All posts by Gillian Foreman

Black Breastfeeding Week 2016, Cincinnati + Surrounding Area Events

Yesterday was the start of Black Breastfeeding Week – the last week of August, which was declared National Breastfeeding Month by the United States Breastfeeding Committee in 2011.

This distinction, to me, is one that is quite poignant because it highlights and places a needed emphasis on a population that deserves more:

more support, more outreach, and more resources for all women, babies, and families of color.

This is not a political statement. This is all based on research showing disparities in care, which I discuss at length below. And now we’re raising awareness.

In fact I did not post this yesterday because the attention needed to be on sites such a Black Breastfeeding Week, along with their incredible social media campaigns on Twitter, Facebook & Instagram.

First, let’s address why Black Breastfeeding Week is important. Then, I’ll point out events that are happening in the Cincinnati and surrounding areas, so that you can take part in supporting this amazing cause.


Black Breastfeeding Week.org has their own list of what makes it important to them. This deserves to be read and listened to; as the topic raised by #4 would have been overlooked by a middle-class white woman such as myself.

That statement above only highlights its importance. 

As a mother, lactation expert, childbirth educator, and mother’s support facilitator, I also have research-based reasons why this is important to us as a community of mothers and professionals:

  • Disparity of care. The majority of Lactation professionals in the United States are white. Yes, I know this includes myself. This unfortunately speaks to the realities of racial privilege as means and access to available training. This disparity needs to be recognized and addressed within training organizations, as well as in how we recruit and interact with communities outside of our own personal culture.
  • Lack of people of color in professional roles.  A lack of women of color in professional roles creates an even greater divide because of relatability. Women have better outcomes with professionals they can identify with, yet this lack of representation in advocacy and role models only furthers the goal of successful breastfeeding within African American communities.
  • Access to care.  Many people of color aren’t aware of the resources available to them in the general populace.
  • Economic divisions. In many, too many, places in the US, there are economic boundaries to getting the service, care, and educational materials needed. This is seen in surprising places, such as hospitals. (See the next bullet point.)
  • Institutional support. Black women report a lack of support to breastfeed by medical institutions that serve their communities, even from nurses, pediatricians, and lactation professionals in hospital settings.
  • Health differences. The sad fact is that access to prenatal care and health care in general for African American women in the United States is dismal, and it is a problem that spirals. Birth outcomes have a major impact on breastfeeding outcomes, yet African Americans have greater rates of Gestational Diabetes and hypertension, which then translates to childhood obesity rates, SUIDS & SIDS, and asthma. Many cite the reasons behind these health issues as going back to economics: access to food, housing issues, and preventative medical care.
  • Infant mortality. This is the worse statistic of all, and it is clear: African American infants die at twice the rate of their white counterparts, with higher rates of preterm birth, higher NICU stays, and lower birth weights.

At this point I want to apologize to Black Breastfeeding Week organizers, as this is not the Joyous Post idealized in this year’s awesome #BlackBFJoy theme. I’ll make it up to you tomorrow with a simply gorgeous breastfeeding photo story.

Today’s post was instead to explain, to educate, and to confirm the necessity of this week’s outreach. I sincerely hope you readers will pass along this knowledge to your own communities.


The idea is that when confronted with all of these factors, you can start to see a bigger picture. You can start to see how one person’s role can sadly cause a chain reaction of negative damage, yet also how one point of outreach could truly help a family, and therefore a child, a baby.

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So how CAN YOU be one of those points of outreach and support?

Happily, Black Breastfeeding Week.org has also compiled a helpful list of events throughout the week.

Here’s a list that’s local to Cincinnati and the surrounding areas. Visit the text link above to see what might be in your area if you’re not in Cincy, Dayton, Hamilton, or Indiana!

IN ORDER OF DATE + TIME:

Dayton, OH – Presented by The Color of MILK

Event includes face painting, refreshments, raffles, meet & greet doulas, midwives, and lactation consultants.

Saturday, August 27th, 2:00-3:30PM

Location: Northwest Recreation Center, 1600 Princeton Dr, Dayton, OH 45406

Contact Denise Thomas, 937.212.5847, bedrestandbeyond@gmail.com

Cincinnati – Presented by TrinityOutreach

Lift Every Baby event, with free breast pumps, nursing bras, and milk storage supplies

Saturday, August 27th, 6:00PM

Location: Blue Rock Park, 3010 Blue Rock Road, Cincinnati, OH 45239

Contact Natashia Conner at 513.620.6455 with questions.

Indiana – Presented by Indiana Black Breastfeeding Coalition

Family, Food, Fun! Splash park for little ones!

Sunday, August 28th, 4:00-7:30PM

Location: TBA

Contact Ryan Karim, ryankarim@gmail.com for information

Hamilton, OH – Presented by Butler County Breastfeeding Group and OEI/BCPRIM

Event is a prenatal birthing / breastfeeding class, childcare for women attending, and mother-led breastfeeding support group, along with access to African-American CLCs and IBCLCs.

Monday, August 29th, 6:30PM

Location: YWCA in Hamilton, OH

Contact Tara Ramsey, 513.705.9040, ext. 2 for more, or via tarar@myprimaryhealthsolutions.org

Cincinnati, OH – presented by B.R.E.A.S.T. Friends (Black Breastfeeding Research, Education, Awareness & Support Taskforce) and the University of Cincinnati Medical Center

Wednesday, August 31st, 3:00PM

Location: UCMC Main building garden

Contact natashia.conner@uchealth.com for more

Also, check out BOOBS (Breastfeeding Outreach for Our Beautiful Sisters), a local non-profit in Cincinnati. 


Post your photos to any of my social media sites and tag @blackbreastfeedingweek #BBW16 #BlackBFJoy!

Help be a catalyst for change with every effort to better outcomes.

What is “Modern” Breastfeeding + Education?

While manning my booth at the Cincinnati Baby & Beyond Expo this year, I overheard the following:

Modern Breastfeeding?! … and education. What could be modern about breastfeeding? Women have done it for all of time.”

She wasn’t making fun – I saw it as a great question. What could be unique about me or my business to deign call it modern?

For me, it’s about philosophy. So let’s back up and give you a bit of backstory not everyone knows.

When I got pregnant I was inundated with #breastisbest marketing. What I didn’t know was that it was the result of generations of women who mourned a loss of breastfeeding, taken away from them by medications used without their knowledge after birth, a lack of know-how or support by professionals, and in many ways, a movement by women who were reclaiming their own bodies for their babies.

On the flip side it was also a harsh line in the mommy wars: what about the women who didn’t want to breastfeed, or worse, what about the women who couldn’t, and the spectrum in between, lacking in support or lacking in resources to get support.

I personally felt the mommy wars were thrust upon me, as while I saw no reason to judge others choices, I knew I wanted to breastfeed. It was against the odds, not only had I not grown up seeing it, my own mother stopped breastfeeding me at three months old for reasons she had trouble identifying, and I knew no one in my immediate family who has successfully done it. (A lone aunt, who lived 5 hours away from us became a source of support an inspiration, but in prractical application I was lacking.) Further, I was in a new city, fifteen-hundred miles away from family, and we did not have enough money ourselves to pay for loads of resources, so I had to be choosy.

But I also knew that I have a special talent – I can fervently devour information starting at the source, medical journals, then moving onto popular books and articles. I can pick a topic and dive into it beyond the normal realms of other people’s patience, to a place where othesr find the information noxious. Yay me.

My desire to breastfeed not only changed my entire birth plan, to my birth location, and provider, but it also helped me through a difficult postpartum period. It fueled a desire to completely change careers, culminating in getting a Masters degree in Health & Wellness, with a specialization in Lactation (remember when I said noxious), and my IBCLC.

I decided to call this, my business, Modern Breastfeeding + Education because that’s exactly what I seek to do. Lend a modern perspective and philosophy to breastfeeding, as well as to the education of new or repeat parents. So here’s a breakdown of what makes it “modern.”

Modern Breastfeeding is pro-feeding for babies. Unapologetic about the fact that some babies need to be supplemented, some mothers do not want to pump, and some families have strong feelings about weaning.

Modern Education acknowledges that there is consistent research about the benefits of breastfeeding, lactation how-to knowledge, and birth which deserves to be passed to every family. Therefore I’m also unapologetic that breastfeeding is the biological best food for babies, and that best practices to support breastfeeding starts well before and physically at the birth itself.

Modern Breastfeeding knows that statistics cannot override or govern individual choice. While breastfeeding may be the biological norm for us as mammals – our culture doesn’t make it easy.

Modern Education says that All Moms deserve support groups, not just breastfeeding moms. We also deserve to all take classes together, regardless of our birth goals. Because we are a community, and ending mom wars starts with ending mom labels.

Modern Breastfeeding says that moms can breastfeed anywhere, and should know their rights. They deserve employer and employment support.

Modern Education says we can start passing around best care information, and avoid the common pitfalls of cultural myths.

I sincerely hope you’ll join us, in a childbirth education class, prenatal breastfeeding class, newborn care or pumping class, or visit us at an event.

Ask more questions about what makes this “modern” and I’ll share! Let’s create something new in person, in the Southwest Ohio, Greater Cincinnati, Dayton, and Northern KY areas together, as well as online!

Relax! It’s National Relaxation Day!

Did you know it’s National Relaxation Day?!

And on a Monday. HI-larious.

I just found out at 5:00pm today, and the first thing I wanted to do was rush about and tell everyone. However, in the spirit of relaxation day, I took a pause, finished an appointment, ate some food, connected with an amazing woman locally, and for the purposes of this post, felt the floor.

What?

It’s ok, you read that right. I felt the floor.

I want to take this opportunity while I have your attention to teach you a relaxation practice, because true relaxation is a skill.

That’s right, I said skill.

It’s pretty typical for a childbirth educator to talk about relaxation. Aside from a multitude of research proving it shortens labor, decreases pain, and helps with oxygen flow to the placenta (i.e. to your baby), it’s also a skill to learn to slow down. It’s called: conscious relaxation.

In turn, conscious relaxation becomes an amazing skill to have when working with a breastfeeding mother, a woman suffering from any postpartum mood disorder, or mothers of toddlers. (Perhaps we all have to work our way up to that last one – its Master Achievement unlocked level.)

But in our modern world, we fast pace everything. We churn out work, stress about housework, return that e-mail after hours, then check our social media posts for events both personal and international.

We. Run. Mentally and energy-wise, we run; and then we wonder why we’re rundown.

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So read this through first, then set a timer.

In the spirit of an incredible book I read years ago, One Moment Meditation, read through this entire exercise, set a timer for 60 seconds, and talk yourself through a practice. Then, the next time you get cut off in traffic, yelled at by a barista, or argued with over showering alone from a three year old, you can have this as a skill.

Happy Relaxation!

  • Start wherever you already are. No need to change clothes.
  • Situate yourself so that you don’t have to hold yourself up, nor is any body part resting on top of another, i.e. your legs aren’t crossed.
  • Open your palms upwards to your face or the sky, whichever is most comfortable.
  • Taking in a deep breath, feel the floor. What parts of the floor (or couch or chair) do you feel more of? What parts of your body are touching the surfaces? Is your weight more on one side than the other?
  • Reposition yourself to be more even in weight distribution and feeling.
  • Breathe deeply into your more relaxed position. Each breath helps your body feel, simply, heavier, there’s less to hold up, more you can trust to the surface you’re on.
  • Now the only thing left to pay attention to is your breathing. In, deeply into your abdomen, out through your mouth, slow, careful.
  • Notice your pulse changes, your skin releases, tension spots start to let go. Pay attention to the physical.
  • If other thoughts, to-do’s, or stressors enter your mind, focus back on the physical. It’s only one minute, and it’s your body’s. It belongs to that one minute, not to what’s coming next. Breathe it out like a physical part of that breath. Then move on.
  • When your timer goes off, smile! You just helped your health, your energy level, and calmed your entire nervous system. Well done you!

A NEW kind of Childbirth Education for Cincinnati

Creating blurbs describing what is included in a GREAT childbirth education class is NOT easy for me.

After teaching for six years, being trained in various methodologies and attending over 120 births as a birth doula, and a Master’s degree; it is hard for me to tell you exactly how a class will shape itself.

Sometimes those who attend shape the class, whether they are second (or more) time parents, those pursuing VBACs (Vaginal birth after cesarean), single moms by choice, or those pregnant with multiples, in addition to the normal group of first-time, expectant parents.

Other times it is the teacher and their experience or methodology shaping what should be an individual event – something that simply isn’t one size fits all.

So let’s talk about:

What’s covered in a childbirth education class, what you will find in MY childbirth education classes that sets them apart, and as always, how to find a great instructor in your area if you aren’t located in the Greater Cincinnati, Dayton, or Northern KY areas.

photo by Jeanine Persichini

First, in your standard childbirth education class, you will receive knowledge on:

What to expect, before, during & after delivery. This should include the stages of labor, coping skills and strategies (even if you plan on an epidural), and labor positions. You will also discuss postpartum healing, the beginning of breastfeeding, and it should help your partner learn how to support you.

In a GREAT class:

You should also have time to discuss interventions versus intercessions, i.e. learn about the myriad of tools you can have in labor either by choice or by necessity. This refers to inductions, augmentation of labor, epidurals and spinals, and of course, family centered cesarean births. You can also learn when you don’t need those same tools in labor, or alternatives to those tools in natural, normal births. You should get to practice labor itself, combining the tools you have learned in a real world way.

After all, complicated situations can arise, and while a class cannot turn you into a medical care provider (nor even replace your nurse or doula!) it can give you the tools to make decisions as a team during an emotional and physical event. Further, you will understand what nurses and medical care providers are explaining to you or asking you while you are in labor.

A standard class should:

Prepare you for what happens when you are laboring at home, when you arrive at the hospital, and discuss the things to pack.

A GREAT class:

Will also discuss nutrition in pregnancy, preparing you for your GD screening (Gestational diabetes glucose test), weight gain during pregnancy and weight loss post-delivery, practice exercises that help your pelvis and pelvic floor prepare for birth, and help you in creating birth imagery that specifically helps you.

It should also help you identify how to make medical decisions, address fear surrounding childbirth, and feel like you have been given the tools for postpartum recovery and healing.

The truth is a birth is more likely to go smoothly when we are prepared to discuss the fears we have ahead of time, as well as what pain means, and how we deal with it. We shouldn’t be afraid to discuss pain with each other as women.

Being a part of the decision making at your birth is what makes the “4th trimester” an easier shift for you as a family.

Finally, while a standard childbirth education class should cover breastfeeding in the first hour / hours after birth …

A GREAT childbirth education class should address breastfeeding as the full time reality it is – starting at the first hour after birth.

I am not shy; I DO think we create a GREAT class together. It has morphed over the years into something that is student led, partner* focused, and psychologically helpful to those welcoming a new addition to their household.

If you would like more information on what each of the six weeks include, contact me! In addition to the class itself, you will get access to a password protected site with extra links, videos, and local resources. We will also have an optional reunion class after everyone has given birth to process our stories together! And of course, class six is a full Breastfeeding Basics class itself.

Come and see how a GREAT class can help change the conversation you have about your birth, your confidence about your birth, and you and your baby’s healthy outcome – which is the MOST important thing!

*Whatever that means to you, all ranges of single-mom’s by choice are welcome, as are LGBTQA families. 

Starred Pick068Not in the Greater Cincinnati, Dayton, or Northern KY areas? Here is a link to finding a great instructor in your area!

Why Childbirth and Breastfeeding Education should be taken in-person

With the myriad of books out there, YouTube videos, downloadable CDs, and class systems, it can get really tempting to take a class in the comfort of your own home and on your own time. It sounds … awesome! Unfortunately it’s not recommended.

Here’s why you should take an in-person Prenatal Childbirth (and/or) Breastfeeding Class, local to you!

1) Discipline

Clients, and their families, report the intention to read the books, watch the videos, practice the moves, but in reality report low usage, even when it is products they have paid for! In addition, those who do find they have the discipline, have no access to …

2) Getting Individual Questions Answered

By taking a class with a birth professional, you are face-to-face with someone who wants to help! Many report that the beginnings of any childbirth or breastfeeding education class raises more questions to mind than it answers – at first. Having a qualified instructor right in front of you is irreplaceable!

3) Local Resources

A local educator has a wealth of local l knowledge at their fingertips. Whether it’s simple, like where to get a massage, or as complex as hoping to hear about feedback of your own provider, the only person who can provide those resources is someone who is active in the birth community.

4) Practice

Practicing for your birth, meaning getting to practice the multitude of tools you’re learning in a real way, can be an invaluable tool. Not only can you do this in a great class, you can also take examples from the extra videos, handouts, and in-person measures a class provides.

5) Community

Certainly not least: Community. Everything listed above can be provided in a private class just as much as it can in a group setting. However, as someone who has watched entire classes create their own moms groups after delivery, it is wonderful to see everyday community being creating in prenatal classes. You are learning together, empathizing together, and ultimately sharing your birth stories together after the class has completed!

If you aren’t in the Greater Cincinnati, Dayton, or Northern KY areas, click here to learn how to find a great educator near you! 

While I hope this list gives you the impetus to find a group class that works for you, please know that any measure of education before birth improves you and your child’s outcomes! Enjoy it!

 

Vitamin D – Supplement Mom or Baby?

It has long been theorized that with enough Vitamin D supplementation for a breastfeeding mother, the amount needed for babies would pass through the mother’s milk.

Now this theory is confirmed, via a double-blind randomized controlled trial, which ran from 2006 to 2014, and was published in 2015.

Considering this information is incredibly new to the pediatric world, you may not hear about this from your pediatrician just yet, because it hasn’t changed the AAP recommendation.

Please note that this is an AAP (American Academy of Pediatrics) recommendation, not a WHO one, so outside of the United States this information benefits your health and baby in a whole new way.

Here’s the takeaway:

If you are a breastfeeding mom, whether directly or Exclusively Pumping (EP), there is an option to give your baby the daily dose of Vitamin D, via your body!

Instead of supplementing your baby with Vitamin D everyday, moms can supplement themselves with a minimum of 6400 IU/day, and the baby’s levels will be the same as a mom who does not take a Vitamin D supplement and gives their baby the recommended AAP dose of 400 IU/day.

Of course, if you don’t trust yourself to remember to take a daily supplement, the recommendation is to still supplement your baby directly.

Want more information?

Many questions and answers can be found on the KellyMom.com reporting of this, in an interview conducted with the researcher himself, Dr. Bruce Hollis.

Pass on the information!

Important Questions, re: Your Perinatal Education

1) Who is teaching the class? Can you find the instructor’s information beforehand? What are their qualifications, certifications, and continuing education credentials?

2) Is the class convenient for me?

Meaning, if you sign up, will you both actually get to go? Or can a friend, sibling, or parent go with you?

3) Is there a philosophy being taught? Are there any conflicting sponsorships?

4) Make a list of the subjects you want to learn about.

Then ask, are these being addressed in this class? If you aren’t sure from the class description, contact the instructor to ask!

This list has been generated by client feedback, please contact me if you’d like to add more! 

Ready to learn about Newborn Baby Care

You’re expecting, and you’ve read the books you want to read, you’ve attended the childbirth classes, and had the conversations with your care provider about your birth. You’ve registered, baby showered, shopped, and painted. Maybe you’ve even hired your birth and/or postpartum doula!

The point is, you are ready.

Wait. What about the baby part?

Psychologically speaking you weren’t ready to learn about baby care until now! Until 36/37 weeks gestation, most first time parents are consumed with what is going on in their body and life changes; being immersed in all of that is completely normal. Then there is a shift, where suddenly you do care more about the postpartum part, the feeding and diapering. The worry about sleep. The nesting is over and the wait for the “after baby” part sets in.

Oh My Goodness. I’ve never even changed a diaper.

(It’s ok! Again, this is completely normal. You’ll be an expert after 3.)

Seek out a Newborn Care Class! Although the majority of first time parents get most of their information from Dr.Google, friends, and family members, did you know that getting information together helps facilitate the stages of parenting that occur after birth?

In a class you can ask questions that are individually suited to your family’s needs. You can practice changing that diaper, learn about baby wearing and other soothing techniques, feeding expectations, and when to call a doctor or a lactation specialist.

More than that, in Modern Breastfeeding + Education’s Newborn Baby Care Class we help you learn about each other. Facilitating communication, partner and baby bonding, protecting the core relationship as parents, and the “new normal” that is bringing in a roommate who needs 24/7 care.

And learn about sleep. Sleep is real life guys.

I hope you’ll join us, and if you aren’t local to the Cincinnati, Dayton, or Northern Kentucky areas, here’s a helpful list of questions to use when finding any perinatal class locally, that is right for you!

photo by Jeanine Persichini

Birth Consultation

**NEW SERVICE**

Gillian Foreman wishes to use her vast experience as a birth doula, perinatal educator, and lactation specialist to help you achieve the best outcome possible! Therefore Modern Breastfeeding + Education is offering a new type of service: a Private Birth Consultation.

This is ideal for families / couples who:

  • are expecting twins, or more, and want to know about questions to ask care providers, normal protocols for multiples births, and more of what to expect
  • are pursing a VBAC (Vaginal Birth After Cesarean), as well as VBA2C, VBA3C, and HBAC. This can be especially helpful if pursued before pregnancy as we can address nutrition, physical therapy, healing, and care providers
  • aren’t sure what a doula is or even if they want one, but want individual questions answered about their upcoming birth
  • have questions about classes and resources in the Greater Cincinnati to Dayton area
  • had trouble breastfeeding a previous child or are worried about breastfeeding
  • want to review, or help compile, a birth plan, which is an excellent tool to discuss wishes with a care provider
  • are trying to conceive but have questions for a birth professional

This service is $100/hour, takes place in the comfort of your own home, and includes an educational binder.

Contact Gillian directly to discuss how you would like to use your consultation!

World Breastfeeding Week 2016

You may have noticed that the Week of Giveaways and this site’s launch coincided with World Breastfeeding Week. If not, then your social media algorithms are probably less attuned to breastfeeding and mom-based themes than mine. Huh, go figure.

What is World Breastfeeding Week?

This week, much like other social awareness campaigns, is a week set aside to promote and create awareness around breastfeeding. Sadly, in the United States this can seem like a promotion of privilege, as we know through research, and feedback from women, that access to resources, returning to work, support at home, and even the birth you have as well as the facility you choose to deliver at, can all directly contribute to breastfeeding outcomes. We’ll discuss each of those themes later, though, and how we can help other families overcome those barriers.

This year, World Breastfeeding Week is themed towards Sustainable Development.

Ok, that sounds super broad. The more direct breakdown of that reads:

“how breastfeeding is a key element in getting us to think about how to value our wellbeing from the start of life, how to respect each other and care for the world we share.”

In addition to supporting breastfeeding, then, this week is geared towards the more global and social perspective of promoting health, respect, and care for each other as well as for the babies we feed and the mothers who are caring for them.

So I challenge you.

  • Take the WBW Pledge.

By taking the WBW Pledge, you will list your location as a place that supports WBW, as well as “an event” which we’ll define in this post as individual actions you can take.  But that’s only the start.

  • Support

I challenge you to compliment, support, share, and honor families taking care of  babies and small children. Whether mothers have breastfed for 3 days or 3 years, wanted to breastfeed and couldn’t, exclusively pumped, or are breastfeeding now, one thing is certain: we want the best for our babies. We love our children. The action goals which you will read below acknowledge the early benefits that breastfeeding, and the larger awareness of early wellbeing, can have on our communities. This is something that the United States uses in our own Healthy People goals.

You can support a family or mother by providing a meal, paying for a coffee for the family in line behind you this week, or even walk up to someone feeding a baby in public and say thank you. In fact, below is a printable that you can hand to someone or use to tag them online. It is the little things that give us cultural messages of normalcy; we can make someone’s day by speaking positively to them.

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  • Take Action.

You can take a look online at the action folder and choose to take action in any of the ways to make this mission statement a reality:

  1. nutrition, food security and poverty reduction
  2. survival, health, and wellbeing
  3. environment and climate change
  4. women’s productivity and employment
  5. sustainable partnership and the rule of law
  • Donate.

In your own home there may be resources that can be passed on to support a family with their baby.

Donate sterilized bottles directly to a family versus goodwill. Donate pumped milk to a local milk bank for at risk babies, or even directly to a family, as long as you’re also willing for them to do a home visit and get medical test results from you. Nursing bras, tanks, covers, simple supplies, which are tax write-offs, make a difference when it comes to financial access for many.

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I’m going to thank you in advance for participating in World Breastfeeding Week 2016, because I know that even if you do just one thing on this list, that means there will be a domino effect your community.