The LoCo Experience

EXPERIENCE 62 | Nicole Armstrong, Jenny Strange, & Shawn Keefer, The Leadership Team at The Matthews House

May 09, 2022 Alma Ferrer
The LoCo Experience
EXPERIENCE 62 | Nicole Armstrong, Jenny Strange, & Shawn Keefer, The Leadership Team at The Matthews House
Show Notes Transcript

New Episode with Nicole Armstrong, Jenny Stetson, and Shawn Keffer the Leadership Team of The Matthews House, a nonprofit organization in Fort Collins, serving all of Larimer County. Nicole is the Executive Director, Jenny's the Operations and Development Director and Sean is the Experiential Education Director. This was my first three guests podcast!

We get into what the Matthews House does, who they serve, success stories, and the why behind it. We discuss development of new programs over time that this organization has continued to do and how they innovate and find new ways of helping families escape poverty, and help children escape neglect and abuse. Each of these three has a passion-filled story about their why of being a part of this organization. 

I hope you enjoy this episode. I had a lot of fun with these three and I hope you learn a lot about the Matthews House and choose to become a volunteer or supporter.  

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My guest on today's podcast, where Nicole Armstrong, Jenny Stetson. And Sean, Kieffer the leadership team of the Matthews house, a nonprofit organization in Fort Collins, serving all of Lermer county. And Nicole is the executive director. Jenny's the operations and development director. And Sean is the experiential education director. And we get into what the Matthews house does, who they serve some success stories. Um, the why behind. Development of new programs over time that this organization has continued to do and to innovate and find new ways of helping families, escape poverty, and help children, escape, neglect, and abuse. And so, um, we also get into the why of the individuals. In the room, this was my first, uh, three guests podcast. And so if it feels like I'm bouncing around a bit, hopefully I didn't overcompensate. Um, but each of these three has a passion filled story about their why of being a part of this organization. Um, we close with, uh, the first singing, I think I've done. Oh, maybe since the brothers fountain, but. When we think together, uh, lean on me. And so I hope you enjoy this episode. I had a lot of fun with these three and I hope you, uh, learn a lot about the Matthews house and choose to become a volunteer or supporter. Thanks. Welcome back to the local experience podcast. This is your host Curt Baer, and I'm joined today by three guests. Nicole Armstrong, the executive director of the Matthew's house, Jedi Stetson strange the operations and development director and Sean Kieffer the experiential education director. And, uh, Nicole, why don't you start by just saying what everybody does in their specific role? Like describe Jenny and Sean, as well as your own. I get to describe Jenny. Oh, this is exciting. Um, Jenny's been a member of our teammates family for the past, about seven years. Um, she has a diverse background. Um, she's actually a little linguistic teacher. Fascinating. Right. Um, but she actually holds a job at the Matthew's house as our HR and our operations director. And when she's referred to, as an HR, her name is Jennifer, not Jenny. So if you have HR questions, please refer to her as Jennifer. Um, please. Any other opportunities? She goes by Jenny and you'll hear her beautiful laugh. Um, but she gets to, uh, work alongside all of us and do the fundraising and the contributions component of our agency and making sure all of our. Sites are running. Our staff are happy. That is her job every day of the week. Okay. And Sean, Sean with us for nine years. So he came to the agency and did direct line work early on, meaning that he worked directly with youth. And now he has the opportunity to be our experiential education director in that means he gets to do all the fun things. He, he gets to hiking trip back taking guitar, lessons, music. He kind of gets to pick whatever the heck he wants to do, um, envision and dream. And so he doesn't want to lose that title ever. So he just morphs it. He has other job duties, but yeah, he keeps that title. So people think he has a fun job. Yeah. And then what's the executive director. Do I have the opportunity to, and bonds and hangs out for a big office in the corner, in the corner? Absolutely. And I eat BombBomb every day. I do candy. I do. We do. We have a substantial amount of candy at our site. Um, if you ever want some calm to just replenish, um, we are, we have the opportunity to run our agency. Um, I am out in the community, working with individuals, um, educating them about who we are, what we do when we do it along with supporting our staff. We have a phenomenal staff that I get to work alongside and be a part of the family. I often tell people my title is just my title. I'm a part of a larger team. I just get to have the title of executive director, which is there's only one of them at the agency, but really we all have amazing jobs. And I am so lucky. I've been with the agency 14 years. Um, so next month will mark my 14th year and I've worn almost every hat or have supervised almost every position within our agency. So we have a staff of nearly 65 employees at this time when I started, we had seven employees, so we've grown exponentially. Um, and I get to the honor of walking with them and working with our staff. And I'm told that, uh, Sean can really succinctly describe the mission and the vision and how the Matthews house adds value to the community. Is that right? Sean? He's a wordsmith or he's fabulous at that. Good. Thank you. Oh, no pressure. Yeah, succinctly. So, um, the Matthews house started to take care of youth, um, that didn't have any supports specifically came out of a conversation with a kid who had aged out of foster care into no support and homelessness and. Has since grown to encompass the entirety of the support system for youth. So in order to keep a youth from going off the rails, having a family, that's not going off the rails is an important aspect. And then also families now who see in themselves, something that they want to amend some struggle that they have can come and self-refer. So we went from in trouble and needing help to now preventing trouble. And we really want to be able to bring those services to every family that we can in the community. That's willing to take part. No, my wife and I are, uh, we don't have any children, um, but we do have problems. Can we come? Jim would love that. I know. I think you should probably go to Nicole. She's been here the longest and has the most, I kind of want to, to our lessons, if that will help you can. Absolutely. For sure. I heard you sing the other nights. So yeah, that was a fun event we had, um, Sean, I'm sorry, you weren't able to be there. Um, but yeah, we just had a Grove party, a fundraiser for the Matthew's house that Jenny was instrumental in helping to put together. And, uh, we had 75 people or something at, uh, sweetheart winery. And, uh, yeah, I got a lot of kudos on my singing voice. After that I was, I was like, maybe I should start a band. I told Jill I was going to drop everything else and work on my music. Jill will love that. You know, she follows your dreams. She is a faithful woman. That's fair. That's fair. I am blessed in that. Right. And you and Jill started within probably months of each other. Is that true? That is true. Jill and I started at the Matthys house at very similar times and worked together for several years. Yeah. This is my wife, Jill honey bear. Uh, sometimes I refer to her and so I want to kind of walk with the journey a little bit. Um, and, and maybe we'll do that somewhat chronologically. You've been there the longest, Nicole. So what was your job? You mentioned you've like done most, every job or overseeing it. Um, w what was your very first job and what were you doing and what was the organization focused on it? When I started at the agency in may of 2008, we really only focused on empowering youth programs. So we only were serving about 60 youth in our community who had been in the foster care system who were part of the division of youth services, or just that large in our community that needed additional support. And so my role was to work alongside these youth and support them through their transitions, into adulthood, into self-sufficiency. That was the basis of how I started at. So really trying to divert from a path that might involve teenage motherhood or homelessness or drug addiction or alcohol problems, things like that because of that lack of guidance into being somebody that saw themselves as a contributing member of society and could plot a path to that. Absolutely many of the youth come or came to the agency at that time, just needing that supportive adult. And so being able to offer that supportive adult role for the individual and support them with those needs was what my job was at the time. Um, some of the youth that I had the opportunity to interface with are still involved in my life today. One lives up in the Leadville area and when I travel to grand junction, I frequently stop and see her. Um, they get Christmas cards. The reality of who we are as an agency allows us to have those relationships and continue to be able to support each other. Um, even though I've transitioned, uh, into different roles within the agency, that relationship doesn't go away and we can continue including our administrative assistant. So our administrative assistant, um, for Jenny and I, she is one of my former kiddos that I worked with. And it's incredibly enriching to sit with an individual who aged out of the foster care system themselves, and now is working and has so much knowledge of the inner workings of our agency, but also is very much part of the intimate knowledge of from payroll to the day to day workings of the agency. And to be able to support an individual in that space is incredible. And so we, as an agency have employed a variety of paths, youth or participants to be able to come alongside with that lived experience and be able to provide back in that space and who can understand a young person in relative distress and maybe some hopelessness feelings. And nobody's there for me better than someone that. Thinking those same thoughts, you know, and I've been able to adjust absolutely. As a foster parent, myself of a teenager, I often go to Marianna and say, Hey Marianna, could you please help me understand what is going on here? And it's incredible to flip the role and to have her be an advisor to me after so many years of stepping in that role as a mentor to her, to now, she has the opportunity to mentor and support me in the role as I, I give you a perspective that you didn't even have probably when you were in that space. Absolutely. There are many aspects of the job that we have been providing in our community that I wasn't aware of until I became a foster parent. And I became aware of some of the system changes that need to occur, that impact, um, the youth that we serve. And so Marianna has been instrumental in supporting and educating me in a different way than I could have ever imagined before I became a foster parent. Cool. Very cool. And Sean, you came next on board. What was your very first job at the Matthew's house? My very first job was I carried a caseload. Um, but I was, you were at Chafee worker, right? Yeah. Majority of my work was working with kids who are in the foster care system. Okay. Right. So there was a delineation in the agency at that point that is not relevant anymore, but there was a youth side and then a family side and I came on on the family. So I carried a caseload just like Nicole, but the demographics were a little bit different. Yeah. Were justice involved? Um, or there was abuse and neglect in the home concerns like that. And so they were referred through department of human services, but the kid actually hadn't maybe been in juvie or, or whatever kind of thing maybe had oh, either way. Yeah. Yeah. So foster youth can come to us regardless of whether oh, just period. Yeah. Because they are foster youth. We serve them. Um, other referral sources are maybe because of something more external. Right. So I worked with the youth and it was kind of a new, uh, project, I guess, the family team. Yeah. Yeah. Um, because it was youth first and then families. And so you were part of a kind of that neck, that first expansion of service, or pretty close to the start of it. Yeah. Yeah. And so what was that? Um, was there a lot of like creation of what does this look like? It seems like the Matthew's house has been an organization that had to kind of learn as it goes, and as it discovered new unmet needs, it's like, okay, so what's the right way to approach that. W well, yeah, we, I mean, my first experience was coming in. I was given a caseload, it was a smaller case load. It was going to build over time, but I was assigned kids. And then my supervisor at the time gave me the files and then a handful of like errand office supplies. And th, and then I started have you deal with a much different onboarding process now than we did at the time, but it was, yeah. Just go hang with kids, get to know the families and see what they need to do. You were like a fresh graduate of a social work program or something that yes. You know, if only I would've had some frame of reference. No, I came in from, but prior to the Matthew's house, I, um, worked for a company called an organization. Non-profit called mosaic in Loveland. Okay. Um, and so I had just come out of helping manage a group home for, um, adults with special needs. I see. So it was a pretty market difference. Yeah. They were, they were a captive audience. Right. Then moved to, trying to chase kids around Larimer county to find them fair enough. Fair enough. And, and Jenny, um, came along, you know, uh, several years after that. What, um, I guess describe the organization at that time, as well as your, your entry role. Yeah, we were, um, relatively larger when Nicole first started. Um, I would say, cause I immediately took over payroll when I first started. Um, and we, I think it was about 50, 55 staff at the time. Yeah, definitely. Um, that was 2015. And so I came in just as I was, my role was a part-time administrative assistant because I was getting my master's degree at CSU thinking I was going to go off and teach English after I was done. Um, because I had done that previously. That's my, um, previous profession. And so I fell in love the first week I started. Um, and it was, you just got a little job, the administrative assistant kind of thing. Yeah. Yeah. That's how it started. I mean, I remember that day quite well. Um, Denise NIGA was our associate director and then of course, Jerry sh uh, Schmitz the executive director at the time and found her, but, uh, I was their assistant, so I was brought in just to, um, help them out part-time and after, so yeah, after I graduated with my masters, after two years, I went full-time. So that's what led to the operations. Okay. And that was your, was your transition point basically once you graduated, came on full-time in that operations role, because I fell in love with the mission. So, and, and our staff are just incredible. Like you, I sit with Nicole and Sean, who've been with the agency for years. That's hard to find it in, in the nonprofit world. And I've worked for nonprofits since I was 18 and it's very turnover is high. And so to see the value that we, especially Nicole, like the value she puts into her staff, showing that value to them, people want to stay, they feel like they're, um, they're so valued and loved. And so people end up staying Shawn's here nine years. We have 17 plus staff that have been with us three plus years. Our retention rate is sorry. I'm getting into numbers. Well, you love the data too. So I know the data more than me. I know I ended up, well, let's say it speaks volumes nine, 8.6, our retention rate. So 98.6. So our staff are just so loved and you feel loved too. And then, and then you pour that into your participants, you know, and I see that every day with our staff, I hear stories because as the development director, you hear those stories, you know, so it's just powerful. So one thing led to another and then, you know, oh no, I'm not at all. No, I want to be heard element director. No, I actually called her and I said, gosh, I was 20 elected who I want to be our development director. And she's like, oh, who? And I said, you, you are going to be our development director. You have nowhere. No, like you don't know how to be a development director, but I think exactly. I was like, the thing that matters the most is that you're so personable and people love you unconditionally. Um, and so. That's all that matters is, you know, how to do relationships. And so that's who we are as a foundation. And we are, it's like, you can do that. I'm not off my rocker. Right. We got some construction going on upstairs, so we'll just keep going through it. But I think that's amazing. I think it's, so I wanted to ask a question and before I forget it, when I describe, try to describe the Matthew's house succinctly, I, I describe it kind of like, um, it's, it's a human services organization kind of in the traditional sense, however, it's relationship focused and to some comparison where people might try to hide their challenges from the system, um, the Matthew's house, uh, creates a safe place for the can reveal them and find resources and partnerships to navigate within the system and even plot a path out of the system, because it gets its little tentacles on people and makes it hard to escape and people fear that. And so that's part of why they hide. Do you agree with that shot? Yeah, totally. I think Jenny should write that down. Yes. Really good. You can listen back to it later. Um, yeah. I, I think a distinction for us that I, I value so greatly is that we are a human services organization. And a lot of times that looks like the department of human services as an example, um, where w do getting into. Automatically puts a microscope over your entire family existence and also someone with a level of power. Take your kid away. Yeah. A lot of times, right. It come the very start of that relationship between a participant and, uh, an organization like that is, um, combative, right. Or fraught. Yeah. And what we have is no power. If a person says, no, thanks. Then we say, let us know when you're ready. Yeah. And if something, if they tell us something with very few exceptions, we don't have to tell anybody else. Yeah. It's a, it's a relationship and it's protected and it's safe. That's cool. So what did, what did Jenny say? Um, she was actually on vacation. She was on vacation in Montana and she was like, okay, Nicole, I'll think about this for a couple minutes. And for a couple of hours, she got off and she talked to her husband and her husband said she got off her rocker. She's for that, what's wrong with you. And Nicole knows what she's talking about. He did. He actually did say those things. So I'm going to come back to the Matthew's house a little bit, but I want to kind of learn a little bit about these weird people that have, uh, made it such a life's mission to impact people in this way. Um, and I choose to use Jenny first, the linguist. Um, tell me, tell me, like where you grew up, where did you go to third grade and St. John's Lutheran third grade? Um, I grew up, I grew up in a small town. You would call, I would say it's like size of Fort Collins, but a little bit smaller in Florida, just south of university of Florida and just north of Orlando. So I grew up and, um, very interesting. It was still segregated when I grew up by the way. So, um, the highway separated, um, w was the separation. And so I grew up with that and I also grew up hearing from my mom that, um, that just a love of people, no matter if they live on the other side of the highway or, or this side of the highway, um, I have so many stories about that I can go into, but I lived in a very small, small, well, we, um, I was on a basketball team in my, uh, at my high school and Ocala and I was the only, um, Um, girl on the basketball team and the wrong side of the tracks and well was where you live. No, no, I crossed, I crossed out. Yeah, I crossed the highway. And so, um, but, but, uh, it was, I, I had a lot of questions when I was in high school about all of that. So my friends were predominantly black and so, um, I was ridiculed for that. Um, my, I would bring them back to my house for, for just get togethers, the whole team. And my mom would be pulled aside afterwards and said, why did you bring all those black people into our neighborhood? It's a white neighborhood that you can't do that again. My mom told them you need to move. Then she goes, because this will continue to happen. So I grew up in that kind of atmosphere in town. And I, I grew up in a home that just, my mom loved everyone. No matter if you're white, if you're black, if you're brown, she, she, um, oh yeah. Amazing, amazing woman. So it was a single parent single parent home. Yeah. I grew up in a single parent home. Um, my, my, uh, dad was quite abusive, so I had a very traumatic childhood, but then when they divorced, it was, it was, it was wonderful in a way, because we were free in a way from that. But, um, so I, I grew up there. She did not, she did not whatsoever. No one supported her outside of my uncle and my aunt. My mom was pretty much told to go buy, buy from the church. She was, um, because she divorced my dad. So they told her that it's not appropriate for you to be divorced. And so we, um, my, my brother was, um, severely abused and I'll just say that, uh, he was severely abused and no, my mom was searching for mentors for him. And no one stepped forward. It was very difficult time for her and for our family. So, um, but then we found a church that was our family. Um, and, and just, we grew up in that church in my teenage years and then through college, but yeah, it was a small town. That's where I grew up. It was, I learned a lot at a young age, but, um, I wouldn't change it for anything. Um, my mom was our rock and, uh, she got us through some really hard times in my family. So yeah, I didn't realize I was going to go into all that, the hero in your life like her. So it's like, she was probably a hero and example to even many of those neighbors that wouldn't say something, but saw her as somebody that exhibited that loved. Did she, did people adore, adore my mom still to this day? Yeah, I believe it. Um, top of that, Sean, um, a similarity. Is the, the race thing I grew up in or started growing up in Cincinnati. That's where I was born. We moved to Loveland when I was seven. So it was a short time that I was there, but yeah, I had started school and very similarly it was me, another girl and the teacher who were white. Um, and so moving to Loveland where, I mean, Larimer county is still 98%, 96%. It's white bread. Yeah, totally. Yeah. So starting school and coming home, uh, my mom said I came home and said our black people, it's just not allowed, you know, cause it was so radically different, but that's where the story are similarities. It's really interesting. And you guys are both like sometimes in regards to the race conversation, um, I kind of think let's just quit talking about it and it would be better. And I think that shows kind of my level of ignorance about how much real racism there, at least not that long ago remained in places like Cincinnati and places like Florida. Yeah. And that was in the nineties when that happened, my family. Right. And so, you know, shame on me a little bit for that level of ignorance because you know, I, I was raised like you, Jenny. You know, that don't matter, you know, you love everybody and, but I've never really experienced it even secondarily. Right? Like, whereas you guys really saw it firsthand and years later. So well into my twenties, I I'd grown up Loveland, graduated to Fort Collins. I've since realized that's not an actual, like, upgrade, it's just different. Right. But when I was a high schooler, for sure, Fort Collins was where everything was a little bit cooler. Yeah. But I moved in, I took a short-term I had a friend who was studying abroad in Australia. And so I took his room and my roommate was black. And I went in thinking I grew up since then, you know, I had best friends who were black when I was a kid. This is no big deal. But that amount of time separated from the experience of being with people of color different than, than me. Um, I realized really quickly I was walking on eggshells and really unsure about how to engage with this great guy named John. And we had a wonderful time, but my trepidation was, I had no idea I was going to have any. Yeah. Yeah. Interesting. And like, did you have sensation of. Your white friends, like dodging, hanging out with you or anything like that? You can no, nothing, none of that. It was really your own mental stories or not stories even, but just terror of offending or overstepping somehow or, or something. And it is an important conversation to have, and we deal with it in our agency too. I think a large extent for people who are in Larimer county, I don't think it's, I mean, we're not an inner city, um, situation, uh, um, but generally speaking, like you definitely serve more, especially Hispanic, but probably some black, more, more, more diverse client base than the average population. Right. I think we are exposed to it more than probably most organizations in town, but just the, the, the lack of exposure makes it there's nowhere, no way to practice, how to, how to think through it or how to engage with people. Like it's all, there's a lot of hypothetical and in the zeitgeists the racial stuff is a big, big topic that I don't know, it's sorta like, you're not going to get good at basketball, learning how basketball works. You have to actually play it and engage it. And I think, um, having, being at our agency has been a real blessing for me to have exposure that I wouldn't normally have had. Yeah. Middle-class privileged white. That's been probably my. Things of this past year is Alma who you guys have at least met, you know, has grown, grew up mostly in a Hispanic environment. And her parents came from Mexico city and, and whatever. And she's very open, you know, when we can have very open conversations about what is, you know, we're having a Cinco de Mayo Freethink here on May 5th, you know, and, and it was like, well, you know, yes, you can do that. And it's all cool to serve margaritas and stuff, but, you know, stop short of any kind of cultural appropriation or any thing like that. Like Cinco de Mayo, isn't even really a Mexican holiday for the whole country and all your gringos don't really understand, you know, she didn't, it doesn't call me a gringo. I called myself that. Um, but anyway, so Sean, thanks for sharing that. I think it's a significant awareness element, uh, in any community really. And, and as our communities and I hope they only continue to get more and more diverse here, but also everywhere. It really, because I think it's just so valuable to have a real melting pot. That's part of what makes Fort Collins great is it's a melting pot, but you know, it's all white cheeses. I like to say the white cheese fondue. Anyway, Nicole, would you, uh, same question. Where'd you come from? Where did I come from? I came from California. Um, I was born there, but raised in Greeley. My family moved to Greeley early on when I was about three. Um, they owned a restaurant and so my family, my. Didn't own a restaurant in California. My parents bought a restaurant in Greeley, Colorado decided it came to Colorado. It's exactly. We have no family at that time in our community. They just thought my sisters and I should join them in Colorado. So I have two sisters. I have a sister who's 15 months older than me and a twin sister. So my parents were a little crazy and had three babies in 15 months. Um, so I grew up here. I grew up actually in very similar. I grew up at title one schools. I grew up as the minority. Um, and so was introduced early on to diversity in my life. Um, I was in Canton Yetta as I went to Spanish mass. That was my upbringing in that space in was really enriching. And so I would say for me, going to college outside of the well county, the Greeley area was actually eye opening because it was more prominently. Yes. Um, and so just being able to have that as a foundation, um, has been paramount, um, of what I do and the beliefs and the beliefs that we run our agency within. And, uh, all people are equal and then it's important to have the opportunity to serve in that nobody is better than each other. And so it's important to bring that equity into our spaces when we have the opportunity to have those conversations. Yeah. Thanks. That was a great tool to learn about. And what did you do before the Matthews. I have only ever had two jobs in my life. Okay. Um, I worked at target. I hae started at hurricane, um, when I was 17 years old as a seasonal worker and was kept on, um, actually worked my way up and, um, target paid for my college. That was before they pay for everybody's college. Now you had to be a manager to get your college paid for. So my college was paid for through target, and then I transitioned to the, the Matthew's house, um, and have never left. And so I have a pretty vanilla past of my jobs have much of like, I've worked. I have not worked a variety, but I met my husband at target. Um, we dated for over a year without telling anyone as I was his manager. And we didn't want to tell anyone, you know, so we just didn't say anything. I saw you as a rule follower kind of, but I did not follow the rules when it came to that. It was kind of fun. Nobody knew we just kind of secretly exactly for over a year and nobody knew you want to give him a shout out while we're here. Oh, sure. He's a high school science teacher. He teaches at Greeley west, um, and has also worked in the same, worked at target and has been a teacher when you don't call him, sweetie. When I don't call him, sweetie. Baby blue, Gus. Oh gosh. Zach might have died when he was sitting and I might call the dog, baby beluga junior, and then like the next dog, his baby junior, Eric Jr. Like that's. Yes. I don't know that they know that. I haven't heard that. I know. Jenny, do you want to give a shout out to your sweetie? Oh yeah. Zane. Yes. He's. Um, we met gosh, 14 years ago. So, uh, he, um, is in construction and does all sorts with laying a floors, tile, things like that. He's been doing that for years. He is. He's calm. Yes. He's calm. He's calmed in his later years, but he is, um, it's very wise individual to he's been. Yeah. Yeah. Sean, are you single guy? I'm a single guy on the market and you're what 34 is that? to your sweetheart. Uh, even if you don't stay married forever, you still say hi, baby. Hi Katie. Um, yeah, I'll shut up my kids, like more than they're not going to listen to. Six and five. It's all good. Sorry for deviating there. Let's do that's great. Katie would probably be mortified. Katie listens to this, listen to this. How could she not? Oh, I don't tell her. That's right. I might have to text her. Oh yeah. I can actually, I can call it. Tell Sarah for about a month. I'll let you guys know when it gets released. Hopefully you're still in a relationship. Oh Lord. I'm pretty sure they will be. So JD, I want to turn it over to you just a little bit. Um, so you, you take on this role of development director. And so talk to me about maybe the importance of development in terms of the organization. And I could even share a little bit I for full disclosure, I was, I was the president of the board for a little while. And, uh, so I've been around since my wife was there with Nicole early on, but the Matthews house, cause there's a lot of contracts that would maybe otherwise go to like direct, direct government service to do this service for us. You seem to be able to do it better and for less money with better outcomes than we would. So here, why don't you take this over and do it, and then there's. Elements that the Matthew's house does that really need donation support, which is part of the reason to do this party last weekend or last week and, and raise funding and things. And so, anyway, that's a setup for why is development important for the Matthew's house and, and what is it used for? Oh gosh, um, development. I think I, I do want, I want to start off by saying development is about relationships. When I think of the word development in my role, it's, it's all about relationships and building a family. Um, Nicole talked about it earlier. The main goal, like when I first took on this. I had no clue what I was doing, never expected that will land in my lap ever. And so I just started researching and researching and researching and like, what is out there? What do other development directors do, but I'd always come back to, um, let me see what that entails. And it's, it's pretty thick. Um, there's a lot of great information out there I found, and that helped me with the fund development plan. But, um, really, I always came back to relationships because that's our, that's our number one foundation. I mean, that's what we do as a staff with, um, when we hire from the beginning from hiring someone all the way to, um, helping our participants. So it's relationships and that's where me and the Cole and the team. Cause when I, when I say I'm the development director, it's not one person, it's a team like Nicole has a huge amount of work that she does when it comes to development, as well as Adrianna and even Marianna. And then some of our staff, um, like Mark Burke and Todd note of him, like I I'm just it's Sean has sat in multiple meetings with people the past year. So it's not just. That I wear the title, but it's a lot more than that. It's a lot yet, but it's a lot more than that. I mean, Sean, Sean's been incredible in the past year with, was just sitting with donors. Well, and I think like, I bet you would, could chime in on this as well, Nicole, but the Matthews house has tried a lot of different things to do development. You know, we've invested in high priced, veteran development people that we're going to do this and going to do that. We've had outsourced to strategic partners that were going to whip us into shape and activate our board and things like that. We've had, you know, interns that turned into development directors and then moved on to other challenges and whatever. And probably my suspicion is is that whatever Jenny's doing is working better than what mostly has been. Absolutely. I think, um, as Jenny described it, we approached it as a team effort. We looked at it and said, we are a family. We are a unit. None of us is, you know, we all connect with people differently. And if you have relationship with someone, let's run with it. I kind of, I, when I took over the role of executive director, I too had no development knowledge. And frankly, I hate asking people for money. Absolutely hate it. Um, so the concept of it makes me cringe and I want to walk away. And then I was like, what can we do in what we can do is look at how do we build those relationships and what I, what is my background? It's a, bachelor's a master's in social work area. And what does that mean? That means you carry a caseload. So how do we look at development as we carry case loads, our donors, our cases, sorry, donors. We'd love you. therapy. But how can we transition you from giving a little bit into giving more? How do we build those relationships? How do we engage differently? How do we engage in a space where we're not always asking, but we're really inviting them into a space with us and saying, come journey with us, come be a part of who we are. We change our model of not just having a transactional relationship with an individual, but really understanding, knowing when they're having struggles. If that means you send flowers or you send cards, knowing when they have birthdays and engaging in the little ones or they gave birth or whatever. So that's the invitation you're extending almost is you can be part of this incredibly diverse and supportive family. That's helping other families get stronger. Absolutely, exactly. Right. That's what we said. Like we did, uh, we had to film for cultivate hope today. Yeah. And we were filming Dana Clark. Who's a huge part of the Matthews house. And that's one of the questions that we asked him, like, how, w how does this fit? How does this make you feel being, you are a part of our family. Like, that's how we handle it. Every everyone, or. With our participants and everyone. So everybody is part of our family from the top donor down to the direct line workers down to the participants. They are all part of this beautiful mix. And again, I see things I'm a very visual learner. I don't see things in cylinders. I see them in circular. Um, and so really we are all circling we're together in our circle. Nobody is higher or mightier than the other, and that that's part of our family system, an ecosystem that we've created. And it's really a great opportunity to engage, um, our donors and being really thoughtful about it. So I want to shift it back over to you, um, and talk about what does the experiential education director do? Uh, per se, I heard a little bit about guitar lessons and stuff, but like describe a week in the life. Yeah, it is evolved. But before we move on, I want to touching on the development that Nick, since Nicole and Jenny, there's been a difference that I maybe it's not real, but I've perceived, um, that it is like they were saying a full agency project and not in a, like, here to do my job for me, but in many hands, make light work and honoring not, it's not Nicole saying I am the face of the. And therefore I need to be in every meeting and I need to say, share all the good news. It's very humble in like, this person has spent a significant amount of time getting to know their caseload. They are experts. They have stories that they have lived through rather than us kind of second hand, third hand, tell this story because have the person who experienced it comment and share and it's way more powerful. And it also adds a lot of, um, connection to the agency. Yeah. We had a staff meeting yesterday, a team meeting at our youth and family center and we were introducing ourselves to a new staff and we introduced ourselves with who we are, what we do and how long we've been at the agency. And there's like five years, six years, 7, 8, 9. And we got to someone who'd only been with us for two years. And they were like ashamed because there is that level of buy-in because we're given the opportunity to, to help support the agency. I think that's really cool. And I think, you know, I'm going to probably talk to you about the transition to executive director here in a little bit, Nicole, but I think one of the things that organizations suffer from is, you know, Jerry, the founder was such a charismatic and big force. And, and to some extent, even though the Matthew's house had 50 employees, everybody that thought about the Matthew's house thought about. You know, and it became hard to a certain extent for that shadow to let everybody else's light shine, because she signed so brightly in a way. And so like disbursing that glory of sorts or that radiance of what the Matthew's house does and letting many leaders shine and many frontline workers shine, and many stories shine forth, and the contributions, significant contributions individually be given airtime. I think that the Matthew's house required, I I've probably starting any agency requires that level of person to be able to make something happen, bullies stuff into being, yeah. Nicole probably wouldn't have been able to be that person in some way. Yes. But to maintain and grow now that we are a secure established agency probably requires something more akin to what Nicole was. Yeah. The full team, because there was no way one person can be strong enough to make it be bigger, you know, and make more impact, make more connections. I'm feeling that myself as part of local think tank, you know, as long as I'm the, the smallest choke point through which everybody has to come through to be part of the organization and to really shine and whatever, that that's definitely going to be a factor for our growth as a company. So thanks for backtracking a little bit there. And thanks, Nicole and Jenny for seeing the wisdom of that shift in, um, Culture I suppose. And for fostering it and John for recognizing it. Yeah. And I would say one of the best gifts that I ever received in becoming the executive director was COVID. Um, it often people ask and we know that transitioning from a founder to a non founder, it can be extremely challenging and can either sink an agency or the agency can fly well in with a lockdown. Nobody had ever experienced that. So I, in some ways I wasn't as compare to Jerry because nobody had ever done a pandemic. And so I had this beautiful opportunity to not have to face that dilemma that could have been really, really challenging for our agency. Instead looking at it as here's the pandemic, we as an agency, our job, I took over the week of the pandemic. Um, I got a call from our board, asked to take on the role as an interim for a short period of time, um, due to some other, um, concerns and said, would you take over? I took over on a Tuesday, went to jury duty on a Wednesday and came back and COVID was there. Looking at us in the face. And I made a promise to Jenny at that point. And I said, I don't want to lay off anybody. I don't want to furlough people. We will figure something out as an agency. And from that moment we believed, we looked at it as a team effort. We said, how do we approach this? And by the end of 2020, we had our most fruitful year we had ever had as an agency. And we had grown our staff. We had not laid people off and we had added programming, absolutely more people needed us. But what we wanted to do at that time was also be strategic, not just address those emergent needs, but also say long-term credit recovery. We know kids need credit recovery all the time, not just during pandemic time. And so how do we help. Continue to advance that work and continue to support youth in the school district. We know what we have and we want to be able to give it to the community. And so when you were asking earlier about funding and the work that we do, I'm passionate about our prevention services, and that is the space that I just can't wait for us to continue to grow, continuing to expand. And what we've been able to do within our prevention and intervention is to really move everybody into being on the same page. Historically, we were, you did have our programs and you would say, this is our intervention, and this is our prevention. That's no longer as blurred lines. There's a lot of blurred lines and it's so much fun. We have such a fun job. And so when people ask about that transition, COVID was the best gift I could've ever asked for. And it provided me the space to grow into my job. Um, it provided me such an opportunity to step in where I didn't have all the eyes on me all the time because you really, everybody was focusing on themselves. And so it allowed me to kind of mature and grow in my own competence in my space. And so on the balcony and watching this. Absolutely. Um, and I want to linger here for a minute and really, cause I didn't let you finish kind of, to some extent that prevention element, Jenny and Nicole feel free to chime in, but. It's really expensive to intervene in a situation that's already very, very challenging when there's already custody things or things like that. But to prevent that from happening, it's probably 10 times as easy or five times as easy or something like that. And so that's the reason we fundraise is because there's grants and oftentimes, uh, you know, contracts to do already identified problems, but to help somebody prevent the problem, a small problem for turning into a big problem, there really isn't a funding stream associated a lot of times. And so that's where the donations from the community really make an impact is that. Yeah, absolutely. Prevention is half the cost of intervention and prevention means families are self-selecting into the process. They're really not system involved or they're coming out of system involvement and they're knowing they need that. Um, out of the system, they want a little support. Yeah. They need that concrete support. And so they're seeking that support, whether that's through experiencial opportunities, through education, through parenting classes or case management support. And so it's half the cost of working with an individual who's in intervention, who is already involved with the child welfare system or judicially involved. And so it's also harder to track. It's harder to track outcomes. You can't really project like, oh, well this person came into our program. And so that definitely means that their child was saved from being in the foster care system, but we're able to use different metrics to be able to achieve and say, did these individuals maintain in warrant, entered in back into, or never ended up in the care of the department? And so there will always be a need for foster parents and as a foster parent of, of as one myself, you know, that that's needed, but it's also profoundly changed the way I look at it and the work that we do when I think of my own child's experience in. How we could have served differently in our community to better the outcome for her and her family. We know that children do better in biological families. Um, and that long-term, that is the best place for them to be. So what that means is we, as a community must be forward-thinking about serving in that space. I think it's a perfect time to fit Sean back into the conversation here because experiential education, I like to confess some ignorant newness. When I first kind of learned about this kind of program, I was like, well, what does going on hikes and cooking together and playing guitar have to do with keeping a kid off drugs. Yeah. You know, and, and so why don't you, I I've, I've since learned the error of my thinking, but why don't you drop some knowledge on people even close to as ignorant as me, Sean, so experiential education. I think most people think of it as basically another word for kinesthetic learning. Hands-on learning. Um, we are framed the way we define it at the Matthews' house is that we do something no matter what it is, generally it's, um, something fun, something new, something that a kid might be inclined to join us for. Um, and then we have that's the bait, that's the bait bait and switch. That's what experiential education. Um, but we, we then do reflective discussion afterward. And the thing that attracts me so heavily to it. Um, and has kept me engaged with it and loving it for so many years is that you don't, you don't know, like you can think, you know how this is going to go. We can plan an activity and that we might have a goal, whereas this, this is going to go this place. It doesn't almost ever go where we want it to go, but it always goes somewhere meaningful. And the, the unknown, the creativity of it. Um, how do we apply this experience? That is just kind of, frankly, happenstance. We just had the ability to do this and it's new. What is this going to teach a kid about their life? And it's just a phenomenally cool experience for me as essentially an educator in this regard. But to your point, what is it? What's, uh, an example. Um, yeah. Can you tell us a story even maybe of like a breakthrough that you wouldn't have imagined? Yes. Autonomous obviously. Yeah. Tell me, tell me, tell me one or two. So two of our activities that we have we've had going for many years. Um, one of them, I took over as a TF before I was experiential education. Did you know that I took over climbing as a TF? Oh, multipurpose. Oh, he's trying to sell himself. He wants to race himself. Feel bad for nine years, nine years, Nicole, you have not valued the inflation numbers. We'll talk more about that later. Perfect. Thank you for everybody raises for all. That's why we have said we've always, we've done. At least nine years. Um, and w that as an example of an activity is a perfect one. It's, it is apropos to our, the culture of our community. Um, it's a phenomenal place to get to know good people. Um, climbers tend to, in my experience, just be really good. Same as woodcarvers if somebody has a woodworking hobby, they're not an asshole. Yeah. Solid dudes. Yeah. Um, but so we have kids come in and it is, I think, understandably, a scary experience. Sure. And it's almost always a new experience. Yup. Um, climbing is an expensive pastime and are a lot of our youth don't have the means to do that. Or even, even if they do, it's never occurred to them to go climbing. Um, so they come in and they might have never had an adult that is worth trusting in their life. Or every adult in their life is absolutely worth, not trusting in their experience. Yeah. And then they meet me at the door or Andy, who is our experiential education coordinator, who is in charge of climbing now and has really made the program even more robust shout out to Andy. And, but they, they meet one of us at the door and in order to climb, they have to look at us stranger and adult stranger and really trust us. What is perceived as their life. Yeah. Because if they fall off the wall, they're all going to tie the knot. Here's the right. It's a super safe sport to do inside the way the gyms are set up. So, um, it's not actually that risky, but it sure feels like life and death to a kid. Um, and so a conversation that would be really difficult to have sitting across the table and maybe a therapeutic setting, like tell me about the adults in your life and what makes them trustworthy or not trustworthy. How do you assign trust? Worthiness to people is just in the, the language change of us driving them home and saying, what was it like to trust me is a much more organic way to start that conversation. And it's tied to this experience that the kid has had with me. Yeah. So it's not a hypothetical for either of us and it really opens up a conversation that can be incredibly meaningful and develop health. And do you go to a place where you trust them as well? Like I've had spotters that's step two is they have to then become the responsible person to belay. Yeah. That's just a practical thing. Nobody wants to a climbing partner who can't belay. Yeah, totally. You don't get to climb. Right. So it's equally practical as it is a teaching tool, but then they have to be responsible for me. Yeah. Well, and that's what I find in, you know, not to bring it back to local think tank, but when you show somebody truck. Then they trust you, you know? And so modeling that and exampling that whether you're a transition facilitator or whether you're an experiential education or whether you're a development director that says, you know, when you start giving and supporting and volunteering at the Matthew's house, you're part of our family and we won't forget about you. Yeah, absolutely. So, um, so what's like from your perspective, how, what, what are some things opportunities that the Matthews house isn't doing yet in that space that, that you could do in the future? Or can you give me the scope of kind of some of the activities that I could sign up for, if me and Jill qualify, if you pass it, it's a very intensive background check. We have, well, we have an exchange student moving into the fall and I can knock them around a little bit if that'll get me into the program. I don't think he's asking to be, um, uh, a mentor he's asking to be a participant. He would like to participate in that. You know, you don't have to be a participant to come to our activities. You can volunteer if that's simpler, that might be easier than yes. Thank you. Um, he seems like a really nice kid. We've been Instagramming a little bit. I'm pretty sure I won't knock them around, but I'm just saying, okay, volunteer, I'll volunteer. We'll vote. What's your instead and bring them. Yeah. Um, so our, our programming right now, I think. We could do a million things. Sure. Um, we don't have any giant plans or aspirations other than to offer more capacity. The stuff that we do is phenomenal. It's not perfect for every kid, but it's pretty diverse, a wide spectrum so that you can find one or two cool things right. To get involved with, but getting kids to and from our activities is where we're limited. And so having more capacity to drive or more relationship with schools to bus or more locations, that's easier to get kids to in front of our teachers. All of that is just capacity building. And I think when we have a bigger capacity, we have a wider array of interests. Sure. And when we have a history of developing programming, based on the interests of the people who are going to leave the programming, because frankly I would be really bad at a budgeting course. I'm, that's not a strong suit of mine. Yeah. Just spend Katie spend less money than you have. And you're good. But, um, but so as an example, we have a Dungeons and dragons group, which is one of our long running groups. And it's phenomenal if you don't know what Dungeons and dragons is, it's worth looking into. Um, especially if you think it's, you know, uh, a gateway to hell, which is what I think that's a nice way to say it. The wi that start was born out of our it guy at the time, um, your nurse having a desire and a resident here, and he's like, Hey, there's other nerds that are actually also troubled youth and might want to do this. Well, no. He said fellow staff members that I like, can we do this? And I said, I will absolutely play with you. Would you be open to doing this for kids as well? Yeah. Um, and he and I still play weekly on our own time, but, um, he started the program within the Matthew's house for kids. Uh, and it's a place where kids can practice social engagement, peer to peer interaction in a safe way where in the game there are consequences, but then no one gets a swirly. Well, there's like rules of engagement kind of, and it's like cultural elements kind of discovered. And, and did they get high school? Yeah, they get English credit through poodle school districts. That's wild participate. It's well, it's all about story-building and characters and story arts. Have you connected with the school of rock at all? Yes, I was. I went to a chamber open house down there the other day, and I was thinking to myself that that would be pretty cool thing for some Matthew's house used to, they did a they're off, we have a scholarship program that is in development right now with them. Yeah. Um, and then there, one of their bands, or some of their participants was the backing band for our youth who were performing at, uh, uplift Foco, which was cool. Yeah. A cool fundraiser that just happened a few months ago. Oh, it did. Yeah. I actually, I think I went to, it was this the second year. Yeah. I think I went to it last year and then I just didn't see your post or whatever. Let me know. Next time, text me, see my emails. It's been incredible to watch the kids take on the opportunity to learn an instrument. Many of the kids, um, that we have opportunity to serve within that come from our McKinney Vento or not McKinney Vento. Um, economically disadvantaged me they're on free and reduced lunch. They don't have the resources to access music. Yeah. And they may have had, they may be transitioning from school to school. Um, and so this really gives them that opportunity to find their expression. And so it's been incredible. And it's also, as Sean's talked about Andy, our staff, it's been so fruitful to bring our staff who have passions in different spaces to the forefront of our agency and say, how do we help you? Mesh something that you're passionate and gifted at and how do we bring it to the kiddos that we work with and how do we do that in a space where we, as a nonprofit can use our status, we can use our status or the nonprofit. Absolutely. And so how do we, we have an abundance of nonprofits in Larimer county. We have more nonprofits in Larimer county than any other county in the state of Colorado. Um, absolutely. And so why continue to reinvent nonprofits when you can work together to support? And for Andy, it's an incredible opportunity. He's incredibly gifted at what he gets to do. And so how do we bring that? Because what you've asked us today is what brings our joy to our work and we each get to talk about it and each and every one of our staff have a joy that then they get to bring to the space. Well, and how honoring is that to be a, a staff member where your employer is like, Hey, you've been a gift here. Would you like to bring it to our community, to our family and, and develop it further and therefore spend hours a week doing this thing that you love with the kids with families. Absolutely. It's one of those where, how can you be more thoughtful about it? Yeah. Versus reinventing spaces. Yeah. And as long as it all fits within the mission, then that's great. And I want to get you going though. I want to hear like a case story, a story, a story, a story, and anonymized story. If appropriate storyteller. I think, um, a story that I love, speaking of Dungeons and dragons, um, we, it is like Kurt said a store, it's a game for nerds. Uh, you sit around a table and you make things up. Um, and generally I don't, I'm not to, um, to make this too derivative, but we have kids sitting at the table that maybe you would expect to be sitting at the table. Um, when they, when we have done just the drags going, there's a, an aesthetic that is in line with what most people assume of Dungeons and dragons players. But we sometimes have kids who are not that football player or listen to that, whatever. Yeah. We had one kid in particular that I'm thinking of who, who was, um, of color lived in a different city. Um, and older, I think 18 and everyone else is young and, you know, glasses, I wish you all could have just seen Sean. He, he totally nerded out. Um, and he kept coming and I was driving him home. And I was like, dude, what, what attracts you to this group of people? And he said, these are the only people in my life who don't care if I can. And help them beat someone up, help them get drugs, or I don't care if they think I'm cool and they don't care if I think they're cool. Yeah. I get to actually be a kid with there's some value there, right? Like that's obviously an 18 year old. That's been pretty much an adult for years in some respects, as far as at least who's looking out for them and stuff. And so that's an example of we, I mean, we, we offer this game and the idea is that everyone learns how to interact with each other peer to peer. But what he's getting out of it is a reprieve from his life, a refuge. Yeah. Um, so like I was saying, we don't always know when we're going in and we're trying to design something. We don't, we had an idea. That's not what it came, came out, but it was still good because we were talking about it. We found out and we could help really support him and to continue to come. That's one story. And then quickly, another story is we had a youth, again, coming to Dungeons and dragons, staying on theme who had been with us since he was, I think, 14 or 15 and he was turning 21 and it was kind of like, you know, kick them out. Well, no, not kick them out, but okay. But he, he wanted to not just participate. He wanted to not be okay. 21. A bunch of 15 year olds, you know, it was, he could see the difference. Yeah. But he'd still wanted to come and he still wanted to give back because he valued what the Matthew's house had done for him. So it became a dungeon master. Yeah. So he started running one of our games and our games have since become student led primarily. Yeah. Rather. And that was a creativity thing that it didn't occur to us, but yeah, they're here. They love it. We want this to be self-sustaining in their life. Moving forward, if it's helpful, healthy to them. Well, we can craft them into leaders early and recognize that they are also leaders. Oh yeah. Absolutely. Well, and I would say I had the honor of going to our youth advisory board last Monday. Um, and in that space, our board precedent, um, is a young woman who I had the opportunity over the last two years to know through different areas. And one of them was that she was engaged in our programming because she was not able to do remote learning when the pandemic was at the highest. And so we were able to work with her and provide her support because at home she wasn't able to do that. And so this individual was delinquent in her classes was behind in all her credits. And this young woman has worked extremely hard to get her credits up she's on track to graduate. And then additionally, we've been, she has stepped into a role as an ambassador at her high school. She was selected as an ambassador. So this young woman who had no clue, uh, you know, had no drive, no goals is now in the space of running a youth advisory board, looking at and dreaming and telling me, Hey, this is what I need funding for. Like, we need funding because we want to do dah, dah, dah. Yes. And she would snap her fingers. I called her Madam president throughout this session. Um, but she was very much on top of her aid game and what an incredible opportunity to go from being behind in school. And this young woman also has a sister. It's also involved in our program, who, what a great gift for both of them. Um, the sister is becoming her own independent person and shining in her own manner. Um, and so what a great opportunity for us, when we think about experiential education, it's broader than just an activity. It can also be rooted in our youth advisory board. It can be rooted in that backpacking. It can also be rooted in Dungeons and dragons. So really finding that right? And you're going to co lead on this hiking trip. You've been on four hikes already, and I need to help her. And so guess what your, my co-leader, this is what you get to do. Um, so it's an awesome opportunity to invest. I absolutely, I trust you to hold this information. I trust you to lead the agency. Um, and so again, creating that culture of it's importance. I, I was so excited after I left our youth advisory board. And as the former president of our board, I thought, oh my gosh, how much fun would it be to connect our leaders, our own board precedent of the Matthew's house, our board, and our youth advisory, and have them have a mentorship and partnership, and what a great opportunity to move our board. You, you asked him about us in the past about kind of those silos. Um, aspects, I believe wholeheartedly our board should be as infused into our team and our family as anything. And they, they have an invitation to our all staff meeting. Um, and they come and it was incredible to have two of our board members come and sit through. And what one of my board members said to me is Nicole, nobody ever asks their board to come to their all staff meeting because you want the autonomy to have it independent. Yeah. And I said, no, no, no, no. We, as our family, our dirty laundry is our dirty laundry at all. Staff meeting, whatever we say here is equally important for you to hear as a board. Um, and so equally bringing that together for our youth and saying, come and sit with us and learn how our, how that agency board governance, um, so incredible opportunities. So, um, it might be your local experience, but do you, that, that transition cause you initially moved into an informal, uh, do you want, and the board had done a big search, found a new executive director to take over for the founder and made a hire. And then that person was like three months later, they were out the door. Um, and I don't think you should share the specifics probably shouldn't. Um, but what was that like to get that call? Like, I'm thinking if I'm the board president or even anybody on the board, they're like, okay, we just made this decision. Um, we better. Nicole takes this job, or we don't know what we're going to do. I was asked multiple times prior to the search and also prior to the offer, um, if I would step into the role and truthfully, I was very, very content. I'm moving into a role of the executive director. As we mentioned earlier, following in someone else's footsteps that it had a big personality. Um, I had a lot of footsteps in our community. That's a hard role to step into, you know, it's kinda like I'm really content and happy. I get to do programs. I'm really happy with my family. We had just become a foster home and I was just really content and happy and had joy in what I was doing. And I was like, I don't want to disrupt this system. Um, I have two birth children along with our foster to adopt. I submitted adoption paperwork yesterday, actually, um, to adopt our child. And so, um, I knew as an eight. The knowledge I possessed was valuable to the agency. And so when I did get that call, I immediately knew that there was an opportunity to step in as an interim. And the board said, this is an interim. We're going to test this with you. Um, before we accept, um, moving forward. And so our board came to me, they made a decision. I don't look for anybody else. It's not, we're going to test drive you at least. Yeah. Like we're going to let you test drive this. Um, the board later came to me and said, never did we think our decisions leading up to the two calling you would be overshadowed by the pandemic, your decision, you know, the decision they said, oh my gosh, we thought we were entering into the space of, um, significant, um, change for the agency. And instead we had the pandemic that hit. And so throughout that course, I became the permanent in November of 2020. Um, and I have been so grateful. I great Lee appreciate the opportunity to have second and third chances, maybe even fourth to say yes to the opportunity. And as I mentioned earlier, the gift of COVID allowed me to step in to this space independently and not, and be able to fill my own shoes versus having to fill someone else's shoes. And I think that that was a gift that I didn't know I was being given at the time, but reflectively. Yeah. It was not an easy year. I will tell you. Yeah. I feel like, uh, I'd like to get into the COVID season and maybe you can give me just like a three minute recap of, of what changed, how the, how the Matthews has really served the community and things like that. Um, during that season. Absolutely. I think during COVID, as I mentioned early on in those first couple of months, we were remote. Um, relationship is hard as we all know through remote work, uh, and in relationship building, we also knew that at that time, our families were in the most need. Um, all of a sudden the families that utilized respite or support through our programming weren't provided that. And so we really worked diligently, um, to provide resources, connection in any capacity we could, uh, we also became aware, one of our projects is, um, one of our community life centers is Genesis project and it backs into one of the lowest income, mobile home parks in our community park lane. And at that time, 95% of those individuals did not have internet. So their lives average of three kids in each house and absolutely a large, there are 70 units in that community. How are those individuals going to support their families and learning when, when they had no access. And so we stepped in quietly and did one-on-one tutoring, um, support, obviously followed restrictions that needed to be there, but really quietly supported knowing that that was vital at that same time, brought them into our buildings. We showed them how to use internet, how to work worked with the parents, had communication, also working with high school kids and little in the little guys. I mean the little guys needed internet too. And if you're brand new to that space and you don't know how to mom and dad may not know how to support. And so older siblings were offering that support. And so really being able to carve out the space. Yeah. And so we worked with a slew of other nonprofits and community partners and the PSD to actually step in and do remote learning. Um, for certain populations, we made a determination with some of our partners who was the best to work with little littlest and then the middle schoolers, and then the high schoolers. And we said, you know what? We, we feel like our bread and butter, our high school kids, we can do little guys. We have after-school programming, but we're not a day to day, um, program. And so our roots are. 16 to 20 enrolled. Absolutely. And so we stepped into that space with high school students at Fort Collins and pooter high school and provided remote learning, um, for those students on their site. So our staff attended absolutely daily to work with students and work with volunteers. So we had volunteers who signed up to work with students to improve their grades that translated into summer programming. That translates into what we're doing this summer. We're super excited of an opportunity we've been provided by a grand tour to look at problems in our community. Most of the youth that we have who are credit, who are behind in credits traditionally need to work in the summer to provide for their family and provide for themselves. So we said, okay, what if we paid the kids? What if we paid them to credit recover and not just pay them like a $25 gift card? Right. But we looked at what exactly. So every child who engages in our program will get $600 for every class that they pass the summer. That is a huge. When, when you start to look at credit recovery and, and also a commitment to this funding that we have a partner who is able to fund it and support it, a secret partner, we have those secret partners now. So we have these secret partners, not really secret partners, just individuals who believe in innovation of work and believe in how do you look at things differently? And how do you support for us? When we last year, we spent time looking at our experiencial ed programming and saying, how can that become credit bearing? And now what we're able to say is how do we continue to offer those programs and also offer opportunity to pay our kids? Um, and what an incredible opportunity to save those jobs? Absolutely. I was like, I want to go to school. Like if I get suspended, I was telling my husband, who's a teacher. And he's like, are you crazy, Nicole? And I was like, I'm not crazy. This is what our community I'd like to learn Spanish. I'm kidding. I'm not going to try to, okay. No. So with our youth program, that is what we did with this. It's still recognizing of like, there's unintended consequences of policy decisions, and people are moved in their motivations and understanding that these kids that are behind yes. That matters. But does it matter as much as not having an income this summer? Absolutely. If we can work with parents and say, We, we will provide transportation for these kiddos. We will provide, this is their schedule. All they need to do is come and they need to be committed to the work and be able to work on this. Let's see if this is an opportunity to be transformational in how we do credit recovery, how we work with individuals. Most kids don't want to do summer school, but if you can say, you know what, buddy, you get $600 to do your class. You won't graduate late and you won't graduate late. You get to hang out with some really cool people. You get to do some fun things. You get a hot meal, your transportation's taken care of, come join us. It'll be kind of fun. So we're super excited about that opportunity. And some of the other work we did with COVID was to support families. And, um, we were a partner agency of feeding our community and we provided meals on a Mo or weekly basis, upwards of 700 to 750 meals. Um, we had volunteers who we had people sign up. We then disperse them. Oh no, no, no, no. Even though you were distribution center. Yeah. So it was a large, um, it was to help maintain the businesses and, um, the restaurants and so Bohemian and the restaurants, um, came together and came up with the process and then partnered with nonprofits to be able to disperse the meals. And so, um, Sean got to hit that scope. Um, she got very, and we had. Learn how to route my gosh, how people get to what our logistics guy at heart right now. Oh no, but you know, what made it helpful was that yes, it was this big deal. And we were partnering with Bohemian and restaurants all over town, but the people who came to help package it and deliver it were Nicole and Jenny, it wasn't like here do this thing. That's distasteful to me. just maybe field some phone calls and then we'll be there when you need us to be there. And it was an agency wide situation, which was really cool. So I think we're going to jump onto the faith family politics segment. We're going to do a quick fly over, um, Nicole, I know that you have a board meeting coming up. If it turns out that we'll do your local experience first when we get to that segment, um, if you have to sneak out and we're still talking, then that's fine. So confessional first. Yeah. Well, I'm excited. Yes, it will be fun, but I want to just because Jenny, it seemed like faith in your church community was so significant to your most challenging times. And so can I, can I invite you to talk about your faith? Yeah, yeah. Um, whatever you'd like to share. Uh, oh gosh. Yes. My, um, my mom, I was raised in a Christian home. Um, my dad and mom both went to church. Um, my dad was as the, as, um, Uh, therapist back then said he's who was chameleon? So he was very ruthless at home, like just, uh, aimed, but everyone thought he was glowing. So when my mom divorced him, everyone was like, what is going on? This is wrong. Um, so I grew up, yes. Yeah. They, they didn't respect her or they just pretty much disowned her in a way. Um, so she found a new church that accepted her for that. Uh, so, but that could have pushed my mom away from God, but it didn't actually push her towards, so I was a little ten-year-old that would walk around when my mom had separated from my dad and we had no money. My dad, he didn't pay child support. Um, the judge looked at him in court and said, looked at my mom, sorry. And said that she was crazy and that all the money would stay with my dad. So my mom got nothing back then, but that there's retribution though. A judge got ahold of my mom's case years later and we got a huge amount of money back, but that's another story. Yeah. We had no money though. During that long period, my aunt had to pay my mom's rent. And so I, I would walk around, like for example, my mom would pray for $50. Like I would hear her pray and then I would go into a, um, she would like give like $5 away knowing God hopefully would give back. And so she would like, we would go, we know we got 500 from a lady in a bathroom that just handed her money and didn't know my mom. And so I witnessed that throughout my life. And I witnessed, um, people bringing us food that we didn't know and leave it on our doorstep. And my mom would always say, this is from God. This is, this is God taking care of us. And so my faith was stronger because of that. Um, seeing how we were provided for, even though we had nothing, we had to move into a, um, a duplex, um, from the home that we, I grew up in that my dad, um, uh, that we were living with my dad and it was a big home and we lost everything all of a sudden. So yeah, we, we were actually, we w yes, we were. And so we moved into where's your mom inviting kids from across the tracks when they were still married? Yes. And they were separated at the time and she would invite them over. We still had the house, but she couldn't afford it after the divorce ended. And so, um, we moved when I was six, that between my sophomore and junior year, we moved because she couldn't afford it. And my aunt stopped helping with, but long story short, her faith, um, was so strong that I, I clumped. I'm still too still do to this day. My mom battles Alzheimer's right now. And so I've pretty much lost her mind completely. I don't have my mom anymore, but she's living, she's living with me. Yeah. And my husband's we take, but, but that's what propelled me into walking this faith, this life of faith dedicating my life to God. And I think, um, yeah, I do go to Genesis project. That's my home church, which is where yes, pastor Rob Coles has he he's been my pastor. I mean, pretty much since I started moved here in 2005 and I just followed him from his previous church to Genesis project. So that's, that's my story. Fair enough. Very good. Uh, is there anything that's burning your tongue that you want to share more on that topic? Or should I just kick it over to Nicole? What would you like to say about phase Nicole? What would I like to say about faith? Um, I grew up in a home where my parents were two different, um, faith. Um, my dad was raised Catholic. My dad was adopted at birth and he was an only child. And so my mother was raised, um, Christian and was very invested in the church as a child. Um, my mom grew up very young and poor. Uh, well obviously she was young. I assume we all grew up very young. My mother, um, as a child, she grew up where the movie birds was filmed. Um, that was her home to hound. Um, she was the only first grader. She did not go to kindergarten and she was in that very much. In working within the church, um, from an early age. And so when my parents married, my mother made a commitment to my grandmother that we would be raised Catholic until we could make our own decisions. Um, and so my mother would attend church with us, um, attend Catholic mass every Sunday. Um, I, the home that I moved into when I moved to Greeley was actually on the same block as our church, our church, um, St. Peter's in Spanish mass was when I would go with my best friend who to this day is still my best friend. I met her from kindergarten and we still see each other we're 30 years strong and relationship. Um, and so I would go to banish mass with her and the March at the Guadalupe in December and all of that wonderful things as a child. Yeah, well, I went to St. Peter's and Greeley, and it was down the street. It was on the same block as my, um, childhood house that I moved into. It's this big, gorgeous Victorian, like over 120 years old church. Exactly. It's gorgeous. It has the stained glass windows that told a story. And all, I remember sitting in these pews and that was my childhood. Um, my sisters chose not to continue in there, um, after they did their first communion, I continued and did all my sacraments. Um, and then I married my husband, who was that someone who was a regular in church. And so we weren't married in the Catholic church. And so we have, we have kind of meandered and found our path in that space. And I would say the opportunity to work within Genesis project. Often people ask us, are we a faith based agency? No. Um, early on as an agency, it, the agency was founded on Jerry's beliefs. Um, but we are not a faith based agency and. Uh, many of the individuals as we have grown, we've had to not had to. That sounds so harsh. We continue to expand our knowledge of what does faith look like and really being mindful that everybody's on their own journey early on, that wasn't as prominent in our agency, but as we've grown in it and opened our arms, that is something that has been continuously expressed. And so, um, it's incredible. We often people ask us, my office is at Genesis project, along with Jenny and our administrative team. We sit right next to the pastors. We also together upstairs, people ask us all the time and they're like, um, how do you do this? As Jenny's referring to, if you've ever gone to Genesis project, if you go to the upper level, we call it the master bedroom, um, of the church. Um, because there's just so much within that space that we, we respect. There's things that we do together, things we do separately. Um, but we all have a profound mission and vision for the work that we do in serving people in our community. Um, and that's a really important aspect of it. So that's my faith and, and we have another, our other community life center is in partnership with first Presbyterian. And so again, people ask us all the time, are you faith? And I was like, Churches are really beautiful spaces to be able to provide for families and youth in our community. Yeah. Agreed. Sean, what would you like to share on topic? I, I attend at everyday Joe's, which is Timberline old town. We haven't been there for, uh, right around a decade. Um, I grew up in Loveland going to good shepherd church and was on staff there for years as a worship leader. Oh really? Okay. Yeah. I've been leading worship. How would you like to sing? Oh my gosh, you have no idea. The two of them together, these two people, they sung at our last annual fundraiser. These two people are phenomenal. Singers have to close you do. Oh, can you sing? Ain't no mountain high enough. That's the song they were required to sing at cultivating. Yeah, I can chip in on toward it. Once we get there, you guys will have to lead me, but that was it. Okay. Yeah, I can. Once I, I got to open up the pipes to really do it. Oh your throat. A little bit, a little more drinks going on. Gotcha. You should refill. You got a couple minutes. Yeah. Grew up, grew up. At church was a safe place for me. Um, I don't know what my life would've been like, had I not been on staff and really truly invested like, yeah, I would, on a Saturday night I had keys to the church and some of my friends and I would go play music until 2:00 AM. You know, like you could have been out driving around drinking beer. Yeah. Yeah. We didn't get into any of that stuff. Um, so, but, but then I started working, like when I, when I stepped down from that position, um, I'm moved into this other role at, um, mosaic taking care of people with special needs and the, the culture and the demographic of staff was so drastically different than when I was working at church. Yeah. Um, we had a completely different language from each other and talking if it was a very spiritual group of people. Yeah. Um, there was plant, uh, plant matter that enhanced their spirituality. And I got, I got to see people like genuinely good people living an entirely different life than I was privy to prior and had actually been told, like, this is, this is bad, terribly evil, terribly evil. Um, or, or just kind of not even drilled in this is terrible evil. I don't hang out with that's what people do. Yeah. It was almost like, just don't think about it. Don't do it. Don't think about it. Yeah. Um, and had some really, really strong friends during those years that I was working there living different lives, but still really connected and re responsive and respectful of each other. And I remember standing on the back porch of the house with my supervisor at the time, and we were talking about our different faith backgrounds, and I realized that we were using completely different wording for what felt like very similar beliefs. And it was, it, it's the kind of stuff that's reflective at the Matthew's house and at Timberline old town where people are worth seeing loving and worth helping well. And I think of that sometimes when I think about the topic of faith is that it's not so important that you choose the one that I'm in as it is that you choose something because it gives you kind of a foundation for values. It gives you some kind of a filter in the screen to, to like, take that little avatar of yourself that you imagine making different decisions and have them give some criteria to which to evaluate these pop-up possible decisions from yeah. Yeah. Just a set of guidelines. Yeah. And so I've appreciated being at the Matthew's house because since moving out of working at it. The language of church is something that I have a reflective response, or I'm reactive to hearing that, um, in not necessarily a positive way, kind of it it's a trigger, I think. Um, and working at the Matthews house, which had a F you know, from the leadership somewhat faith forward. Yeah. Especially at the beginning. Right. Um, to working with people who were ex expressly atheist or agnostic, or anti-Christian even, yeah, just very different situations from what I was used to, and seeing them love people and their clients and faith is faith is not necessarily a requirement for being a good person. And it's not a prerequisite to being accepted acceptable as a person. And the Matthew's house is something where it's a culture that I think embraces that truth. Oh yeah. Well, it's one of the reasons I use that term faith instead of religion. Cause that's so segregating, uh, to me and like, it's like this team's awesome that that team sucks. Cause they're not this team kind of thing. Yeah. Um, watch is going to be some next level podcast hosting here, but, um, Sean, why don't you stay with us and jump to family and I'm going to use a potty break while you're talking. Do you mean when you say family you mean, um, my background, just whatever it is. Yeah. Okay. I got it. Oh, you got it. Um, so I grew up, like I said, in Cincinnati, I have a, a mom and a dad, Michael and Tricia, and a sister named Adrian. And we moved to Loveland Colorado when I was seven. Adrian was three, two. Uh, he's looking at me asking that I don't know children, or I'm sorry, not your children, your sister. Um, and I, my background from familialy is that we are in Colorado. Everyone else is either on, in Ohio or on the east coast, ish. And then I had an uncle in California, so we just basically moved as far away from everybody as we could get. And don't have incredibly strong connection. At least I don't a lot of strong connections to my extended family because I didn't have a lot of access to them. Um, so I'm really connected to a mom and dad, sister, um, and my parents were still together. We were middle-class, we were white, stayed home. I know it was about as idyllic as it could be. Um, and then what a blessing. Yeah, real nice. And then I got married. Um, when I was right as the same year, I started at the Matthew's house and have a six year old daughter named Bernadette and a five-year. Son named Lewin. Bernie's going to be seven. Yeah. She loves that song. We're tops. If anybody wants to check them out and your son was Louie Lewin. Yeah. So we have Bernie and Louie. I like to, uh, one of the things I asked most of my guests is do a one word description of your children. Hard. Only one word. Gosh, he's for both children, each pump a sink. Well, yeah, no, it would be too hard to Lily. Lily would be, um, whimsical. That's what my friend uses to describe me. That's a gentle way to say whatever he's trying to say. And then Bernie would be earnest earnest. And then I have a dog named Hammond who comes to work with me most days. Uh, defacto mascot for the Matthew's house. Oh, what kind of a critter is he? He's a Boston terrier. Blue heeler mix. Oh, nice. I would also call him Ernest. Oh yeah. Yeah. he's very serious about whatever's going on. Okay. And he loves Shawn. Awesome. Nicole, do you want to bounce it next to family? My family. So my immediate family consists of my husband, who we started. We started dating when we were at target, when you're sneaking around for a year, when we were sneaking around for a year, I had just turned 19. I was a baby. Um, we married when I had just turned 23, I think about it now. And I think of my 18 year old daughter and I think, oh my gosh, I can't even imagine my child being married in five years. Um, but, um, so we married and we had our first set of kiddos at when I, I don't know, 27. So we had Linus is my first, my first birth child and he is nine. He just turned nine. Um, and so he one word to describe him. Oh, that's a hard one. Like big Snoopy fan. No. So we, so when we set our thinking about names, we were like, okay, how are we going to name our child? And because of my profession and Zach's profession as a teacher, you get lots of names. And so one day I was just scrolling through, um, names. I had looked up scientists because that's my husband, that's his field. And we name all of our animals after scientists. So why not name our child to, after a scientist? Right. And so we scrolled through when we saw Linus Pauling, and I was like, I want Linus, Linus, Pauling has two Nobel prizes and shopping for an exchange. What do you have until we named him Linus. He has my maiden name, sorry as his middle name. So he's a line of Saurus. Um, it's what we call him. And he, and that's a family tradition. And so if I had a name, pick a word, oh gosh, he's very, um, Zach like Zach, like that's my husband, Sean got to see him recently. And he's like, he's identical to your husband. What is wrong with this? He is. I asked my mother, I actually asked my mother-in-law this weekend. Um, when we were over for Eastern, I said, do you enjoy having a child? Zach's an only child. Do you enjoy having a grandson identical to your son? And she's like, oh my gosh, it's perfect. I love it. I get to have the same child. They have so many mannerisms the same. And I'm like, I'm so excited. So Zach, like, I like that. That's he is just like my husband just short while Gus. Um, so my second birth child is Gus and he is six and he is, um, in his middle name is Leon. And he has that middle name from my father-in-law, who had passed away about seven years ago before we gave, before we had him, um, we investigated in asking our fi my father-in-law who. Or what names he liked? Um, he picked some weird name. He picked us, but, um, SAC wanted to name our child Dexter if we had a boy and I was like, absolutely not, not after her serial killer. Um, but Leon is my father-in-law's middle name. And so we thought family tradition. If I had to pick a word to describe Gusto. say Spitfire. He, but he also has one of the kindness, little souls. Um, it's fun to watch him grow. Um, and then our daughter who will adopt her name is Jasmine. Um, I often I'm like, you're perfect. You meet like all of our kids' names are, um, characters from, um, so we have gusts from Cinderella, Gus, Gus, the PA the chubby little mouse and Linus the blanket holder. And now we have Jasmine, um, kind of the most inspiring of those three. I mean, Linus walked around, sucking his thumb and stuff for years and years and years here is our child. And so Jasmine, um, she came in. Three and a half years ago. And she would be a word resilient, um, very, very easily to say she, her name, which is really important to me is her name is Jasmine Ray. And, um, in February it gave her her second middle name because with adoption, we get to add, um, and Ray is her biological mother's name, but we wanted to give her something that was related to our family. And as I mentioned, both of our boys have names that are tied to our family, so we we've searched and searched. And then we made her put together a puzzle, um, with her name written out. So she could discover what her new middle name or her additional middle name was. And her additional middle name is Luchea, which means Lucy in light. Um, but Luchea is my grad or my grandmother's maiden name or my grandmother's name who adopted my father. And so we thought it was really important and oh, I've never thought of that. I think so. Isn't blindness. Yeah. A little, yeah, right. Oh my gosh. I don't know if they're in love, so let's not talk about that, but there's a part of that pain. I never even thought about that. I always went with blue chia. It's a talent. So that's our little bundle and we have two dogs and a turtle that comes on vacation to our house in the summer. You figure two dogs could beat up, uh, Um, not my really old one. He he's super old. My golden retriever is also traumatized and doesn't like to talk to anybody or socialize. Hammond would probably have a heyday with the dogs too. I mean, he's very earnest. He is an earnest day. Our dogs. No. So there you go. That's my immediate family. Awesome. Lots of stories. Swinging it back to you. And we're like, how many more minutes do you have left to call? Oh, I'm good. Okay. You're good. You can be rolling late to the board meeting. I was just telling you with Curt. I know could be my hall pass. That's right. I was with her. We're good to go. Um, describe your family. You've talked about your mom a lot. Oh, but let's talk about your immediate family at family. Yeah. So Zane, Zane strange. And I married, um, 10 years ago, this December, we worked together for a few years, but we we've known each other for 14. We did for a few months. Yeah. People picked up on it, but we did cause we worked together. But yeah, similar to, similar to Nicole story, um, we married, we've been married 10 years, but I married into, he had two boys. So, um, from her previous relationship. And so I became, um, step-mom but the boys really called me mom immediately after our honeymoon. Um, they've seen me as mom. Um, she not in the picture and she still isn't, but, um, so the boys, um, really just have called me mom since I call them my boys. They're my kids. I feel like I gave birth to them. I know that's unusual to say, but I really do. I feel like I've, they're my kids. It is, it really is. They're really incredible kids. Um, Zane was a single dad. Um, and so of course we married 10 years ago, so Isaiah strange he's uh, 18 going to be 19 in September. He is graduating this year, um, with high honors, uh, phenomenal student, phenomenal athlete as well. He is thinking of a word for him. He's very determined. Um, He gets it done. He has these goals and he accomplishes them. It's incredible the kid. And I'm going to tell you, I want to tell you just real quick about him. He was, he was born with meth in a stool. Um, so he's, uh, he he's, uh, a baby that was born two months, two months early. Yes. Um, and he's not Zane's bio child. Oh no. So Zane was, um, and they're in a relationship at that time and he ended up raising that child as his own. So, um, so Isaiah has no, like he's, he's a straight a student. I mean, he's got some BS thrown in there, but he has no effects from the meth in his, not at all, no issues whatsoever. It's incredible story. So he's going off to college to grand canyon university. So we're going to miss him. Um, Isaiah. Yeah, I'm in Monday. Uh, strange he's, um, Zane's um, biological son and he's going to be 17. He's got a brilliant mind. Um, he's a lot like his dad, uh, like, like saying he's a good, he's a thinker. Um, he's very quiet, but his, his, um, his, uh, he's wants to serve and do good for people. So he's got that characteristic about him. So think of your word thinker. I would say that he also wants to serve he's, uh, he's just always been a assert servant. So, um, like a servant, certain thinker, he's a servant thinker. Then we've got my mom, she lives with us, uh, Tommy Stetson. So we have talked a little bit about her, um, Tommy. Yeah. As they thought she was a boy when she was, um, my uncle said she was a boy. And when she came out, he was very distraught and he said, Nope, that's my Tommy. So she became Tommy. Yeah, whatever she's telling me now. So, um, Tommy sets in, but, and then we've got three dogs, um, that live with us of course, and a 12 year old, a pickup. Um, black lab and then some kind of dog, my husband rescued and brought home one day, a couple of last fall. So yeah. So that's our house. Yeah. Yeah. Sounds like a kind of animal central and, uh, lots of, lots of activities. A lot of activities. Yeah. And if I remember correctly, you're always eager to talk about politics, Jenny. Really? Yes. That's what I remember. Um, what would you like to talk about? We just, oh Lord. Oh, there's current events we could touch on with the, the airplane mask mandate got, uh, denied apparently federal court judge. Yeah. I have no clue. I thought it was lifted April 18th. No, they re extended. It told me something, something within a judge, somewhere in Florida or something like that was like, no, you can't do that, dude. Oh yeah. Oh, it's lifted. It's lifted. We don't know. You're talking about COVID rules and masks and stuff like that. I was just giving you something easy, like a, you know, bodily sovereignty to talk about. Well, probably the most uncomfortable thing for, yes, please. Don't lead the conversation. Sometimes we have to grow by doing uncomfortable things. That's very true. That's very true. I, oh gosh. I used to be so involved with politics in the late nineties and early two thousands. Like I w I, I, yeah, I, I was, um, cause I grew up at Republican and Republican home with my, with my mom. And so I was a Republican, uh, when I started voting. Yeah. When I started voting, but then I had this man, when I worked at Publix grocery store in Florida, he was 70 three-year-old named Mel. And he just kept asking me questions and cause I was a die hard Republican, but his questions really made me rethink some things. And then I started diving into politics a little bit more. And then I, I really just got away from it because I'm like, this is not me at all. And I really don't discuss politics anymore. I'm not like I, I vote. But why were you so passionate in the late nineties? I think the hanging CHADS and the, and the Clinton era going into the Bush era and in gore and all that just made me very intrigued. Cause I was in Florida. I was living in Florida. And so I think I just dive deep into that when Bush became into and office, it was like, and then I was also interested in the Reagan era too. So yeah. And I'm like, yeah, I'm like, this is not me. This is politics is not something I want to get into. Cause there's a lot of corrupt, corrupt individuals too. I feel so I'm just like, I stay out of it. I'm just like to each their own is what my slogan is. You can believe that that's fine. I don't, I have my own ignorance. I have my own independent view. So I'm just like, yeah. So that's, that's where libertarian closet libertarian. I'm an out of the closet libertarian, which is one of the reasons people canceled me and stuff. Well, yeah. Cause you, well, I, I really, how I treat things is like I just ask questions and like, I don't have a certain view, but I'm like, is it, is it mistreating an individual? I mean, it's, uh, it's about people and about loving people and that's where my take is on that and freedom. And I also look at a lens through Liberty and freedom and justice for all. So thank you so much, Nicole. I don't like talking about. I do not like to talk about politics, but I would say when I think about politics, not just to like, what is my personal beliefs, but when I think about local politics and I think about the impact in our community and what does that look like? I think there's opportunity. For our voice to be more heard, um, in that experiences that we have to be more heard, but also to understand where other people are coming from, um, and understanding why people choose the way that they choose. It doesn't mean I have to agree with what they do. Um, but we, it's funny that we can sit and talk about race and we can sit and talk about a variety of things. But as an agency, we traditionally stay pretty neutral, um, on politics. And even for myself, there were times, um, that I think politics played or were voiced a little heavily in our agency in the past. And so I believe in allowing each and every one of our staff, the opportunity to have that voice, and if they choose to express it, staff have expressed to me, why do we not say this? Or why are you not, you know, publicly proclaiming this? Um, I personally don't believe that the agency is my platform to, um, sway people on my personal views. And so when I look at a matter and I bring it to the space, I often am reflective of, is this my personal belief? Or is this my agency belief? Um, and obviously they, they go hand in hand, but there are times that my beliefs may be a little bit different than what the majority of the staff may see or feel. And so being able to step into that and understand and be reflective. So I would agree. I don't talk about my own personal beliefs, but I do talk about that the agency believes it should be in a space to do what what's like locally. Like, what are some things, whether it's city council or Larimer county or local political leadership the mayor can do to, to make things easier for youth and families that Matthew's house serves, are there specific policy things or regulatory things that levers that could be pulled to, to make a positive impact? Absolutely. I think preservation of affordable housing right now that resonates really highly for me right now in my mind. And I think being able to be in that space, um, knowing that so many of our participants rely on stability of housing and that we know housing is freely challenging to find. Um, and when you talk about inflation and you talk about pay and you talk about all these things, when majority of our participants pay more than 50% of their income for housing, that's really, really hard to help someone learn how to budget. So how do we have preservation as much as we have building affordable housing, we can build affordable housing as much as we, you know, as quickly as possible, but there are other opportunities per preservation that we need to be working on. You know, one of the things I've observed when I studied this topic, cause it's certainly a topic for me as well. Depending on how cities and municipalities do that. Sometimes when you go whole hog on affordable housing, you disincentive the construction market from building any more Hudson, and then you run into a, a supply crunch that makes all the rest of the housing even higher. Absolutely. I mean, obviously people are in the business too. Um, construction workers are in the business to make, they don't want to build the houses just solely for their own workers to the need, to live in this space, but to be able to provide equitable wages. And so I think there's a system there and how do we continue to look at the market and the available, um, you know, the available products that we have in our community and how do we enhance that and think differently about how to use those, um, tools. Um, and, and how do we challenge people to think differently about what does that look like? Because we're going to, we're not going to be able to afford our, our participants than our, my, my own state. Right. We won't have any problems in whatever county cause everybody looking for startups. Exactly. I think my own staff, like it's challenging when my own staff qualify for benefits. Um, right. But that's not something you proudly, um, communicate out to the world like, yay, non-profit work. Um, this is what we're doing. So exactly. So really challenging that is that we're nonprofit work is not attacks. Status. It doesn't mean that we should be working in lower pay. And so continuing to look at that too, and challenge that systems. Right. Cool. That's good keeper. Yeah. What'd you want to say about politics? I, I, um, have felt in the past and I think I still feel now, but I have a better handle on it. Uh, an expectation to have an opinion about a lot of things. I think more things than I have the capacity to care that much about it. Yeah. And that, that actually is, I think part of getting older part of having kids, part of having a limited amount of attention, and I live with a dog and two kids who all three of them would happily take a hundred percent of my attention and give it to them. And so, you know, divvying it up between them and then work. And then, um, any other thoughts that I had, I'm going to commit time to, I don't feel like I need to have an answer or an opinion on most things. And that sounds like a cop out Yeah. Right, right. But, but yeah, no, I think what's important really. And if you're not gonna do anything about it on a political basis of it's not as important for you to actually do anything about then yeah. No enough to vote, but outside of that, and I don't, I don't want to, I don't have a platform online. I don't want to have an opinion because I am expected to have an opinion. Um, but something, something real that I have been committing time to learning about is, um, LGBTQ plus matters because coming up in church, that was not something that we were encouraged to engage with intellectually or relationally necessarily. Um, but working at the Matthews house, there is a disproportionate number of kids and, and a new generation where there is more and more popular, more people are more out, more feel safer, um, expressing in experience mentoring or whatever, finding an identity that feels true to them. Um, and, uh, part of what the Matthews house does is we teach a comprehensive sexual health education class targeted at kids who are systems involved. So it, and it's informed by those experiences. Um, and I'm one of the presenters facilitators of that course. And so I have more engagement along those discussions probably than you ever had before and access to sex educators who tend to be incredibly knowledgeable about a lot of that stuff and come from different backgrounds that are, would identify as part of that community. And so that is something in order to serve the kids. I work with better. I have committed time to and have opinions about, so if you want a hard question on this, I think generally let's see, like the Leah Thomas women's NCAA swimming champion, you know, and, and my fear is because the incentives are there now is that five years from now, there won't be any biological women earning scholarships to the power sports sure. On a college level. And so that hits a grenade. Right. But it is, I always scared as far as I've gotten into thinking about that particular topic, um, trans rights in general are something I'm in a broader sense. I'm I have a better comprehension of what I feel and how I think this particular story, I think, based on the, the anecdotal experiences of trans kids that I know it is maybe the hardest, most difficult identity to navigate the world in. Um, I'm probably leaving out some really specific sure. It's harder, but this is it's one that I see day-to-day as a complicated, confusing, and, um, difficult identity. I don't know that anyone would choose that identity just to be able to. Faster than their competition. Hmm. Fair that's uh, I think they would maybe then maybe they would. I, I, I, you know, I, unfortunately I think people can be convinced that the reward is worth it. I, I do. I see the difficulty, especially somebody in mental distress and whatever that's whatever. Yeah. Potentially I do see the difficulty coming down with the question of equity in terms of biological design, like bodies are, are different. Um, and I don't know how that's going to be overcome within professional sports. I hope it is, but it's, I think it's, there's going to be a lot of stumbling blocks. Yeah, no, that'd be hashed out. I think an open league, like there's a men's league women's league in an open league or something. I don't know. Maybe yeah. The public restroom. Well, and I like for the public restroom thing, I, I big proponent of, you know, just single use restrooms, whatever, whatever your color, here's your spot kind of thing. And I think that answers a lot of questions for most cases, but it's a, it's a very complicated, challenging thing because the, like the freedoms to, to live life as a trans woman, like you want to be able to afford that opportunity. Right. But if that infringes. Biological women's opportunities to get a scholarship, to win a championship, whatever that feels like backward stepping on, on women's rights to me. Right. And I think this comes back to what we were talking about earlier about exposure. This is a new frontier for a lot of people being exposed to someone who is openly trans. Right. Um, and that the media is allowing for more of that now. But growing up, I didn't know anybody who was trans. I didn't really know anybody who identified as gay or lesbian. Um, and I was very siloed within the church. So being exposed to it, I am forced to confront and think about a lot of things that I never had the impulse or whatever to, to think about before. And so I, I can see that happening just culturally, as these stories are becoming prevalent and, um, people are going to be forced to think about them. Yeah. Especially when it pops up in their community. Totally. Yeah. It was an interesting temperature check happening right now. The local experience, Nicole, your first, um, craziest experience that you'd care to describe to our listening audience. And it could be a, a moment. It could be a week, a year in the life. Craziest thing. So I really am not talented at remembering or thinking on my feet. So I might have texted my husband and said, what's the craziest thing I've done. Well, and he was like, Nicole, he's like, so when I was younger, I, you know how they sell magazines, random people. They're like a van comes to your neighborhood, drops off people. Right. I was in high school and I shared a car with my mother. Well, and it share a car. She would, if I took her to work, then I would, so one day my mom calls and she's like, Nicole wa you seem to be really late. And I was like, yes, I have this woman came to the door to sell magazines. And she expressed that she was hungry. And so I allowed her in and I let her sit on the couch and I gave her a granola bar and she said, okay. And I said, and now she's sleeping on the couch and I can't figure out how to wake her up. And so my mom, my mom's like, you need to wake her up and get her out of the house, Nicole. Like, you don't let random people just sleep on our couch that knock on your door. And I was like, oh, okay. That makes sense. But I just felt called to do that. I would say I've forgotten drag racing with a guy before. Oh, I did what I woke her up and sent her out the door. Um, give her some, well, I sent her, I gave her some additional granola bars. That was an important part. She was hungry and this was her job. So went drag racing, um, on one of my first dates ever. That was something I did when I lived in the back country and built hiking trails and hiked along the Appalachian trail, um, for six weeks at a time, um, for several summers. So those are some other things I don't know if I would call them crazy, but they're just, they're probably not things that I would traditionally disclose to people. It's like, this is Nicole professional. Nicole here. If somebody comes to your house now and really needs a granola bar, I probably would still allow them. Now when my husband and I moved into our first house, our neighbors had children who were the same age as us. Remember I was 23 years old and I had just gotten married and bought my first house and the neighbor. And we had someone come to sell something and said, is your mom home? And I was like, no, my mom's not home. This is my house. Um, but I would probably have let them in. I don't know. You can laugh. I love it so much. Your heart though. The less my heart to giving. No, that's your heart. Oh yeah. The people you just have that caring heart from the. I'll go second. And that, wasn't the question. Um, I basically, I'm going to pivot into, uh, an experience that I had that I, I was kind of an audience. I stumbled into it. Um, so this was just a really weird experience that I happen to have in Scotland, in Edinburgh, as I was, when I was 18, part of graduation was that I got to go to England and in Scotland and my dad came and we were together for a little bit and then went our own way. But we were together in Edinburgh and my uncle had been a stage fighting teacher choreographer at university of Edinburgh. He's also an ex green, a green Baret. So it's just a lot of mixed messages in his life, but he knew a guy who was a sword maker. My dad was like, who do you know, that can help fill our time? Interestingly, in Edinburgh. And he said, go find this guy gave us an address. And so we were walking and trying to find this place, knowing it was a, a weapons maker and we're walking into progressively narrower, darker streets, um, and end up in this back alley. And it's a bunch of storage units and just like everything in Europe, everything's smaller, tied together and built into something. That's a little rock walls and years old. Uh, and so we find this garage, that's all. And it's littered with stuff, and this guy is inside and he would say, hi, this is where the Keifers we're here, we're here. Lloyd sent us. And he, um, was very dismissive, just like, great. You've seen the place. Yeah. Feel free to go. Yeah. Right. Lloyd did tell me you were coming, but I didn't, it didn't seem like he was, he told Lloyd that we should come, but we, we, um, started asking my dad is very good at engaging people. He's a very engaging guy. And he started asking stories about like what he was seeing. Just like, okay, tell us, tell us about this thing. And eventually this guy, I think it's a Scottish thing to being able to tell stories is something that drew him in and drew him out. And so he showed, he said, he'll show you something I'm working on. And he pulls out this sword and it's wrapped in like linen, dirty linen. So it looks like an artifact, but it's a new sword that he'd made in it. On the hilt. It was, uh, all the, all the, like, I don't know what they would be called, like lines of the basket around the hand were reflective of the characters from princess bride. And they all inter connected with each other at chronologically within the story. He was telling us about it. And it was really beautiful. And so we were talking about praising it and he goes, I'll be right back. I'm gonna show you something special. And he comes back and he, he hands us this sword and he hands it to me. So. And he said, I'm holding it and it's old. And he goes, that's the sword that killed Rob Roy. And I, and I had seen the movie. So I happen to know who Rob Roy was. I'm sure most people probably don't necessarily. I bet it Rob Roy reservoir, really? I actually don't know who Robert, he was kind of an equivalent to, um, the Braveheart. Yeah. Uh, except in the 17 hundreds, uh, there's a Liam Neeson portrayed them in a movie. Okay. Feel free to go see that. And so I'm holding this, knowing this is the sort of the killer Rob was amazing and he wrapped it back up and he said, okay, one more. And he comes back out and I am holding another sword. And he said, and that's Rob Roy sword. And so I'm just in a back alley of Edinburgh holding these two swords that met in battle killed a famous historical figure. And they have not, they belong to different clans. And so they'd never, they hadn't been together except for the battle that killed Rob Roy, since both of them hired this guy to have to refresh. And then he was going to send them back and they would probably never be together again. Did you get us do a little sword fight accident? W he had a lot of weapons and he probably would have taken me out. So I did not. That's pretty cool though. What are unique experience? Whether it's true or not? I don't know. Right. But it was when somebody could have an accent. I just believe him anyway. Yeah. He had a good accent too. I choose to believe it. Jenny, can you top that? No, not at all. Not at all. Um, I, I guess crazy experience, um, that just comes to mind. I, with my background, I'm teaching English. Um, well, my, my degree, I, um, in 1999, I decided to move to Eastern Europe because why not? On my own looking back, I'm like on my own, um, Y2K was about to hit. And I don't know if you remember Y2K was a big deal. The whole, I mean our pastor. Yeah. 99. Yeah. Yeah. I know that. So I had, my mom had mold, so I know I had multiple people tell her how dare you, let your daughter go to Eastern Europe of all countries when Y2K is going to hit. And every, she won't have heat and I'm going to a cold country of CA called Lafayette, very cold winters. I fly in and I don't know anyone. Um, I do know of a missionary family that lived there. I didn't know him well, but they took a job as a missionary of some sort I was going to go to see, I didn't know. I didn't know. It's crazy. It's crazy. I had a heart for Eastern Europe. I just grew up just wanting. I mean, I wrote my, when I was a child, I would write stories about other countries. I just had a heart to go and I did, I did. I went in my twenties, but, um, and so, so I get there and I have, my church had provided me with tons of coats and that night comes around, you know, the 31st. And we thought, I thought I was going to lose the heat and everything. And I'm sitting on the floor in front of a fireplace and all of a sudden the clocks turn and nothing happens. And there you go. That's my crazy. But my mom was just, they ripped her up. Like his parents were like, how dare you, let your daughter go. This is wrong. And I'm like, well, my mom was always, I have a piece about it. She's going to be fine. And I was fine. So yeah. Yeah. There you go. Very good. Yeah. I taught English there. So, um, for people that want to look up the Matthew's house and get involved in some fashion, well, I was going to say, we've got, uh, our gala coming up June 4th, 5:00 PM embassy suites. They can go to cultivate hope.org to buy tickets. $65 per person. Um, right now we're at about 500 people and attend, they were sold out, but then they expanded the comparison. Well, no, no, we're more than 500. I'm so sorry. We're yeah, we're over 500. Yeah. So we're looking at filling more seats. So I wanted to talk about that. So we're looking for people to buy tickets for, to that. Yeah. So it's the Matthew's house.org and Matthews with the double T two T's. Yep. And be wanting to get involved if they want to. And they want to become a volunteer. They can go to our get involved page and they'll see our volunteer area there and they can fill out a Google form. And Emily Fleming, our volunteer coordinator will meet with them and introduce all the different areas they can get involved in. And then if people want it to be a monthly donor or quarterly or a yearly, there's a place there that they can select just donate today and they can set that up. That's fine. We also often have internship opportunities. We do. So that that's the same place to go find exactly for summer and fall, spring and spring. Um, Sean, would you like to lead us into the closing a musical segment here? Because I don't have any idea. What about this? What do you want to sing? Jenny? What do you want to sing? I don't know if I like you have, you don't happen to have a guitar or anything? No, I do not. I wish I had a ukulele, but too far. What do you want us to sing? I don't remember. We were talking about like old timey hymns, but you said there was a song that they sing saying last year. What was that? 2019? No, I don't do that. That one's hard. I know it's hard. Let's do. Tiny bit, take the melody. Go for it. I'll do the base. Boom, boom, boom. There you go. Kurt. Boom, boom, boom, boom, boom. There you go. And the moon is the only light. We'll see, I won't cry. I won't cry. No. Ah, come on girls. Just as long as you stand, stand by me. me. standby. And we'll see you guys later.