Archive for the ‘ Grant Recipients’ Category

February Amber Grant Awarded to LimeLoop

Monday, March 11th, 2019

Last Monday, we announced five February Amber Grant finalists. Today, we’re excited to share the recipient and the qualifier for our $25,000 year-end Amber Grant.

Congratulations to the all-women team at LimeLoop. Co-Founder Chantal Emmanuel discusses LimeLoop’s mission, quantifies the company’s environmental impact and shares much more in our interview.

WN: Share the genesis of LimeLoop and the world-wide issue you’re tackling.

CE: LimeLoop was founded a little over a year ago, but the idea came about many years before when our CEO, Ashley, was looking for a sustainable way to ship her own packages. At the time, she couldn’t find any. She asked her sister to sew a fabric pouch which unknowingly became the first prototype of a LimeLoop shipper.

Today, using recycled billboard vinyl, we’ve designed lightweight, durable, and returnable shippers to reduce our reliance on single-use cardboard and polybags, and get us one step closer to making e-commerce a zero-waste, circular economy.

WN: What advantages do you have over competitors in the space?

CE: Besides the huge environmental gains (for every 10,000 shipments, you’ll save about 70 trees, 90k gallons of waters, and 200 gallons of oil, compared to conventional packaging; not to mention the process of returning our shippers to fulfillment centers save 80% on emissions compared to overseas recycle processing) by pairing our shippers with the data platform, we’re offering great logistical benefits as well. Remember, shipping logistics were designed for a 50 year old retail economy.

Limeloop is able to alleviate the pressures of figuring out the logistics of the brands’ sustainability packaging process, so that the retailers can focus on all the other things needed to keep their business running. While e-commerce seems so ubiquitous with the way that we live our lives these days, it’s important to remember that it’s still pretty much in its infancy. It’s only 15% of the way that we shop these days. So these problems that we’re seeing as far as keeping up with the demand and the environmental impact are just the tip of the iceberg.

WN: How does the cost of shipping via LimeLoop compare with traditional methods?

CE: Our shippers are rented by the brands at a per shipper per month basis, so the specific saving will be based on the brand’s partnership with their current packaging company.

That being said, considering brands are generally able to get two round trips out of a shipper each month while also gaining access to our digital platform, we’re seeing that the cost is generally comparable, if not less.

WN: Have you had conversations with major players USPS, UPS and FedEx?

CE: We’re actively seeking partnerships with the major couriers. We would be happy to support them in their efforts to be more sustainable and we know that in working together we can continue to improve the overall experience for both our brands and their end consumers.

WN: What advice would you give to an aspiring female entrepreneur?

CE: The quicker you can shed any fear or nervousness you have around seeking guidance, gathering advice, and asking for help from those both in and out of your network, the better you and your company will be. Just remember to pay it forward when the time comes.

January Amber Grant Awarded to The New Norm

Monday, February 11th, 2019

Last Monday, we announced the January Amber Grant finalists. Today, we’re delighted to share the recipient and the qualifier for our $10,000 year-end Amber Grant.

Congratulations to Lauren Choi, Founder and CEO of  The New Norm. We caught up with Lauren to help shed light on her mission and her future goals.

WN: What problem does The New Norm highlight and how do you plan to solve it?

LC: It came to my attention that America is facing a recycling crisis and most people are not aware of this issue. Many recycled goods are no longer accepted by China and end up in landfills. This is terribly unfortunate.

Over the summer, I started doing research and tried DIY Youtube videos showing me how to make thread from plastic water bottles. When I went back to school, I decided to form a team of students from different backgrounds, skill-sets and majors. In three weeks, our team grew from 1 to 20 members. I could just feel the excitement. This was a problem people were interested in addressing and I felt their support.

We have 2 technical teams designing and making a machine that will melt, homogenize, and extrude plastic into a filament that can be woven into fabric. We also have a public policy team researching Baltimore’s recycling policies. We decided to call our business The New Norm, because we hope to show everyone that fabric can and should be produced this way.

We spent a week during winter break building our first prototype. We held a five-day design sprint where we wired, welded, cut metal, and assembled our machine. Our machine will melt and homogenize plastic like a 3D printer and produce a thin filament. This filament will be cooled to room temperature and spooled out of the machine. We will be working with an experienced weaver who will make fabric from this filament.

All our team members are undergraduate students at Johns Hopkins University, which is located in the heart of Baltimore. Baltimore is a city that can save money by recycling. Out of the 370,000 tons of traditional recyclables Baltimore produces, only 16% of metal, glass, paper, and plastic is recycled. That is a shockingly low number. We want to help Baltimore to develop ways to employ their own residents, help local communities within the city and feel empowered that we are changing our world by creating a cleaner planet that can support future generations. Over time, our method of producing synthetic fabric will change the textile and fashion industry.


WN: How are you getting the word out?

LC: We are using social media; we have created a website and Instagram. We are promoting our mission through Instagram to spread awareness to our peers, families, and the surrounding community. The Instagram is linked to our website, where people can learn more about our origins, ideas, and progress. We’ve already received donations through our website – it’s extremely encouraging to see that others believe in our mission.

WN: How are you leveraging the resources provided by your University? Perhaps you can share some advice with other college-enrolled entrepreneurs. 

LC: The best piece of advice I could give to someone hoping to start a business is to talk to as many people as you can and truly listen to what they have to say. I had this idea over the summer and came back to school with so many questions for my professors. Setting up meetings and sending all those emails is what put me in contact with an alum that works at Under Armour. He listened to my ideas and overwhelmed me with advice on the different paths I could follow. It took me 2 weeks to process everything he said. I came to the conclusion that I needed to start a business in order to pursue my idea.

I am so grateful to live in an age of start-ups. The reason our team is moving so quickly is because each student on the team is excited, has new ideas to share, and has chosen to dedicate their free time towards a project they are passionate about. This is an environment unique to new companies, but particularly to The New Norm. It’s been an incredible experience to be a part of – it inspires me every day.


WN: Discuss some of the major goals/timelines you’re aiming to hit in the coming months/years.

LC: Once Prototype 1 is producing filament, we want to design different nozzles that can extrude filaments of different diameters. Our Materials Technical Team will be running tests and designing adjustable features to add to Prototype 1 so that our filament can be strong and elastic. This is what we need to weave or knit stretchy fabric into clothing. We hope to have fabric by this summer.

Using this grant, we want to build Prototype 2 that can handle various types of plastic. We are going to start collecting recyclables from our school’s campus so we need a machine that is more versatile with different plastics. Over the course of working on this start-up, I have found that many of the on-campus buildings are not actually supported by the school’s waste collection plan. In order to collect recyclables on a larger scale, we are going to distribute bright orange bins in popular areas around the school and in the neighboring apartment buildings. We want our community to know who we are, support our cause, and be accustomed to this method of recycling.

Our goal for the summer is to head towards producing athletic wear. Using our experience with our two prior prototypes, we will make a third prototype that can handle significantly larger amounts of plastic. This will be a culmination of everything we’ve learned. Prototype 3 will be able to extrude strong, elastic filament that can be woven or knitted to make durable fabric for clothing and athletic wear. It will be able to print filament of different diameters, have adjustable heat settings, and be able to handle various types of plastic.

We hope to collaborate and put a spotlight on student designers, Baltimore artists, and members of our team to create a line of unique, fashionable clothing. We hope that people will donate their ideas to our cause to start a ground-up movement. We are currently collaborating with Fiber students at Mica, an art school in Baltimore, to weave and knit our fabric. If we are producing on a larger scale, we would like to either buy our own loom or knitting machine or hire an experienced weaver to produce fabric out of our filament.

Finally, we will work with clothing manufacturers in the US to make different patterns of our designs. The designs will go through rounds of testing until we are satisfied with our product. We hope to have clothing by the end of 2019.

December Amber Grant Awarded to Access Trax

Tuesday, January 8th, 2019

On Thursday, we announced our December Amber Grant Finalists.

Today, we’re excited to reveal the $1,000 recipient and the 1st qualifier for our $10,000 year-end Amber Grant. Congratulations to Kelly Twichel, Co-Founder of Access Trax.

Their signature product — Beach Trax — is the only foldable, lightweight and temporary pathway designed to provide access over uneven terrain such as sand, gravel, dirt, or grass. In our interview below, Kelly shares how the idea came about, supplies advice for other aspiring entrepreneurs, and more.

WN: Access Trax started as an idea in grad school. Share the story of the company and what problem it’s solving.

Imagine it’s a beautiful Saturday morning and you’re out surfing with your friends. You drop in on a wave and fall off your board, getting swept up in the wave. Suddenly, you know something is very wrong as you hit the sandy ocean bottom. You have suffered a spinal cord injury and can no longer control your legs. Your whole life is now changed, and you will have to overcome many more obstacles than you would have as an able-bodied individual. One of the cruelest barriers is that now you cannot cross the sandy beach in your wheelchair to get closer to the water that you love so much. This can isolate you from spending time with your friends and family – and makes getting back to (adaptive) surfing much more difficult.

That is where Access Trax comes in.

Now, the World Health Organization defines a disability as a product of the interaction between a person and their environment. If we can modify this interaction we can dissolve the disability, and that is exactly what Beach Trax does. It is essentially a portable sidewalk that can easily be deployed and transported for personal or event use. Thirty linear feet of pathway folds and stacks into less than three inches high, weighing only fifty-five pounds! The applications are limitless: events, personal use, resorts, outdoor therapy, ADA compliance, etc. It is not just useful for people who use wheelchairs – the stable pathway is preferred by people with walkers, strollers, carts, canes, or just feet!

The idea stemmed from a class project while in school for Occupational Therapy in 2016. A classmate (now co-inventor and business partner) and I took on the challenge to engineer a product that would help local adaptive surfers cross the sand in their chairs with dignity and independence. Our humble hand-made prototype from Home Depot materials proved itself as 5 adaptive surfers used it to cross the sand at a local competition a few weeks later. That day, my partner Eric and I knew we couldn’t stop after only helping 5 people. We had to turn this into a viable business that could help solve the problem of outdoor inaccessibility for millions.

After earning our Master’s degrees as OT’s, Eric and I officially formed Access Trax in February of 2018. We are proud to produce Beach Trax in the USA and have been growing the business through product sales and event rentals. I consider my customers my friends and family, and I now have family in places like Hawaii, Mexico and Japan. In 2019, I will travel to places like Panama and Costa Rica to volunteer at adaptive surfing events and advocate for outdoor accessibility. I have worked with the most amazing people because of Beach Trax, and I am on a mission to share my product and dream with as many people as I can.


WN: Who’ve you identified as the target market for Beach Trax?

Our initial target market includes families of individuals with physical challenges that are active (or who want to become active) in outdoor recreation. It also includes non-profits and businesses that serve the adaptive surfing and watersports community, since their mission aligns so well with ours. There is a huge world-wide movement in adaptive surfing alone, with surfing being projected to be accepted into the Paralympics in the coming years.

We have just begun our second phase of marketing which includes local government and resorts that are in need of becoming more inclusive and ADA compliant. It is really exciting to get the interest of people in places around the world such as Australia, South Africa, England, and Canada.

WN: Talk about your involvement in the community — and any upcoming events.

We volunteer constantly. I think that is my favorite part of my job: I get to interact with people face-to-face and witness their joy when they experience the outdoors with less barriers. We have volunteered at numerous adaptive surfing events (Stoke for Life, Waves4All, the Hawaii Adaptive Surfing Championships, the World Adaptive Surfing Championships, Life Rolls On) and community events like the Junior Adaptive Sports Camp.

Our next event is in Oceanside at the January 19th Stoke for Life adaptive surfing clinic.

WN: What advice would you give to someone looking to start their own business?

I would tell anyone who wants to start their own business that it will seem overwhelming, but it IS achievable. Staying organized and finding the right mentors will help you immensely. I think I’ve used the SCORE resource (Service Corps of Retired Entrepreneurs) 20 times in the last year for things like my business canvas model, taxes, partnership questions, and sales and distribution. Also, don’t forget to set aside time for yourself! Finally, have fun sharing and celebrating your little (and big) victories with friends and family.

3 Additional Year-End Amber Grants Awarded

Friday, December 28th, 2018

Last week, we shared the recipient of the $10,000 year-end Amber Grant — Wasatch Nectar.

Today, we’re delighted to spotlight 3 runners-up, each to be awarded a $2,500 Amber Grant:

Locker Lifestyle (Kat Samardzija)

Amazingly Uplifted (Veronica Crafton)

Imagiread (Tiffany Rachann)

Congratulations to Kat, Veronica and Tiffany as they work towards a prosperous 2019. We’re excited to see what the future holds, not only for these ladies, but for each of our finalists. As always, our job was made incredibly difficult by the people and businesses we’ve been privileged to meet. We wouldn’t want it any other way.

Now, as we head into the new year, remember that our grants will continue to run on a monthly basis. That means we’re accepting December submissions for just a few more days. If you’re interested — or know someone in need of funding — please take a peek at the application page.

Happy New Year,

-The WomensNet Team

2018 Year-End Amber Grant Awarded to Wasatch Nectar

Friday, December 21st, 2018

Our $10,000 year-end Amber Grant finalists are a diverse bunch.

The list includes app creators, educators, musicians and more. They’re scattered all over North America, from Toronto to Houston and from Atlanta to San Francisco.

While we love the variety among these finalists, our multi-week quest to name one recipient has led us to a powerful conclusion: Truly, each finalist is worthy of this grant. Each has undeniable talent and business savvy. Each has encountered adversity — personally and/or in business — only to persevere and thrive.

You’re amazing entrepreneurs and even better people. And we can’t express how fortunate we are to have this opportunity to meet.

So below, we’d love to recognize each finalist for their accomplishment:

Anahata Collaborative

Imagiread

Madison Eats Food Tours

Don’t Forget The List

Norma

Cyant

Amazingly Uplifted

Good Morning Bedlam

Lisnen

Wasatch Nectar

The Skirted Soldier

Locker Lifestyle

Music Therapy St. Louis

A very special congratulations to Kristen Moffatt — owner of Wasatch Nectar — for earning the year-end grant. A dietitian and outdoor enthusiast, Kristen’s honey-based products provide active individuals with healthy, all-natural nutrition. We’re confident her thoughtful business planning and go-getter attitude will produce a bright future.

She shared a few thoughts about the big news in the video below.

Lastly, we’re excited to announce 3 additional year-end Amber Grants of $2,000. We plan to notify each of the recipients by the end of this weekend.

Thank you for reading — and a very happy holidays to you and yours.

-The WomensNet Team

November Amber Grant Awarded to Music Therapy St. Louis

Tuesday, December 11th, 2018

Last Monday, we announced our November Amber Grant Finalists.  Today, we’re delighted to reveal the $1,000 recipient and the first qualifier for the 2019 year-end Amber Grant.

Congratulations to Jaime Wilhite and Tracie Sandheinrich, owners of Music Therapy St. Louis. MTSTL’s talented team offers board certified music therapy services and consultation to their community. You’ll learn about their incredible work — and their plans for the future — in our interview below.

MTSL

WN: Share how Music Therapy St. Louis came about

JW: As a child, Jaime was always a dreamer: a kid with big eyes and big ideas. Too often she was reminded those dreams were too grandiose and unrealistic. But, what is our reality? It’s what we make it.

At the age of 30 years old, with a successful career in marketing, Jaime found herself at a life roadblock. She had done everything perfectly and followed the path of opportunity with the privileges she had. She did what she was supposed to do. At the end of the day, she found herself feeling empty, like what she did didn’t really matter. This feeling was a constant reminder after she lost her mother suddenly at the age of 24. She asked herself, “What did I want to do with my life? How can I make a difference?”

A year before, Jaime shadowed a board certified music therapist in a phase 4 school working with a child with autism. The child walked in, head down, and did not use words to communicate. By the end of the session, the child was making purposeful eye contact; he was engaged and energetically said, “Bye!” That moment changed Jaime’s life. She, literally, cashed it all in for two more degrees: one in music and a Masters in music therapy. She is officially an MMT, MT-BC.

Eight years later, Jaime had the honor to work in various populations: disabilities, memory care, psych, education, brain injury, and the hospital setting. She is also trained in NMT (neurologic music therapy), the study of the brain and music therapy interventions based on scientific outcomes and practice. Specifically, she is one of three board certified music therapists currently working for a non-profit 501c3 under Maryville University’s Kids Rock Cancer. In joining the team, Jaime met Tracie Sandheinrich MA, MT-BC, who helped spearhead Kids Rock Cancer nearly ten years. To say they “hit it off” would be an understatement.

At a very young age, Tracie found herself sitting on a stack of books and magazines just high enough to reach the piano keys. She grew up in a musical family, actively singing and playing music in her home church, and singing at the nursing home where her grandmother lived. It is without a doubt that Tracie knew and valued the power of music. After a chance meeting and introduction to the field of music therapy, Tracie never looked back. Tracie finished her coursework, followed by completing a clinical internship at St. Luke’s Hospital (Adult Rehab) and BJC Hospice. She graduated from Maryville University with a bachelor’s of science degree in music therapy in 2008.​

After her internship, Tracie was hired on with BJC Hospice in Farmington, MO (2007-2009) where she brought music therapy to patients who were diagnosed with terminal illness. In many cases, patients were seen in the home or long-term care facilities. Tracie was able to provide tailored music therapy interventions and work closely with an interdisciplinary team, which has helped groom her formal approach to providing quality services. Tracie believed that even in an unfortunate situation like impending illness, music therapy at its finest, can not only bring physiological and psychological comfort to the patient, but to the family as well.​

In November 2009, Tracie received the offer to help jumpstart a program called Kids Rock Cancer, a non-profit organization affiliated with Maryville University, whose mission is to help children and families facing the challenges of cancer and/or blood disorders through the process of therapeutic songwriting. As the senior music therapist, Tracie actively sees patients, supervises additional KRC team music therapists, supervises practicum and internship students, and enjoys community outreach and program development. Tracie continues to be inspired by these participants and families, and ultimately encourages each and every participant to write their own story. She believes, no matter what shape or form, everyone has a song to sing. In Tracie’s professional years of practice, she was also determined to better her counseling skills. Tracie completed her master’s degree in Professional Counseling from Lindenwood University in December 2018 and will continue to work towards finalizing her clinical licensure.

Jaime and Tracie both had private practices specializing in different populations before they met, but shared the same concern for quality care and woes of the contract-driven side of the music therapy world in our community. In many late night conversations, they asked themselves, “How can we take care of music therapists so they don’t burn out? How can we provide consistent and quality care? How can we be the most reliable resource to our community? How can we advocate and let people know music therapy is a “thing” and it is very much a clinical practice?” Well, no one else was doing it, so they did just that – a brand new company was born.

It felt as if the stars had aligned and they joined forces to create Music Therapy St. Louis, LLC, where the company now serves nearly every population: geriatric, memory care, individuals with disabilities, children fighting cancer, hospice, rehabilitation/TBI and much more. Music Therapy St. Louis is the first company in our area to hire an all women team of board certified music therapists as employees to co-treat and support clients as a team. When the team is not seeing clients, you can find them speaking, advocating and supporting community groups. They have big eyes and high hopes for 2019.

WN: What type of programs do you offer?

JW: Music Therapy St. Louis offers quality board certified music therapy services and consultation to patients, clients and families on both sides of the river of Missouri and Illinois.

They have a hand picked team of therapists specialized in working with children and adults with disabilities, hospice and palliative care, geriatric support, mental health/wellness and medical-related illnesses. Our philosophy is quality and a client-led approach, using music to aid in rehabilitation, enhancement and maintenance of cognitive, physical, social, emotional, psychological and spiritual functioning.

The team travels to facilities, homes, schools, agencies, hospitals, communities, care facilities and more, to bring quality services to the community. They have listened to our community and have heard the need for a space to host group music therapy programs and support services for children and adults of different abilities, especially to enhance our services and partnership with the Pujols Family Foundation.  Private families, agencies like St. Louis Arc and communities have expressed an interest for group services at our future building. This goal is part of our big dream in 2019. For long term, we envision having a safe and carefree environment to host other creative therapists.

Our Programs

Abilities Programs

MTSL works with all ages of all abilities in a variety of settings: private in-home, private small groups, agency hosted groups, employee after-work programming, education and more. They also work in inter-community relationships to coordinate and lead events like Creative Music Making, involving the St. Louis Symphony, St. Louis Arc and Maryville University’s Music Therapy students. Furthermore, they have developed and continue to grow services in the vocational setting in facilities such as Lafayette Industries in Missouri and SAVE in Illinois (St. Clair Associated Vocational Enterprises).

Children Programs

Music Therapy St. Louis works with children of all ages on goals using music therapy in private 1:1 and group settings. Facilities range from integrated early childhood centers like Childgarden Early Childhood Center to the privacy of your living room.

Their philosophy is client-led, meaning every child is unique and requires a custom session plan/goals and objective based on their learning and music preference.

It’s not a one-size fit all. Now that numerous research studies show there is no music “center” of the brain — people’s brains become active in multiple areas with music allowing them to achieve skills where, perhaps, one path of getting there appears to be
a challenge. Essentially, music may get the client there faster. The company also openly welcomes collaboration with other specialties: OT, PT, SLP, ABA and more.

Private sessions are 100% customized to clientele. Therapists bring everything to any site or home, and schedule a time that is convenient for client and family. When they go to homes, they start with an assessment. After the initial session, the MT-BC works with the client to define goals and will recommend a music therapy plan. Therapists have worked off of IEPs and have also customized a tailored client achievement plan based on the family/MT-BC’s goals.

Geriatric/Memory Care Program

Music Therapy St. Louis works within private 1:1 sessions, group settings, as well as specializing in memory care settings in Illinois and Missouri. Group settings range from communities to abilities with non-profit agencies.

Music therapy enhances quality of life and helps prevent or slow mental and physical deterioration. Music is a stimulus that can be adapted to the client’s needs and reach patients in ways other modalities cannot.

Palliative Care/Hospice Program

When working in hospice and palliative care, we focus on specialized support to meet the needs and comfort of clients and family in the home and/or long-term care communities.

Medical Program

Music Therapy St. Louis works with leading hospitals and medical support centers to bring Maryville University’s Kids Rock Cancer program to children and families.

Kids Rock Cancer is a non-profit organization directly affiliated with Maryville University’s Music Therapy Program. More specifically, board certified music therapists, specialize in assisting in therapeutic songwriting sessions with children, teens, and young adults that are facing the challenges of cancer and/or blood disorders. The program also serves participants who are directly affected by a cancer diagnosis, meaning that they have a sibling, a parent, a grandparent, or a friend dealing with cancer.

Kids Rock Cancer officially started back in November 2009 at the St. Louis Pediatric Cancer Centers (inpatient and outpatient), but has since grown rapidly to various community partnerships such as the Cancer Support Community, the Ronald McDonald House, the Washington University Proton Center, SLU Cancer Center, and numerous support camps in MO and IL for children and teens that are coping with some of the obstacles that come with a cancer and/or blood disorder diagnosis. With the affiliation to the Maryville University music therapy program, it’s allowed the company to have music therapy interns and continue to be a clinical site for upcoming music therapists in the program.

Both Tracie and Jaime are trained in NMT (Neurologic Music Therapy) and use these specific skills when working with individuals with TBI or other neuro conditions.
 They welcome prescriptions from neurologists and any other clinical staff. The company also conducted a pilot study providing music therapy in Washington University’s Botox Clinic for children. In addition to Botox, Music Therapy St. Louis, coordinates, collaborates, and leads BeatNF (Washington University’s Neurofibromatosis Center) children groups at Jazz St. Louis.

WN: How do you plan to use the grant funds?

JW: So much happened so quickly in 2018 with the merge and Music Therapy St. Louis is rapidly growing! The more Jaime and Tracie stay focused on the quality of care; it seems to uncover the true demand and need for this service in the area and surrounding communities. Music Therapy St. Louis is hoping to have a brick and mortar home base where the company can host music therapy and community groups. More and more facilities as well as families have inquired a need for this type of space. With a fast pace of growth, it is instrumental to get this piece of the business in place to meet the needs of our community and continue to grow our quality services.

Furthermore, we are working towards building a scholarship program for families and organizations that may not be able to afford services but could significantly benefit from them.

With Kids Rock Cancer, Pujols Family Foundation, St. Louis Arc, Lafayette Industries, St. Francis of Assisi, a plethora of long-term care and hospice organizations (and more), Jaime and Tracie find themselves grateful every day and continue to strive to offer consistent and quality care on both sides of the river in MO and IL. All of this would not have happened without their big eyes, big dreams, and big ambition for a new paradigm shift in local music therapy programs, which ultimately allowed Jaime and Tracie to cross paths.

WN: What advice would you give to someone looking to start their own business? 

JW: So much has happened in 10 years. Dreamers are dreamers. Doers are doers. It wasn’t an easy road but both Jaime and Tracie say, “It’s worth the reward.” During trying times, it’s important to seek out support systems. Surprisingly, not everyone in your life will be understanding of your life choices, but it’s important to make the best choice for you. We had to work hard to digest and accept those feelings and be okay with the idea that people are sometimes disapproving of our decisions and to follow the path, even if it means taking a huge leap.  Create your own path.” A favorite quote written by Mark Twain that continues to inspire them, “Keep away from people who belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you, too, can become great.” You never know where your dreams may take you.”