About Us

Our Story

When Cristian Johnston returned to Aldea orphanage ---his home before his adoption in 2000 --- he began a personal quest to enrich the lives of children at Aldea. The Peruvian Outreach Project was launched in 2018 and was supported and encouraged by the Orchard Park Friends Meeting. Positive results from the work done by Cristian and others at the Aldea orphanage in the San Martin Distict of Peru, led to the incorporation of the Peruvian Outreach Project (POP) as a non-profit organization in New York State on 2/25/2020 and now holds 501(3)(c) status. 

The COVID-19 pandemic directed POP priorities to apply funds to open an on-site medical clinic for children and staff to receive timely treatment. Our organization has also renovated the bakery at Aldea which now makes fresh bread twice weekly and pizza monthly for the children.We provide for the delivery of food donations from local vendors to the orphanage; nutrition has improved!  Productive vegetable gardens and a flower garden were planted by POP for the Aldea community. Work continues, and your support is appreciated and welcome!

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We Believe

that a single action can make a difference in a community

and that collective action can greatly impact our world.

Our Mission at The Peruvian Outreach Project is hope and compassion

through work that enhances the lives of others.

               Board of Directors

 

President Cristian Johnston was inspired to create the Peruvian Outreach Project, Inc. after a brief visit in 2018 to the orphanage from which he was adopted as a young child. Cristian spent months volunteering at Aldea Infantil Virgen del Pilar in Tarapoto, Peru. He is well loved by the children and staff for his hard work and devotion on their behalf. Currently, Cristian is completing an Associate’s Degree in Human Services focusing on non-profit development. At home in Corfu, New York, Cristian works for the New York State Office of People with Developmental Disabilities.

 

Vice President Callie McRae holds an Associate’s Degree in Sociology and plans to continue her education in the field. Callie took advantage of several internships and opportunities during her studies: an administrative role at her college's history club, an internship at Walt Disney World, and a short-term mission trip to Valle de los Angeles in Guatemala in 2018. Callie has a desire to help those in need and goes out of her way to do so. Callie is a registered foster parent for Cattaraugus County. 

 

Secretary Kate Shands Haq has been a professional educator since 1985. She has taught in urban and rural schools in Western New York, primarily as a public elementary classroom teacher, middle school ELA and Social Studies educator, and literacy coach. Kate earned her PhD in Curriculum, Instruction, and the Learning Sciences with a focus on Literacy in 2018. Kate is a dedicated  education advocate  and community activist; she began working with POP in 2019.  

 

Treasurer Kathleen Houlihan holds a MS in Education of Culturally and Linguistically Different Students and has taught all levels of Bilingual Special Education and English as a New Language in public schools in Buffalo, New York for 32 years. Kathleen chaired a Bilingual Committee on Special Education and Student Support; she has spent her career working with immigrant and refugee children and their families. Kathleen’s  connection with Peru began in 1978 as an exchange student in the city of Trujillo. She and her family have traveled extensively in South America--especially in Peru--and both of her children were adopted from Peru. Kathy finds great reward in utilizing relationships built over many years to benefit the children and youth of Peru.

Board Members

 

Mary Klaus supported the formation of POP in 2018 and  joined the Peruvian Outreach Project board in 2020.  Mary is a retired Special Education teacher of 30 years. Her personal goal is to keep the ‘attitude of gratitude’ growing and to work with a community of donors to provide basic needs and education for the children at Aldea Infantil Virgen del Pilar in Tarapoto, Peru.

 

Eric Pfalzer is a senior at St. Mary’s High School in Lancaster, New York, where he has  been involved with environmental and Spanish clubs. During the summer of 2019, Eric traveled  to Antique, Guatemala and volunteered at an orphanage. Eric’s experience  sparked his interest in  service work in Central and South America; he joined the Peruvian Outreach Project (POP) in 2020.  Eric looks forward to seeing POP grow.

Charlotte Tay Tahk is a retired Science teacher with a PhD in Chemistry and a Masters degree in Elementary Education. Tay grew up in an  internationally oriented family and has long had an interest in helping young people in other countries. She has been on the Board of Crossroads Springs Africa, a nonprofit assisting students in Western Kenya,  since its founding in 2004.  Tay understands the importance of education and care for young people and believes that the next generation will change the world. 

 

Sally Zelasko is a retired elementary and middle school teacher and holds a Masters degree in Reading Education. For seven years, Sally served as board member, secretary, grant writer and fundraiser for Crossroads Springs Africa, a nonprofit assisting students in Western Kenya. Sally also worked with new homeowners through Habitat for Humanity, Buffalo for nine years.  Sally deeply values education and the importance of living in sync with the natural world through gardening. 

Meg Berdan holds a Masters in Library Science and has worked in school, public, private, and university libraries for more than 25 years. Her roles within various library institutions and non-profit organizations include: educator, administrator, capital campaign president, construction manager, and spokesperson. Meg is also engaged in sustainable land use practices for food and green energy production.