Carolyn Twietmeyer – Founder and Executive Director
Family: Married to Kiel Twietmeyer (aka Squeeze and Squeezy) Mother to Matthew, Andarge, Kylie, Brendan, Sarah, Rachel, Ethan, Selah, Gracie, Samuel, Hank, Danny, Seth, Sofia, and Isaac….
Hobbies: Writing, reading, knitting, painting, making jewelry, decorating….I make a hobby of wanting hobbies. I fully intend to make running a hobby so that I can run in our half marathons with Team Truth!
You Should Know: I dream of living on at least 10 acres with my family so that we can host tons of adoptive families and kids with HIV for some serious camp outs and bonfires. I want BIG school bus converted into an AWESOME tour bus so that our crew can travel more to advocate for children left behind. And, I fully intend to help Audrey make her soap!
Family: Married to LaRue – Mom to Kristi, Casey, Austin, Jacob and Jesse
How I became Hope+: Standing in church, singing “Beautiful Jesus”, I was overcome by a completely off the wall idea – we should adopt! Although our youngest child was about to graduate from high school, we decided to step out in faith and see where God was leading. When researching adoption, I found Carolyn Twietmeyer’s blog and we began to talk about what it was like to raise a child living with HIV. September 2009, we brought home our son Jacob from Ukraine! After much prayer about what our next adoption would look like, the Lord led us to foster care. In 2012, we were blessed to adopt another son, Jesse. We continue to welcome foster children into our home and have come to realize the huge need that exists for loving, invested foster families here in the U.S. We hope to serve these wonderful kids for years to come. It is an honor and a privilege to work with Project HOPEFUL and I feel so incredibly blessed to be a part of an organization that understands God’s heart for the orphan.
Hobbies: Cooking, gardening, homeschooling, cleaning, laundry – oh wait – those are hobbies, right??
You Should Know: I dream of living on a farm with a huge garden, raising chickens and making my own soap!
Deb Steiner – Director of Operations
Family: Single mom to Seth (Naperville, Illinois), Leah Grace (Uganda), and Zechariah (Uganda).
How I became Hope+: I was on a mission trip to Uganda in May 2010, in the midst of my second domestic adoption, when I met “Betty.” Her orphanage informed me that she was positive as if it meant that no one would ever want to adopt her. God did something to my heart right there, after previously proclaiming that I would not “do” HIV positive. Once again, God said, “whatever.” Leah Grace came home in November 2010. Again in 2012, God brought us Zechariah at six years old, home forever December 2012.
Hobbies: Reading, chasing after my babies, volunteering, and pretending to train with Team Truth.
You Should Know: I would love to have a hubby to share this crazy life with but I am not ashamed of our non-traditional family. Instead, I wish I would have done it a decade sooner!
Traci Heim – Director of FIG Programs
Family: Married to Scott since 1993, Mom to ten children.
Hobbies: My children say they are working on the computer and talking on the phone. I would say that I enjoy skiing, reading, and spending alone time with my husband. (figure out how we can make that happen!)
You Should Know: I am not a good listening ear. If you tell me about a problem, I will offer you a solution. Kind of like talking to your husband!
Family: Married to my best friend, Brian since 1992, and so far I am mother to Peter, Jeremiah, Emma, Noah, and Mercy.
How I became Hope+: I have been passionate about adoption and orphan care since I was a child, but when I started learning the truth about HIV and AIDS in 2010, I was shaken. I was upset to learn I had believed lies for more than twenty years. It sickened me that I was one of the Moms who always moved quickly past the photo-listings of any waiting children with HIV out of ignorance and fear. Now I’m passionate about doing everything in my power to see them adopted into loving families and to conquer stigma with TRUTH! We have not adopted yet, but are praying God opens that door to us very soon.
Hobbies: Embroidery, gardening, idealistic daydreaming, and playing board games with my family. Chronic Facebook, Twitter, and Blog junkie.
You should know: I can’t get enough of ‘Gotcha Day’ videos. I love to witness children becoming un-orphaned!
Family: I married my high school sweetheart and best friend, Bart, in 1993. We have 6 children: Austin, Autumn, Asher, Aidan, Batri (Ethiopia), Ruby (domestic adoption), Conner (domestic adoption)
How I became Hope+: God opened my eyes to His heart for orphans during a mission trip to India in 2009. In the spring of 2010 God told me we had a daughter in Africa. By June we started the adoption process. While filling out the paperwork God began to wreck my heart for special needs orphans and specifically for children with HIV. We first saw our daughter’s picture in August of 2010 and immediately committed to adopt her. There were hundreds of families in front of us, some waiting up to a year and a half for a referral of a young ‘healthy’ child, while our beautiful daughter had been waiting for months for someone to come for her. We welcomed Batri home in August of 2011! In my research I found Project HOPEFUL and was able to meet Carolyn and some of the other Project HOPEFUL ladies at a Together for Adoption Conference in October 2010. I knew I had to be involved in the amazing work Project HOPEFUL is doing. In August of 2012 eight week old Ruby came to our family, and in May of 2013 we took placement of 17 day old Conner. Both were domestic adoptions. They are perfect angels blessed with an extra chromosome. Ruby and Conner are 11 months apart, my almost twins. It is such a joy watching them begin to interact with one another. What an honor it is to be their mommy.
Hobbies: worshiping, reading, going on dates with my hubby, playing with our kids, LOVE sharing truth about special needs orphans anytime, anywhere!
You should know: I am learning to be the kind of passionate person that draws people into my passion, instead of the intense scary kind that frightens people away. I am obsessed with juicing. I love nail polish. I love Gungor and David Crowder Band. I hate soda, it burns my nose and makes my eyes water.
Melissa Kinast – Director of Events and Planning
Family: Married to Chip and together parent five children.
How I became Hope+: Project HOPEFUL combines three of my greatest passions: faith, children and HIV/AIDS awareness.
Growing up one of my close family members had AIDS during the early years of the disease. I was able to witness the wonderful quality of life my family member achieved. I also saw how devastating stigma can be. Fast forward 20 years. We know so much more about how to manage HIV/AIDS, yet stigma still remains. Unacceptable!
I am extremely honored to be a part of this team! I feel incredibly blessed to be HOPE+!
Hobbies: Decorating, gardening, entertaining, and restoring vintage properties. Pilates and studying the art of ballet (but only in my living room)
You Should Know: My sense of navigation is awful. If you need directions, I am the last person in the world you should ask.
Jen Knapp – Director of Human Resources
Family: I am the wife of the most amazing lover of Jesus on the planet! Brian and I have been married for 10 years. We have one beautiful bio daughter, Sahara, who is 8 years old. We also adopted Ayantu Grace from Ethiopia. She is 5. And we brought Juliana Frema home from Ghana in November 2011. She is 2. We continue to make changes to our current home because we know our family is not done growing yet…
How I became Hope+: I became HOPE+ unknowingly when I read the article about the Twietmeyer’s in People magazine! It was in reading this article that God planted a seed that only He knew we would need a year later. We were trying to get our daughter home from Ghana when her case was stuck in immigration because she had tested positive for TB. We knew something in our case was not right when God reminded me of Project HOPEFUL from the article I had read. I contacted Carolyn while she was speaking at an Adoption Conference. Within 3 days, our case was pushed through and we were able to bring our daughter home. It has since become my passion to do everything I can to assist those in the adoption process as well as advocate for the most neglected orphans on the planet. God will stop at nothing for the orphan…why should I?
Hobbies: Reading, writing, telling anyone that will listen to me blab about the orphan crisis and what they can do to help, running [I never would have said that prior to TEAM TRUTH], watching God reveal himself to our three beautiful girls.
You should know: I love my cup of coffee in the morning while I try to gather my thoughts for the day. I used to have a strong type A personality until we added our third daughter to the mix. I’d say I’m a border line C now!! I love worship music and someday hope to learn to play guitar. I also want to finish writing my book.
Jenni Johnston – Director of Waiting Children and Orphanage Liason
Family: Married to my hero, Josh. We have three very loud children, Chloe, Jack (Ethiopia), and Liam… more to come.
How I became HOPE+: In 2009, I begged God to give me a purpose. I heard him loud and clear, “ADOPTION!” We then brought home Jack in 2010. I realized I was not done. I, then, asked God to show me what broke his heart. Through crazy God-moments I was lead to Project HOPEFUL. After stalking these wonderful ladies, they let me be on staff. My world has been turned upside-down! I will forever be broken for these children who need hope and love.
Hobbies: Roller Derby, chasing after my kiddos, obsessing over anything adoption, pretending that I am going to be a hippie, homeopathic, farmer that can cook, and I love playing dress-up.
You should know: I love Jesus, tattoos, and glitter. My main goal in life is to drive a HUGE van filled with children and be as ridiculous as possible.
Jenny Clark – Single Parent Liaison & Events Coordinator
Family: Single mom to Aidan, Ella Mae and JoJo who came home in 2013.
How I became Hope+: I ran the Chicago Half Marathon with Project HOPEFUL in September of 2012. God showed me the amazing work that He was doing with this organization and I knew He wanted me to do more. Shortly thereafter I joined the staff!
Hobbies: I have a lot of jobs (I work for my family’s Investment Management Business, I own a photography business, and a monogramming business) so I don’t have a whole lot of time for hobbies! But, I love movies, reading, quilting and of course, long walks on the beach at sunset.
You Should Know: I have 4 tattoos. My kids are AWESOME. Everything else is on my blog mojennymo.blogspot.com!
Amy & Todd Block – Directors of Village of Hope — Guatemala
Todd and Amy are the parents of nine beautiful children, four biological and five through the miracle of adoption. Because of their adoption experiences from Guatemala, the US foster system and Ethiopia, the Lord opened their eyes to the children around the world who are orphaned, abandoned, helpless and at risk.
Once their eyes were opened the entire family became passionate about reaching the lost and vulnerable. In 2011 the Lord called them to do full time mission’s work in Guatemala.
Todd, Amy and seven of their nine children are serving at Village of Hope in San Lucas, Guatemala working with orphans living with HIV/AIDS and other special needs in a family style setting. Village of Hope is an initiative of Project HOPEFUL and Lifesong for Orphans.
The heart of their ministry is discipleship and as a family they desire to share the love of Jesus by loving others the way He loves them.
Contact Amy & Todd
Greg & Charisa Knight – Directors of FIG Awassa
Family: married since 1992 and mom and dad to 5 kids: Rebekah, Joshua, Rachel, Abenezer (Ethiopia) and Teshale (Ethiopia)
How we became Hope+: It all started with a mission trip to Zambia in 2007 when the children became REAL!! We couldn’t change the channel when it became uncomfortable and it was clear that the Lord was calling us to something. That experience led to the adoption of two beautiful Ethiopian boys and our lives shifted direction in a dramatic way.
Our focus was redirected to God’s heart for justice and His desire for us to spend ourselves on behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed and to help the widow and the orphan in their distress.
A later trip to an HIV+ orphanage in Guatemala also brought the need to love and advocate for these children to the front of our minds.
We are so excited to be part of Project HOPEFUL and have been blessed from day one by the Project HOPEFUL team. We seek to glorify Him in all we do and be His hands and feet!
Hobbies: Charisa loves music-particularly worship music that brings me into our Father’s presence. You may find me curled up with a book when I can get a moment. I am also passionate about fighting human trafficking and volunteer as a justice advocate with International Justice Mission.
Greg enjoys time with the family and chasing the boys around to soccer games. He is a family man at heart.
You should know: You should know Greg and I are completely opposite personalities. I am emotional and jump in with both feet not knowing where I am landing. He is practical and makes an excel document to forecast results. I talk non-stop while he uses his words up for the day by 8 a.m. I eat all the chocolate in the house in one day. (okay ½ a day) He will save a candy bar for over a week until just the right time. I am fascinated by science and he is our math whiz. It makes for some crazy times but we complete each other well!
Dawn Patterson – Director of HOPE+ Sisterhood Uganda
Family: I’ve been married to John since 1996. Although we didn’t start our marriage in Christ, God found us and we have been living passionately for Him since 2003. He is the most amazing man of God and I am madly in love with him. We have 4 beautiful children…3 through birth and 1 through adoption from Uganda.
How I became Hope+: My heart became broken for orphans on my first mission trip to Ethiopia when I fell in love with an HIV+ teen who had been abandoned by her family because she was positive. I met Carolyn at Together For Adoption in 2010 and knew we were kindred spirits. When I found out about Project HOPEFUL’s mission to advocate, educate and enable for HIV + adoption…I was sold out. That’s when I created the HOPEFUL jewelry collection so that I could donate to Project HOPEFUL regularly.
Hobbies: Making jewelry has been a life long hobby and I am blessed that God has turned it into a business and ministry.
You should know: I am an action movie junkie. I don’t do chick flicks. My dream car is a Transformers edition Camaro. If I could live at Disneyland, I would. My daughter, Mandy is named after the Barry Manilow song. True story. When I met my husband, he was a bouncer at a country bar and the two time tush-push champion. Today, he is a Pastor who oversees our church’s marriage ministry. ONLY GOD. Amen.
Nancy Porter – Director of HOPE+ Sisterhood Ethiopia
Family: Married to Kirk Porter since 1998, adoptive mother to 2 amazing kids: Haan and Eden
How I became Hope+: I met Carolyn (and Selah) in Ethiopia 2 1/2 years ago when we both had an extended stay in Addis and stayed together in a guest house. I was able to see firsthand how very ill Selah was in Addis and then watch the transformation once she was home. Looking back now, I realize that the extended stay had a larger purpose, and my eyes were opened to the plight of the HIV+ child and the amazing ministry that is Project HOPEFUL. I am so grateful for the opportunity to help further Project HOPEFUL’s mission and spread the word about its amazing work!!!
Hobbies: Yoga, reading, hiking, making jewelry, advocating adoption, and Friday night dates with Kirk!
You Should Know: We chose to build our family through adoption. We believe it was God’s Plan A for our family.
Michele Vetter – Director of Spiritual Formation
Family: Married to Jerry. Proud mother to Gerald, Mia and Sarah. Proud Step-mother to Bailey; future adoptive mother!
How I became Hope+: Author, Max Lucado, wrote something that deeply impacted me; “No one can do everything, but everyone can do something.”
I have been praying for the work of Project HOPEFUL from the organization’s very beginning. I had been asking for God to send me where He wanted me to go, although I didn’t always know where that was. God opened the door for me to direct the spiritual support team and it is a blessing and a honor to me.God never ceases to amaze me.
Prayer has always been my communion with the Lord; an ongoing conversation of praise, thanksgiving, and intercession. In my role as Spiritual Support Director I continue to pray for Project HOPEFUL and the Orphan. (Psalm 68 5-6, James 5:16)
Hobbies: Staying at home keeps me busy, but I wouldn’t have it any other way! I love to read, cook (when my meal turns out!), and spend time with my family. I especially value time alone with my husband.
You Should Know: I love any and all live music! I am learning to play the piano a bit, and I secretly love to sing.
Lani Rankin – Waiting Children Coordinator
Family: Single mom to my son, Hunter.
How I became Hope+: I was introduced to Project HOPEFUL by Jenni Johnston and ever since God has been at work on my heart. Being part of the Project Hopeful team gives me encouragement and inspiration to help find homes for wonderful children throughout the world. I hope to make other people aware and Hope+.
Hobbies: Running, pinning on Pinterest, reading, and car radio singing
You should know: I am a HUGE (and obnoxious) sports fan!
Kimberly Balts – FIG Matched Family Coordinator
Family: I married my high school sweetheart in 1991. In 2004, I became a mom to Ellie, then twin boys, Zander and Connor, and Madison (Uganda)
How I became Hope+: Through our adoption process, God opened my eyes to His heart for adoption and stirred within me a passion for adoption. Since our own adoption, I have been praying for God to break my heart for what breaks His, and to show me an area where I can serve Him. I began learning more about HIV and adoption and that is how I found Project HOPEFUL. I am so excited to share my passion with young people and get them involved with advocating for orphans, and to see where God leads.
Hobbies: photography (wish I was better at it), reading, playing scrabble, and I love traveling.
You Should Know: I crave McDonald’s french fries. I also would love to live in the mountains and have horses and lots of kids, or live and serve in Uganda and still have lots of kids.
Yamid HR – Resource Translator
Family: Looking forward to marrying my best friend. I’m engaged and am a future adoptive parent. My family is all around the world, those that take care of the widows, orphans and keep apart of the corruption of this world . .
How I became Hope+: I used to believe that Truth is the most important thing in life, but a few years ago I understood that it’s not just about the things that you think are right, but what you do with the truth that you have… not just trying to resolve an intellectual issue like being pro or against abortion, but being able to respond to those that don’t see another choice in life and be part of a community of people that believes and lives in ways that promote life with everything we do. Truth and Grace brings Love to my life and it’s because of Love that I have Hope.
Hobbies: Performing Arts and Dance and Communications, and studying languages …
You should know: It’s very difficult to describe myself …that is why I put this on my blog http://yamidhr.blogspot.com/p/about-me.html
Debbie Spikings – Executive Assistant to the Staff Directors
Family: Married to Rick. Our children: Jennifer, Carrie, Wendy, Christopher, Brian, Elizabeth, Victor, Matthew, Andrew, Jamon
How I became Hope+: After my husband and I married in 2003 we wanted a ministry we could do together. Our youngest child was in high school and we were almost empty nesters. The answer to our prayers came in the form of a three month old baby boy! The Lord really opened my heart and eyes to the need for people to care for orphans, especially those with HIV/AIDS and other special needs. I prayed about how to serve and the Lord and He led me to Project HOPEFUL.
Hobbies: Playing guitar, singing, collecting antique school books (I know that sounds weird!). I enjoy traveling to our cabin in Michigan with my husband.
You Should Know: I “random sing” all the time. Also, I can never leave my house without having to go back inside at least once (sometimes more) for something I’ve forgotten.
Here is a sweet video that captures all of our staff!