Executive Director, Michael Sunderani
With the help of a few friends from university, Miguel founded SJMF in 2010. He has worked so hard over the past years to ensure SJMF lives up to all that it was meant to be. Miguel is responsible for all that takes place in the Dominican Republic, including scoping out potential project sites for upcoming groups, organizing all of the build sites, as well as ensuring that all of the groups have all the supplies they need for a fun and successful experience! Miguel now lives in the Dominican Republic full time and has dedicated all of his time and hard work to this foundation. He quickly becomes friends with all those whom he meets, and isn’t afraid to crack a joke to lighten up any mood.
Charity President, Karan Chauhan
Karan has been part of SJMF since 2012 and has been in a leadership role for the charity for many years. Not only has he been on 5 trips, he was the President for the Wilfrid Laurier chapter, part of the executive fundraising team and is now the President of the entire charity. “Individually, we can’t change the world, but we can always do our part to give back to the causes that are important to us” is his motto and SJMF is something of a true passion for him. Outside of SJMF, Karan comes from a project management background with Walmart Canada, enjoys all sports/being active and is a caring guy who gets along with anyone he meets. SJMF has a lot of work to do but there are a lot of good things coming and with Michael Marcucci on his side as VP, Karan is excited to embark on this journey leading the charity to success!
Sponsorship Coordinator, Deanna Beran
Deanna is one of the many SJMF veterans and joined us through her involvement at her University. Since 2012, Deanna has been on two trips herself and has a true connection to this charity and helping those in need. “Going on these trips is an amazing way to see the world in a different light, make life-long friendships, and become a part of something bigger.” Now that Deanna has joined the executive team, she will be supporting the cause by taking lead on corporate engagements, securing sponsorships and being part of our larger events. Outside of the charity, Deanna is a keen traveler and loves exploring the restaurant scene in new cities. As Deanna works full time with Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation of Canada, we are really looking forward to her bringing her professional experience to the SJMF community!
Head Foreman, Juan Chatta
Our dear friend Juan is like the second father-figure in the SJMF family. He is the backbone that holds us all together and his spirit can never be crushed. Juan works so hard and commits himself fully to each project he is presented with, refusing to stop working until it is completed and fulfills his expectations. His hands have built many a home and we are all so lucky and grateful to have Juan as part of our family. As a highly respected man in the city of Ocoa, Juan is always looking out for others and ensuring that everyone else around him is happy. There is never a lack of love pouring from Juan’s heart, and we are sure to send them all of that love right back to him!
Accounting, Brittany Kruter
Brit has been part of SJMF since year one. She has worn many hats, forming the original charity, board member, group leader, volunteer, fundraiser, and now accountant. There is no side of SJMF she does not have intimate experience in. Always armed with a good attitude and hard work ethic Brittany is a great SJMF staple in our charities day to day operations.
Cook, Nuna Minyety
Nuna is our brand new cook for 2019! She is taking over after the sad departure of her mother Nene. If you have come in the past few years you will certainly recognize her as she has been lending a helping hand in the kitchen with groups for a few years now. Always ready to work anytime of day or night with a big smile on her face. Nuna loves to spend time with the Canadian groups and is even working on her English this year. We are happy to add this lovely lady to our roster.
Project Manager, Manauri Baez
Ahhhh Manauri. Where do we begin? His humour and hilarity keeps everyone laughing and smiling – any group would be truly lucky to have him on their worksite! Manauri has been involved with SJMF since before it all began. He is always willing to take time out of his busy schedule to prepare for a group’s arrival and spend time with each group when they come. Manauri works to make sure each volunteer is happy and involved in the work, as well as ensuring everyone takes part in the dancing – that is, after taking a small dance lesson from the professional himself! Often the highlight of people’s trip, we all appreciate Manauri’s hard work and dedication and can always look forward to our time spent with him!
Vice President, Michael Marcucci
Michael joined SJMF in 2013, going on a trip in his first year at Wilfrid Laurier University. He calls his first trip a “true eye-opening experience” and in the following years, he continued to work with the Laurier team, eventually taking over with current President, Karan Chauhan. Michael went on two trips while in school and after graduating and starting work full-time, continued to be involved in the charity. Working with the Executive Fundraising team on the SJMF Golf Tournament, he always knew SJMF was a cause he would continue to support. When the opportunity to become more involved in the entire management of the charity came up, he was excited to join the Executive team and he is pumped for an exciting 2019 year. Michael is an avid soccer fan and is completely fluent in Spanish but only when he is in the DR, surrounded by friends, locals and SJMF volunteers.
Program Coordinator, Jassin Kelly
Yet another alumni from Wilfrid Laurier University, Jassin has been involved since 2015 when he went on his first trip with friends at school and even though he burns at even the slightest sun exposure, he continues to go back. Since then, he has been on three trips and visits San Jose de Ocoa when he can to help the operation in the DR. In his role as our group coordinator, Jassin is responsible for working with every group partaking in an SJMF trip. He ensures all groups are prepared for their SJMF journey both on the fundraising side and the trip details side. Whether it’s other volunteers, new and old from Canada, or the locals he meets in the Dominican, he values the opportunity to build new friendships with the SJMF community. When Jassin isn’t volunteering, you can find him taking part in many outdoor activities including rock climbing and dirt biking.
Media Manager, Scott Mallon
Scott has been involved in SJMF since its earliest years and was responsible for some of the first groups that went down to the DR on SJMF trips. He has been an integral part of the club’s progress in the past 10 years and has been our main leader for our McMaster groups in that time. Since graduating from school, Scott has always remained involved in SJMF and close to the cause. He is a great guy to be around and keeps everyone laughing and enjoying themselves no matter where they are. We are lucky to have Scott continue to work with the team and in 2019 he will be focusing on our social media and charity communications.
Cook, Eli Rodriguez
The best food anyone in the world will ever eat in their lives will be prepared by the hands of a lovely woman named Eli. We are so fortunate here at SJMF to have the best cook in all of Ocoa working with us to make sure that everyone is well fed and happy! Nothing but the best of the best is served to all group members, and it would not be possible without Eli’s hard work! Eli makes sure that our tummies are filled with the freshest and most delicious foods and we are ever-grateful for that. Basically, we love Eli and our love for her will never end!
SJMF Hall of Fame
Mike Paolini, Founding Member & President
Mike Paolini has been a day one member of SJMF. His contributions to the charity have been so important in establishing SJMF as a charity and beginning one of our first chapters at Laurier.
Mike has given everything he had to SJMF and remains involved to this day. His warm smile and great sense of humor is never far from our SJMF fundraisers and SJMF wouldn’t be what it is today without him.
SJMF Hall of Fame
Nene, SJMF’s First Cook, Member of 5 Years
Nene was the original cook of SJMF and while her food was amazing, it was her personality and spirit that were such a big part of the SJMF experience.
Sadly, we lost Nene in 2018, but her contributions to SJMF and her bright smile will never be forgotten by all of the people who were lucky enough to meet her.