• Monday, February 05, 2018 4:06 PM | Deleted user


    Please join us in welcoming Victoria Reese to Nonprofit Network! She will be serving you as one of our Capacity Builders and Certified Bridges Out of Poverty Facilitators.  Drop a line and tell her hello! 




    Victoria Reese

    Capacity Builder

    Victoria@nonprofnetwork.org




    I’m ecstatic to join Nonprofit Network's team and to have the opportunity to introduce to myself. As a native of Battle Creek, I spent many summers in Jackson visiting my grandparents and have very fond memories of the community. 


    For most of my professional career, I have devoted my life to social justice and mission-driven work that has a lasting positive impact on vulnerable populations. Collaboration has been essential to my success and I have worked with multi-disciplinary teams to address violence against women, develop strategies to decrease inequities in health, and obtain a federal charter to operate a community development credit union to expand economic opportunities to improve the quality of life for low-income families. 


    I have an inherent belief that communities are whole and resilient and that the solution to any community problem is in the community. I also believe that when we co-create strategies with the public, we develop tactics that meet their needs and enable real change to occur. 


    I am affiliated with numerous professional and volunteer networks, giving me the unique experience of serving as both grantee and grantor. This has given me an in-depth perspective on the state of nonprofit organizationsthe changing landscape, the struggles they face, and their development needs. 


    I am married to my best friend, Tim. I have one daughter, two step-children, and four grandchildren. In my spare time, I enjoy teaching spinning, extreme couponing, and domestic travels. 


    My desire to be a part of an innovative organization that is forward-thinking, values equity and inclusion, and recognizes the need to partner with the community to bring about change has led me to my new role in Nonprofit Network. As I researched and learned more about the organization, its values and commitment to serving the community, I knew it was a perfect fit as it aligned with my personal goals and values. 


    I am delighted to add joining this great team to my credentials and look forward to meeting and learning from you.




    Please join us in welcoming Victoria!






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  • Tuesday, January 30, 2018 12:07 PM | Deleted user



    Carrie Heider Grant

    Program Coordinator

    Carrie@nonprofnetwork.org




    Say goodbye to boring meetings with these 10 strategies to promote engagement and innovation.


    Do you know how much time the average employee spends in meetings?  I asked the all-knowing internet and was surprised to find that the answers range from 18-50% of their time, depending on their role in the organization.  That is wild!  


    Time is, arguably, the scarcest of all resources at our disposal.  So it's critical not to waste it on unproductive and boring meetings. 


    A truly valuable meeting is built on three things: 

    1. Thorough planning
    2. Precise agenda
    3. Engaging facilitation.


    I am going to share some tools that we at Nonprofit Network often useboth internally at staff and board meetings and publicly with our clients—to make meetings engaging.


    Say goodbye to boring meetings with these 10 strategies to promote engagement and innovation.



    1)  Unplug.

    Keep a basket at the door to hold cell phones until the meeting is over.


    2)  Go paperless.

    Cut out all paper. Use a white board for notes (take pictures with your phone to preserve records) or use collaborative apps to share the agenda and working materials.


    3)  Leverage connections. 

    Phones can be incredibly distracting at meetings. But they can also be an opportunity to encourage attendants to stay engaged by utilizing apps to participate in conversation, polls, and dialogue.


    4)  Clear the clutter.

    Remove tables from the room to promote openness.


    5)  Color outside the lines.

    Provide adult coloring pages and materials to jump-start creative thinking, promote active listening, increase information retention, and decompress stress. You can also provide some tactile toys that people can fidget with during conversation to keep their hands busy and their minds focused on the dialogue.


    6)  Off the clock.

    Start at an unconventional time. Weird times are more memorable and can help to reduce tardiness.


    7)  Stay on your toes.

    Consider removing chairs and holding a standing meeting. But be respectful of all attendants and do not alienate colleagues that are wheel-chair enabled or otherwise unable to participate in a standing meeting. The intent is to keep people engaged, and isolating attendants would be counterproductive and possibly harmful.


    8)  Round robin.

    Hold round robin conversations to gather more perspectives.


    9)  Vote here.

    Use sticky dots to "vote" and voice opinions.  This creates a visual that reinforces consensus in the room.


    10)  Break it down.

    To make the most of your time as a large group, separate into small groups to dialogue, then come back together and have one person from each group share the key points of their conversations.




    Do you have any tried and true strategies that you use to keep people engaged in meetings?  Let us know!  I'd love to hear what you think.




    Need help getting out of a run of boring meetings? We can help you build a plan to get out of the boring meeting cycle.







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  • Thursday, January 11, 2018 9:38 AM | Tom Williams (Administrator)












    Tom Williams

    Capacity Builder

    Tom@nonprofnetwork.org




    With the New Year comes a perfect time to wipe the slate clean and take some new approaches to better ourselves.  This is great time slot at the beginning of a new calendar to consider your professional development. We know that enhanced professionals (at staff or board level) will positively impact the accomplishments of organizations.  Higher skilled leaders get enhanced results.


    Now that that ball has finally dropped in Times Square, a fresh look at your personal professional development is in order.


    You may know that we at Nonprofit Network facilitate a lot of workshops. I’ve observed during those sessions that there is always someone who is overloaded with new and different. They are overwhelmed by all the ways they could implement the information and need assistance in identifying next steps that are achievable. 


    So my recommendation is to keep it simple. 


    Identify a single, key skill that you feel will impact your development. Mastering that skill in 2018 will make a difference.


    I’ve waited until now to introduce you to the hard part.  New skills will bolster your performance as you implement them, but the truly valuable impact only comes when you have mastered them. 


    Mastery requires changing your behavior.  Changing your behavior starts with forming new habit.  And habits take time.  


    Most people expect a short journey to mastery and when it takes more time than anticipated, the effort is reduced, or maybe frustration stops the effort entirely.  Workshops are fantastic venues for exploring new skills, but the full potential comes from practicing what was learned and implementing the skills every day.


    Habits were once thought to be created over a three week period.  However, recent studies now tell us true “habits” will actually take 66 days or more to form.  Yes, that’s slightly over two MONTHS (not weeks). Don’t despair! Creating the new and powerful habit will be worth it. It will be a skill that not only immediately benefits your organization, but one that will stay with you for the rest of your life.  


    When to start?  I really like the old saying of the best time to plant a shade tree—the best answer: 20 years ago.  The very next best answer is TODAY.  If you start now, by the time our snow is gone for good, you will have a new habit.  


    Coming up are some workshops that may address the skill you identify.  Need to focus on self care?  We've got you covered.  Want to improve employee management and retention?  Not a problem. Ready to elevate the quality of your board management?  We've got that too.


    I’m not going to be so bold as to tell which skill you need to acquire. You know what it is already. Say it out loud. Now take a deep breath and get started identifying what you can do today on your journey to mastery.


    Touch bases with us if you want to talk it through.




    Do you want to talk about coaching?



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  • Wednesday, December 20, 2017 12:52 PM | Deleted user



    Carrie Heider Grant

    Program Coordinator

    Carrie@nonprofnetwork.org




    As we look forward to new opportunities in the new year, I want to share some of the exciting things on the horizon for Nonprofit Network.  Our 2018 workshop calendar is live, and there will be a few more workshops and tools added in the coming weeks.  This calendar looks and functions a little differently than those of previous years, and I want to take a few moments to highlight some of the exciting developments.  


    Let's take a look.

     

    Nonprofit Network Leadership Academy

    Calling all new executive directors! In early January, we will be opening registration for the Nonprofit Network Leadership Academy.  This is a training that we have developed exclusively for executive directors who have been in their role for fewer than 3 years.  Participants will be part of a cohort that will meet monthly June 2018 through December 2018. Academy registration includes a copy of the Michigan Nonprofit Management Manual.


    Innovative and Accessible Board Training

    Nonprofit Network is thrilled to say that we have a new vehicle to deliver board training.  Thanks to the support of Community Choice Foundation, we have been able to develop an innovative tool that nonprofits of all sizes, budgets, and life-cycle stages can implement to strengthen the board. I am excited to share more about this seriously cool tool in the next few weeks!


    Brand New Workshops

    We have a *slew* of brand new workshops in the coming year!  We’ll cover topics like planning, employee management and retention, understanding how policy changes will affect the sector, self-care, grant writing, and so much more!  Heads up, though: with the exception of a select few workshops, we will not be repeating classes. So register early when you see a session you want to take—it won’t come around again later in the year!


    Conference Content without the Week-long Commitment

    Multi-day conferences are expensive—both in cost and in time away from the office.  We know how hard it can be to carve out those resources, so we are offering a variety of full-day trainings in 2018 on governance, fund development, and leadership to make deep-dive, professional development more accessible and manageable.  



    Bridges Out of Poverty Workshops

    I cannot stress enough how much impact the Bridges Out of Poverty framework can have on communities.  We will offer at least four public sessions in 2018 and, as the content has recently been updated by the authors, now is the best time to register for a Bridges Out of Poverty workshop. 


    Foundations of Board Governance (aka Board 101)

    Foundations of Board Governance is the new name for our long-standing Board 101 workshop.  This foundational class has been polished up and will now be offered quarterly and at varying times to accommodate the schedules of more people.  We will rotate between mornings, afternoons, and evenings.  We’ll also offer Starting a Nonprofit Organization quarterly in 2018.  We want to make these basic and critical classes more accessible.  The first session will be on January 18spread the word!


    Nonprofit Network wishes you a very happy holiday season! 2018 is shaping up to be a busy and exciting year, and we look forward to seeing you there!


  • Wednesday, November 22, 2017 8:07 AM | Regina Pinney (Administrator)



    Regina Pinney

    Executive Director

    Regina@nonprofnetwork.org




    From the moment we are brought into this world, we begin to hear how important it is to be kind to others. Whether it was sharing your toys with a sibling, or including someone at recess, shoveling a neighbor’s driveway, delivering a meal to a sick friend,  we have always been encouraged to give to others. While we heard it often, most of us never questioned the phrase, “Sharing is caring.” That is, until we grew older.


    It happens to all of us at some point. We begin to question if our efforts are really worth it. We begin to calculate if we have enough resources to allocate to others. Eventually, the kid who valued the idea of sharing whenever possible begins to question if they should even share at all. I’m here to tell you to that you are more influential than you think and that every act of giving you perform creates a butterfly effect that changes the world.


    Giving your time or a donation to an organization creates a shockwave. A small donation to an organization can help carry out a mission that inspires others to give as well. Giving your time can inspire others to join an organization or be the extra boost it needed to succeed. Helping spread a message can help educate someone that otherwise would never be exposed to it.


    You see, the simple act of giving is not so simple. Sir Isaac Newton's first law states that every object will remain at rest or in uniform motion in a straight line unless compelled to change its state by the action of an external force. 


    As long as you are trying, as long as you are giving in some way, you are that external force. 


    You are the difference maker. 


    You don’t have to give a million-dollar donation to make a shockwave, you can it give your time to help build a playground. A playground where someone may learn for the first time that “sharing is caring.”




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  • Thursday, November 09, 2017 12:51 PM | Katena Cain (Administrator)



    Katena Cain

    Management Consultant

    Katena@nonprofnetwork.org





    Bridges Out of Poverty is the most important work that I do as an employee at Nonprofit Network. We have been teaching this model to organizations and individuals for over three years, training city staff, hospital residents, housing sector employees, school districts, medical professionals, police departments, and so many more. 


    That’s 30 organizations and over 3,000 individuals.


    Bridges Out of Poverty is a proven way to counter poverty and its impact on people and businesses in your community. And it’s working.


    In fact, here are the immediate changes one group that serves and employs people living in deep poverty implemented as a result of our work with them:


    • All employees can request half of their paycheck early to help prevent the need for payday loan services
    • All forms have been rewritten in plain language
    • To increase staff's accessibility to residents that cannot take time off work, staff now works four 10-hour days instead of five 8-hour days.
    • Baskets of toiletries, toilet paper, and cleaning supplies are available to staff


    In September 2017, an updated revision of Bridges out of Poverty resources and materials were released. I traveled to St. Louis and spent three days immersed in the content and sharpening my skills and knowledge as a certified trainer of the Bridges material. This training and the updated material have changed the way I teach Bridges Out of Poverty. If you have already been to a training, it’s time for you to come back for a refresher and new insights.


    If you haven’t experienced Bridges Out of Poverty before – or are ready to take the next step – then now is the time to take action. The insights and strategies you learn have the potential to transform your entire community.


    Nonprofit Network’s vision is to transform nonprofits to transform the world, and this work is making that vision a reality.


    For more information on Bridges or to sign up for an upcoming public workshop—there’s one on the November 28th—visit our website or reach out to me. I love to talk about this work.





    Want to know more about having a customized Bridges Out of Poverty session for your organization? 








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  • Friday, October 20, 2017 9:27 AM | Deleted user



    Carrie Heider Grant

    Program Coordinator

    Carrie@nonprofnetwork.org





    As a capacity building center, Nonprofit Network teaches best practices for nonprofits. Depending on your organization's size, stage, structure, or mission, there may be some variables in how you should operate and govern.  But there are some things that are universal and apply to us all. 


    Myself? I'm a data person who values evidence and solid science when it comes to my perspective on the world.  So if I told you that there is a way to improve the quality of conversations and decisions at your board and staff level that may take you out of your comfort zone, andwith enough hard work and planningwill be worth every minute, would you bite?


    I recently came across some research from 2008 that looks at the impact of diversity on group functioning—specifically on how a newcomer impacts decision-making and the quality of decisions made by a group.


    Here’s a breakdown of how they conducted the research:


    50 fraternity and sorority members were placed in same-gender groups of four people each. Every group comprised three members of the same fraternity or sorority (the “oldtimers,”) with a fourth person who was either another member of that same fraternity or sorority (an “in-group”) or was a member of a different one (an “out-group).


    The old-timers came together in their individual groups after reading a series of interviews from a murder investigation and discussed which suspect was most likely the murderer. Their task was to discuss the case for 20 minutes and reach consensus on the culprit. After five minutes, the fourth person—either an in-group or an out-group—joined them.



    Here are three of the most significant findings from this study and some suggestions for how you might apply them to your own organization:


    1) The groups that were all in the same fraternity or sorority (oldtimers + in-group newcomer) were more often wrong in their final decision. While the groups that had an out-group person added to the mix were more frequently correct. Having a homogeneous group was a clear disadvantage.


    Study your recruitment strategies at the board and program level.  How are you ensuring that you are bringing people to the table who have different perspectives and experiences?  



    2) The out-group newcomer didn’t necessarily bring in new ideas. But rather their presence raised the water level of the quality of the group’s discussion. The presence and influence of an outsider disrupted the cognitive processing and the exchange of information within the group. This study specifically sought to “determine whether the benefits of newcomers only occur when they brought in a new idea.” The results overwhelmingly demonstrated that the advantage of an out-group newcomer was most valuable when they did not bring in a new idea


    Examine your culture.  How are you intentionally building relationships in your group that allow for discussion and constructive conflict?  Are you allowing newcomers to influence your discussions? How are you planning crucial conversations to grow your capacity and effectiveness?



    3) When the 20-minute discussion ended, the groups were surveyed about their experience. As you might expect, the groups of like-minded people were more comfortable during the process—but they were also more confident that they chose the correct answer. The groups with an out-group newcomer reported being more uncomfortable during the process and less confident in the accuracy of their decision—even though they were right!


    Evaluate your effectiveness. Do your perceptions line up with how well your organization is actually performing? Measure the data and identify how to improve as a whole.




    Nonprofit Network strives to be a model of inclusion. We engage all people with dignity and respect. We believe that bringing diverse individuals together is essential to effectively address the issues that face current and prospective partners.


    We know that conversations around diversity, equity, and inclusion can be difficult and uncomfortable.  But we also know that they can be enormously valuable and it is imperative that the nonprofit sector pursues these values.


    Looking for more general information? Check out this resource page from the National Council of Nonprofits. 


    Nonprofit Network has worked tirelessly for the past three years with the team at Michigan Nonprofit Association to build a comprehensive tool that assesses an organization's practices. This Diversity, Inclusion, and Equity Assessment is one the many ways we can walk with you to build your capacity. 




    If you're ready to talk about how you can move your organization forward in this critical work, let us know.








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  • Thursday, September 28, 2017 10:08 AM | Sharon Castle (Administrator)


    Sharon Castle
    Capacity Builder

    Sharon@nonprofnetwork.org


    “The three most important ways to lead people are: by example…by example…by example.” - Albert Schweitzer

    Fundraising doesn’t happen in a vacuum. If you want to move your organization toward a culture of fundraising lead by example – educate and advocate on behalf of your organization; make a personal gift and volunteer to assist in areas for which you are not responsible.

    As a consultant, I often find myself repeating to potential clients, “If you want to hire me to fundraise for you, I’m not that kind of consultant. Effective fundraising is the product of a cohesive organization with strong and viable programs where all members are engaged in fundraising. What I can do is help you strengthen your fundraising capability and success.”

    The strongest fundraising programs are often found within organizations that embrace a culture of philanthropy. Merriam Webster defines philanthropy as “goodwill to fellow members of the human race; especially: active effort to promote human welfare.” And, “an act or gift done or made for humanitarian purposes.”

    Creating a culture of philanthropy does not happen overnight – particularly in organizations that have been without such a culture – and requires the buy-in of everyone, including grounds keeping and housekeeping staff to administrators to volunteers helping run a program or answering phones to the board chair and everyone in between. Turning the corner and establishing a culture of philanthropy can be done with time, patience and buy-in from board, staff and volunteer leadership. 

    Here are some strategies that you can start using today:

    Include all staff in fundraising activities and treat them well. I organized a grand opening event and invited the program staff to attend with the one stipulation that they sit among donors and enjoy dinner. Unbeknownst to me, I was breaking a long-standing tradition of not inviting staff or inviting them with the understanding they would take tickets, help set up or tear down or some other chore. I held my ground and, in the short term, was the beneficiary of a grateful program staff and donors who were regaled with interesting stories. In the long term, the program folks understood the importance of being ambassadors for the organization and became my link to prospective donors.

    Ask program staff their goals and aspirations. Encourage them to share program stories including struggles and successes. This will help build trust and provide a link between program and fundraising. As a development officer, I shared my annual goals with program staff and asked them to share theirs with me.

    Include fundraising as part of the recruitment and orientation of board members, volunteers and staff so they understand and view it as “part of the whole” and as well as their role in encouraging a philanthropic culture.

    When recruiting board members, ask them where they think they best fit in the philanthropic process. It may be by acting as an ambassador for programs; hosting a small gathering of friends to learn more about your organization, and of course making a personal gift.

    And, most importantly: Lead by example…lead by example...lead by example.


    Learn more about creating a culture of philanthropy at Moving Your Organization from Fundraising to Philanthropy on September 14.  






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  • Thursday, September 14, 2017 8:06 AM | Tom Williams (Administrator)



    Tom Williams

    Capacity Builder

    Tom@nonprofnetwork.org


    What comes to your mind when you hear the word "discipline?" Is it a child is being punished as a result of misbehaving? Does it bring to mind the restriction of choices from being part of a highly organized group like a military battalion or a high school marching band? I encourage you to not let the negative definition restrict you from giving the results oriented version proper consideration. Over the next few hundred words, I want to put the word discipline in context of nonprofit success. I want to make the case that it is a positive practice that will transform your organization.

    The well respected business and nonprofit management author Jim Collins tells us discipline is the difference being a "good" nonprofit and being a "great" nonprofit. In his short, 40-page monograph called “Good to Great In the Social Sector,” he shares being a great nonprofit is the result of being disciplined in three specific ways.


    3 Disciplines of the Best Nonprofits:


    1) Disciplined people are those that are absolutely on fire for the organization’s mission and deliberately surround themselves with like-dedicated people that will act on that ambition to see the mission be reached. 


    2)  Disciplined thought is that consistent effort to address whatever issue is between you and mission obtainment and to operate in the specific space where your passion, resources and your niche in the community intersect.


    3) Disciplined actions are those that operate in the framework of responsibilities and the relentless building of incremental progress to obtain, increase and benefit from organizational momentum.



    Collins makes the point that great nonprofits include disciplined people, disciplined thought and disciplined action. In this context he is using the definition of discipline being a prescribed pattern of behavior.Collins shares that the nonprofit sector would greatly benefit from more disciplined planning, more disciplined people, more disciplined governance, and more disciplined allocation of resources.


    In my personal experience, I have observed well-disciplined nonprofits revisit thorny issues less frequently (time and energy saver), they have better relationships with their supporters (through the discipline of consistent contact), and they retain their board, staff, and volunteer human resources for longer periods of time (roles and responsibilities are clearer and understood by all). Organizations that adhere to a disciplined approach to their work aren’t rigid and emotionless, but rather they are consistent and relational because they know and practice those efforts that lead to mission obtainment.


    Take heart, discipline can be learned. Once it becomes a habit, you have arrived.


    Practical ways to become more disciplined:

    • Leadership makes the decision and declares the intent to be held accountable
    • Increased documentation of all decisions reached
    • Awareness and dedication to adherence of best organizational practices
    • Clarification and documentation of roles and responsibilities of board, committees, and each staff person
    • Time spent projecting (and documenting) the need for resources
    • Increased awareness and adherence to meeting start and stop times
    • Organizational commitment to meeting all promised deadlines.
    • Time devoted to prioritizing tasks so as to address those most important for organizational successes

    Initially, becoming more disciplined takes additional time. However, upon becoming disciplined, your efficiencies will provide you more available time than you currently enjoy.



    Want to discuss this further with Tom?




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  • Friday, August 18, 2017 10:05 AM | Sharon Castle (Administrator)



    Sharon Castle

    Capacity Builder

    Sharon@nonprofnetwork.org




    “I don’t have time to meet with donors about their estate plans. I’m a small shop and I wear many hats.” 


    “I would love to have a planned giving program, but it’s almost the end of our fiscal year and I’ve got to raise 30% of my goal if I’m going to make budget. Plus, our annual gala is next month and I’m swamped.” 


    Sound familiar?


    If your organization does not market planned gifts as a giving option you are missing an opportunity to help build its capacity and long term sustainability. Consider a 2016 Gallup poll that reports only 44% of Americans say they have a will instructing how they would like their estate and money distributed upon their death. Interestingly, that is lower than two earlier Gallop polls conducted in 1990 (48%) and 2005 (51%.)1


    So what does this mean for you as the person charged with development? Well, 55% of Americans do not have a will designating where their assets will go once they die and some of them are likely in your donor pool. With little time and resources, how do you get them to realize that a will is important and your organization is an excellent option for leaving some of their hard earned assets? 



    It’s not as hard as you think.


    First, think simple. The mystique around planned giving can be off-putting, however, according to an article from Nolo by Ilona Bray, J.D., “…the vast majority of legacy gifts to nonprofits are not made through fancy annuities and other financial arrangements requiring the nonprofit’s management, but the old fashioned way, through wills and other simple probate-avoidance devices…”2



    Here are 6 strategies that inspire planned giving:


    1. Place simple, direct verbiage  on all of your written materials, website and even use it as a tag line after your signature. For example: “Please consider leaving __________in your will or estate plans.”


    2. Create a collateral piece highlighting your organization, its mission, and ways to giveincluding leaving it in a will or bequest.


    3. Develop a list of local estate planning attorneys and email them the collateral piece annually.


    4. Find out who the top estate planning attorneys are in your area and make it a point to invite the top 3 or 5 to lunch (one at a time) to introduce yourself and your organization. Everyone has got to eat, right? Remember, you can do this over the course of a year.


    5. Get to know your donor base. Someone who has given small and consistent amounts over many years may be a great candidate for a planned gift.


    6. If you have 50 or more donors who give small, consistent amounts, add their gifts up and consider hosting an inexpensive luncheon to thank them for their support over the years. This gives you a great opportunity to showcase your programs and let them know how their gifts have made a difference. During my American Lung Association of Michigan days, I actually had a donor call me the day after she attended one of these luncheons and tell me she wanted to leave us in her will!




    Remember, planned gifts are not immediate so don’t fret if you don’t see immediate results. By investing a few hours a year, you are planting the seeds for future gifts.


    If you need coaching to help you build and implement a plan, reach out to me at sharon@nonprofnetwork.org or call our office at 517-796-4750 to have a conversation.



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