The Project Amigo Canada Society Board


Darrel Martin

DARREL MARTIN is the President of Automated Aquatics Canada Ltd. in Edmonton, Alberta.  Since 1985, the company has been focused on the supply of Swimming Pool products and services to the municipal, institutional, hotel, motel and condominium market place.


Darrel is a Past President (1999-2000) of the Rotary Club of Edmonton Northeast.  In Rotary District 5370, he has held the positions of District Trainer and District Treasurer, both for a period of three years.  He and wife Edith (also a Rotarian) have participated in several Project Amigo workweeks, and have become quite passionate about the organization.  They have also participated in a Rotary International project in a remote area of Ecuador and continue to help support the APU “Girls on the Move” School in Malawi, Africa.  Darrel is a multiple Paul Harris Fellow and is a member of the “Paul Harris Society”.  In the spring of 2011, Rotary District 5370 honoured him with the “Rotarian of the Year Award” for his service to the district. He co-chaired the 2014 Rotary District Conference. For the past several years, Darrel has served as Treasurer for Project Amigo Canada Society.

Yvonne Jodoin

Yvonne recently retired as controller of a general contracting business owned by herself and her husband, Ron.  She is a member of Stony Plain Rotary Club currently holding the positions of Foundation Chair and Treasurer.  She was awarded the “Rotarian of the Year Award” in the 2012/13 Rotary year.  Yvonne is a strong supporter of many humanitarian projects both in and out of Rotary.  She and Ron have made several visits to Project Amigo.  The last, with two of their fourteen grandchildren, was a Fiesta Workweek.    Yvonne is committed to changing lives through Arial education and embraces the “pay it forward” philosophy of life.

Edith Martin

EDITH MARTIN is the founder and President of The Organizational Navigator, a company specializing in the facilitation of Strategic Planning, Team Building, Customer Service and Leadership Development. As a certified Kolbe Consultant she also assists organizations and businesses develop unique ability teams. She is author of the Rec Coach Book Series providing practical wisdom for leaders in recreation. Edith has served on many volunteer boards and has led a variety of teams. She values the importance of community and international service, is a recipient of St. Albert’s 2011 Community Recognition Awards, is a Past President and Honorary Life Member of the Alberta Association of Recreation Facility Personnel, a Past President of the Rotary Club of Edmonton Northeast and multiple Paul Harris Fellow. She was honored in 2015 with Rotarian of the Year Award in District 5370. Edith and her husband Darrel have hosted three Rotary exchange students, participated in many Project Amigo workweeks and sponsor a student.

Judy Harcourt Brown

Judy Harcourt Brown is a Rotary Past District Governor (2003-2004 for District 5370, Northern Alberta, Canada), and a business owner of an Executive Search firm with head office in Edmonton and branch office in Calgary. She has been involved with many humanitarian projects through Rotary, and has been involved with Project Amigo for many years as a supporter and contributor, sponsoring several children. She has been to Project Amigo in Cofradia Mexico many times and most recently participated in a Literacy Work Week in January 2012 and a Humanitarian / Literacy Work Week in January 2014.

George Nikel

George Nikel, Director. Born in Poland in 1937, George was eight years old when he, his mother and older brother fled the advancing Russian army, traveling 1200 km to Salzburg, Austria, finding refuge with extended family. George and his mother followed brother John to Canada in 1954. The boys moved to Edmonton in 1963 and opened a music and stereo store on 142nd Street and Stony Plain Road, then expanded in 1969 with the purchase of National Music, located downtown on 101st Street. Over the next 30 years, they assisted schools province-wide with their band programs and launched International Band Festivals, still held in Calgary and Edmonton and attracting bands from around the world. George and his wife Helen, whom he married in 1962, raised three boys. George sold his business in 1999 and became a Rotarian. He has had extensive involvement in the International Youth Exchange Program, as well as in projects in Ecuador and Mexico, and has taken a special interest in reading programs in Edmonton's northeast schools. George is a member of the Paul Harris Society and has received numerous awards, including Rotarian of the Year at his club. He enjoys hiking and skiing, and visits the mountains as often as possible. He and Helen have travelled the world extensively, visiting more than 27 countries to date.

Merle Taylor

Merle has extensive experience as a business consultant working on a range of projects involving business and policy issues, organizational issues, and project management. Prior to entering the consulting field, Merle was employed by Alberta Treasury, working in increasingly responsible senior and executive positions in the Budget Bureau and the Office of the Controller. Since 1982 she has had a successful consulting practice serving clients in the public and not for profit sector. She is an active member of the Rotary Club of Edmonton Glenora.


Merle has a Bachelor of Arts majoring in Economics and is a CPA-CMA (retired).

She has served on the following not for profit and government boards:

  • Past President, Rotary Club of Edmonton Glenora

  • Treasurer and Board member, Royal Glenora Club (term ending November, 2017)

  • Consumer Representative, Alberta Automobile Insurance Rate Board

  • Board Chair, Edmonton Space & Science Foundation

  • Board member, Citadel Theatre

  • Vice-chair, Skills

  • Board member, Premier’s Council on Science and Technology

  • Board member, Boyle McCauley Health Centre​

Merle participated in a work week at Project Amigo in February, 2016. She lives in Edmonton, is married to Neil Taylor and has two adult children and a grandson.

Jan Preece

Jan Preece has been lending a helping hand for many years. She is a very experienced travel agent, having travelled to many third world countries such as Swaziland, Bali, Cambodia, Loas, Vietnam, etc. During these vacation getaways, she always seems to find a way to help the people of the countries she is visiting.


Jan began her volunteer work in 1993 when she joined the Children of Chernobyl Charity, fundraising to bring kids to Canada to experience fresh air, safe food, and overall healthy living. Jan hosted a child from Belarus for the summer and discovered the joy of being involved with children and philanthropy. She held many barbecues, pool parties, etcetera, for the children who were hosted in her community.


Jan was thrilled to join the Rotary Club of Edmonton NE several years ago and has enjoyed being Director of Community Services for the past six years. She has been instrumental in organizing volunteer opportunities with the Mustard Seed, Abbott School, and many more.


While visiting Swaziland, Jan presented a workshop on travel for the Bulembu School. Bulembu is a village of orphans created as a result of the aids epidemic in Swaziland. She has also participated in a workweek with Project Amigo and fell in love with the work they do for the community and their children.

Elly Contreras
Canadian Intermediary/Coordinator

ELLY CONTRERAS-VERMEULEN is a retired graphic designer with over 35 years experience in marketing and promotions. She and her husband, Ramiro, also owned a commercial property management company in Alberta, Canada, from which they retired in 2010. In 2014 they sold their acreage in Alberta and moved to the beautiful Okanagan, British Columbia, spending their summer months in Osoyoos. After spending several winter seasons as Long Term Volunteers at Project Amigo, they concluded, that Manzanillo, Colima, Mexico would be the place to spend their winters. Elly is Past President of the Rotary Club of Stony Plain, Past District Governor for Rotary District 5370, and founder and past President of the Rotary E-club of Canada One. Elly and Ramiro have been involved in several International Projects, including an orphanage project in Siberia. Elly has been a key element in obtaining funding for the APU, Malawi, Africa School for girls and was part of a Vocational Training Team to Honduras, with a focus on Micro Lending. Elly and Ramiro have supported Project Amigo since 2008 and have seen first hand the impact Project Amigo has made on the poor children of Colima.


Barb Costache 

Barb Costache retired after 20 years as the Chief Administrative Officer for the Lifesaving Society Alberta and Northwest Territories Branch (Royal Life Saving Society Canada) in March of 2018. The RLSSC is national charity with a humanitarian mandate for water-related injury and drowning prevention. Barb was appointed as the volunteer Governor of the Lifesaving Society, Alberta and Northwest Territories in June of 2018. 

As a seasoned community volunteer Barb has worked with volunteers and staff to provide high quality programs and services within the charitable and not for profit sectors. 

Barb was the Co-Chair of the Alberta Injury Control Strategy Advisory Committee and the Chair of the Outdoor Workers Skin Cancer Prevention Strategy Steering Committee. She also currently volunteers as the Membership Chair on her provincial and federal political constituency associations. Barb has a passion for policy and organizational development as well as board governance. 



Sheila Anderson 

Born and raised in Glasgow, Scotland, Sheila Anderson is a retired lawyer.  She has lived on the West Coast of Canada since 1976. 


A Rotarian since 1995, Sheila was introduced to Project Amigo during a visit from Rotary Past District Governor (District 5020) Ross White in 1999.  Since that introduction, she has visited Project Amigo many times.  During her second visit to Cofradia, Ted Rose persuaded her to spend the winter of 2003-04 as the “Innkeeper” at Project Amigo. 


Sheila has been a loyal supporter and promoter of Project Amigo, participating in 3 English as a Second Language (ESL) workweeks, plus regular drop in visits almost every year.  She, and her husband Patrick, have sponsored both elementary and secondary students and are currently sponsoring a University student.  


Sheila and Patrick’s primary residence is in Nanaimo, British Columbia.  They spend January and February each year in Melaque, Mexico, a short two-hour drive from Cofradia. She is looking forward to promoting Project Amigo throughout District 5020, Vancouver Island and western Washington State.

Craig Berke 

With roots are in the small Alberta town of Hanna, Craig's dad was in the jewelry business. After college he joined that industry as a manufacturers rep covering western Canada for about 12 years. Married since1977, his long-suffering wife, Mary-Jean has had to put up with his wanderlust for more than 40 years. With 2 kids in tow they have owned and operated jewelry stores, RV Resorts, Manufactured Home Parks, Service Businesses, and a Real Estate Brokerage. During most of those years, Craig also sold real estate and since 2011 has been a full-time agent.


The Berkes have lived in many parts of BC, Alberta and also Winnipeg. They now live in St. Albert near their family. They bought a condo in Manzanillo, Mexico in 2008 and spent several months there each winter. In 2017 they sold the condo and now travel in the winter to other parts of Mexico and the US.


Volunteering for non-profits and on Boards has been a passion of theirs for all of their married lives. They met Elly and Ramiro a number of years ago and in 2017 they introduced the Berkes to Project Amigo. They now hope in some small way to continue to contribute to this amazing organization.