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Meet The CAF Team

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Shelly Young
Executive Director

Formerly a CAF Volunteer, Board member, Family Program Coordinator and Director of Programs, Shelly is Executive Director and mother of three young adults, one in recovery and all of whom are exploring creative arts and fashion careers. She is a passionate advocate for wellness, recovery, family support, a compassionate public health response to substance use and creating environments that support recovery.

 

Shelly is certified in Invitation To Change, The Anatomy of Transformation, ARISE Intervention and an RYT500 yoga teacher. She is also on the board of Unity Recovery in Philadelphia, facilitates the STAR Family Program at the Fairfax County Adult Detention Center, serves on opioid task forces, consults for healthcare organizations, recovery organizations, workplaces & law enforcement to better serve individuals and families impacted by substance use.

 

When the Google Health Search team wanted to know how to better serve families in crisis, they asked Shelly what she thought they should do. When she is not studying the latest brain science, attachment theory, nervous system and recovery research, she's dancing, playing tennis, walking with her big black lab or enjoying movies, good food and music with her family preferably somewhere warm and sandy.

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Ginny Atwood Lovitt
Director of Advocacy & Development

Ginny Atwood Lovitt is Executive Director and co-founder of The Chris Atwood Foundation.  She is certified by the Virginia Department of Behavioral Health as a Master Revive trainer and has taught over two thousand individuals, families, and professionals how to save a life with narcan. 

She has spearheaded the unanimous passage of three Virginia state laws that pioneered community based access to Narcan for all Virginia residents, and collaborated on a team that advocated for three more state laws increasing the health and safety of people impacted by substance use. 

Ginny is an award-winning advocate for substance use disorder issues, and is particularly passionate about defeating the many stigmas surrounding this disease.  She has shared her family’s story and her work with The Chris Atwood Foundation on outlets such as A&E, NBC, NPR, the Washington Post, in international news in over a dozen countries, and at the White House.

She loves nature, God, writing, and being a mom - to her son Caleb, her three geriatric pugs, and her ever growing collection of house plants.

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Director of Programs
Brittany Martin, iFPRS

Brittany Roberts joined our CAF team as a Peer Support Specialist in August 2020. Since then she is always excited to share her personal experience in recovery since 2017 to help anyone seeking support with substance use disorder. She is an Alumni of Roseberry Oxford House in Manassas, VA and continues to work closely with the organization. When not working, Brittany enjoys going to the movies, spending time with family and trying to learn to cook. 

 

While Brittany believes there are many pathways to recovery, she’s found AA/NA most useful in her own journey and is always willing to take someone along to a meeting.  She welcomes anyone to contact her to learn about her story since incarceration, Oxford houses, AA/NA meetings & The CAF services. 

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Daniel Adams, iFPRS
Community Program Manager

Daniel is a Certified Forensic Peer Recovery Specialist, a PRS Trainer, and the Community Outreach Manager. I have made improvements with my life since I was blessed with a Second Chance. 

 

I was incarcerated since 1990, and finally made parole in April of 2020. While I was incarcerated, I participated in “Second Chance Quest “, which changed my life in prison and prepared me for returning to society. This group was designed to help a prisoner like me develop a way to think differently. I participated in college-level and other courses and obtained certificates and recognitions in many self-development courses while incarcerated. 

 

Now, upon my release, since April 21, 2020, I am accomplishing things I never thought I would. Along with my certifications listed above, I’ve had my rights restored by the Governor of Virginia, and am a Registered Peer by the Commonwealth of Virginia.  

 

I volunteer my time in Arlington with Arlington Addiction Recovery Initiation, Community Service Board, Arlington Partnership for Affordable Housing, and Offender Assistance Restoration. I invest my time speaking on behalf of other inmates who are parole-eligible with the Parole Board. I also invest my time and money with the kids who live in my apartment building.  

 

I will always be invested in our program, “Second Chance Quest “I participated with this program and know how beneficial it is towards a prisoners’ growth and development. It has inspired me to become my best self and helped me to move forward with what matters most, people.

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Dan Buckley, CPRS
Comprehensive Harm Reduction Program Manager

Dan joined the Chris Atwood Foundation as a Peer Recovery Specialist in the summer of 2021 and is now the Comprehensive Harm Reduction (CHR) Program Manager. Dan is a person in long term recovery that wants to share his experience, faith, and hope in order to help others find their success in their own recovery. Dan believes in multiple pathways of recovery and knows that everyone has a different journey.

 

Dan has experience with harm reduction services and enjoys interacting with those interested in making any positive change. When he's not helping others, he enjoys spending time with his daughter, catching up with family, making music, and attending concerts.

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Jon Fairbanks, iFPRS
HOPE/Reentry Program Manager

Jon Fairbanks is a Certified Peer Recovery Specialist working on the Hope team as the Re-Entry Program Manager. Jon has struggled with substance use from an early age and started his recovery journey in 2018. He is a proud alumni of the first group of individuals to go through the STAR program held inside the Fairfax Adult Detention Center. 

 

Since Jon was young, he has always wanted to make his parents proud and struggled to do so because of his substance use. Through the help and support of the Chris Atwood Foundation, he can finally say his parents are proud of him. Jon really enjoys visiting with his family who currently live in Richmond and also loves to go to the gym with his friends. His mission as a Peer is to share the hope that gave him the drive to make a change for the better.

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Beth Cline, R-CPRS-T
Education and Training Coordinator

Beth Cline is a Registered Peer Recovery Specialist with the Chris Atwood Foundation. Beth grew up in Reston, Virginia, and has stayed pretty local ever since. She has an extensive background in customer service and administrative skills. She takes pride in any job that she has and loves to be a wealth of knowledge. Her passion for learning has made her a “Jill of all trades”  at most jobs. If she doesn’t know the answer to something, she will track down an answer for you.  She has lived experience with substance use disorder and PTSD which has propelled her to want to help others in the community.

 

Recently, Beth discovered that she not only has a passion for learning but a passion for educating as well. She has found her role as an educator and blossomed into an amazing facilitator, obtaining her approval through DBHDS to teach the 72-hour PRS class to new peers in this growing industry. She has found her voice and continues to grow into a patient, tolerant, and compassionate instructor, peer, and mentor. 

She spends her free time painting and creating. Art has always been something that Beth relied on to express emotions but, using typically held her back. Now that she is in recovery, she has found new ways to paint, craft, and create. She lives with a very supportive family and is a proud cat mom.

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Jenny Hagerup, CPRS
Housing Coordinator

There are some people in life that are always striving to better themselves, to grow. Jenny was NOT one of them. In fact, she was fine with drifting through life without any true purpose, aside from feeding her addictions. She didn’t have friends and family, she had hostages.

 

A true native to NOVA, Jenny was born and raised in Great Falls. After spending 15 years jumping from substance to substance, and a little push from the federal government, Jenny decided to give sobriety a shot. After serving 27 months in federal prison for drug related charges, she moved out to Winchester to be with her son and parents. Still using while on probation, sitting outside and contemplating yet another positive drug test, the thought came crashing in that there has to be another way. Drugs and alcohol had been the driving force for so long, but they weren’t working anymore. She was broken and couldn’t fix it.

So, Jenny made that hard decision to go into her 10th rehab. This time, it was for her, not for anyone else or to manipulate a situation. Jumping into the deep end of recovery, Jenny finally found peace. She met her now husband and had another son. Life got messy and busy, but Jenny stayed sober.

 

After her dad passed, she knew that it was time to find that meaning in life, and that was to help others like her. In the summer of 2021 Jenny took the PRS course and started volunteering at the CAF, became an intern, and has now been brought on as a care coordinator. She is living proof that there is another way.

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Tameka Graham
Director of Finance

Tameka is the Director of Finance at the CAF.  She is a Certified Public Accountant with her BS in Accounting. She has nearly 30 years of accounting experience.  She enjoys spending quality time with her children doing outdoor activities like swimming, hiking, and road trips.

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James Purcell
Data and Finance Manager

Prior to working at The CAF, James worked for the nonprofit, The Delaney Bay Fund, doing aid work in Haiti, worked as an administrative assistant for the law firm, Woodruff, Spradlin, & Smart, and created the import/ export business, Simpply LLC. He graduated Magna Cum Laude from University of San Diego with a degree in Finance and Business Management.

James had his own experiences with substance use disorder and he has been fortunate enough to come out on the other side, like others he had slips along the way. He has experienced many different approaches to treatment and has found harm reduction, coupled with recovery support, to be the most effective. This fuels his passion for The Chris Atwood Foundation’s mission and programs. He has seen them work in his own life and in the lives of his friends. He has lost many friends to this disease and he wants to prevent more unnecessary deaths of young people with tons of potential.

At The CAF James handles the day to day administration, including donation management, grant reporting, technical support, data management, and monthly financial reports, among other random tasks. James is a certified REVIVE! Trainer. He joined The CAF early on and managed The CAF’s Recovery Housing Grants Program for 3 years. He also spearheaded the creation of The CAF’s Mail Based Naloxone Program, resulting in over 350 reported overdose reversals using The CAF's naloxone kits. He is proud to be a part of such a force for good and he is excited for the future of the organization. He has seen it grow from a team of 3, including him, to over 16 employees and he has helped to start many of The CAF's new programs over the years.

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Sonya DelVecchio
Facilities, Operations & Procurement Manager

Sonya DelVecchio is the Facility Operations & Procurement Manager for The Chris Atwood

Foundation. She is responsible for overseeing daily operations at the new Recovery Community Center.

 

In her first 5 years with the CAF, she created an amazing team of peer support specialists who work directly with the CAF’s members. Forming relationships and partnering with other local organizations, she has created a powerful supportive network that is saving lives. Sonya has lost close friends and family members to substance use disorder and has dedicated her life to supporting

families impacted by addiction. Sonya works hard to erase the stigma associated with substance misuse, by using positive person first-language along with striving to bring hope and understanding to the rest of the community.

 

Sonya is a transplant from the Midwest and has lived in the Northern Virginia area since getting married in 2016 after a 7-year long distance engagement to her husband. She is mother to two adult children. In her spare time, she enjoys baking, cooking exotic meals and swimming and is passionate about world travel.

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Susie Burklew, iFPRS
Certified Forensic Peer Recovery Specialist - HOPE Team

Susie Burklew is a Certified Peer Recovery Specialist for the Chris Atwood Foundation working on the Re-Entry HOPE team at the Fairfax Adult Detention Center. She is thrilled to have changed roles from a clinical counselor to a professional peer helping serve CAF members. Prior to joining the CAF team Susie worked as a Behavior Specialist Counselor for Fairfax County Government at the program A New Beginning and before that she was  Residential Specialist Counselor for National Capital Treatment and Recovery. 

 

Susie has lived experience and is in Recovery from Co-Occurring Mental Health/Substance Use Disorders. Susie became sober from alcoholism in January 2011, and 5 months later was hospitalized and diagnosed with Bi-Polar Disorder. She is passionate about ending the stigma associated with Mental Health/Substance Use Disorders. She shared her story publicly, in front of a live audience, at the Spring 2017 Arlington This is my Brave Show. She also produced a This is my Brave show later that same year in the Fall. She believes that storytelling saves lives and it’s okay to talk openly and authentically about your mental health without being judged or stigmatized. 

 

Susie enjoys being outside as much as possible and loves hiking, paddleboarding, and kayaking. She also has a passion for gardening and travel. Her greatest gift in recovery is the amazing and authentic relationship she has with her 29 year old daughter Fallon who lives in  NYC working as a scuba dive instructor traveling all over the world doing what she loves. Susie is in the process of getting scuba certified herself which she is very excited about.

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Matt Atkinson, PRS
Certified Peer Recovery Specialist - HOPE Team

Matt is a Peer Recovery Specialist for The Chris Atwood Foundation working on the Re-Entry HOPE team at the Fairfax Adult Detention Center. Having struggled with substance use for many years and being in and out of that same ADC, Matt finally got serious about his recovery in 2018. He was one of the first people to go through the S.T.A.R. program in the ADC, a program that Matt says “saved my life”.

 

Being part of the Re-Entry HOPE team now gives Matt the opportunity to give back and help others that are in a situation that he was once in. The greatest gift Matt has received in recovery is his restored relationship with his family, most notably his mom,sisters and his beautiful 15 year old daughter.

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Raheel Aijaz
Peer Recovery Specialist - CHR

Raheel Aijaz is a peer support specialist who serves as a role model, mentor, advocate and motivator to recovering individuals in order to help prevent relapse and promote long-term recovery.

 

He has dealt with mental health disorder and overcome many hurdles with substance use disorder. He lives by sharing his experience and helping peers with recovery, He also has knowledge in the Justice system first hand. He strives on all his experiences to help others in their recovery wherever they are in it. When covid-19 started he started noticing the amount of friends he was losing, he took it upon himself to help others from not just being a statistic.

 

Raheel is a father to 3 amazing boys, he enjoys going on Roadtrips with his family, he is a great cook and loves cooking new dishes from all cultures and backgrounds, He is die hard fan of Football his sundays in the fall and winter are spent in front of the T.V. while enjoying finger snacks.
 

“You will give a lot 

You will share a lot of love

But what you can offer and give 

WIll never come close

To what you will

Receive back”

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Ryan Hill, CPRS
Certified Peer Recovery Specialist - CHR

Ryan is a Peer Recovery Specialist with the Chris Atwood Foundation. Ryan was born and raised in Belleville, Illinois and then transplanted to Northern Virginia in 2019. Upon his arrival to NOVA; he was amazed at the opportunities and resources provided to people with substance use disorders. As someone who has lived experience throughout his life he was instantly intrigued by the possibility of utilizing his personal experiences in a manner that both provided hope that recovery is possible and to remind others, that no matter where they are in your journey, they have value. 

 

Before beginning a career in Peer recovery services Ryan was a banker, laborer, and guitar instructor. In his free time he enjoys quality time with his wife and kids, anything artistic( from drawing to playing guitar), and all sorts of physical activity from yoga to hiking.

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Whitney Bland, CPRS
Certified Peer Recovery Specialist - CHR

Whitney Bland is a certified peer recovery specialist at The CAF. She works with incarcerated women in the Prince William County ADC as well as with our Comprehensive Harm Reduction program. Whitney had years of “long term lived experience.” She lived a nomadic life of crisscrossing the country struggling with untreated bi polar disorder and substance use disorder for most of her adult life. She managed to turn her years of being lost into something powerful and meaningful by helping others struggling with the same issues.

 

Whitney earned a Bachelor's degree in Fine Art at Virginia Commonwealth University and is a current student of holistic wellness practices. She is passionate about Incorporating art and wellness as tools in her recovery and is eager to share her passion. Whitney believes using creative thinking  can help  people find their true self , their true purpose and maybe magical things life shows you along the way.

 

“I’m a unicorn ! I shouldn’t exist but here I am! The deal is;  I’m here for a purpose and that’s not an accident ! I want to help others find their own path to recovery. It’s a gift to have a passion that aligns with the way you make a living.”

 

If you're lost Whitney has a light that can show you the way to your unique path of recovery. She’ll meet you where you're at and remind you to laugh and to not take yourself too seriously!

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Alfred Head, CPRS
Certified Peer Recovery Specialist - CHR

Alfred Head understands that everyone deserves to be believed in and supported. Faith and love from the people who form the foundation of his life have allowed him to make it to the Chris Atwood Foundation. Living with a mental health condition, Alfred found strength in seeing the world from a different perspective, and learned to use that perspective to help others.  

 

In 2008, Alfred was a member of the first graduating class of peer specialists in Virginia. Since then, he has worked with many populations in our community, including unhoused veterans and those with disabilities. He brings his empathic and straightforward approach to supporting the mission of the CAF.

 

Animals in general, and dogs in particular, bring him joy. Living abroad as a child gave him an appreciation for diverse cultures, peoples and creeds. As a longtime NOVA resident, he enjoys the multifaceted international population of our region.

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Willie Butler, iFPRS
Certified Forensic Peer Recovery Specialist - Community Team

Willie Butler is a formerly incarcerated citizen who works with the Chris Atwood’s Foundation as a Forensic Peer Recovery Specialist. He’s currently on the  CAF’s  Community Outreach Team where he operates with a strong sense of urgency and passion, making connections and building relationships with those who are in need of peer services.

 

Willie has an Associate in Arts degree from Walla Walla Community College and has served in leadership positions on various prison reform and advocacy platforms, such as the Black Prisoners’ Caucus, the Career Bridge Program, and the Ready for Release Process.  He has achieved the International Toastmasters’ status of Advanced Communicator Gold and Advanced Leadership Silver.

 

In his spare time, Willie enjoys weightlifting, reading/writing, and listening to soothing soulful music. He appreciates long, deep conversation with his family, friends and loved ones. He practices and believes that self-care is what leads to and sustains a health recovery. In essence, Willie is an avatar of love who relentlessly works in a RADICAL, compassionate manner to dismantle the disease of SUD, Mental Illness, Incarceration, and Homelessness. “Even if the choices of a human being’s disease may make it difficult for many to understand, every human being is still worthy of love and compassion. For with love, we can conquer and cure all.”

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Kristina Barden, CPRS
Certified Peer Recovery Specialist - Community Team

Kristina is a Certified Forensic Peer Recovery Specialist with the Chris Atwood Foundation. She came to the foundation after Struggling with addiction, Mental health and Incarceration for over 20 years. She is a DMV native and an expert in navigating Fairfax county’s CSB and the resources that are available throughout the county.

 

Kristina is a loving mother to 2 boys, a caring wife to a supportive husband and an active, productive community member who is striving to do all she can to dismantle the disease of addiction. She has a warm and caring spirit that reaches beyond the call of duty when it comes to helping others. Despite her past, at present, she is one of the elite Peers on the Community Outreach Team working hard to be an example of hope to those still struggling

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Alex Pinto, PRS
Peer Recovery Specialist - Community Team

Raheel Aijaz is a peer support specialist who serves as a role model, mentor, advocate and motivator to recovering individuals in order to help prevent relapse and promote long-term recovery.

 

He has dealt with mental health disorder and overcome many hurdles with substance use disorder. He lives by sharing his experience and helping peers with recovery, He also has knowledge in the Justice system first hand. He strives on all his experiences to help others in their recovery wherever they are in it. When covid-19 started he started noticing the amount of friends he was losing, he took it upon himself to help others from not just being a statistic.

 

Raheel is a father to 3 amazing boys, he enjoys going on Roadtrips with his family, he is a great cook and loves cooking new dishes from all cultures and backgrounds, He is die hard fan of Football his sundays in the fall and winter are spent in front of the T.V. while enjoying finger snacks.
 

“You will give a lot 

You will share a lot of love

But what you can offer and give 

WIll never come close

To what you will

Receive back”

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Shelly Roman, CPRS
Volunteer Program Coordinator

Ryan is a Peer Recovery Specialist with the Chris Atwood Foundation. Ryan was born and raised in Belleville, Illinois and then transplanted to Northern Virginia in 2019. Upon his arrival to NOVA; he was amazed at the opportunities and resources provided to people with substance use disorders. As someone who has lived experience throughout his life he was instantly intrigued by the possibility of utilizing his personal experiences in a manner that both provided hope that recovery is possible and to remind others, that no matter where they are in your journey, they have value. 

 

Before beginning a career in Peer recovery services Ryan was a banker, laborer, and guitar instructor. In his free time he enjoys quality time with his wife and kids, anything artistic( from drawing to playing guitar), and all sorts of physical activity from yoga to hiking.

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Chris Lawrence, CPRS
Certified Peer Recovery Specialist - Project Coordinator

Chris Lawrence is currently a Project Coordinator with the Chris Atwood Foundation (CAF). His current focus is on helping with the Housing program, but also has been involved with other aspects of the organization - Harm Reduction, Outreach, etc. 

 

Chris has experience with substance abuse (mainly alcoholism) and has been lucky enough to have the support of family, friends, children, etc to help him on his journey. While in Ashley Treatment, he decided to stop pursuing his previous professional career  and on helping others - this began his journey to become a Peer Recovery Specialist and meeting the incredible trainers who introduced him to the CAF. 

 

Prior to joining the CAF, Chris brings more than 20+ years of experience winning and growing business through relationship marketing, high level client service and research-based strategic insights. Chris’s research experience stretched across a wide range of issue areas and industries, including reputation management, branding, public affairs, technology, financial services, tourism and higher education. 

 

Chris believes that his previous professional life and life experiences can help him become a better Peer Recovery Specialist in the future since it dealt with constant interaction of specific groups of people and being able to listen before making recommendations or judgements.

 

He holds a bachelor’s degree from Ball State University in political science, and a Graduate Certificate in Survey Design and Data Analysis from George Washington University.

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Dave Coe, PRS
Peer Recovery Specialist - Intern

Alfred Head understands that everyone deserves to be believed in and supported. Faith and love from the people who form the foundation of his life have allowed him to make it to the Chris Atwood Foundation. Living with a mental health condition, Alfred found strength in seeing the world from a different perspective, and learned to use that perspective to help others.  

 

In 2008, Alfred was a member of the first graduating class of peer specialists in Virginia. Since then, he has worked with many populations in our community, including unhoused veterans and those with disabilities. He brings his empathic and straightforward approach to supporting the mission of the CAF.

 

Animals in general, and dogs in particular, bring him joy. Living abroad as a child gave him an appreciation for diverse cultures, peoples and creeds. As a longtime NOVA resident, he enjoys the multifaceted international population of our region.

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Victoria Cira, PRS
Peer Recovery Specialist - Intern

Willie Butler is a formerly incarcerated citizen who works with the Chris Atwood’s Foundation as a Forensic Peer Recovery Specialist. He’s currently on the  CAF’s  Community Outreach Team where he operates with a strong sense of urgency and passion, making connections and building relationships with those who are in need of peer services.

 

Willie has an Associate in Arts degree from Walla Walla Community College and has served in leadership positions on various prison reform and advocacy platforms, such as the Black Prisoners’ Caucus, the Career Bridge Program, and the Ready for Release Process.  He has achieved the International Toastmasters’ status of Advanced Communicator Gold and Advanced Leadership Silver.

 

In his spare time, Willie enjoys weightlifting, reading/writing, and listening to soothing soulful music. He appreciates long, deep conversation with his family, friends and loved ones. He practices and believes that self-care is what leads to and sustains a health recovery. In essence, Willie is an avatar of love who relentlessly works in a RADICAL, compassionate manner to dismantle the disease of SUD, Mental Illness, Incarceration, and Homelessness. “Even if the choices of a human being’s disease may make it difficult for many to understand, every human being is still worthy of love and compassion. For with love, we can conquer and cure all.”

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