Everyone’s story really starts at a place where the world we see and the purpose we feel, come together. That place where life has an impact on our soul. And we then let our soul begin to repurpose our life…

Joel and Marissa both visited Haiti during high school, on separate trips. Haiti was their first glimpse at how much loss really exists in this big world. These moments and experiences are where they both developed a passion for helping orphans and the impoverished. After seeing all of need that exists and realizing that they had both the desire and the skills to help, they decided that making an impact on people to help improve their lives, was something that they wanted to continue to pursue.

Joel has been partnering with Brenda and Jason Sommer (Develop Sustainability) for five years, building aquaponic farms and assisting in other sustainability projects.Joel has an aptitude for construction work and strong teaching skills. He has been a part of construction in a variety of countries and has a unique understanding of some of the challenges that come with it. He has been an integral part of building 10 of the 13 current aquaponic systems.

Marissa is currently a student, and has dedicated 5 summers to volunteering with Royal Family Kids Camp. She has invested time and energy into coordinating, fundraising events, and even as a camp counselor. RFKC is a 1 week camp, that provides an incredible experience to children in the foster care system- where they are adorned with attention and fun, and encouraged to just be kids! This has influenced Marissa to pursue a degree in social work, which she is currently completing at George Fox University.

Together, Joel and Marissa have decided to serve the people of Uganda. They will split their time between Oregon and Uganda, until their planned move, in the Summer of 2019. They will be a crucial part of the team, assisting with the process including; construction of the Develop Sustainability Apprenticeship Center in central Uganda, U.S. business and donor support, Aquaponic construction and development, business and vocational skills training and personal mentorship to apprentices/students.

Joel and Marissa also hold 1 voting place on the Develop Sustainability Executive Board.

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