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Press Release: ROSE Community Transformer Training Aims to Reduce Racial Disparities in Breastfeeding in Sarasota County

FOR IMMEDIATE Release: April 15, 2016

DSC_1690ROSE Community Transformer Training Aims to Reduce Racial Disparities in Breastfeeding in Sarasota County

Additional efforts to train Care Providers and Provide Drop-In Support

The Healthy Start Coalition of Sarasota County, Inc. in partnership with Sarasota Memorial Hospital and the Florida Department of Health in Sarasota, was awarded a grant from the National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO) to reduce the growing breastfeeding disparity between African-Americans and Caucasians in our county.

Although the overall breastfeeding initiation rates are 86.4% in the county, only 66.5% of black residents initiate breastfeeding, with rates significantly dropping at 3 months.  The over-arching goal of the project is to increase local evidence-based breastfeeding support by: providing up-to-date training for care providers who already interfacing with our target population, implementing an innovative, culturally relevant peer support program for African-American women, providing drop-in breastfeeding support to targeted, underserved communities, and developing consistent messaging and materials for all partnering agencies.

As part of this project, Reaching Our Sisters Everywhere (ROSE), a non-profit organization from Atlanta, Georgia, will provide specialized training for women who have breastfed so they can support women in their own communities.

This two-day training will be held at the Sarasota Memorial Waldemere Plaza on Thursday, April 28th and Friday, April 29th, from 9am – 3:30pm. Lunch is provided, along with a stipend of $100 for those attending both days.

After this training, women can provide breastfeeding support to moms in their community informally or through hosting breastfeeding clubs or at one of the drop-in breastfeeding support groups that the grant is funding. These support groups will be held in Newtown, North Port, and at the Health Department located at 2200 Ringling Boulevard in Sarasota. While the first two are in the early planning stages, the Health Department’s drop-in support is set to begin May 7th and run from 10am to 12pm at the Ringling Health Center Location.

These paid opportunities will provide increased access to free breastfeeding support in areas that need additional services. This additional support, along with other activities through the grant, will increase breastfeeding rates and decrease the gap between populations.

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Welcome to our Blog!

931238_10151608524156407_1665736860_nWelcome to the official blog of the Healthy Start Coalition of Sarasota County! Here you will find posts about our events, local initiatives, and information about important pregnancy and infant health topics.

If you have any questions, concerns, or suggestions for posts, please contact us below!

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Our 2010 Annual Meeting is Around the Corner!

Click Here to download an electronic copy of the Annual Meeting Registration Form.

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Mark your Calendars! World Breastfeeding Week 2010 – August 1st – 7th

If you’ve participated in our door decorating contests in the past, then you know how much fun it is to take part in Healthy Start’s annual World Breastfeeding Week Door Decorating Contest!

Decorate an office door that is visible to the public with a message that promotes or supports breastfeeding. This year’s theme is: “Just 10 Steps! The Baby Friendly Way,” focusing on creating positive working environments and health care facilities for breastfeeding mothers.

Objectives of World Breastfeeding Week 2010:

  • To inform people everywhere that protection, promotion, and support of breastfeeding is a mother’s right, a child’s right, and a human right.
  • To enable women and all who care about human rights to fight for health care systems which support breastfeeding.
  • To revitalize activities within health systems, and among communities, to support women to achieve their breastfeeding intentions.
  • To ensure that all health works who care for mothers and babies are adequately trained to counsel and support them in optimal infant feeding.
  • To have FUN and creatively spread the word about the benefits and importance of breastfeeding!

To learn more about “Just 10 Steps! The Baby Friendly Way” and World Breastfeeding Week, please visit www.worldbreastfeedingweek.org.

To Enter:

Click here for the official 2010 WBW Door Decorating Contest entry form! Submit your entry by phone by calling (941) 373-7070, or fax it to (941) 373-7073. All entry forms are due by July 30th, 2010.

Judging will take place on Friday, August 6th, and winners will be announced the following Monday, August 9th.

Contest winners will be published in the Healthy Start E-newsletter, as well as posted to the Healthy Start Coalition website.

If you have any questions, please contact Tiffany Prater, (941) 373-7070 ext. 307.

Happy decorating! We can’t wait to see the wonderful and creative door designs you come up with this year!
Clock below to check out pictures from last year’s door decorating contest!

Theme: Breastfeeding: A Vital Emergency Response. Are you Ready?

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FDA Warns Against Overdosing Infants with Vitamin D

From the LA Times Blog:

The Food and Drug Administration on Tuesday warned parents about the dangers of giving infants more than 400 international units (IU) of vitamin D, a risk that is exacerbated by the spread of supplement containers with droppers that hold larger amounts of the vitamin. At the same time, the agency sent a letter to manufacturers urging them to mark droppers more clearly and to use droppers that hold only the recommended amount of the vitamin.

Vitamin D promotes calcium absorption in the gut and plays a key role in the development of strong bones. Supplementation is recommended for some infants, especially those being breast-fed, because a deficiency can lead to bone problems such as thinning, soft and misshapen bones, such as those found in rickets.  Overdoses of the vitamin, however, can cause nausea and vomiting, loss of appetite, excessive thirst, frequent urination, constipation, abdominal pain, muscle weakness, muscle and joint aches, confusion and fatigue, as well as more serious consequences such as kidney disease. The American Academy of Pediatrics thus recommends that infants receive no more than 400 IU of vitamin D per day.

The problem, the agency said, is that many droppers in supplement bottles are not clearly marked with the correct amount, or are excessively large, increasing the likelihood that a parent can inadvertantly give an overdose. If a parent is unable to determine the dose of vitamin delivered by the dropper, he or she should contact their pediatrician or pharmacist for guidance.

— Thomas H. Maugh II

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Think your smoking isn’t hurting anyone but you? Think again.

Secondhand smoke affects others in ways that may be surprising to the smoker. Learn more in this dramatic public service announcement (PSA). Written & directed by KT Curran. Cinematography & editing by Brad Bryan. Produced by Sarasota County Health Department. Starring John Collins and Amanda Schlachter. For help quitting smoking, call (941) 861-2876 or visit www.sarasotahealth.org

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Volunteer Appreciation Day

On Thursday, April 22, 2010, The Healthy Start Coalition held it’s first ever Volunteer Appreciation Day!

We wanted to say, “Thank you” to our generous volunteers who have selflessly dedicated their time to helping our cause.  The Coalition staff brought in  homemade treats to share with our Volunteers and presented each with a personalized “Thank You” card.

We’d like to thank Liz Murphy, Jamee Thumm, Jesse Coleman, and Abby Lindo for all of their hard work and generosity!

We will be holding these appreciation brunches frequently to remind our volunteers how much they mean to us! If you’re interested in volunteering for the Healthy Start Coalition, please contact: Miryan McDonald, at (941) 373-7070 ext. 300

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Happy Heidi Godman Day!

The Healthy Start Coalition is proud to recognize Heidi Godman for her invaluable service to the community, and especially for her coverage of issues concerning the health and well-being of pregnant women and infants.

At this evening’s City Commission meeting, Healthy Start Executive Director Jennifer Highland joined Director of Maternal and Child Medicine at Sarasota Memorial Hospital, Dr. Washington Hill, to present this special Certificate of Recognition.

In addition,  Sarasota City Commission proclaimed this day to be “Heidi Godman Day” in honor of her achievements. To read more, click here


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Happy Administrative Professionals Day!

We would like to thank Miryan McDonald for all that she does around the office! In addition to being our exceptional Administrative Assistant, Miryan is also a part-time MomCare advisor for Spanish-speaking clients! Thank you Miryan for all of your hard work!

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ACTION ALERT! Help Save Healthy Start Coalitions!

Tell Tallahasse: Florida babies need a Healthy Start!

The Florida House of Representatives Health Care Appropriations Committee  has made a proposal that will destroy the cost-effective and highly efficient network of care for pregnant women and infants in the state of Florida.

For the last 19 years, thirty-one non-profit Healthy Start Coalitions across the state have responded to their community’s unique needs to assure pregnant women get adequate prenatal care and other critical educational and counseling services to assure their babies are born healthy.  The Coalitions are instrumental in leveraging additional funding through public-private partnerships, thereby reducing government costs for these services.  Healthy Start Coalitions have monitored maternal and child health care needs in their individual areas and provided education to professionals and the public in order to prevent health problems which could affect mothers and infants.

The FL House of Rep’s budget proposal does not make fiscal or ethical sense:

  • The savings from eliminating the Healthy Start Coalitions’ systems of care will save the state $4 million.  Last year, the Coalitions leveraged $32 million additional dollars to provide these high-risk services….that’s $28 million that the state did not have to pay!  Does this make sense?
  • The proposal wants to cut the Coalitions and make the county health departments administer these specialized prenatal education and counseling services.  Only 42 out of 67 county health departments even offer prenatal care or see pregnant women!  Does this make sense?
  • The Coalitions have fine-tuned the risk screening process, reduced barriers that exist between the public and private sectors of health care, established reliable provider networks, and responded to local needs.  County health departments are not equipped to do this and in some instances are restricted from performing some of these activities.  Does this make sense?

The FL Senate in its wisdom has elected not to eliminate Healthy Start Coalitions because they know it makes fiscal and ethical sense now and in the future to help prevent low birth weight, prematurity, or fetal or infant death.  During the week of April 5th, the House and Senate will meet to negotiate the final budget.

Please support the continuation of this vital network of public-private partnerships which help keep tax-payers costs down.  Contact your legislator NOW – time is literally of the essence—to tell them you support what 19 years of experience has accomplished:  healthier pregnancies and babies.  Keep the Healthy Start Coalitions alive and well in Florida.

Visit http://flsenate.gov/Legislators/index.cfm to find your legislators’ contact information.

Legislators are meeting EARLY NEXT WEEK, so please contact them as soon as possible!

For a sample letter, click here.

For a downloadable and printable fact sheet, click here.

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Sample Letter for Contacting Legislators:

The Honorable (full name)
Florida State Legislature

Dear Senator (last name) ,

Last week, the Florida House Health Care Appropriations Committee recommended eliminating Healthy Start Coalitions and moving services to the County Health Departments effective July 1, 2010. As you know, this proposal would completely eliminate Healthy Start Coalitions and shift service dollars and responsibilities to County Health Departments. This concerns me as a taxpayer, a mother with potential future pregnancies, and an advocate for quality maternity care.

Why am I concerned as a taxpayer? While the state may save $4 million by cutting Healthy Start, it will lose approximately $32 million per year in additional funds leveraged by Healthy Start Coalitions. Overhead costs of county health departments are nearly 20%–more than twice the average local Coalition. Coalitions reduce barriers to health care and save taxpayers money through effectively promoting healthy outcomes for babies. As private, non-profit organizations, Healthy Start Coalitions ensure cost-effective oversight of services.

Why am I concerned as a mother with potential future pregnancies? Currently, only 42 out of 67 county health departments provide prenatal care. Healthy Start Coalitions have established reliable provider networks to ensure access to care and commitment to healthy outcomes.  This network facilitates universal risk screening for pregnant women and infants.  This is the foundation for determining the moms and babies most at risk for poor outcomes. Under the Coalitions’ current model, contracted prenatal and infant care services take place in both the private and public sector.  In 17 counties, care coordination services are provided by the private sector and no longer by contracted county health departments.  In 33 counties, MomCare services are provided in-house by Coalitions. County health departments are not equipped to take on this responsibility.

Why am I concerned as an advocate for quality maternity care? The Healthy Start Coalition model is a successful one. Healthy Start Coalitions and their universal screening program for pregnant women and newborns are credited with reducing infant mortality by 20% since their inception. That alone should speak volumes to you, and beg your reconsideration of this recommendation.


Your name
Your address

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Sample Letter for Contacting Legislators- 2

The Honorable (Full Name)

Florida State Legislature

Dear Senator (Last Name),
Thank you for your dedication during this challenging time for so many. We know you have some difficult choices to make.

We are writing to give you some insight and to express our concerns with the proposal to eliminate funding for the thirty-one Healthy Start Coalitions across the state of Florida and to transfer Healthy Start services to county health departments.

Local Healthy Start Coalitions provide a cost-effective system of care for all pregnant Florida women and infants throughout the entire state through a variety of means.  We have public and private provider networks in place to ensure pregnant women in all 67 counties have access to prenatal care.  Less than 63% of county health departments actually provide prenatal care themselves.  The loss of Healthy Start Coalitions would create large gaps in parts of the state where pregnant women would be unable to have prenatal care. County health departments ordinarily do not have the capabilities to secure private care arrangements outside of their own entities or across county lines.

Healthy Start Coalitions leverage additional dollars in their catchment areas to augment not only prenatal care, but other specialized direct services for women who are at high risk of prematurity, low birth weight, fetal or infant death.  In 2008, the Coalitions leveraged $32 million to expand community resources.  It is unlikely county health departments have the ability to orchestrate such an expansion to serve the needs of this population. As private, nonprofit organizations, Healthy Start Coalition oversight and administration is performed at a much lower cost. Overhead costs of county health departments are more than double the average rate of local coalitions. It’s the perfect example of “less government.”

In addition, Coalitions provide on-going education of maternal-child health professionals and the public, to assure the highest standards of prenatal and infant care are met and prevention messages are disseminated. Saves lives and dollars…maintain Healthy Start Coalitions and their community systems of care.
Thank you very much for your help!


Your name

Your address

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New Text4baby Campaign – Free Info for New Moms!

Sign up for a free national mobile information service that provides pregnant women and new moms with information to help them care for their health and give their babies the best possible start.

Women who sign up for the service by texting BABY to 511411 (or BEBE for Spanish) will receive free text messages each week, timed to their due date or baby’s date of birth.  The messages focus on a variety of topics critical to maternal and child health, including birth defects prevention, immunization, nutrition, seasonal flu, mental health, oral health, and safe sleep.  Text4baby messages also connect women to prenatal and infant care services and other resources.

For more info, visit: http://www.text4baby.org/

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Check out photos from the 16th Annual Community Baby Shower!

Click on the thumbnails below to see photos of The 16th Annual Community Baby Shower, Saturday February 20 at the Boys and Girls Club of Sarasota County. Pregnant women, new moms, and their families were invited for a free community baby shower, featuring educational exhibits from local health organizations and fun for the whole family!

Families were given free gifts through a raffle sponsored by the Kiwanis Club of Sarasota and the exhibitors, and children enjoyed games and face-painting by the Sarasota High School Key Club. Guests munched on snacks provided by the Kiwanis Club, and drank delicious smoothies donated by Sunni Bunni Frozen Yogurt. The highlight of the day was the Diaper Derby, MC-ed by Vice-Mayor and Healthy Start Executive Board Member, Kelly Kirschner,  where crawling infants raced across the finish line to win a month’s supply of diapers!

Check back soon for pictures from the Maternity Fashion Show and make-over!

Special thanks to our exhibitors:

  • La Leche League, Carol Donnelly LMHC, Family Nutrition Program, Sarasota Memorial Hospital’s  BABIESMH Program, Early Learning Coalition, First Step Women and Infants Program, Healthy Start Coalition of Sarasota County, MomCare, The Save My Life Program,  Child and Family Development, Kid Care, Birthways Family Birthing Center, Sarasota County Libraries Born to Read Program, WIC, Gulf Central Early Steps, Jewish Family and Children’s Services, Partnership for Children’s Mental Health

And sponsors:

  • The Kiwanis Club of Sarasota, Jackson Hewitt, Sunni Bunni, Bloomin’ Bellies, Fresh. Salon, Mary Kay Cosmetics, and Fabulous Finds
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Join us March 13th for Jenna Norwood’s “Mozart Effect”

Our new fundraiser is right around the corner! We are looking forward to joining all of our Coalition Members, Staff, Executive Board Members, and Friends for what is sure to be a fantastic afternoon of classical music.

Please join us on Saturday, March 13, 2010 from 2 – 4 pm for Jenna Norwood’s “Mozart Effect,” a classical music program and reception featuring popular Sarasota musicians performing the works of Mozart, Chopin, Beethoven, Handel, Liszt and Mendelssohn.

Performers include members of The Sarasota Orchestra, Piano Friends of Sarasota and The Steinway Society, featuring Maria DeLuca, Laura Jensen-Jennings, Joy Leitner and Eleonora Lvov.

The “Mozart Effect” is a term coined by Alfred A. Tomatis to describe the popular theory that exposure to classical music, particularly the music of Mozart, in the womb and during the first 3 years of life can have a beneficial effect on a child’s mental development.

This event is held in loving memory of Ruth DeLuca (1905 – 2005), founding member of the Sarasota Orchestra and beloved grandmother of Healthy Start Executive Board Co-Chair, Jenna Norwood.

Tickets are $25. All proceeds will go to The Healthy Start Coalition. Tickets can be purchased online by visiting www.HealthyStartSarasota.org, or by calling 1-800-838-3006. Tickets will also be available at the door on a first-come, first-serve basis.

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An Evening with Healthy Start – A Great Success!

On Thursday, January 21, Sarasota Architectural Salvage hosted “An Evening with Healthy Start”, the first major fundraising event effort by the Healthy Start Coalition.

The Equines kicked off the night with their rendition of “It’s my party” as guests lined up at the door to get inside. 74 event patrons purchased their tickets in advance, while 27 purchased theirs at the door, and 35 guests used complimentary “VIP” passes.  We were grateful to have sold so many advance tickets; the gloomy weather could have dramatically lessened our attendance.

Fortunately, the weather held out and the rain never came!  Guests flooded in and were greeted by Healthy Start Executive Director Jennifer Highland, MomCare advisor Teri Endres, and MomCare supervisor Anne Muir.  At the registration table, guests were given information about Healthy Start programs and volunteer opportunities, and encouraged to sign up for our E-Newsletter.

Event coordinator Ciera Galbraith made an announcement welcoming guests and thanking our generous sponsors – and we had a LOT to thank! Gold Coast Eagle Distributers provided 5 cases of beer and cider; Executive Board member Kitty Cranor sponsored 5 cases of wine; Michael’s on East, Poki Joe’s, Carr’s Corner Café, and Publix all catered food; Buddha Belly Donuts provided brownies and donut holes for the delicious chocolate fountain, and Sweetbay Supermarkets sponsored utensils for the food stations.

Ciera also announced our raffle and silent auctions, and thanked those sponsors. The prize item of the silent auction was a beautiful heart pendant necklace donated by world-famous jewelry designer, Ned Bowman, valued at $985. The silent auction also featured a spa package from Lourdes Salon (and Equines singer, Erin Murphy), a 1-hour massage by Lewis Pompii, and adorable baby “bouncies” donated by European Focus. We made a total of $575 from the silent auction! The raffle was also a great success, with items donated by Morton’s Market, The Fresh Market, Sarasota Candle Company, Lonjevity Café and Bar, and Sarasota Architectural Salvage. Raffle Tickets were sold at $2 each or 6 for $10. We collected almost $200 from raffle ticket sales!

Our executive director, Jennifer Highland, then spoke for a few moments about the importance of an organization like Healthy Start in Sarasota County, and shared some shocking statistics about fetal death, c-section, and breastfeeding rates.  Jenna Norwood, our Executive Board Co-Chair, also spoke a few moments encouraging guests to become involved and donate to such a worthy cause.

Back at the bar area set up in the back, Administrative Assistant Miryan McDonald, Education Coordinator Tiffany Prater, and Contract Manager Janice Baxter worked tirelessly to serve guests drinks for the evening. Patrons were encouraged to give tips at the bar that would be counted as donations toward Healthy Start – and we made over $400 in donations from tips alone!

The band played on through the evening while guests mingled and enjoyed the great food and beverages. Our poster model, 1 year old Selena Marie Akal, was in attendance and captured the hearts of everyone there.

Don Daly Photography donated photography for the evening, and got some great shots! Photos can be viewed online at www.dondalyphoto.com

The evening was overall a great success and we would like to thank all who contributed, sponsored, and attended. We raised over $2700 for Healthy Start, surpassing our goal for the night!

We are already looking ahead toward next year’s event and ways to make it even better.



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Join us February 1st!

An Introduction to Healthy Start

Date: Monday, February 1, 2010
Time: 11:30 a.m. -1:30 p.m.
Place: Hamme Conference Center at the Community Foundation of
Sarasota County
Address: 2635 Fruitville Road, Sarasota

Learn all about the Healthy Start Coalition of Sarasota County’s four programs and how they help pregnant women, infants, and young children. You’ll find out how to make referrals for services, what services are offered, who provides our services, and more! Excellent program for those who are new to the area or have not inter-faced with Healthy Start before. It’s also helpful for those who need to an update!

Free lunch with RSVP!
to 941-373-7070 or

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Save the date! January 21, 2010

An Evening with Healthy Start

Please join us on Thursday, January 21st, 2010 from 5:30 – 8:00 pm for An Evening with Healthy Start, a fund-raising event hosted by Sarasota Architectural Salvage featuring live music by The Equines, fabulous raffles, complimentary food from local restaurants, beer and wine, and in-store specials with all proceeds going directly toward Healthy Start.

The Healthy Start Coalition of Sarasota County is a non-profit, 501 (c)(3) organization dedicated to improving the health and well-being of pregnant women, infants, and young children in our community. We coordinate a variety of specialized programs to serve high-risk groups and address specific risk factors that contribute to fetal death, prematurity, low birth weight, and infant death. Our program includes home visits, education, counseling, and referrals for at-risk pregnant women. We also educate the community about important topics in maternal and child health.

Sarasota Architectural Salvage is a unique home remodeling store, featuring an eclectic array of furniture, architectural relics, and artifacts from historic Sarasota to around the globe. Located on Central Avenue near downtown Sarasota, it is a well-known staple of Sarasota businesses, popular among local designers, restoration specialists, re-modelers, and the general public.

Tickets are $15 in advance and $20 at the door and include 2 drink tickets and a $5-off coupon to SAS. Tickets can be purchased online at www.SarasotaSalvage.com or by calling (941) 362-0803.

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“Merry Mingling” Healthy Start Coalition Holiday Potluck

This year’s holiday pot luck was a great success! It was such a treat to spend time chatting and enjoying delicious food with all of our amazing staff, care coordinators, wrap-around service providers, members, and friends! As a gift, the coalition staff prepared brownie mix jars for all in attendance, and they were a hit! This year we also started a new tradition, the Gratitude Tree. Each person was asked to write what they were thankful for this year on the back of an ornament and hang it on the tree. It was so nice to read what everyone had to be thankful for! We are all truly lucky to work with such a great and inspiring group of people!

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KidFest North Port 2009

Healthy Start was excited to participate in this year’s Kid Fest North Port 2009, hosted by the North Port Area Chamber of Commerce. This free festival brought together dozens of local businesses and organizations to offer families and children a chance to get to know one another and learn through fun and creative activities.

Healthy Start sponsored a raffle, and gave two lucky families gift bags full of fun and educational prizes for kids. We also handed out information to expectant moms and families, and our felt storyboard activity center was quite a hit!

We were happy to spend some time in North Port and meet some of our South County Healthy Start clients, we can’t wait to come back next year!

*Special thanks to Healthy Start volunteer Joy Luce for helping out!

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