MAHWAH, N.J. – Derek Thoelen, owner of Oasis Pool Service in Mahwah, will donate $10 for every pool he opens this season to an autism organization.
Which one? That’s up to his 22-year-old brother, Logan, who has autism.
“He wants to put it toward a charity that is more research-based,” said Derek Thoelen, 26. “If the money goes to something that could make progress with the disorder and help him and others in the future, that would be great.”
The two brothers have enjoyed a tight relationship all their lives. They play sports together, Derek said.
“My friends and my older brother's friends were always good at including him,” he added. “He’ll hang out with us if we have friends over or if we go out as a group.”
Since Logan always has wanted to work, Derek has given his brother a job on the seven-person Oasis crew. Three days a week, Logan does maintenance vacuums. On the other two, he may organize the construction yard or help on another crew.
Logan is the type of person, Derek said, who will exactly repeat whatever he is shown.
“He’ll never be by himself, but he’s a hard worker,” Derek said.
Derek, who graduated Mahwah High School in 2007 and holds an MBA from William Paterson University, left the corporate world. He worked for Express Scripts and then Bloomberg LP. But he just wanted to pursue the dream he’s always had — to be an entrepreneur.
At 7 years old, he started a daily dog walking business in his neighborhood for 10 dogs. He charged a dollar or two per walk. When he got older, he’d do fall and spring landscape cleanups for 30 people.
“I worked in pools for a while over the summer,” he said. “I liked them and I was good at them, so I just wanted to open up my own business.”
Oasis is now in its sixth pool season.