OUR PEOPLE

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KENDRA SMITH

Executive Director and Co-Founder, The Zara Project

4th Grade Dual Language Teacher, Emory Elementary

I think something we all can agree on is that being hungry sucks! I have been a teacher in the Denver Metro area for 14 years and all of them in Title I schools where 85% or more of students receive two free and reduced meals at school each day. This is essential to their learning knowing that those two meals might be the only ones they eat sometimes. After my first year of observing hungry kids and the toll it takes on all aspects of their lives, I started what later became The Zara Project.

 

In the last 12 years, we have provided food for thousands of local families during winter break. After one of our distributions a few years ago, a kid came to school with a huge smile on his face and his teacher asked him why he was so happy and he said, “because I had pancakes for breakfast.” That’s why I continue with this project. I am currently a 4th grade dual language Spanish teacher in my 10th year at  Emory Elementary in Jeffco and the director of The Zara Project, but my most cherished job of all is being the best mom I can be to my four year old daughter, Zoey.

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JEREMY MONTANA

Assistant Executive Director, The Zara Project

Territorial Manager, KNAUF Insulation

My name is Jeremy Montana and I have lived in the SW Denver Metro area for seven years. I got involved with The Zara Project through my Husband who teaches at Force Elementary School. The Zara Project means so much more to me than just helping my husband’s students fill the needy food gap over the Winter break.  I grew up with a family that didn't have a lot of extra money. While my mom applied for assistance, she was always told that she made too much money. Well, the system's idea of too much money and the reality of what it costs to raise two growing kids on minimum wages is a very different story. We could have greatly benefited from a program like ZARA growing up. Seeing the faces of the families on distribution day brings me great joy and a sense of giving to families who have needs greater than we will know.  

“If you can’t feed a hundred people, feed just one”Mother Teresa…

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BERNA SMITH

Treasurer and Co-Founder, The Zara Project

Retired Social Worker, Jeffco Department of Human Services

Bio Coming Soon

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CHRIS ARTEAGA

Community Liaison, The Zara Project

Music Teacher, Force Elementary

Chris has over a decade of experience teaching music to students in high poverty schools.  He holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Northern Colorado and a master’s degree from The University of Colorado Boulder.  Chris is passionate about ensuring that his students at Force elementary are successful in music, academics, and their lives. Through his work with the Zara Project, Chris is able to help support his students through winter break and ensure they are able to eat and be ready for learning when they return in January.