Alex and I first met in an advanced ASL class at our university. From the beginning of our relationship, we were always looking for ways to immerse ourselves in the Deaf community. We visited a local Deaf church congregation, attended Deaf socials, and hung out with Deaf students at our university. One day when we were looking for ASL events and activities, we found this cool-sounding organization called Signs of Hope that did service trips to Ghana to teach at the Deaf school there. We reached out through their Facebook page asking about summer trips. Sadly, we heard that the organization was currently on hiatus and wouldn’t be coming back for another year or two. We decided to keep it on our radar.

Alex & Rachel WoernerAbout two years later, when Alex and I had been married for a while, one of Alex’s friends from class approached him about a nonprofit that she and her mom were starting back up. Ellie came over to our house and told us about the two trips she went on to the Deaf schools in Ghana and how much they impacted her life. Alex and I looked at each other and realized–Ellie was talking about Signs of Hope! The same organization we had wanted to work with a couple of years prior. Ellie told us that she and her mom, Ronai, had gone on trips with them before and were passionate about restarting the organization. Ellie reached out to us because Alex is a certified interpreter and I was in a nonprofit management graduate program at the time–so we were well-equipped to help out.

We met with Ronai soon after that, and as the organization was re-forming, we were privileged to be welcomed onto the Board of Directors. We have spent the past two years working to get SOHI back to its nonprofit status, secure funding, and make plans to begin trips again. We’re so excited to take our first trip to Ghana to work in the Deaf schools and help organize future service trips!