The idea for Balm Seeds Inc, was birthed in May 2012. Founder and CEO, Melissa Codio, was watching a documentary on children living in South Sudan with no books and no educational resources with which to learn. The children in the documentary were very positive and even though they had little to no resources they made the best of their situation. Melissa was so moved by what she saw that she felt compelled to make a difference. With no starting funds and a very limited budget, she began the work she felt she was meant to do. Through networking and prayer for guidance, she began the task for forming the organization and choosing the key players who would eventually help her to make her vision a reality.
Melissa put great effort and thought in naming the organization. Though simple, the name Balm Seeds has vast significance.
The word Balm means empathy and compassion and unbeknownst to her, the Balm plant is also called the Melissa Plant. The Melissa Plant is very hardy and can be grown in almost any type of soil and weather condition. Moreover, the name Melissa is derived from a Greek word meaning bee, owing to the abundance of nectar in the flowers which attracts bees. Through research, she found that not only does the organization’s name mean something which attracts because of its sweet nectar, but the name in Gaelic means Servant of Jesus.
The word Seeds refers to the organization’s motto and her belief that . . . “Seeds of passion will fall on good ground and produce much fruit”.
Born in Haiti, Melissa Codio came to U.S. when she was only five years old. She lived in New York until she was nineteen and then moved to and has been living in Georgia for the past 10 years. At a very young age, Melissa had a desire to help those less fortunate and make a difference in the world. She believes that it only takes one person to make a difference, and all persons working together can make a miracle.
Melissa Graduated from Kennesaw State University with a BS in Psychology and Political Science. She plans to continue her education with a MS in International Conflict Management at Kennesaw state University. Melissa has worked as an instructor at United Cerebral Palsy where she enjoyed teaching children and adults with cerebral palsy and other developmental disabilities. She has also worked for Project REAL, a non-profit organization where she provided supportive counseling, restorative services, crisis intervention and ADL training to people with psychiatric disabilities. Melissa has always been involved in her community. She was previously a Board Member for Sponsor Our Seniors (S.O.S), a non-profit organization which provides assistance for the elderly and currently serves as an Officer for another non-profit organization, the Greater Atlanta Haitian Chambers of Commerce. In addition, she is a member of Cobb Community Collaborative. Melissa has volunteered for St. Jude’s to help raise money for children battling with cancer and at Wellsprings, which is a non-profit organization that provides educational and therapeutic counseling and mentorship for child victims of forced prostitution and sex trafficking.
When she is not working, volunteering or looking for ways to help, she is exploring new adventures, such as ski-diving and zip-lining; although, one of her favorite pastimes is simply spending times with friends and families.
Born in Georgetown, Guyana, Sharon (Bourne) Wesselhoft has lived in the United States most of her life. After living in New York for over 8 years, she and her family relocated to Georgia. Recently married, she, her husband and her son are now residents of South Atlanta and are getting involved in their community and, with neighborhood programs. She attended Kennesaw State University and North Metro Technical College where she earned Certificates in both Gerontology and Paralegal Studies. Professionally, she has worked for companies such as IBM, MBNA and, is now and has been for the past six years, a Paralegal at the Law Firm of Sams, Larkin & Huff.
She has been involved in her community through church and volunteering with at-risk youth. She has also volunteered at her son’s school as a reader and has made donations towards the purchase of books for the school. Currently, she is a founding member of Balm Seeds, Inc. where she serves as Board Member and COO. She enjoys spending time with her family and friends and is overjoyed with the support they have shown to both her and the organization.
She is looking forward to the impact Balm Seeds will make in the upcoming years and is excited about the prospect of changing lives and opening doors of opportunity to children who otherwise would not have a chance at success.
Born a native of Haiti, Myrlande Jean, moved to the United States from Haiti seven years ago with her family. While living in Haiti, she worked with underprivileged children at her local church assisting them with schoolwork, mentorship and tutoring. Since the devastating earthquake that took place in 2010, Myrlande has been helping her extended family and friends still living in Haiti by providing financial resources and sending outside supplies as needed. She has a humanitarian heart and enjoys helping others in anyway she can.
Myrlande graduated from North Metro Technical College in 2008 with an Associates Degree in Healthcare. She has more than four years of experience in the Healthcare field and is working as an Ophthalmic Technician. In her off time, she volunteers at her church and is currently training as a Financial Advisor. Her dreams and goals are to reach out to underprivileged children globally and help them in any way possible and to further her education in healthcare. Myrlande enjoys traveling and learning about various cultures.
As Director of International Affairs, Myrlande works as a liaison between Balm Seeds' volunteers and its international contacts. This role within the organization gives her the hands-on experience she enjoys.
Shirlette Chambers is the Mathematics teacher at Hopewell Christian Academy (HCA) for grades 6-12. She also teaches Spanish for grades 7-12. Shirlette, a graduate of Winston Salem State University with a Bachelors in Pure Mathematics and a minor in Spanish, accomplished a career milestone this past summer when she was awarded the Georgia Teaching Certificate in the area of Mathematics. Shirlette plans to attend graduate school in the near future to further her education in the areas of Mathematics education.
Before coming to Hopewell, Shirlette dedicated two years of her life as a full-time volunteer to AmeriCorps where she served as a bilingual literacy specialist and a mathematics service leader. It was during this time that she developed a passion for educating children. Shirlette currently fulfills her spirit of volunteerism through the Ministry of Helps at Faith Christian Center where she is an active member. She also offers free math tutorials after school at HCA for two to three hours a week to all students in need of extra assistance and more practice with various math concepts.
Because of her passion for international awareness and globalization, Shirlette has traveled to over ten different countries and had the privilege of being culturally immersed in Spain where she studied the Spanish language. In an effort to share the experiences of cultural awareness and diversity, Shirlette lead a group of HCA students on an educational tour of Costa Rica this past June where students were able to explore Costa Rica's Natural Wonders during their 7-day educational adventure.
As Director of Training & Development for Balm Seeds, Shirlette seeks to lend her educational knowledge to the efforts of enhancing the learning experience of children globally.