After finishing school, she found herself more drawn to work in countries still trying to put up a fight against HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malnutrition, than a job in hospital in the United States. Haiti had just been hit by a devastating earthquake, and she was eager to help the disaster relief efforts but discouraged by the numerous stories of how Haiti was "overrun" with volunteers. That’s when a friend told her an infant care center in Northern Haiti was in need of a full-time nurse, an opportunity that perfectly suited to her skills and passion. Six weeks later, she was spending her first night in Haiti.
Amy currently oversees the programs, nursing staff and health of the families at Second Mile Haiti. In her free time she loves surfing, reading, doing yoga and playing with her dogs.
" I've always wanted to do the type of work I am doing today. I love caring. I love nursing. I love to watch people set goals and achieve them. I love to teach and empower. I'm inspired daily by the Haitian nurses, educators, and social workers I am privileged to work with." "
Meet Our Board MEMBERS
Jason Duinick, Vice President
I am a partner at Duininck Companies, a family owned and operated business, and I reside in Willmar, Minnesota. A graduate of Bethel University, I am passionate about helping others and improving lives through the power of Jesus Christ.
I have been a driving force in fundraising and securing corporate donors for Second Mile the past four years. I have been fortunate enough to witness the miracles happening every day at Second Mile during my many trips to Haiti.
As a business owner myself, one of the most satisfying things to me about Second Mile is that moms get to graduate the program with a business that will be able sustain the basic needs of her child, build on the local economy and create confidence that will improve family life.
Warrick McDowell, Treasurer
I am the head of the finance committee of Second Mile. My role is to help to create and enforce financial policies and add visibility to the inner workings of the financial operations of the company.
I chose to be involved with Second Mile Haiti for two reasons- The vision, the way I see it, is to empower marginalized and impoverished people through a demonstration of love and grace by means of education and financial support for the main purpose of reducing unnecessary adoptions through the processes healing and strengthening families. The founders of the organization work longer hours than nearly anyone I've ever met. Their tenacity, as such young ages, to venture into a small city in the poorest country in the western hemisphere around a time where one of the most devastating natural disasters of our time launched its full force on an unsuspecting civilization, with nearly no help, just to help in any way they could, is frankly not very sane. But in such a broken world, it takes people who step out of their comfort zones and the safety of common logic to truly fight such disastrous forces that are still incomprehensible to human kind. It truly takes a special person. And we've found 2 of them.
My favorite thing to happen at Second Mile was and is probably the building of the structures which house the families. My wife and I were blessed enough to be able to visit Amy and Jenn and help with the construction of the buildings. The amazing thing is that the entire community was helping, It was great to be apart of that process.
KAREN GIGURE, SECTRETARY
I currently serve on the board as the Secretary. In addition, I focus on the paper bead program.
I became involved with Second Mile Haiti when it was just a vision. After a trip to an orphanage, I gained a greater understanding of the true 'orphan crisis' in Haiti - that 80% of children in orphanages have one or more living relative. I have a passion for keeping children with their families.
My favorite thing happening at Second Mile Haiti is watching the transformation of the kids. I recently visited with my daughter and held a little boy who was so very sick. While I was worried about his health, I knew that because he was there, he had a greater chance of not only surviving, but thriving. To see his picture only 5 weeks after meeting him affirmed my passion for supporting this organization.
I was introduced to Second Mile Haiti through Becky Nosan and Steve Roberts.
Their involvement immediately piqued my interest.
As a Physical Therapist, I am always interested in work with people from a physical standpoint and while the focus on Second Mile is treating and educating on malnutrition, the secondary effects of developmental delay in children needed to be addressed.
I love that the program is about empowering the families. It is not just provision of services, but education and training. It’s not just "giving a person a fish”, but “teaching them to fish”…
I work on the sustainability committee for Second Mile Haiti, focusing on locally viable business opportunities that can offer sustained revenue and empowerment to mothers in our program. I lived in Haiti for 3.5 months and I loved the entrepreneurial spirit of the organization in finding new ways to economically empower families!
I love Second Mile because of the clear-headed, holistic approach to childhood malnutrition and gender violence. Our organization is dedicated to incorporating solid programing with evidence-based practices because the data demonstrates that these interventions lead to good outcomes for families and babies.
My favorite project at Second Mile Haiti is the livestock program; especially counting and corralling all the baby goats on the land.
I was introduced to Second Mile Haiti by my sister, Karen Gigure. She has been involved with the organization from the beginning. At a critical point when Second Mile was low on funds I decided to walk 50 miles to raise money for the organization. My involvement grew over the next year and I am now on the fundraising, marketing and medical committees.
Initially the most impactful images to me were the before and after pictures of the babies. Then I started to look at the mothers and caregivers. Their transformation is inspiring! Their confidence and pride is evident.
As a nurse practitioner I love Second Mile's holistic and family-centered approach. Second Mile isn't about a handout, but rather a hand up. It's about sustainability, self-sufficiency, community building and keeping families together. I continue to be extremely impressed by their model and I am honored to be a part of it.
I am honored to be on Second Mile's Sustainability & Marketing team, giving feedback and collaboration on projects related to the gardens, animals and yogurt production.
Being Amy's cousin, our family has looked on in admiration, ever since she and Jenn began. I am most proud of the way that Second Mile believes in supporting the entire community. Rather than coming in with outside staff or expertise - the locals themselves are given jobs - and the opportunity to bring healing and hope to their own neighbors.
I am especially thrilled about the food that is being grown and produced on the property. What an incredible gift to teach these mothers how to grow nourishing food for themselves. This is knowledge that will inevitably be passed along and shared with others. This kind of sharing is close to my heart.
I work on the business side of things for Second Mile, so I'm involved in fundraising and finance. You know, the fun stuff!
I chose Second Mile because two dear friends of mine could not speak highly enough of Jenn and Amy. And after meeting them, and hearing their passionate description of all that they are doing in Haiti, I couldn't wait to help in any way I can.
My favorite thing about Second Mile is summarized by the phrase "Because everyone deserves the chance to thrive". Not only are their programs instrumental in healing children who are in dire medical need, but giving mothers the skills, knowledge, strength and ability to continue this process on their own is amazing!