As I go through all the files I’ve embossed in the previous year I’m reminded, yet again, how thankful I am to have been a part of Growing Up Healthy and the Rice County Mental Health Collective. I have learned tremendously, every day, whether it was through having personal conversations about the difficulty of not having a valid driver’s license, or researching a grant to support mental health, or translating a mentoring flyer into Spanish. I have witnessed this community’s capacity to support all of its residents and the way resources get multiplied with collaboration. I’ve also seen how collaboration is not always easy or straightforward but how working together, like the Growing Up Healthy coalition models, to share resources, cross-promote programming, and support each other’s efforts creates webs of support and change systems to help more people, families, and children than any one could possibly do acting alone. It has also been my pleasure to get to personally connect with so many people from different backgrounds and have real conversations about needs in Rice County and hear different ideas for solutions. I’ve learned that arroz con leche is the best food on the planet and that, whether its sambusa or samosa, every culture’s fried-thing-filled-with-meat derivative is delicious. While sometimes overlooked, I’ve seen how these personal connections can shift a board’s decision, curry resources, and shape plans to create effective change. I am tremendously proud of the members of the Mental Health Collective for the good work they have done in the past year and cannot wait to see what comes next! Thank you again for the amazing opportunity and I’ll be keeping in touch from sunny Texas.