Augusta “Gus” Friendsmith rides a silver motorcycle, played on a roller derby team, and has a wild mane of curly hair.
She wears every color of the rainbow and speaks impeccable Spanish. When she isn’t teaching kids to ski, she helps manage a disaster response program, runs her own craft business, works with locals who have developmental disabilities, and sits on the board of two area nonprofits.
Just what can’t the globe-trotting, community-saving Gus do?
To understand Gus, it helps to know about the causes she devotes so much of her time to. In 2013, she saw an ad for a Habitat for Humanity Global Village fundraiser. The goal was to raise money to build a house for a family in Cochabamba, Bolivia. Having lived in Cochabamba for part of her life, Gus remembers dropping everything and practically busting down Habitat’s door to join the trip. That November, Gus and 11 other members of Teton Habitat for Humanity traveled to Bolivia to help construct a home for a family in need.
When Gus returned from the trip, she was in awe of Habitat’s Global Village program and proceeded to organize and partake in six more projects from the Philippines and Indonesia to Columbia and El Salvador. She also helped develop a five-year partnership between the local Habitat for Humanity and Habitat for Humanity Mexico. “I had done essentially every volunteer role at Habitat until I was recently offered a position on the board,” Gus says.
Gus also sits on the board of Womentum, an organization built to empower women in leadership positions in the community, and one of the leaders of Jackson’s Team Rubicon, a veteran-led disaster response organization that pivoted to helping navigate COVID response in Teton County. In her free time, she enjoys roller derby, skiing, hiking, and climbing in the mountains she calls home. Someday, she would like to summit each of the major peaks that make up the Teton skyline.
With everything that Gus does to give back to the community, it’s good to know that real-life superheroes get the help they need, too. When asked how she manages her exceptionally busy schedule, Gus says, “By having an affordable house, crazy supportive husband, an awesome community, and the mountains.”
Just last year, she and her husband, Carsten Stuhr, were able to purchase a home through the Jackson Hole Community Housing Trust after renting with them for a year. In a time that has been particularly challenging for Teton County residents needing housing, it is nice to hear that someone like Gus, who has poured her heart into creating housing for others, is able to have a happy housing story too.