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”.
Melissa Codio FOUNDER/CEO BIO:
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 MBA in Project Management at Brenau 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 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.
Meredith McGinnis is an interdisciplinary teacher working in Nashville, Tennessee. She currently teaches Cambridge Global Perspectives and English Language Arts at John Overton High School, Tennessee’s most diverse school. Before working there, she spent three years teaching at Antioch High School also in Nashville. Both schools reflect the kinds of students and communities that Meredith loves to work with- those representative of an increasingly globalized world. Her teaching and curriculum intentionally center on empathy, problem solving skills, and literacy. She is certified to teach English, Reading, US/World History, Geography, Biology, and soon Physics. She believes that cross-curricular Project Based Learning is the future for both the humanities and STEAM.
Before beginning her teaching career, Meredith gained a B.A in History and Geography from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, and earned her Master’s degree in the Theory and Practice of Teacher Education. During her time at UTK, she studied abroad and taught English in Thessaloniki, Greece. It indelibly shaped her life and work. While abroad, she traveled widely across Europe and learned that the world is a more vibrant and welcoming place than she could have imagined. During her time traveling and at university, she taught painting classes and found work as an artist. Having design and visual art skills has propelled the creativity in her work, and she credits both her artistic aesthetic and her instructional design practices to the ability to connect the seemingly disconnected. She continues to do so in her entrepreneurial work as well, bringing her expertise to writing magazine articles, editing independently published books, and singing in a gospel choir.
Director of Community Affair "To say of Kim Catlado that being licensed optician is in her blood wouldn't be a stretch of the truth. After all her father, grandfather, aunt and uncle have all been in the optical field over the past 50 years. Kim graduated with honors from American Institute for Ophthalmic Technology, in Ferndale Michigan. The oldest of three girls, Kim lived in Michigan for 23 years before making GA her home. At an early age she knew children were her passion, and she wanted to make a difference in their lives. Whether volunteering in the NICU at Kennestone hospital, being a foster parent to more than 30 children over and 11 year period, or taking her first mission trip to Haiti in 2013 Kim, is trying to live this dream. When Kim isn't helping her patients see better, or giving back to children she can be found cooking for a small group of friends, spending time creating her garden oasis, or kayaking across the lake".
The dynamic Cheryl McKinley is a loving mother and grandmother who is educationally sound. Cheryl McKinley has undergraduate degrees in Mathematics, Business Administration, and Human Resources. She also has graduate degrees in Business Administration, Finance and Accounting along with a DBA (ABD) in Finance. Ms. McKinley brings knowledge and power from both the for-profit and not-for-profit sectors of business. She is instrumental in helping to form business start-ups through consultation and aiding seasoned businesses in the area of profit maximization. Currently this visionary is taking all fields by storm; crossing boundaries by affecting change and impacting lives in this industry as though it were routine. She shares her wealth of knowledge through education empowerment by teaching college at the undergraduate and graduate level, coaching, and consulting as well. In academia, Cheryl McKinley has held positions where she trained and managed incoming faculty, opened new campuses, developed curriculum, wrote classroom material, closed existing campuses, and implemented procedures. During this time, she finds that her greatest joy comes from seeing the light bulb go on when a student understands the concept. She absolutely loves teaching in every capacity! Cheryl McKinley also has volunteer experience which equates to more than twenty-five years of service.