Children’s Residential Center – Christian Children’s Home of Ohio

Children’s Residential Center

Back to school

It’s back-to-school time! We hope your children are transitioning well into the school year routine. This is a big change and can be a struggle for students as they settle in with peers, teachers and schedules.

We’re looking forward to kicking off the new school year for the youth in our residential center. In the early days of CCHO, student-age residents attended public school locally. In more recent years, we have provided classrooms with licensed teachers right here on our Wooster campus. These learning environments in our Children’s Leadership & Recreation Center are tailored to address the unique needs of children with trauma.

Due to a change in their service focus, we are transitioning away from Summit Academy as our school provider. For the 2019-2020 school year, we are pleased to begin a partnership with Norwayne Local Schools. Many of our kids are behind developmentally and academically because of trauma and neglect. Their teaching staff will help our students get back on track and see school as a positive place.

Classes start on Monday, September 9. In addition to praying for our students and staff, we have a few unique requests that you may be able to fulfill.

• Large wall map of Ohio
• 40 Classroom Headphones – over the head style, full ear coverage
• Base Ten counting blocks for math (100 to 200 pieces)
• Kidney (or arc) shaped table for elementary-school students (48×72 inch)

Please contact Lauren at steinerl@ccho.org to coordinate your donation purchase/drop-off/delivery. Donations may be shipped directly to CCHO through Amazon Smile or other stores.

Thank you for helping our students feel supported in the new school year. It’s a tangible way for them to experience their worth in Christ.

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Small and mighty

One Heart Stables is home to a select group of horses. Each of their distinctive personalities contributes to their role as “equine therapists” as they serve the children in our residential program as well as adults and children in the general public through Encompass Christian Counseling. With each equine lesson, we strive for our riders to gain self confidence, improve their mental and physical capabilities, and engage in social relationships with other riders, staff and volunteers.

Name: Caramel
Breed: Quarter Pony

Caramel is the smallest therapy horse in the barn. He is often described as “small but mighty” because he is brave, energetic, and enjoys going for long trail rides.

Caramel has helped many people learn to trust horses through his gentle yet spirited personality. He has the patience of a saint and is a great match for the young horse enthusiast. Caramel loves all of the attention that he receives and is exceptionally happy when munching on a carrot or apple.

Therapy Comes in All Shapes & Sizes

When you donate to CCHO, you are ensuring that our kids receive access to a wide range of therapies including equine therapy. Client benefits include an increase in self-confidence, self-worth, communication skills, coping skills and problem-solving skills. Make a gift today!

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Connect 2 Kids Individual

Connect 2 Kids is growing! We asked Emily Frazier, LISW-S, Clinical Director of our Children’s Residential Center to share more about this volunteer program and the new way to give of your time and talents.

Connect2Kids (C2K) is an incredible volunteer program where people who love Jesus get to put His love into action and follow His command to love. This program offers the ability to fellowship, teach, and guide hurting boys and girls on our residential campus.

Our current C2K volunteers come into kids’ lives once a week and typically provide a meal, an activity and a devotion or lesson focused on Jesus or other Bible stories. We are looking to expand this program to include individuals who have a specific skill and a desire to help kids find a new spark, passion or coping skill that they can use for long-term success.

For so many kids in residential, their lives have been filled with hurt, abandonment and rejection. They’ve never taken a dance or music lesson. They’ve never tried out for a school play or played a team sport. They lack the confidence to try new things because they have always fallen behind their peers.

The expansion of our C2K program allows our kids and teens to explore new interests and find something they enjoy. We hope the experience will guide them into pro-social activities when they finish their residential stay and get back into their communities.

This week, our residential youth and staff put on the annual Campus Talent Show to an audience made up of staff and peers. What an amazing time to see our kids and teens share their unique abilities. Beautiful voices. Incredible artwork. Creative dances. Heartfelt expression. So many special giftings that had the opportunity to shine and be celebrated.

Program staff came alongside our residents to assist with costumes and performances. They also contributed through dynamic performances of their own — much to the delight of everyone in attendance.

Consider your skill set and pray about serving with C2K Individual. Teaching six weeks of soccer or eight weeks of theatre could impact a youth for a lifetime. We’re looking for volunteers to serve once a week for a six- or eight-week session. Perhaps the time and encouragement you give will be part of next year’s talent show.

Learn more about this new opportunity at ccho.org/volunteer or contact Campus Pastor Tim Hartzler at hartzlert@ccho.org or 330.345.7949, ext. 2597.

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How Motley Lou became Pastor Louie (Story 20 of 50)

CCHO is celebrating 50 years of ministry! Throughout 2019, we will be sharing stories of the lives that have been forever changed by the work God has done through our family of ministries (CCHO, Encourage Foster Care and Encompass Christian Counseling). Louie Pantelis takes the storytelling reins today. Louie lived in fear and desperation as a teenager. His family was torn apart with abuse, and he had no sense of purpose and little hope that he would ever find it. But then Louie wound up on the CCHO campus…and today, he is a pastor at Grace Chapel Community Church in Worland, WY. How did that happen? Read story #20 in our 50 Stories for 50 Years of Ministry series to find out.

Late in my sophomore year I learned that my foster parents were moving to Florida. As a I ward of the state, I would not be moving with them. Toward the end of that school year, my caseworker told me, “If we do not find some place for you soon, we will have to place you in a juvenile correction facility.” I had done nothing to deserve being placed in a correctional facility. I was five-foot nothing tall, weighed 87 pounds, and the thought of being placed in a correctional facility terrified me. I knew I would be the one everyone mistreated; when you are five-foot nothing, you make an easy target. Throughout school and at home, I had already suffered enough abuse. Not knowing what to do, where to turn, or whom to trust, I chose to call my older sister and asked her if she would help me to run away to Florida. Together we purchased the ticket from the money I had saved delivering newspapers, mowing yards and shoveling snow, and I ran away.

I spent most of that summer living incognito with the parents of my foster parents. They were the closest thing to grandparents I had ever known. Toward the end of July, I called my caseworker and told him I would turn myself in, if he had a foster home for me. The last thing my father told me when I placed myself into foster care was, “You will never graduate from high school and you will never amount to anything,” so I made clear to my caseworker that I wanted to graduate high school. A few days later, I called to see if he had found a place for me, and he had.

As unnerving as it was living as a runaway, the thought of returning to Ohio with the promise of a foster home was just as daunting. I was placed in a temporary home called Providence House upon my return. One day, my caseworker called and told me he had found a group home for me – It was called the Christian Children’s Home of Ohio (CCHO). As much as I wanted to have some permanence to my living situation, being placed at CCHO was the last thing on earth I wanted. My father, who was very abusive, had dragged me to church and called himself a Christian. The pastor I told about the abuse did not believe my account of what was transpiring at home. It wasn’t until I showed up at the Department of Family Services with bruises on my neck from where he had strangled me that someone finally listened. Because of what I had experienced, I did not want anything to do with Christianity.

On the day I was to be interviewed at CCHO, I dressed just the opposite of how you should dress for an interview of any kind. I wore my jeans with holes in them, my leather studded belt, my Motley Crue t-shirt (with the words “Theater of Pain”) and my grim reaper earring, and I feathered my long, black hair. I took a good look in the mirror before leaving and thought to myself, there is no way any Christian Children’s Home is going to want me living amongst their children.

I went through the interview answering every question with sarcasm, spite and malice. They gave me a tour of the place; it was out in the country, and everything was foreign to me. By the end of the day, I thought I had given them every reason in the world to not want me living in their home. When we arrived back at the room where I had been interviewed, I was introduced to Pat and Tim McKelley, and to my surprise I was told they were going to be my foster parents in cottage 2. Over time, they loved me, mentored me, and parented me even though I did not always cooperate with them. Pa Tim gave me one of my favorite all-time nicknames: Motley Lou.

Little did I know, when I went for that interview, that who I was as a rebellious teenager was exactly the kind of adolescent CCHO was looking for. My parents in cottage 2 were my advocates, friends and greatest supporters. I was a part of every school play and musical at Norwayne high school. I won a regional acting award for my role in the one-act play competition. Ma Pat and Pa Tim’s belief in me helped me to believe in myself, and that has allowed me to see the potential that they saw in me. The love they showed me transformed me, I developed a very different understanding of Christianity, and every day I thank God for the Christian Children’s Home of Ohio.

Many years later, when I was an adult, Pa Tim passed away and I was given the opportunity to speak at his funeral. It was an honor to share my cherished memories. I interact with Ma Pat on a regular basis on Facebook, and she continues to give me a word of encouragement whenever she can. Pa Tim and Ma Pat gave me the best understanding of what it is to be taken into a family, to be loved, cherished, valued, and appreciated. Much of what I have learned about family, I learned from them.

As a pastor now, I share this story with those who need to be adopted into the family of God. I want others to know that their past does not have to equal their future. God in His love, grace, and mercy takes the most rebellious people, transforms their lives and allows them to be a part of His story. No matter who we are, no matter what we have done, and no matter how many times we fail, He is there to offer the forgiveness we need to become His child and a part of His family.

Louie’s story reminds us that our God is the greatest storyteller, the ultimate miracle worker, the supreme redeemer. We have seen that time and again during five decades of ministry, a history rich with examples like Louie’s of God reaching down to take the broken remnants of hopeless lives and making them new.

We were absolutely thrilled that Louie was able to join us at our 50th Anniversary Weekend earlier this month. Not only was Louie our special guest at the benefit dinner on Saturday night — taking part in a Q&A session with our campus pastor, Tim Hartzler — but while he was in town, Louie also took some time to speak to the kids in each of our residential cottages here on the CCHO campus. He told them his story, he talked about the hope he found in Jesus, and he made sure they knew that the same hope was absolutely available to them. He even played some kickball!

Louie blessed CCHO in so many incredible ways during his recent visit, a lovely reunion that reminded us yet again that God absolutely loves to make miracles out of the muck and mire of our lives.

As a special gift to those who attended our benefit dinner, Louie worked with CCHO to create a five-day devotional on the story of the Prodigal Son. This booklet, called “There is Another Chapter,” is also available to download at this link.

We’re excited to be able to introduce you to Pastor Louie (AKA, Motley Lou), to show you a few photos from his visit, and to share a copy of his devotional with you today.

Celebrating Five Decades of Ministry

This story is part of our "50 Stories for 50 Years of Ministry" retrospective. Throughout 2019, we will be sharing 50 stories about the broken hearts, broken people, and broken families that have been made new by a loving and redemptive God. Have your own story about CCHO and our family of ministries? Click the button below to share it with us.

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Leading with kindness (Story 13 of 50)

CCHO is celebrating 50 years of ministry! Throughout 2019, we will be sharing stories of the lives that have been forever changed by the work God has done through our family of ministries (CCHO, Encourage Foster Care and Encompass Christian Counseling). Today, we recognize a community partner who has gone the extra mile to help our youth heal. The Wayne County Sheriff’s Office is the subject of story #13 from our 50 Stories for 50 Years of Ministry series.

Helping meet the needs of our residential youth takes a lot of hands and partners. We are especially grateful for the kindness of the Wayne County Sheriff’s Office. There are good days and growing days in our children’s residential center. With the often unpredictable behavior of youth with trauma, there are times when the sheriff’s office makes frequent visits to campus. They have come out many times in the last month but continue to protect and serve with a positive attitude.

One officer in particular has visited a few times just to check in with kids and bring them gifts. Deputy Kirk Shelly brought the younger girls of cottage 3 some stuffed animals several weeks ago. He also stopped out more recently to visit a teen boy who he had interacted with the previous weekend during crisis. He remembered that this young teen was sad because a peer had broken his ear buds, and so he delivered a new pair of ear buds just for him.

These positive interactions help our youth feel known and valued by a caring adult. For the majority of our residents, their experiences with officers have occurred in times of crisis. A uniformed officer often represents loss, separation, abuse or neglect. We are most appreciative for law enforcement officers like Deputy Shelly, who help break down negative impressions through acts of affirmation and respect.

Thank you so much Wayne County Sheriff’s Office for demonstrating leadership in such a powerful way with our kids.

Celebrating Five Decades of Ministry

This story is part of our "50 Stories for 50 Years of Ministry" retrospective. Throughout 2019, we will be sharing 50 stories about the broken hearts, broken people, and broken families that have been made new by a loving and redemptive God. Have your own story about CCHO and our family of ministries? Click the button below to share it with us.

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Memories from our second resident (Story 12 of 50)

CCHO is celebrating 50 years of ministry! Throughout 2019, we will be sharing stories of the lives that have been forever changed by the work God has done through our family of ministries (CCHO, Encourage Foster Care and Encompass Christian Counseling). This next story comes from the early days of our ministry. Robert Marshall, the second youth resident at CCHO, shares memories with us about his time living on campus in the 70s and the impact of Dennis and Dorothea Bowers in story #12 from our 50 Stories for 50 Years of Ministry series.

I came to CCHO in August 1971 and lived there until I graduated [high school] in June 1975. I was the second resident in the program and still go back often just to visit. I feel that CCHO’s work then and now was and is very helpful to so many. My memories are numerous but here are a few.

Not too long after I arrived, I started going with Dennis Bowers [the first executive director and house parent] almost every weekend to churches all over Ohio to show a slide show. Dennis would talk about CCHO’s mission and what they started in 1969. After I had been at CCHO for a while, I talked a couple of times at these churches too.

I loved to go for walks down in the woods on the CCHO campus just to enjoy the beauty and quietness. When I lived on campus, the farm land was leased out to local farms and at times we would help them bail hay and straw and help unload it into the barn hayloft.

Each year, I went to Round Lake Christian Camp. Even after I left CCHO, I continued to work in the kitchen at Round Lake.

After I graduated in 1975, I went into the Navy. Dennis not only attended my graduation in 1975, he and his wife Dorothea also drove up to Great Lakes Naval Training north of Chicago for my graduation from boot camp in September 1975.

Dennis and Dorothea were like mom and dad to me and sadly there are both with our Lord now. Dorothea passed in May 2017 and Dennis just passed April 2019. I miss them both. We all lived in the main farm house—Dennis and Dorothea, along with their four young daughters. At one point there were four teenage boys and three teenage girls plus the Bowers’ family all living there. We had lots of fun and went to Parkview Church of Christ [now Parkview Christian Church] in Wooster.

I will be at the 50th Anniversary Benefit Dinner in June and hope to see everyone there. God bless everyone and see you in June.

Enjoy the photos below also contributed by Bob.

Celebrating Five Decades of Ministry

This story is part of our "50 Stories for 50 Years of Ministry" retrospective. Throughout 2019, we will be sharing 50 stories about the broken hearts, broken people, and broken families that have been made new by a loving and redemptive God. Have your own story about CCHO and our family of ministries? Click the button below to share it with us.

Read more

Trading worthlessness for faithfulness (Story 10 of 50)

CCHO is celebrating 50 years of ministry! Throughout 2019, we will be sharing stories of the lives that have been forever changed by the work God has done through our family of ministries (CCHO, Encourage Foster Care and Encompass Christian Counseling). We’re thrilled to be able to share this baptism story from Tim Hartzler, our Campus Pastor. Story #10 from our 50 Stories for 50 Years of Ministry series celebrates Mia’s transformation and baptism!

I met Mia last summer when she first became a resident in our Young Girls Cottage. I was working as a treatment specialist in a different cottage at the time, so I only got to see her every so often. I was immediately struck by Mia’s kindness, openness and her bright, vibrant personality. She was the type of kid that made you feel warm inside just being around her. I remember thinking, “Why is a kid like this even here in a treatment facility?”

It didn’t take long to see just what was really going on inside Mia. She began to display anger, violence and rage. I remember her telling me that she felt broken and worthless. She shared details of a past full of hurt, pain and trauma. I felt helpless and my heart broke as I could see this amazing child of God, but felt unable to help her to see the same.

I thank God for the amazing staff that work in our Young Girls Cottage. Through their dedication and daily example, Mia saw the love of Jesus Christ. They tirelessly poured love into Mia to combat the feelings of hopelessness and worthlessness she carried with her. One day, after talking to Miss Cindy, one of our incredible treatment specialists, Mia accepted Jesus as her Lord and Savior!

Over time I began to see changes in Mia. She began working hard to overcome her past and the feelings she had about herself. Shortly after I became the Spiritual Coordinator and Campus Pastor at CCHO, Mia began faithfully attending Bible studies in her cottage, asking more and more questions about Jesus and what it meant to be a Christian. I could see her confidence in herself and what God was doing in her grow. One day, we talked about baptism and Mia immediately asked if she could be baptized. I explained that baptism was a public declaration of our faith in Christ Jesus, and I asked if she was ready to tell the whole world that she loved Jesus and was choosing to follow Him. Mia emphatically said yes!

On April 26th, 2019, I had the privilege and great honor of baptizing Mia. I can say with pride and confidence that Mia is a completely changed person from the girl I first met last summer. She knows the road ahead won’t be easy, and she still has a lot to work on (as we all do!), but I am confident that she is on the path to hope and healing, and by the grace of God, will get there.

We are thrilled to be able to share, with her permission, the testimony Mia wrote and read for her baptism service:

“When I was young, I constantly moved from house to house, never knowing where my next home would be. Sometimes I had to steal food so I would have something to eat.

My dad drank alcohol a lot and was in and out of jail most of my childhood. I didn’t really know my mom growing up, and I ended up living with my grandparents.

I became very angry and one day I threatened to hurt someone in my family. As a result, I was taken from my grandparents and placed at Christian Children’s Home of Ohio.

It was at CCHO that I met miss Cindy, who taught me about Jesus. I now choose to get baptized and have asked Jesus to come into my heart to save me from my sin.

I want everyone to know that Jesus is my Lord and Savior, and I commit my life to following Him.”

After reading her testimony, Mia then shared one of her favorite verses: Proverbs 3:5-6

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.

Celebrating Five Decades of Ministry

This story is part of our "50 Stories for 50 Years of Ministry" retrospective. Throughout 2019, we will be sharing 50 stories about the broken hearts, broken people, and broken families that have been made new by a loving and redemptive God. Have your own story about CCHO and our family of ministries? Click the button below to share it with us.

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Life lessons learned (Story 9 of 50)

CCHO is celebrating 50 years of ministry! Throughout 2019, we will be sharing stories of the lives that have been forever changed by the work God has done through our family of ministries (CCHO, Encourage Foster Care and Encompass Christian Counseling). This next story comes from a former teen resident of cottage 1. In story #9 from our 50 Stories for 50 Years of Ministry series, Amanda shares how her life has been deeply influenced by the kindness of residential team members at CCHO.

I was 16 years old when I came to CCHO. I was a lost, angry teenager, but the love and support of CCHO helped mold me into the woman I am today. I was a resident of cottage 1 for almost a year. I made friends that I’m still friends with today. I learned how to ride horses and clean stables as well as saddle horses and clean hooves. To this day I still remember how to do those things. I remember the joy of riding and the comfort of being around the horses.

While I was a resident I had tough days, but the house parents (as we called the cottage staff at that time) always helped me smile again. Sarah and Dwayne were one set of parents who made an impact on me. They were caring and fun and loved all of us individually. They tried to connect with each of us to help us the best they could. Sarah and I used to play SingStar when I needed cheering up. We used to make jewelry too. She was the best.

The other house parents Tim and Jenny were just as amazing. They loved with a gentler technique yet still as effective. If it wasn’t for CCHO, I would most likely be hooked on drugs or dead. But because I was blessed to have them, I am a mother and have a happy normal life.

Each of our house parents had a dog. Theirs was Maggie, a little schnauzer who was the sweetest cuddle bug. While I was there we went on a missionary trip to Noblesville, Indiana to help restore a historic landmark. The experience was more fun than it sounds 🙂 Afterward, we spent the next day at Kings Island. Best day of my life!

I may have left CCHO on not-so-good terms but everything I’ve learned from them has helped me grow and mature in ways I didn’t think possible. I’m now a 27-year-old mom who has a good life and still goes to church and uses the life lessons I learned from CCHO.

Thank you, CCHO, for everything you have done for me. I would still be a lost, angry person without you.

Celebrating Five Decades of Ministry

This story is part of our "50 Stories for 50 Years of Ministry" retrospective. Throughout 2019, we will be sharing 50 stories about the broken hearts, broken people, and broken families that have been made new by a loving and redemptive God. Have your own story about CCHO and our family of ministries? Click the button below to share it with us.

Read more

Minister to hurting kids

The character and commitment of our staff members are critical to us serving our clients well. Treatment specialists, a key position within our children’s residential center team, directly care for the needs and safety of our youth clients. This role offers the unique opportunity to build relationships with kids and teens and model for them what a healthy adult looks like. This position receives specialized training in caring for children and teens with trauma. It’s a great opportunity to explore the social services career field and gain experience working alongside other clinical team members. More than that, the treatment specialist role is a ministry to hurting kids looking for hope and stability.

We asked our staff to share about their experiences as a treatment specialist. Tim Hartzler, now our campus spiritual coordinator, served as a treatment specialist in our teen boys cottage for several years. Read his words below.

Being a treatment specialist is difficult and frustrating yet fulfilling and rewarding all at the same time. It can be frustrating watching kids make choices that negatively impact their life, and frustrating when you can’t do anything to help them.

However, it is incredibly fulfilling when you see residents make positive choices and changes in their lives that they have been struggling with, sometimes for all of their lives. Knowing, at the end of the day, that I have served a greater purpose than my own wants or desires, to put someone else’s needs first, is an incredibly rewarding feeling.

My motivation to help our clients is seeing the world through their point of view. Seeing them the way my heavenly Father sees me. To see each one as a lost and broken child that is unable to understand and cope with the world in which they have been brought up. And needing the grace, strength and peace that only comes from Jesus.

The reason I have dedicated time and energy can be summed up in James 1:27, “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.”

What better way to show the love of our heavenly Father than to take care of those who are without a family. At the end of my life when I stand before God, I will not feel remorse over the difficulties I went through for these kids, but rather I will feel ashamed that I did not go through more for them.

Learn more about the treatment specialist position on our human resources page. We currently have openings on first, second and overnight shifts.

Treatment specialist applicants must be 21 and have a high school diploma/GED, valid driver’s license and reliable transportation. Treatment specialists are required to be able to restrain a client when necessary (training provided) and must be able to pass a pre-employment physical. References, background checks and drug screenings will be completed on all potential candidates. EOE.

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Foster parents are invaluable

Foster parents are invaluable to CCHO’s ministry in helping kids experience their worth in Christ. They provide safety, security, love, compassion and support for children when they need it the most.

How does fostering fit into our children’s residential program?

Children at CCHO are working personalized programs with specific goals tailored to their needs and circumstances. These goals include plans for completing their programs, leaving CCHO with new skills, and reentering family environments. Ideally children are reunified with their biological family. When that isn’t possible, children are matched with foster parents with the possibility of this home becoming a forever home.

CCHO specializes in caring for kids with trauma in their background. Kids who successfully complete our program will do best in foster homes that understand how trauma impacts a developing young person. These families have participated in specific trainings such as TBRI so they can better care for children affected by abuse and neglect.

The need for foster parents is great. Research indicates that there will be more than 20,000 Ohio children in custody of their respective counties by 2020 due to a host of reasons with the opioid epidemic being a leading cause.

We invite you to learn more about Encourage Foster Care, one of our ministries with an amazing team to support you professionally and personally. From day one we desire to set you up for success in your role. Encourage’s Director Shawn Pedani, LISW-S, has written a blog on what it takes to be an influential foster parent.

First and foremost: foster parents are adaptable and flexible. They roll with the punches and don’t give into power plays with their youth. They frequently let their foster child(ren) have the last word. They have great self-awareness and recognize that everything doesn’t have to become a battle. Some Encourage foster parents say that parenting can’t always be structured with black and white thinking. The gray areas include the reasons why kids do what they do. Foster parents need to be openminded and use genuine empathy–at all times.

(Read the full article.)

Encourage hosts in depth foster parent pre-service training multiple times each year. Visit our training page for information and contact Heather Huebner, Recruitment and Engagement Specialist at huebnerh@ccho.org or 330.462.1118 with your questions.

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