Noah and Sarah Marks

Noah and Sarah Marks

The Marks, both architects, met at the University of Florida, married and moved to their San Marco home in 2012. Noah works for Kasper Architecture and Sarah is with Gresham, Smith & Partners. Through participation in company volunteer community service projects, they quickly felt part of Jacksonville.

Marks_02“Two months before the first One Spark Festival, April 2013, we met with a new local charity that needed a booth designed, built and installed for the festival. We created their booth, volunteered to work shifts and dismantled it afterwards. Rethreaded received the most votes of all participants. We felt part of their success and it was a great feeling,” Noah said.

Afterwards, the Marks continued to volunteer for Rethreaded. They saw ongoing needs and supported the charity’s mission to provide work for women and youth exploited by the sex trade (prostitution, human trafficking). Women without education or work history can create a new story for their lives through jobs sewing donated T-shirts into beautiful clothing and accessories, according to founder Kristin Keen.

When an empty warehouse space was loaned to the charity, the Marks knew it required extensive work to create a first-class retail space for Rethreaded.

“We recruited friends and family to volunteer because it was a big job. I’d spent a year working in carpentry after I completed school, so those skills helped. We designed the space, managed the budget, and got donations of specialized labor to transform the warehouse into a boutique,” he said.Marks_03

Their other volunteer work happens far from Jacksonville, in Honduras where they rode a bus for hours to reach the remote village of Guadalupe. There Noah helped drill a water well and install a pump. Sarah taught basic hygiene and sanitation classes to village women and children.

“In developing countries the need for clean water, sanitation and basic hygiene is critical to prevent illness and contamination. Fresh clean water is such a normal part of our lives, we don’t realize how other parts of the country struggle with this basic human necessity,” they said. Living Water International is the charity that trained the couple and coordinates global volunteer assignments.

The Marks believe that helping others and building relationships brings joy to life and volunteering together has brought them closer and strengthened their marriage. They both volunteered as teens through church youth groups at soup kitchens and helping hurricane victims re-build. Sarah was part of her mother’s Relay for Hope cancer team in honor of a cancer-surviving aunt.

The couple enjoys exploring Europe and tending their container vegetable garden which actually puts food on their table. Sarah paints, draws, cooks and volunteers with children at River City Church. Noah plays bass guitar in the church band.

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