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Can you get grant funding for your private practice? What is the problem that your private practice solves or tends to in your community? How can you find the best organizations to connect with in your wider community to reach more of your ideal clients?
In this podcast episode, LaToya Smith speaks about how to get grant funding for your practice with Dr. Omolara Uwemedimo.
Podcast Sponsor: Therapy Notes
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Meet Dr. Omolara Uwemedimo
Dr. Omolara Thomas Uwemedimo is a healthcare founder, social entrepreneurship coach, healthcare practice funding consultant and growth strategist for women of color in healthcare. She is also the host of the podcast, Funding Your Healthcare Vision.
Her career as a pediatrician spans almost 2 decades and includes her work as a public health researcher & professor for over a decade. Her work has been defined by a passion for social justice, serving as an advocate and working as a global physician across sub-Saharan Africa, Asia, and the Caribbean.
Visit Strong Children Wellness and Melanin & Medicine. Connect on Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
FREEBIE: Sign up for Dr. Omolara’s Workshop!
In This Podcast
- Vet your practice
- Identify your pipeline
- Partnership agreement
Vet your practice
We have to see whether your practice can be positioned as what we call a “social enterprise” … is your practice in any way taking care of a population that might be disadvantaged, neglected, [or] underserved? It doesn’t have to be that they’re low income, it could just be that … there’s a healthcare inequality.
Does your practice solve a solution problem? Does your practice offer a group of people in your community a direct service or solution to a need of theirs that either hasn’t been met before or is not met by the services already provided?
We need to stop explaining your practice as what you do and [rather] explain it as what’s the problem you solve.
Your chances are a lot higher for receiving grant funding for your private practice if you can prove that the work that you do directly serves a need that’s been either unaddressed or underrepresented in the past.
However, since there is a huge need for mental health services in general at the moment, most private practices might qualify, so give it a go either way.
Identify your pipeline
That pipeline is referring to [looking at] potential partner organizations, potential foundations who might fund [you] … and if any, grant opportunities.
Some of the research that you do is to identify your pipeline.
It’s a great process for you to assemble so that you know which of the already-existing organizations around you would be beneficial to partner with throughout the journey.
The nice thing about a partnership with a non-profit is that you can usually choose and partner up with a non-profit that already has a development officer or a grant writer.
You want to build out an executive summary which is your one or two-pager that you can give to different organizations to explain what you do, how you solve it, what the partnership would look like, and how much it is going to cost.
The grant writer is very pleased and happy to have that because now there’s no more back and forth. They can literally do their job and go to the funder with that in tow.
This is called packaging, how you wrap up your private practice and present it to the grant writer, which takes you into the next step, which is pitching.
This is your short and sweet attempt at connecting with your preferred organizations. It is something that you say to someone to explain:
- What you do
- Why it’s important
- What’s the impact it will have
During that time, if they’re interested, there will be a discussion [around], “Okay, this is what we can provide. This is what I can provide” … and you start to build out what the partnership terms look like.
You can find contract templates to make sure that you can share information with your new partnership, ensuring that the terms of how you’re going to work together and give services are clear.
Remember that this is something for your lawyer to do, and you can sit in on the discussion, but at the end of the day, your lawyer is the one who’s meant to sign off on the fine print.
You don’t have to always do this alone! You can create a workforce of interns or new employees to help you set out the plan.
These interns can help collect paperwork, reply to emails, and schedule calls, and so forth, helping to increase your reach and your growing network of connections.
That promotion part also includes [those interns] starting to get information from what’s happening through your partnership and getting that on LinkedIn so that you can attract more funders.
Useful links mentioned in this episode:
Check out these additional resources:
Meet LaToya Smith
LaToya is a consultant with Practice of the Practice and the owner of LCS Counseling and Consulting Agency in Fortworth Texas. She firmly believes that people don’t have to remain stuck in their pain or the place they became wounded. In addition to this, LaToya encourages her clients to be active in their treatment and work towards their desired outcomes.
She has also launched Strong Witness which is a platform designed to connect, transform, and heal communities through the power of storytelling.
Visit LaToya’s website. Connect with her on Facebook, Instagram, Strong Witness Instagram, and Twitter.
Apply to work with LaToya.
Email her at [email protected]
The Grow A Group Practice Podcast is part of the Practice of the Practice Network, a network of podcast seeking to help you market and grow your business and yourself. To hear other podcasts like the Practice of the Practice podcast, go to www.practiceofthepractice.com/network.
You are listening to the Grow A Group Practice Podcast, a podcast focused on helping people start, grow, and scale a group practice. Each week you’ll hear topics that are relevant to group practice owners. I’m LaToya Smith, a practice owner, and I love hearing about people’s stories and real-life experiences. So let’s get started
Welcome back to the Grow A Group Practice Podcast. I’m your host, LaToya Smith. You know we talk about all things private practice, what helps to grow, build, scale your business, but also the things that, from the nitty gritty, the nuts and bolts, the things that we don’t normally think about that will also help you to build a thriving practice. Today’s guest, you know I like to get on Instagram and if I think a practice looks dope, I’m going to reach out and I’m going to say, “Hey, what’s up?” Or anybody who has private practice. But today is one of those dope people that I have, I want to say met via Instagram and just start chatting. I guess my Instagram people may think I’m like the biggest extrovert. I’m not in in person, but the way I reach out to people, I guess it seems that way. So today’s guest is Dr., excuse me, I was going to say Miss, Dr. Omolara Uwemedimo straight out of New York. She’s going to tell us, Omolara, please introduce yourself to our audience and then we’re just going to jump into our chat.
[DR. OMOLARA UWEMEDIMO]
Hi everyone, and thanks so much, LaToya. So, yes, I’m Dr. Omolara Uwemedimo. I’ve been a pediatrician for, think I’m pinning 20 years now, which makes me seem really old. But I’m also the CEO and Founder of Strong Children Wellness, which is a multi-site healthcare practice based in New York, where we integrate physical health, mental health, and social care services. Then I’m also the CEO and founder of Melanin & Medicine, which is a funding consulting firm, specifically for mission driven healthcare practices that want to serve low income communities and helping them get grant funding so they can do it without busting at the seams. So that’s our work.
You know what, before we get started, like you got one of those jobs like when you were younger, people were like, I want to be a pediatrician when I grow up. Like, you really became one.
So that was me. I was five. I said to my mom, I’m going to be a pediatrician and a ballet dancer, and a U-interpreter.
It’s not too late. Are you doing ballet?
I did, I did.
Okay, and you opted for the doctor. I see, I see what you did there. It’s good, it’s a good thing. So tell us about, before we dive into Melanin & Medicine, let’s just talk about the field of healthcare that you’re in. Where’d you begin seeing this need to even birth this other funding source?
Yeah, so it’s interesting because I’m the daughter of Nigerian immigrants and so a lot of my childhood was exposure to family members in Sub-Saharan Africa and actually going and visiting. That was when I started to encounter a lot of the health injustice and specifically got very, very much entrenched with global health. It was funny because over my medical school residency, I was traveling to multiple countries in Africa, in Asia, Latin America, Caribbean, and the interesting thing about this was that a lot of times it wasn’t actually the severity of the disease. It was the social environment and just the lack of access to specific things like food, housing, finances, of course, and employment. So when I returned back, because the first decade of my career was focused there, so when I returned back to the US like permanently, I realized I had always worked at hospitals. I realized that actually there, it’s not that dissimilar to working in low income communities.
I was seeing the same issues and realizing I was hitting a brick wall because most of what we were taught was focus on the physical health and let the social worker figure out what’s happening. And after the Affordable Care Act in 2016, we had a lot more people coming into primary care who fit the bill, who weren’t, who were having all of these unmet social needs and so that was when the bright idea of how could we bring in a way to address not just physical health, but address the things that actually really matter for patients? There’s a research already that shows only 20% of health outcomes are determined by clinical care. 80% of it is actually determined by where you live, your social environment, all of the other things that don’t happen inside of the clinical office. So that I started creating research projects to start to integrate a workforce to address that and then I hit a brick wall in the organization. I was like, I want to do this and I want to scale it this way. You know when you’re in certain places, there are certain barriers. So everything that I did and implemented, I always had to seek grant funding for. I’ve always had to. I was just, and as a researcher, I was just adept to, if there’s a problem and I want to start something, get other people’s money to do it.
So I was, that was it. So when I finally decided in 2019, I actually was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, which really just rocked my life and I had to go on medical leave because I had lost the ability to walk during that time, I came back with this vision of the way that I was providing care inside of this institution was not the way that I felt our patients needed it. I wanted to be closer to the community with organizations who really looked like the populations that we wanted to serve and also were, had the trust. So me and my co-founders decided to bring this crazy idea of taking physical health and bringing it into community-based organizations and that became the impetus for Strong Children Wellness. We got our first $125,000 grant just writing what the concept was and bringing it to a community partner. We got that money and we got a space equipped and got funding to cover a person, some personnel like nursing and we got started literally in the middle of the pandemic April, 2020.
Wow. That’s a lot of determination, a lot of stuff. First of all, let me just go back and just touch on like, I’m glad that you are doing better with your health. I know that’s because I imagine in 2019 now I imagine that was a tough time. For many reasons we didn’t know we’re about to enter into a pandemic, but you were dealing with your own personal health issues. So I’m glad that you’re doing better and feeling better. I just want to say that much.
So this is amazing. So you took, you were very, you knew what you wanted since the age of five, you focused on it, you traveled to Nigeria, you saw issues. I love the breakdown what you said, 20% is clinical, 80% is location and resources. And instead of overlooking that, you were like, nah, this is my work and this is what I’m going to do something about. So it sounds like what you really did, a lot of what you did is merging with agencies, organizations, people like myself, like a therapist, and said, listen, we are going to be boots on grounds in these communities and do some work.
That’s exactly the thought process. LaToya. It was very much, I think my focus, my passion was not the clinical medicine. My passion was the health and wellness of the patient. And once I was realizing the contributor to health and wellness of the patient was mostly happening through the partners who were very engaged, mental health partners, social service, behavioral health, that was when my attention was like, okay how can we make sure these people are able to do their work and how can we supplement it to really make sure that patients are getting a whole person approach? So that yeah, that’s exactly the thought process. And I would like to say that a lot of these innovations really came from my global health experience. It’s just, I think a lot of times people think, oh, the West or whatever is the innovator and other countries are following suit when it’s actually honestly the opposite, the innovations usually coming from a lot of these countries that have no choice but to be innovative because of the lack of resources and spending on healthcare.
So with that part being said, like how does one, even if it, for the audience listening, that therapists who are practices, who see a need in their community, who want to do, who want to, like myself, I always say I want to take therapy outside of these four walls right into certain spaces, what does that even look like to get funny? Because to me, even when we say that, it’s so overwhelming. I mean, it’s not like a pot, we wish there was a pot of gold if I walk outside right now and just sitting there and I can take it, not that easy.
No, it’s not. We did not have a pot of gold. And I will say some of the skills, which is now what I transfer over to a lot of my clients, did include like years and years of knowing how to put together basically like one pagers or two pages of what you do. But I have like a six-step approach in terms of how we do this in particular and the first thing I like to do is like vet your practice a little bit. So the first thing is that this is not, not all practices are created equal for grant funding. What I mean by that is that we have to see whether your practice can be positioned as what we call a social enterprise. So what does that mean? That means that is your practice in any way taking care of a population that might be disadvantaged, neglected, underserved? And it doesn’t have to be that they’re low income, it could be just that their access to care is definitely, there’s a healthcare inequity that happens. So a lot of times we have even high income black women who are dealing with maternal mortality just because of the fact that most practices don’t have OB/GYNs who look like them and can respond to them.
So it doesn’t have to do with that person being low income, but it does have to do with does your practice solve a social problem? So for me, the way I often say it to my clients is we need to stop explaining your practice as what you do and explain it as what’s the problem you solve. And that might not be the whole practice, it may be if I’m a pediatric practice, but I have a really great program that I serve asthmatics, do maybe the opportunity is actually partnering with an asthma nonprofit and being able to support the care of asthmatics. What does this look like? So basically the model that we utilize is not new. It’s something called fiscal sponsorship. I didn’t know that word when we first started it, but I learned it very quickly. Fiscal sponsorship is actually a method that individuals or nonprofits who don’t yet have their certification actually get a large nonprofit to basically cover them and they can access funds that way.
So the larger nonprofit is established and they can seek funds from a funder and basically channel those funds to the organization as in like a subcontract relationship. That’s the most familiar thing. So what I found out was, oh, this is not just available for individuals and nonprofits, it’s also available for for-profits too, as long as you have that contracting relationship. So the big thing that we try to do is try to identify what is the problem and the population you solve, what nonprofit or community organization is also addressing that population, but of course, not, does not have the resources to address the problem that you do. For example, we were providing primary care in the beginning and the nonprofit that we worked with was providing behavioral health services and social services but we were providing it for the same population.
So at baseline, that’s the first thing that we need to identify. For example, if you’re doing maybe aesthetics or you’re serving like other things that aren’t basically a social like need or health inequity, it’s going to be hard for you to potentially tap into this. I’ll say for mental health, it’s a slam dunk. Pretty much most mental health practices at this point, it’s a pandemic of mental, mental illness. So most of them qualify pretty much.
Okay. I love the idea of this partnership, like we don’t have to do it alone. You don’t have to recreate anything, link up with somebody else who’s doing, who has the same vision as you or interest and maybe not down to, hey, if you work with young people and we enjoy working with young people and we know that we can provide services over there, let’s go get it. Like, or if you serve, I was just speaking to somebody recently and they have a place that treats mainly men, but if I know that if my niche was working with men’s mental health, what a great place to dive into. So partnering up with somebody else and now it’s like not just two birds with one stone, but imagine it increases the population of people you can serve.
Exactly. A lot of times those people, what we found out working with our organization partner, a lot of those people would not end up in our clinic. Like they just, the barriers and the mistrust, sometimes it would, they would just not show up there. They’d rather go to the ER. So having leaning on the credibility and the established buy-in, that that organiz, that host organization, our partner organization has, is a great way to increase access to health services, especially for communities of color, which is one of my main focuses in this work.
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All right. So what’s the next step along our six point journey because I’m writing?
Yeah, so we started with position and I’ll walk through what the journey is and then we can go through it. But first we want to position our practice, right, which I talked about at length. The next thing we want to do is want to identify a pipeline. So that pipeline is referring to what are potential partner organizations, potential foundations who might fund us if we partner together, and if any grant opportunities. That’s actually some of the, like digging that sometimes now we have interns and other people who support us at Melanine & Medicine to do that for our clients. But it’s really easy, it’s a great process for you to start to assemble that. So we already know these are the potential places and opportunities that we can partner for.
The third piece is packaging. This is the part that everyone like says, okay, I can’t do this. We don’t ask our practitioners to become grant writers. That is not their gift. So the nice thing about partnership with a nonprofit is that usually you want to choose a nonprofit that already has a development officer or a grant writer. So the goal for us is what we teach them to do is build out what we call an executive summary. That basically is a one or two pager that we help people build through prompts and that you can give to multiple different organizations, which just encapsulates, this is what we do, this is the problem, this is how the partnership would look and this is how much it’s going to cost. The grant writer is very pleased and happy to have that because now there’s no more back and forth. They can literally do their job and go to the funder with that actually like in tow maybe with just a few tweaks. So that is something that we talk about packaging.
The other piece is the, actually the pitching, the elevator pitch. We help people create that to create the connection with their nonprofits. So these are the packaged assets that we’re helping people to build. Elevator pitch isn’t a long thing, it’s like something that you’re actually saying, but we help them to put the bullets together so they can really quickly say what they do, why it’s important, what’s the impact of it, and have that every time they’re reaching out to nonprofits to help ensure that they can make those connections. Once you package, then the next part is we need to present the opportunity and these are discovery calls that you’ll have and the fun times where you’re explaining to the nonprofit what you do and it’s the partnership process. During that time, if they’re interested, there will be a discussion about, okay, this is what we can provide, this is what I can provide. You start to build out what the partnership terms look like.
What I will say is the next prong is the actual partnership agreement, so that is a legal, legalese, but one of the nice things around that is there are many nonprofits who already have the contracts, which, but we also have templates for our clients. But these are just contract templates to make sure that you guys can share information to make sure that the terms of how you’re going to share, give your services is clear. That’s not something for you to do. That’s something for your lawyer to do The last thing is promotion. So what I like to say is you can’t do this alone. Maybe the beginning, you do it once and it’s like, okay, that was nice but not anymore.
So what we do is we actually try to get interns, and I love this process particularly not only because it helps you, but also it’s creating this workforce that is now getting exposed to this is how we should deliver healthcare. So we actually help people source the, like either MPH interns or MHA interns that are in their locality and then they become part of your staff and you can give like a very small paid stipend and they’re able to support doing their research, making those calls, getting you scheduled, all of those things that can now put gasoline on the fire. That promotion part also includes them starting to get information from what’s happening through your partnership and getting that on LinkedIn so you can attract more funders. So I’ll say that actually for us, we’ve gotten about $300,000 through, in funding through DMs that came to us basically, because we were sharing, I was sharing on my personal page, this is what we’re doing, this is why this is important, this is the power of this. That’s what attracts funders to say, hey, they’re doing something innovative and I want to see, would you be interested in applying for this funding opportunity?
And it sounds like, like going back to what you said a few minutes ago, it’s the idea of like, listen, we’re at a point now where most people are, that’s not true, a lot of people are speaking about mental health. So they are going to be attracted to the group practice owners who are listening that are like, well I wonder if they would be, yeah, they will. Now you got to find a way to get in front of them, like what you said, okay, you can have the package together, the pitch together. Now you got to be able to present and with hopes that they’ll want to reach more people with adding this mental health component.
One of the really important things that always is a fun time is when talking with practice owners about, so let’s just move onto your LinkedIn, just let’s just go over there and when we go there and it’s like, okay, when was the last time you touched this? Because really important is that funders, everybody, like once you get somebody’s name, if they have a LinkedIn profile, it’s going to show up on page one. It’s, that’s the SEO and it’s really important for, just a 201 tip, not 101 is to get your LinkedIn together and make sure that it actually is congruent with what you’re doing right now and it also at the headline talks about how you help people. So it should be a package where when somebody sees what you pitched and they go to your LinkedIn page, it’s exactly what you like —
On social media then too, like if I’m pitching this to this one group, my social media better show that I’m doing it. Not just I’m trying to come get your money.
Correct, correct. I mean, ultimately what I will say is that we do have, we don’t serve them anymore, like people who don’t have practices yet because that’s a whole nother can of worms and a steep learning curve to get to the funding. But what I will say is definitely like, even if you maybe haven’t gotten awards or done that, just being able to say that you have a profile that shows that you either are doing work in this space and then the other thing that really knocks people out is if they don’t have a company profile. You don’t have to even post anything on it. You just have to have it and have it connected to your personal profile so people know there’s a legitimacy to it.
Yeah. And the other part I imagine too, like if you’re going to be doing community work. Show me some photos of, like some real photos with your staff out there. Don’t just be like we do it and nobody knows you. Like I got to know that you are making your space or showing up in this community.
And one last thing that I will say, just to put some color on this is also think about your partner. You can’t just partner with anybody for this process because if you’re nonprofit partner is on the struggle bus, you’re not getting funding. You have to vet that partner and see do they have a history of getting funding? How big is their annual revenue? One nice thing that you can do because of the nonprofit is you can go to 990 Finder. You can put in the name of the nonprofit. It will give you the tax and all, how much they made, everything you need to, it’ll give you salaries, how much they made, everything that you need to know because that has to be made public and transparent for nonprofits. 990 Finder. And a big red flag is if you put in the name and you don’t see the 990 Finder, that is a big red flag that probably that might be [crosstalk].
And not that, wait, that’s important. That’s a huge, I thank you so much for saying that, and not that we’re just seeking spaces out to see where the money, because you never know how you can link up. But what you’re saying is, if I’m connecting with the partner with the hopes that they’ll help me either be partner and provide grant money or help us get grant money to do a greater work. Like anything, you don’t want to partner with somebody who’s not really doing the work or doesn’t have the backing like period. So it is, this is like building with wisdom.
Building with wisdom, really thinking through the fact that our, my goal in the work that I was doing in my practice was like, this is an amazing model. I want this to get out to as many people as possible. Of course, we have to be strategic around, okay, who has the ability to get that large funding because the grants that we go for are a $100,000, 150,000. Like we’re trying to get large grants because doing health services is capital intensive. So we need to be with people who funders trust to give them, here’s 150,000, here’s 250,000. That is, that’s just really important for us to do and also to get out the mindset of running practices that are underfunded.
So in a sense, I mean I think it’s hard when you think about, okay, grant writing, it seems so technical, it seems so big, it seems so scary, but I love the fact that we can connect with somebody who is already doing and just say, “Hey, we’re bringing a component that you may not have. Listen, this is how we can benefit you.” That goes along with the picks that you talked about. This is not just like we’re trying to come take everything, we’re trying to show you how we can be stronger together.
So now what if a group practice owner is listening and they’re like, oh my goodness, she is speaking everything I’ve been thinking about. How can you help them? So how can Melanin & Medicine help this group practice owner who’s listening right now?
Okay, so the first baby step is that you can go, we have a mini workshop. It is on our main like quick links. It’s called, the quick link is bitly/melaninandmedicine. So you can go there, or it’s on our Instagram, it’s on our Instagram bio, so you can go there and you’ll see the mini workshop and you can click that free. The 30 minutes is that first part that I told you, how do you position your practice? Because before we talk about grant, we need to make sure that you can position your practice around this. Once you watch that, if now you are like, oh yep, I’m ready, it’ll push you to be able to submit an intake and then we can actually talk about your practice and like see, okay, can we help you? I also have a podcast, I remember you mentioned and on the podcast, all I do is talk about funding. That’s all I do. So I try to leave a lot of gems there, but in terms of actually being able to support, I always say people watch the mini workshop, go through that, it’s less than 30 minutes, and then if you’re ready, if you think like, oh yes, I’m ready, then just reach out to us, it’ll prompt you to do that.
I just want to encourage our listeners too, because a lot of times we think, you think private practice, you think of office, you think plush furniture and this is all we’re doing, but there’s so much greater work to be done that I’m not sure, I don’t hear a lot of those conversations of like going out. Or you could still get a grant and still be in your office depending on the relationship you have with the partner or they’re sending people to you. You know what I mean? So I wish we talked more about the importance of partnering.
I will say that this has reduced marketing. Like we hardly market honestly because we have so many partners now that —
You highly market for your physicians —
For my practice, oh yeah. Because now we have so many partners that it’s almost like we have to be like, okay, let’s, like we have to of course, build up. So because those partnerships can look anyway, they can be referral partnerships like you mentioned. They can be places where we actually embed and create a space where you’re consistently providing support in their space, but they can also look like this hybrid where one of the things that we’ve done is we got, we have a contract with a foster care agency and we actually hired someone through that grant fund to outsource to the agency to be there twice a week, to actually provide services. So any of those types of partnerships, the continuum to really embedded, fully integrated to like a referral partnership, all of those are on the table through this and it’s really just about making the process a lot easier for their clients to get into care, especially into mental health, which we know is an issue.
I will say also that using this model, it does, a lot of times the nonprofits that you’re working with, most often the majority of their clients have Medicaid. So it is something for you to be cognizant of. The other group that a lot of these clients are uninsured and potentially one of the things that we’ve seen which has looked great, is being able to get a retainer, a contract with the organization that covers a certain amount of visits that they can send. So those are just ways to navigate it. But this is, the nice thing about this is this, there is no cut and dry way to do this. This requires conversation and you guys being able to build out what you think is the best way for the partnership to look.
Before I ask you how people can find you, I just want to say this much too, make sure that you’re building with wisdom. So don’t just go to any organization, that you have a bunch of money that doesn’t align with your niche, your vision, your values and your mission. Make sure that when you do partner, it makes sense and that organization is going in the direction that you want to go in because you don’t want to build wrong and have to like break up the partnership. You don’t want the way your practice is seen in the community to be negative because you’ve linked up with the wrong people. So Doc, tell people how they can find you. For the ones that are like, my goodness, I need to contact her today for this many workshop. I need to see what’s up. I’m trying to start building.
Well you can go to melaninandmedicine.co and then we hang out on Instagram and LinkedIn of course. So feel free, my DMs are open. Or I should say my team’s DMs are open? Sometimes it’s me there, sometimes it’s not. But melaninandmedicine.co is the website and you can find all our links and everything there.
Is ‘and’ spelled out A-N-D?
Got it. Well, Doc, thank you so much for being my guest. I will be chatting with you. Please don’t think this is the last time because if I get something to say you, once we hit pause, imma stop. But I appreciate you and all the wisdom you’re dropping and the wonderful work that you’re doing, like it’s real, it’s genuine. I can feel the passion. So thank you so much.
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