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John Esteen

Founder/Board Member

John was born in New Orleans, Louisiana and raised in Avondale. From there he joined the Army National Guard after graduating from high school and attended Nichols State university on a football scholarship.  Shortly after enrollment, he was deployed to Saudi Arabia, to fight in the war (desert storm/shield,1990-91’). Immediately after returning to the States, John enrolled at Delgado community college in New Orleans where he studied aircraft maintenance and then graduated from the New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary with his bachelor’s degree in theology.  Additionally,  he studied at Baton Rouge Community College, where he became certified in landscaping. 

Between graduating from bible college and horticulture school, he facilitated a faith-based initiative course, “Experiencing God,” for over 3 years. He was and still is a leader in the community where he resides. He enjoys spending time with friends and family including his son (33) who earned a law degree at Loyola University and currently works as an insurance consultant in St. Louis, Missouri. John is constantly learning that he may be in a better position to help his family and those depending on him. More importantly, he puts God first in all he does; helping and serving people is his passion. He believes in solutions rather than concentrating on problems.

Sonya Bridgewater

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Sonya was born in New Orleans, Louisiana and raised in Avondale.  She graduated from L.W Higgins Senior High School. From there, she enrolled in an online degree program at American Intercontinental University where she attained her Associate's degree in Business Administration/Accounting.  She then went on to attain her Bachelor's degree and finally her Master's degree. Sonya has four daughters ages 31, 26, 24 and 8 who have all inspired her to work hard to obtain her Degree, which in turn landed her a great career in her field of work with Intuit QuickBooks as a bookkeeper. She enjoys bike riding, crocheting and swimming as well as spending time with her family. She is passionate about helping those around her and giving people a second chance. Her work ethic and commitment to pursuing her goals and dreams is extraordinary and great for our cause. 

Penny Vallelungo

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Penny was born in Marrero, Louisiana and raised in Avondale. She graduated Immaculata High School. From there she attended Delgado Community College where she earned an Associates degree in General Studies with concentration in Early Childhood Education. Then, she transferred to Our Lady of Holy Cross College where she earned a Bachelor's degree in Elementary Education. Upon graduating from college, she attended National University and earned a Master's degree in Educational Technology. Her organization skills, patience, and flexibility allowed her to meet the diverse needs of her students.

Penny has been in education for seventeen years and has taught in Jefferson and St. Tammany Parishes. She recently ventured out and earned her real estate licenses and enjoys helping people find their dream homes. She also writes automotive articles for a local marketing company and provides tutoring services. Penny has three children, two daughters (26,23) and a son (14). She enjoys attending Sunday church service and baking when time allows. She challenges herself to be a better person today than she was yesterday. She is passionate about teaching, learning and serving those around her. Her appetite for knowledge is limitless.

Aspen Bartholomew

Project Manager

Aspen Bartholomew was born and raised in Westwego, Louisiana. Never sure of his future goals while nearing the end of his high school career, he was influenced to seek an engineering degree by his curiosity for green energy. Aspen graduated with a Bachelor's of Science in Electrical Engineering from the University of New Orleans in 2016. Aspen is a skilled electrical engineering intern (E.I.) with over 3 years of experience in the MEP consulting industry, currently employed at Salas O'Brien Engineering. Aspen has been the lead electrical designer for numerous projects such as a 200,000 square-foot Ritz Carlton hotel resort in Bermuda, and a 10 acre multi-building apartment complex.


Determined to grow as an engineer and young professional, Mr. Bartholomew plans to acquire his professional engineering license, in the state of Louisiana, by 2021. in later years, Mr. Bartholomew wants to be a university professor and become a positive outlet for future engineers. 


Fun facts: Aspen has traveled to China for 2 weeks with a student program called People to People during high school. He also loves cooking with his Instant Pot pressure cooker. 

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