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Gabrielle Romano has a calling - Africa

She fulfilled New York State's academic requirements for graduation, then earned an associate's degree in recreation leadership from Onondaga Community College and spent a year there as an assistant basketball coach before embarking on her African adventures.

Romano is hardly idle between trips to Africa. When she is not working as a barista at Freedom of Espresso, she has worked summers with Inner City Ministry organizing recreation, playing guitar for the kids and tutoring with the Greater Love in Christ Church near her family home in Syracuse's Valley neighborhood. She is also currently volunteering with Mission Church at Huntington School (Youth Alive Club) helping kids with homework and recreation. To fill in the gaps, she is training to run the annual 10-mile Syracuse Mountain Goat Run on May 2.

The cost of volunteering

It is important to note that such missions as Romano undertakes through Orlando's Summit Church are volunteer oriented -- meaning that the volunteers pay their own way. They pay for their own travel, their own housing and their own food. Her trip this year will cost $4500 in out of pocket expenses that she is currently trying to raise.

She is also trying to acquire a video camera to record her efforts, in order to publicize the work being done and the help needed by hers and other African villagers.

She is also seeking donations of supplies needed by the villagers she serves "Health and hygiene are so important. We try to bring them the basics that they lack -- things we take for granted."

Gabrielle Romano is clearly not someone to be taken for granted.

For photos and information about her past efforts and to contribute to the upcoming mission, go to her Web sites: lesfousdafrique.tumblr.com and iamorphaned.com.

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