Ladies Who Lead 2018

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TXK Today would like to commemorate the women in the community who go above and beyond the call of duty to improve Texarkana in various ways.  These women exemplify good character and contribute to others lives in a positive way.  Among those featured include an elementary school teacher, business owners, and non-profit members.

Erica Martinez Cain

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Cain is a Psychology Specialty Program Treatment Specialist for the U.S. Department of Justice, Federal Bureau of Prisons FCC Pollock, LA, ; Private Practitioner; Mental Health Counseling Services Business Owner — downtown Texarkana (Licensed Professional Counselor and Licensed Chemical Dependency Counselor)

She is a resident of Texarkana, Texas with her husband of eight years, Eric Brian Cain, and their Yorkshire Terrier, Lola.  Erica is a Licensed Professional Counselor and Licensed Chemical Dependency Counselor and works part time in her own private practice business in Texarkana, TX, providing counseling and mental health services to Texarkana and the surrounding communities.  She also works full-time in Psychology for the United States Department of Justice, Federal Bureau of Prisons.

Erica, and her brother, Angelo, were raised in New Boston, TX, by their parents, who have been married for 40 years.  Their father worked in maintenance at a chicken plant and their mother worked as a cashier at a grocery store. Despite financial hardships, their parent’s strong work ethic, resiliency, and self-sufficiency paid off as those same values were instilled in both her and her brother.  It is also these humble beginnings that laid the foundation for Erica’s heart of extreme gratitude and daily admiration and appreciation for the smallest blessings in each day.

She feels her purpose in life is to provide hope for the hopeless and comfort to those in pain.

”My natural God given talent is seeing the good in all people first and foremost and always finding the good in every situation.  I would have much rather have been a talented pianist or singer. However, these talents that I possess have been extremely beneficial in both my personal life, professional life, and in the lives I’ve influenced and for that, I’m eternally grateful.”

Growing up, college was never encouraged or envisioned for my future.   

“Also, I didn’t do well academically.  It was after high school that I learned to study and through encouragement from people along my adult life course, I learned to believe in myself and apply myself.  Collectively I have attended 6 different schools in pursuit of a higher education. I started out at Texarkana College then moved to Pennsylvania where I earned an Associate of Arts Degree in Education (with high honors) at Delaware Community College in Media, PA.  Afterwards, I attended Lincoln University and West Chester University as an Education major. Later I returned to Texarkana went back to Texarkana College and then took classes at both Louisiana State University – Shreveport and Texas A&M University – Texarkana to earn a General Studies with and emphasis in Psychology degree from TAMUT.  I began my graduate studies at LSUS and then transitioned to TAMUT to complete graduate studies at TAMUT with a Master of Science in Counseling Psychology (with honors). I was a nontraditional student and am a first generation college graduate. I’m proud of my academic accomplishments, and professional credentials as an LPC and LCDC. I’ve endured many hardships throughout my life but one year life literally knocked me to the ground…it hit me really hard and I needed help.  When I sought help, I was unable to find the right help – so I decided I was going to BE the help. Life can be hard and there are people, such as myself, who dedicate their lives to being of service to those in pain or experiencing difficulties. At one time, I literally rented a closet floor to live in, successfully completed 21 hours of college credit in a single semester, and also trained for and ran a marathon simultaneously. I am living proof that your past does not have to define your future. “

 

Cain is very active in the community, supporting the efforts of CHRISTUS St. Michael Health Care System, Texas A&M University – Texarkana Alumni Association, PEO-Chapter V, Domestic Violence Prevention, Inc., Alzheimer’s Alliance Tri-State Area – Our Place Day Respite Center, and the First United Methodist Church- Texarkana, Texas,     

As a Licensed Professional Counselor, Erica is committed to providing psychological support and mental health services to people experiencing pain and transition in their lives.  

“Outside of my love for CHRIST and the people I love, Mental Health is my calling, my passion, my purpose, and my world.”  

As an avid volunteer with the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP), Cain is committed to providing hope to those affected by suicide:  those who have experienced thoughts of suicide, suicide attempt survivors, and/or those who have lost a loved one to suicide. She is an AFSP Field Advocate, dedicated to building relationships with members of Congress and state legislators to prevent suicide.  She also provides a free support group called Strengths & Struggles to the Texarkana community, and individuals in the surrounding communities. This group provides support and encouragement for adults with general issues. The group is offered at First United Methodist Church Texarkana, TX 75501, every second Saturday of the month at 1PM.  

 

Cain is unequivocally passionate about mental health, education, and experiencing life.  She is also passionate about music (although she admits that she does not possess an ounce of musical talent. She is a self-proclaimed foodie and is passionate about spending time with the people she loves, enjoying the moment and discussing life.   

 

Cain loves the outstanding hospitality of Texarkana demonstrated by the residents of Texarkana.  

“That is why Texarkana truly is Twice as Nice.  I take great pride in Texarkana as I call this place and the people who reside here, my home. I’m proud of the rich and abundant history, diverse population, churches, parks, schools and educational opportunities, programs, Alzheimer’s Alliance Tri-State Area – Our Place Day Respite Center, the Perot Theatre, Ace of Clubs House, Regional Arts Center, and the beautiful downtown Post Office.  We have all we need and then some, right here in Texarkana. They say home is where the heart is and my heart is in Texarkana, with my family, friends, and people of Texarkana. “

 

Debbie Brower

Brower is owner of ALT Magazine, Debbie Brower Photography, Pinnacle Creative LLC, and partner in Legendary Shooting Sports, which includes a paintball park and firearms store.  She is the President of Partners for Paws Texarkana, a non-profit organization that raises money to help animals in need, as well as a foster mom and assistant for Passion for Pooches Rescue.

 

She was born in Mobile, Alabama and moved to Texarkana in 1983, where she met and married her husband, Mike, in 1989.  She holds both a bachelor’s and master’s of marketing from Texas A&M University-Texarkana. She has a colorful career background, having been a certified legal assistant civil litigation specialist, a court reporter licensed in both Arkansas and Texas, a marketing director, and is now busy with her businesses. 

 

Brower has one daughter and son-in-law, Jaclyn and Marshall Gooding, and one son and daughter-in-law, Michael and Lacretia Bates, who live in the Dallas area.  She and her husband, Mike, have 9 “children” who live at home — their rescue dogs, Libby and Bogart, standard poodles, Lexi and Petie, toy poodles, Gianni, Sweet Pea and Annie Marie, Bichons, Millie, a Maltese, and Polly, the terrorist Terrier. They also have anywhere from 1 to 4 foster dogs at the home at any given time.

 

 

“My passion is helping others – whether that is in human form or canine form. I believe that giving to others is so much better than taking. I love helping animals, specifically, because they cannot help themselves. There are so many people who mistreat their pets (or what they call their pets) and in a perfect world, those pets would all be loved by someone instead of being mistreated. I don’t understand how anyone could get a pet, then leave it alone constantly, leave it outside and never interact with it, put it on a chain and never do anything but throw some food and water at it, or give it away because it’s been with them its whole life and at 10 years old, they no longer want it. How can anyone do that to a poor, defenseless creature?  I try to help find homes for those neglected pets so that they can live their lives like they should have to begin with.”

 

Brower truly loves Texarkana, “It’s the people here are what make me proud to be a part of this wonderful city. I have so many friends who all share my love of giving back, who want to be involved in helping others, who have become a part of my family. I have made strong, meaningful relationships and we work together to make a difference. Besides, it is a great thing to say I’m from Texas! People listen! What better than to have great restaurants, including Whataburger, the Perot Theater, a growing downtown, and a courthouse that sits in two states?”

 

When she isn’t in Texarkana, Brower is travelling and adding to her life experiences.

“I love to travel! I love the beach, where I go regularly with my daughter and son-in-law. My husband and I have traveled to Alaska three times – one of the most breathtaking places on this earth! I hope to travel to Europe next year! We have had so much fun the past 5 years going to different places! “

 

 

Layla Hazin

Layla Hazin is wife to Dr. Hazin, Mother of three, CASA Board Member, A&M foundation board member, Eagle Impact Board for TAMU-T member, and St Michael’s foundation executive committee

Hazin explains that she always has difficulty explaining where she is from because she considers herself a “third culture kid”, “someone raised in a culture other than their parents’ or what is on their passport.”

 

When you include the fact that she has resided in several other countries, speaking various languages, her origins become even more complicated to explain.  This complexity has given Hazin anxiety in the past. However, she now embraces her various cultures that have contributed to her childhood.

 

“I’m trilingual, can connect with any human (or animal) and have a love of cooking (and eating) any cuisine.  I’ve lived under a Monarchy, an anarchy (yes really), and nations with various forms of democratic rule. I was a resident of the most peaceful country in the world, and have also lived through two major wars, The Persian Gulf and Palestinian-Israeli.”

 

Hazin explained that in one country, she feared being fined for upsetting the cows because their milk is so valuable there.   In another country, she described having to wear a gas mask to school for fear of Saddam Hussein’s chemical weapons. Despite her obstacles, Hazin traversed and overcame those fears.

 

“ I wanted to understand how even though we are all human beings everywhere, there are some people that have superior quality of lives, while others suffer poorly.   It allowed me to search for what makes life better for this group of people and how choices lead to misery in others. “

“Everybody dies but not everybody lives.” is a quote that really resonates with Hazin after all her life experiences.   Living in so many places meant having to start over each time, having to learn to acclimate to her new environments.

 

“This benefited me tremendously, because it allowed me to see how people are really the same everywhere.  We have cultural differences, different cuisines, and perhaps opinions, but fundamentally all people want the same things.   What is it people want? Happiness, love, and to make sure their families are okay. We may have different ideas on how to achieve these goals, but all people everywhere share these desires.”

 

Her epiphany brings a great sense of peace and to where she is able to connect with any person, regardless of whatever box society places them in.  Living in Texarkana is no exception.

 

“In Texarkana, there is a palpable feeling that we are all in this together.   I believe it’s because we all want the same things. We all want happiness and to raise healthy families.  It’s clear to me that Texarkana has even more untapped potential and our community members know this. We are pushing for our town to reach this unrealized capacity and it’s a very exciting thing to witness.”

 

Suki O’Neal

O’Neal is the Community Educator and KLA Coordinator for HealthCARE Express.  Through HealthCARE Express, she has been able to serve the community in many capacities that she never thought possible.

 

O’Neal explains that they have created actual community events such as an Easter egg hunt and Halloween Carnival for the city of Wake Village, provided pictures with Santa, and called bingo at the senior centers.

 

“ I also do daycare presentations to promote health and wellness at local daycares as well as attend area high school football games with our mascot. I have been a part of The American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life, Texarkana’s Komen Race for the Cure, The Literacy Council’s Spelling Bee, The Healing Place’s Back to School Bash, The American Heart Association’s Heart Walk, The Dragon Boat Races benefitting Hands on Texarkana, Stuff the Bus Campaign for United Way, United Way’s Community Impact Committee, Ambassador for the Texarkana Chamber of Commerce, and member of the Twin City Marketing Alliance group.”

 

O’Neal grew up in New Boston, Texas and has been a resident of Texarkana for the last 25 years. She married Warren O’Neal who she travels with often. Twenty five years ago, O’Neal was hit head on by a drunk driver and it fractured her pelvis in five places. She was not supposed to survive that crash and that near death experience has stayed with O’Neal all these years, keeping her from taking things for granted.

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“I’ve been to Europe, the Bahamas, Playa del Carmen, Belize, and the Dominican. I’ve only had three careers in my life time. I was a courier for Fedex for 9 years, worked in banking for 15 years, and now I’ve been with HCE the past 3 years. I am currently a student at Texas A&M with less than 20 hours to complete for my bachelor’s degree in business. “

 

She is  passionate about finding the best in others, giving people hope, and allowing those who want to be a part of something make a difference in the lives of people they do and do not know.  O’Neal and her friends created a nonprofit foundation called Friends for a Cause back in July of 2014.

 

The non-profit received  501C3 status as of June of this year and she couldn’t be more proud of where the vision is taking them. The group primarily raises money to help any type of cancer patient with costs that insurance does not cover. However, when not fundraising for cancer patients, the foundation’s goal is to partner with other local organizations to help give a hand up in our community. People are coming to them wanting to know how they can be a part of FFAC. “That is one of the best achievements we could master is sharing the dream and allowing others to live it with us.”

O’Neal has also been fortunate enough to be a part of the formation of HealthCARE Express’s leadership program called Klondike Leadership Academy. Children from the ages of K-5th are taught core concepts of leadership traits that will allow them to be more responsible, be held accountable, and to take action in their home, school or community.

 

“I’m a firm believer in the results of this program because I have witnessed first hand student and parent testimonials about how KLA has changed their lives. This will be our third year in the Texarkana area and in that time I have helped bring KLA to over nine schools in the Bowie, Miller, Little River, and Hempstead County areas. We will only continue to grow KLA and it’s my mission to help plant our company values of serving our community and leaving a legacy of leaders.”

 

The people are what make O’Neal proud of the community. “I love the relationships that I’ve formed over the years and how giving people are. For every bad seed you come across there are 10 good seeds that grow and prosper our community.”

 

 

Stephanie Potter Barrett

 

Barrett is the Elected Prosecuting Attorney for the Eighth Judicial District-South.  She served as Secretary and Treasurer to the Teen Court Board of Directors and is on the Executive Board for the Texarkana Country Club.  She also served on the Boys and Girls Club Board and the College Hill Elementary Parent Teacher Association Board. From 2005 until 2010, she served on the Planning and Zoning commission and has served as Secretary to the Texarkana Bar Association and the South/East Young Lawyer Representative to the Arkansas Bar Association.

 

“I am a member of both the Arkansas Bar Association and the Texas Bar Association. I am a sustaining member of the Junior League of Texarkana and a member of the Texarkana Alumni Chapter of Chi Omega. I have been a member of P.E.O., an associate member of the May Dale Garden Club and a graduate of Leadership Texarkana.”

Barrett is the first female to be elected as Prosecuting Attorney to the 8th Judicial District- South and comes from a family of lawyers. “There are 7 lawyers in my family that practice right here in Texarkana.”

She has two children, Lawson Potter Black, age 14, and Mary Elizabeth Black, age 9.

Barrett graduated with honors from Arkansas High School in 1991 and later graduated from the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville with a B.A. in 1995. In addition to her studies at the University of Arkansas, she also attended George Washington University where she studied international relations.

 

“I studied foreign language at the Monterrey Institute of International Studies in Monterey, California. During law school, I studied comparative law at Oxford University in Oxford, England. I graduated from law school at the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville in 1997.”

 

After law school, she was a law clerk for Judge Terry Crabtree at the Arkansas Court of Appeals until 2000 when she returned home to Texarkana to begin a private law practice. Barrett spent the next seven years in a private general practice. In 2007, she went to work as a deputy prosecutor. In 2014, she became the elected Prosecutor for the Eighth Judicial District South which contains Miller and Lafayette County. Recently, she was re-elected to another 4 year term.

 

Justice is what motivates Barrett. “I never pray to win. During preparation for and before every trial, I pray that Justice be served and for the truth to prevail. The criminal trial process is so very hard on the victims and their families. I have personally experienced this first hand in another jurisdiction going through the long arduous court process all the while dealing with the stress and trauma that a violent crime can invoke on a person. When I went through that process, I was a criminal

defense attorney. I made up my mind then that there had to be a better way to seek Justice while keeping the victims and what they and their families are going through in mind.”

Knowing that some delays and detours in the road to closure are inevitable and unavoidable in some circumstances, She is  passionate about a fair and speedy resolution and it motivates her to do everything she can to assure a clean, straightforward presentation of evidence at trial as possible. For the same reasons, she believes it is important to keep the victims and families informed about the process and the possibilities of delay. Knowing what to expect can relieve stress and anxiety that so often accompanies the court process.

She is also motivated by the law enforcement officers that work so hard in the streets to keep the community safe and put their lives at risk bringing the criminals to us to prosecute. “My office prosecutes cases from not only the cities within Miller and Lafayette County, but from the sheriff’s offices, Arkansas State Police, Game and Fish, Insurance Fraud Investigators, Bi-State Drug Task force, Fire Marshals and other law enforcement agencies. Those officers work hard doing their jobs and I want to work hard to do my part with efficiency in mind.”

Barrett explained she is motivated by the hard working people in my office. She explained she is fortunate to have such a dedicated group of individuals, deputy prosecutors and office staff, that work as a team to accomplish the goals we set as an office.

“I am extremely proud of their dedication, their commitment and all the time they spend away from their families to make sure the job is done and done well. I find that passion for your work is easily maintained when you surround yourself with those that are passionate about their work as well.”

Barrett thoroughly enjoys her work and have a great desire to continue to serve the citizens and victims of Miller and Lafayette County so that we, as a team, can fight crime, punish offenders and protect our communities.

 

Barrett has lived on the east coast and the west coast and several places in between. Shes lived in large cities and small ones, but she is  proud to call Texarkana my home because, “Texarkana is perfectly situated to enjoy so many different activities,” she explained. Texarkana is a short drive to Shreveport, Little Rock, Hot Springs and Dallas, yet has the lowest cost of living.

“ If you like outdoor activities like water sports, fishing, hunting, or canoeing there are lakes, streams and woods available to you for a day trip. If you like the Country Club life of tennis, fine food, socials and golfing, we have the finest golf facilities and country clubs at a very small fraction of the price you would pay in a big city. If you want to go to theaters, restaurants or shows, we have that as well. We have an airport and an Amtrak station, so traveling from here is easy too. We have the southern charm, hospitality, and the neighborly spirit that you don’t receive in big towns. It’s a perfect place to raise kids with plenty of kid friendly activities including parks and sports teams. We have affordable colleges and universities here with easy access to educational opportunities and vocational training opportunities. With all that said, I have to say that the main reason I feel so proud of Texarkana is because I grew up here, my parents grew up here and even my grandparents grew up here. My family roots run deep in Texarkana and I am very proud of that.”

 

Monica Kelley

Kelley is a Childcare Investigator and Business Owner of Snazzy Chic Boutique.

She is a Member of Polly Chapel Missionary Baptist Church, Junior League of Texarkana and currently serving as the President of Packs with purpose, Treasurer for Grid Iron Football League, and a participant in The Policing Experience program through the Texarkana Texas Police Department.

Kelley’s Bachelor’s degree is in Human Services from LeTourneau University in 2012 and Texas A&M Commerce, where she earned her Master’s in Management in 2017 with the credentials to be a professor.

She also is the founder, owner, and CEO of Snazzy Chics Boutique. SCB is a local boutique that offers women apparel, graphic tees, gifts, collectibles, accessories, and shoes; we ship all over the US right now.” Our first storefront is located Downtown Hooks, TX.”

Kelley is predominantly passionate about children and fashion. She is motivated about the well being of children, as she has seen the good, the bad, and the ugly. “I am motivated by fashion by giving women the opportunity to dress, look, and feel snazzy,” she explains.

She is proud to live in Texarkana because of its population. She travels quite a bit to the city and is always glad to get out of the traffic when headed back home.

Recently, Kelley celebrated 15 years of marriage to her husband, Donnie Kelley, Jr., owner of Elite Sports Training, and together we have two children: Tyler and Trentyn Kelley and one English Bulldog, Ghost.

 

Deanna O’Malley

O’Malley is a Rural Health Specialist with the Arkansas Department of Health

She Currently serves as the Secretary for a national organization called NUSA, (Neighborhoods, USA). NUSA is a 21-member Board with representatives from 19 different states. The mission of NUSA is to build and strengthen neighborhood associations and to promote productive communications and collaborations among those associations with both the public and private sectors.

 

She is also a member or board member of: Main Street Texarkana, the Regional Music Heritage Center, Pink Behind the Thin Blue Line, the Southwest AR Prevention Taskforce, several health coalitions across southwest AR, a volunteer with the American Red Cross and am working with the AR Community Corrections to start the Re-Entry coalition where the mission will be to ensure successful offender reentry, reduce recidivism and to enhance public safety.

She is a certified child passenger safety technician, working closely with 1st Choice Pregnancy, CPS and the Police Dept., checking and installing car seats as needed.

 

“Fitting car seats is a free service to any parent who wants peace of mind that their child is safely secured in their seat. I’m also a volunteer with the cities and have sat on numerous planning committees for festivals and parades in town. I also host our annual National Night Out block party in our neighborhood. My husband and I own a food concession and when disaster strikes, we work with first responders providing food while rounding up volunteers to help with donations as the responders need them to ensure our community remains resilient. Two years ago, with the city going through transition, I recruited volunteers to help keep the two main festivals going; Mardi Gras and Railfest.”

She has four children, Destiny, DeLana, Dawson and DayLee (four out of 21 and 3 generations of ‘D’ names) and an awesome 2 year grandson. We love to be outdoors, at the lake, geocaching, spending time with friends, hosting people at our house and working in our concession trailer. If we aren’t busy doing those things, we are cheering on our daughter in competitive cheer competitions or our son running. He’s completed the Chicago Marathon twice; the first one when he was 16 years old.

O’Malley started volunteering when she was 11 years old, working after school and on the weekends with a program called DATE (Drug, Alcohol, Tobacco Education). She was hired at age 16 and became Director of the Youth Services at Red River Council on Alcohol and Drug Abuse at the age of 21. O’Malley continued serving the community by becoming a 911 Dispatcher for the Cities of Texarkana and eventually the Miller County Sheriff’s Office.

 

In 2005, O’Malley served as the co-chair for the Breathe Easy Ark-Tex coalition, where she worked for 18 months educating businesses about the clean indoor air act that was passed in the City of Texarkana, TX and eventually Texarkana, AR. After the flood in 1998, she became a Red Cross Volunteer and served as Shelter Manager during Hurricane Katrina and worked the Albert Pike flood as well as the latest flood in the Garland, AR area.

 

“Just a few short years ago, I was part of a volunteer effort with a great group of individuals who worked tirelessly to win $100,000 to build a dog park in Texarkana. That grassroots effort ended up winning another $100,000 for a dog park on the TX side, and eventually a handful of other social media contests that totaled almost $300,000 in monetary gifts to the city.”  

Her biggest motivator is her children, wanting to give them every opportunity to have a great life.

 

“We don’t live in the biggest city with the most amenities but that doesn’t mean life has to be boring. I love to be a part of anything that provides families opportunities to have fun together. It thrills me to see moms and dads making memories with their little ones. Whether it’s playing with their four legged friend at the dog park or dressing up for a float for Mardi Gras, the people are the reason that I keep on keeping on. When I travel to my NUSA conference every year, I see the potential that our city has. I want to do what I can to make our city just a little bit better than it was yesterday.”   

O’Malley explained that every city has its bad; potholes, old playground equipment, dilapidated buildings, and even negative Nancie’s; but my family decided 7 generations ago to make Texarkana home and that is what makes me proud to live here. For every old building, there is a new one being dreamed about. For every negative person, there is a handful of positive ones that will give what they can to make our city a better place. And just about every corner I turn, one of my ancestors walked the same walk, played on the same playground or visited the same building years before I did. Texarkana will be my forever home!

 


Kendal Dockery Thompson

Thompson teaches second grade at Theron Jones Early Literacy Center and is also the face behind the camera of Kendal Dockery Photography.  She is a community volunteer for the Junior League of Texarkana, and is currently serving as Arrangements chair for the Mistletoe Fair.

She was born in Texarkana, but her family moved to the Fort Worth area shortly after. In 2004, her family returned to Texarkana, and she enrolled in Pleasant Grove in seventh grade.

 

:It was at Pleasant Grove where I discovered my love for photography, and I started my side hustle at the age of 16. (It’s hard to believe Kendal Dockery Photography turns 10 this year!) I graduated from Texas A&M Texarkana in 2014 and started teaching at Theron Jones Early Literacy Center in 2015. I’m going into my fourth year of teaching second grade, and I can’t imagine myself anywhere else!”


Thompson is fortunate enough to pursue two passions in her life right now. Thompson’s photography has taken her places and allowed Thompson to meet some of her very best friends. Teaching lets her serve the community in so many ways.


“I actually have several huge prints hanging in a hotel in Australia! The hotel saw my work on a website and bought 12 prints to decorate the lobby and rooms. I’ve always wanted to travel there and see it all in person.”


Texarkana is the place where Thompson has grown a small photography business into a full-blown career, and it’s also the place where she met the love of her life, Ty.

 

“This town has shaped everything about my life, and the community continues to support me. This year, I casually posted a status on Facebook asking for friends to sponsor my classroom by providing a book for a student and committing to pray for him or her throughout the year. Within a matter of minutes, I had 24 kids sponsored with a new book and a year of prayer! When there is a need, this community makes sure it’s met.”

 

 

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