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hometown heroes

Get to know Peoria-based The Hope Effect co-founder Joshua Becker

The Hope Effect has been named a Hometown Hero


For its work in the world community, The Hope Effect has been named a 2023 Peoria Independent Hometown Hero.

The Hometown Heroes Awards are a celebration of individuals who live or work in the city, and Peoria businesses for their achievements and distinguished contributions to the community and beyond.

Through The Hope Effect, co-founder Joshua Becker has been instrumental in improving the lives of childern across the globe.

The Hope Effect and Becker will be honored at an awards luncheon in February.

Get to know The Hope Effect more here.

What I like most about living/working in Peoria:
When we moved here to Peoria 12 years ago, we were immediately welcomed into our neighborhood and community. It was a big step for us to move so far away from family, but we have never felt alone or unsupported here in Peoria.
Peoria is full of both personal and professional relationships for anyone who desire to find them!

Personal background highlights:
I was born and raised in the Midwest, but moved here to Peoria 12 years ago with my wife (Kim) and two young children (Salem & Alexa).

It was my friend of 30 years, Joe Darago, who initially brought up the idea of moving my family of four here. He had recently started a church in Peoria (Journey Church) and wondered if we would move here to be part of it. We quickly said yes and subsequently moved to the Vistancia neighborhood here in the NW Valley.

Eight years ago, when we founded The Hope Effect, a nonprofit organization changing the way the world cares for orphans, Joe and his wife Christie were instrumental in the founding of it. Joe became the executive director of The Hope Effect and has led the nonprofit for the last eight years.

My son graduated Liberty High School two years and is now a sophomore at ASU. My daughter is a junior at Liberty High School. And Kim and I have been happily married for almost 25 years now!

Professional background highlights:
I began my professional career as a pastor in both Wisconsin and Vermont. Our move here to Peoria included serving as the Associate Pastor of Journey Church for two years.

In 2013, I left my career as a pastor to become a full-time writer and speaker promoting the minimalist lifestyle helping people live more by owning less. Over that time, I have written three books, including a No. 1 Wall Street Journal and USA Today Bestseller, on the topic and have had opportunity to speak all around the world.

Because of the popularity of the message and our passion to solve this problem, my wife and I used the book advance for my first two books to found The Hope Effect in November 2015.

The Hope Effect is working to change how the world cares for orphans by bringing foster care to developing countries as a way of ending institutional orphanages because we believe every child deserves a family. We currently work in eight cities around the world.

What does it mean to be a Peoria resident/worker?
I believe in the power of community. When people pursue a selfless purpose with the work that they do, everybody benefits. Whether paid or unpaid, we find our most fulfillment in work when we view it as love and service to others.

Peoria is a powerful community with a rich mix of individuals working careers that benefit our local communities and others working careers that impact people around the world. It’s a city that holds a hometown feel with a global impact. To be part of that, is a privilege. And there’s nowhere else I’d rather be.

What do you think you bring to the local community that makes it better?
Oh goodness, probably the best thing I ever brought here is my family. And I mean that with a sincere heart. I am so thankful for my career and the role that I get to play both locally and internationally. But family is the backbone of every thriving community I’ve ever wanted to be part of. I am so thankful for mine and each of their individual involvements in the local community.

What would you tell people about why it’s important to make a difference?
Living a life of purpose brings meaning and fulfillment. It allows us to reach the end of our lives proud of the decisions we made and the pursuits we have priority to. Making a difference is important not just to me or to a few others like me. It’s important to all of us, because we all have at least one thing (probably more) that we feel we just have to do before we die. And I’m not talking about bucket-list items, like “Ride in a hot air balloon.” I’m talking about living in a way that makes a difference. I’m talking about knowing our lives matter and impact the world in a positive way, that our existence means something.

Changes I’d like to see in this area:
NW Peoria is in desperate need of a new high school. And this isn’t about convenience of location for families, it’s about the kids at this point and them receiving proper education for their future. This area of the city is growing incredibly fast, unfortunately the building of high school campuses has lagged behind.

In fact, one of the high schools in NW Peoria has so many students, they are shuffling around kids, offering different schedules for different kids in order to alleviate the overcrowding. It’s really too bad. The children of Peoria require (and deserve) better.

My family (what have they taught you):
I am so very grateful for the loving family that I grew up in. My parents provided stability and consistency for me. No matter how my day went, I knew I would find faithfulness at home. This impact on my life cannot be overstated. It provided the foundation upon which to build other pursuits as I got older.

Equally important, my wife grew up in a loving home as well. She was adopted as a baby and her parents provided a home of provision for her—where she could receive the attention and affection she needed.

Her experience played a role in our eventual establishment of The Hope Effect. Knowing how her life had been changed by a loving family provided us with a desire to do the same for others—especially in parts of the world where foster care is not the norm.

My interests and hobbies:
I am very thankful and involved at my church: CCV. I also love sports of almost every kind—particularly playing tennis, basketball, and running. I also probably watch a few too many episodes of The Office.

My wife loves to read and also takes tennis lessons with a group of women here in Peoria.

The trait(s) I admire in others:
Faith, Generosity, Love, and Work Ethic

People who inspired me (and how):
My grandfather, Harold Salem, inspired me to pursue a career of meaning and impact rather than salary.

My parents, Roy and Patty Becker, inspire me to live a life of faithfulness.

My wife, Kim Becker, inspires to live a life of love and compassion.
My kids, Salem and Alexa, inspire me to be the best version of myself that I can possibly be.

My neighbor in Vermont, June, inspired me to live a minimalist lifestyle.

Joe Darago, Executive Director of The Hope Effect, inspires me to work hard at serving others.

Scott Slocum, a Spiritual Mentor living in VT, inspires to dream big dreams for my life and talents.

And probably a hundred more that I could rattle off.

My guiding philosophy:
If we want to reach the end of our lives with minimal regrets, we choose well, we set aside lesser pursuits to seek meaning in our lives… and we do it every single day.

My advice to today’s youth:
The most important superpower of the 21st Century is the ability to eliminate distractions to pursue your greatest goals. No doubt, the distractions will change. So learning to focus is the most important skill you’ll ever learn.

Name a couple future goals:
This year, The Hope Effect has an exciting opportunity in Mexico to speak about the work we are doing to expand family-care for orphaned children to every state government in Mexico. We are looking forward to the opportunity to expand our work into new cities and states, while continuing to build a strong foundation in the eight cities we are currently active in around the world.

On average, family care costs 5-8 times less than institutional care.

Our work is a powerful solution both in Mexico and around the world that benefits the child, the government, and the entire community.

We have been in Chiang Mai, Thailand, since October 2021, and we expanded into Battambang, Cambodia, in October 2022. We are looking to further expand our reach in Southeast Asia in 2023, as well as actively looking for new opportunities here in the U.S.