Our Team

Friends United is dedicated to Helping Teachers Teach.

Kathy Ruoff


2015 to 2019


Kathy Ruoff was born and raised in Kansas City, Missouri.   She graduated from Northwest Missouri State University in 1989 with a Bachelor of Science in Public Relations.  She was employed by Trans World Airlines where she worked in several departments and received training in computer programming.   With the training, she began working for TWA as a programmer  in the Information Systems department.  In 2003, Kathy went to work at Children’s Mercy Hospital, where she worked as a business analyst within Information Systems.  In 2013, she began working for Dignity Health  also as Business Analyst within Information Systems. Kathy has traveled to Honduras over 8 times and has been a part of Friends United through volunteering and serving on the board for over 25 years.   

Paulette Baker

President / Cofounder



Paulette Baker Eubanks is a veteran teacher with 38 years of experience on the elementary level. She has both Bachelor and Master degrees in Elementary Education from UMKC. Paulette is a member of the Independence Rotary Club, which supports much of the work Friends United does in Honduras. Paulette has worked in PTA on the local school level, serving in various offices. She also worked on the Council PTA level as President and served on the Missouri State Board of PTA as well. Paulette has served as secretary and as a director on the Friends United Board, and currently serves as president. Paulette, along with Charlotte Ruoff and Kirk Arnold, co-founded the Friends United organization after that very first trip in June, 1987. She has taken many trips to Honduras since then and has primarily been an educational seminar presenter for literacy and math seminars provided for PreK-6th grade teachers in that country.

Tammy Duggar

Vice President

2015 to 2017


My name is Tammy Dugger.  I graduated from Graceland College with a BS in Elementary Education and UMKC with a Masters in Early Childhood Education Curriculum and Instruction.  I have worked in Early Education for the last 27 years, mostly with Headstart and Early Headstart.


I was born in Texas, grew up in Massachusetts and moved to Missouri when I started teaching.  I have volunteered for Friends United for over 10 years and I have visited Honduras twice with Friends United. I am looking forward to my next visit!

Barabara Freund 




Barbara works as an Operations Manager and Vice President at Swiss Re, one of the world’s largest reinsurers.  She has been with Swiss Re (formerly GE Insurance Solutions) for the past 22 years and has led teams between 8 and 50 people.  Until 2016, her team included members in Latin America –Mexico and Brazil – and clients are throughout Central and South America.


Bill Freund, Barbara’s husband, is a middle school teacher at St Therese school in Parkville, MO and is a strong advocate for education and children.  Barbara and Bill both have BA’s from Park University.


She currently serves as Secretary on the Boards of Friends United and Central Avenue Center of Hope.


Community service, children and education have always been an important area for Barbara.  She has served and continues to serve as a Sunday School teacher, youth leader, Carpenter’s Kids leader amongst other activities at Highlands Community of Christ (and prior congregations) since she was a teen.  She has been actively involved in multiple charitable organizations through her company such as restart, Harvesters, Youth Friends, Red Cross, and many others.

Barbara participated in a Mission Trip to Honduras in 2010 with a group from the Highlands.  The group painted a school, delivered books and school supplies among other things.

Bennie Eubanks 




Bennie is a retired banker, businessman and educator with a Bachelor’s Degree in education and mathematics from the University of Missouri and a Master of Liberal Arts degree from Baker University. He is a former pastor, an active Rotarian and has traveled to Honduras several times as well as Europe and Asia. He likes being with people, sharing experiences, and giving his time to hopefully make life a little better for others. 

Kirk Arnold

Director / Cofounder

1987 to 2019


I am a retired elementary school teacher.  I taught 30 years in Independence, MO School District, retiring in 2014.  Currently, I am working part-time for the Kansas City Royals Baseball organization.


I grew up in St. Joseph, MO, and moved to Independence when I began teaching.  I am married to my lovely wife, Lynn, who is a retired Diaconal Minister in the United Methodist Church.  We have a son, Barrett, who attends school in Blue Springs, MO, where we currently reside.  I also have a stepson, Trenton Wright.


I first traveled to Honduras I 1987, with Charlotte Ruoff and Paulette Baker.  It was a wonderful trip and I fell in love with the country and its people.  I am proud of the work that has been accomplished through our organization, and the strides we have med to help improve the education of these children.

Fred Hahn  




Fred retired in 2005 from a long career in medicine in the Kansas City metro area as an Ear, Nose and Throat surgeon. He received his MD degree from the University of Iowa and his ENT Fellowship at the Mayo Graduate School of Medicine. He is past president of the regional and State of Missouri specialty organizations as well as the Metropolitan Medical Society and Missouri State Medical Association. He recently retired as President of The Missouri Medical Foundation. He previously served terms on the Kansas City Health Care Foundation, Community Service League and Truman Heartland Community Foundation. He has always been active on the Independence Chamber of Commerce and was once a V.P. while serving one of three rotations on its board. Fred’s longest term of volunteer service has been with Rotary (since 1973); where he has served as the Local Club President, District Governor and International Director. He lead a month long Group Study Exchange Team to Turkey in 2000. Marge and he have participated in National (Polio) Immunization Days in Ethiopia and attended over 30 International Convention’s. He has received multiple service awards. He and Marge have participated in Friends United (FU) over 15 years with as many working tours to Honduras in with its Teachers Teaching Teachers Program. Fred’s publishing includes a book entitled the “The Art of Medicine” and a number of scientific articles. His wife Marge and he have two daughter and three granddaughters. He served 6 years in the Army (Three active duty and 3 inactive reserves) including an OCS commission at Ft Benning, GA. His hobbies have been reduced to gardening, travel and “service” (maturity has curtailed skiing and private piloting)!

Missy Shields

Director / Fundraising Chair

2016- 2017 


Missy Shields is a native of Kansas City, Missouri.   Missy is the lead accountant in the Business Office of Kansas City, Kansas Public School and has worked there for 17 years. 

Missy currently serves on two 501 ( c) 3 boards. She is on Friends United and Central Avenue Center of Hope. Missy has been on three working tours to Honduras in 2006, 2008, and 2010 with Friends United where they gave out school supplies and helped paint several schools and interacted with the students and the teachers. Missy has been involved with Friends United since 2005. Missy is married to Dennis Shields and they are the proud parents of two cats named Sugar & Mattey.  She is an Elder in the Community of Christ Church where she is actively involved. 

Angie Hattey


2016- 2017 


Angie Hattey has spent most of her life working with children in one way or another, from being the older sister and helping out in many ways with her younger siblings and cousins including her special needs sister to working in early childhood education in private preschools and public schools systems.
Angie has worked nearly a decade in daycare settings with ages two years to twelve, most of that time being with the young minds of the two year old - it's amazing to watch so many grow and learn, many of us don't give the little ones the credit they deserve.
Angie then moved on to assistant teaching in early education with North Kansas City schools in their Title I preschool program, later she worked in the Independence schools in the Head Start Program.  She is currently a librarian and one of the many local libraries in the Independence area.  Angie is married to David H. Hattey and they have a fabulous teenage daughter, Emerald.

Cindy Freking 


1987- 2019


My name is Cindy Frerking, a retired Spanish teacher for the Blue Springs school district.  I have been a part of Friends United board for over 20 years--first as treasurer and then as translator.  I have been to Honduras ?? with the team 2 years in a row.  It is a privilege to work with this dedicated group to share with our counterparts in Honduras ?? to share in the betterment of education of students and teachers ?‍? there.

Bessy Morales 

President of Amigos Unidos Honduras



Bessie Morales Pacheco is a retired Teacher/Librarian, and Specialist in Cooperative Studies. She has received training in Israel, at the Pedagogical National University of Francisco Morazan in Honduras, and has participated in numerous literacy training opportunities as trainer of prekindergarten and primary teachers through the Los Fresnos , Texas, school district as well as the Independence, Missouri school district. She has received numerous hours of training in reading/writing instruction and teaching strategies to use with prekindergarten-primary students. This training has served her well as national trainer and leader for 30 years working with Friends United in Honduras. She also serves as president of Friends United in her country of Honduras.


Julie Moreira-Fruits





I am from Independence, MO and graduated from William Chrisman High School.  I have a Bachelors Degree in Secondary Education from USM and a Master's Degree in Education from Lesley University.  I served as an educator in the Independence School District since 1995 to present.  I taught both Spanish at William Chrisman and Truman until 2008.  I have been a district Spanish Interpreter since 2008 to present.  In this role, I have enjoyed spending time with the teacher's from Honduras and assisting in interpreting for them while visiting the Independence School District.  I also, help families who are new to Independence and the United States learn the educational process and make connections to our school community.
My parents are from Honduras, CA.  During my childhood, I spent many summers in Honduras with friends and fmaily.  I still have many family connections in Honduras and communicate with them often.  I have been married for 27 years to Bryon Fruits together we have three children, Anthony Fruits, 19, Rosalia Fruits, 12 and Oscar Damian Cervantes, 21, whom we adopted in 2017 from Guatemala.
It is always a pleasure to spend time visiting with the teacher from Honduras.


Heidi Garrett-McClain





Heidi Garrett-McClain is an Early Education Family School Liaison at Independence School District.   Heidi is passionate about supporting the healthy development of individuals, families and children within the local community and abroad.   Heidi serves as a Smart Connections Program Facilitator for ISD’s Early Education Program, providing workshops to assist parents and caregivers in responding to children in a way that promotes the development of resilience.  Heidi also serves as a Trauma Smart Coach and Staff Trainer for ISD’s Early Education Program, collaborating with ISD teachers and staff as they implement Trauma Smart strategies and concepts. She is the Sustainability Lead on ISD’s Early Education Trauma Informed Care Team.

Heidi’s previous experience includes working as an Early Education Specialist for Truman High School’s Teen Parenting Program, High School Homebound Teacher for Independence School District, employment as a Parent Educator for Blue Springs School District’s Parents As Teachers Program, working in the field of child abuse and neglect with Jackson County Children’s Division, inpatient mental health units including Child, Adolescent, Dual-Diagnosis, Trauma, and Forensic Units, and completed an internship at Western Missouri Correctional Center in Cameron, MO.  Heidi has a Bachelor of Science in Psychology and Criminal Justice/Corrections. She has a Master of Science in Higher Education Administration. Her certifications include the National Family Development Credential through University of Connecticut and National Parent Educator Certification ages birth-3 years old and 3-5 years old through Parent As Teachers.

Heidi is an active member in the United Nations of Greater Kansas City and Daughters of the American Revolution.    Her hobbies include aerial arts and hiking. She is a successful single parent of 2 adult children and 2 school age sons.



Charlotte Ruoff 

Director Emeritus / Co Founder



Charlotte Ruoff was an elementary school teacher for thirity years, retiring in 1998 from the School District of Independence, Missouri. She served as the president of Friends United, Inc. for 27 years and was an integral part in the development of the program in Honduras. She was granted the status of emeritus in 2015.


She has been active in Rotary and was named Rotarian of the Year by the Independence Club in 2006 and was awarded the prestigious honor of the “Service Above Self” award from Rotary International in 2013. This award is made to only 150 Rotarians each year from a membership of 1.2 million.


She and her husband Norman have three children, Bryan, Ronald and Kathy. She has a bachelor’s degree and many post graduate hours in a variety of disciplines


Norman Ruoff 

Director Emeritus / Co Founder



Norman Ruoff served on the Friends United board for twenty-eight years and received the honor status of emeritus in 2015. He served as treasurer for several years but, is best known as the Grand Burro, a title he gave himself after loading and unloading 70-pound suitcases in Honduras.


His back ground includes teaching, electrical contracting, and CEO of several for-profit and not-for-profit entities. He was an editor at the Herald Publishing House for sixteen years and served on a credit union board for fifteen years.


In 2017 he wrote the book “Thirty Years of Service”, the story of Friends United.


Where To Find Us:

Friends United

P.O. Box 52
Independence, MO 64051


Phone: (816) 919-1025


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