Podcast Transcript: 'Coffee &' - Episode 3 - Tharros Place Interview

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Episode 3 - Interview with Julie Wade from Tharros Place

Hey everyone, and welcome to the 'Coffee &' podcast where specialty coffee means so much more. We're on a quest to cultivate freedom for victims of human trafficking, all while drinking wicked awesome coffee. I'm your host Philip Klayman. I'm also one of the co-founders of Three Tree Coffee in Statesboro, Georgia. Today is going to be an episode where we talk more about human trafficking, um, and the problem of human trafficking. I'm very excited to have Julie Wade with us on the show. We're gonna learn more about her and her starting Tharros place, a safe house in Pooler, Georgia. But before we dive in, I do just want to give a quick warning that we do talk about more sensitive subjects in these types of episodes and any episodes that start with coffee and blank. So, uh, we just get, we just ask that there's a viewer discretion, um, if that is not something that you're prepared to be listening to. So let's dive in. All right. So Julie Wade, thank you so much for joining me on the show. I appreciate you being here. How are you doing today?

Thanks. I'm great to be here. Drinking wicked good coffee. Yeah. In Statesboro, Georgia. Yeah, so thanks for having me.

Awesome. Yeah. Well, so quick introduction on the coffee 'cause we are drinking over a cup of coffee. This is our tree house blend. It's kind of a standard breakfast blend we have at Three Tree. Just meant to be very approachable, nice, nutty, and smooth. So anyways, what, what do you think of it?

So it's good. So I'll tell the viewers, when I came in, I asked for cream and sugar. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. 'cause I typically like my coffee to taste like ice cream. I'm kind of a baby that way and I'm drinking it straight up and it's delicious. All right. I think it's much better than like my husband's K-Cup that he has every morning. There you go.

So, um, awesome. Yeah, it's good. They's really good. Sweet.

I feel like such a big girl. <laugh>.

There you go. Well, I'm glad you like it. And, and I'll go ahead and reveal that we didn't even have cream here for you, so I'm sorry that we were not prepared to serve you well. Nope.

No, you're a purist.

That's right. But I'm glad you like it. So Awesome. Well, uh, excited to have you on the show. We at Three Tree, we've, we've worked with Tharros Place for a little bit now and have learned more about who y'all are. Even then, I still think there's just so much to unpack about your organization, who you are and things like that. So I'm excited for you to be here. Um, let's just start with, if you could just tell us more about Tharros Place and the mission of Tharros Place.

Sure. So we are developing a residential facility for survivors of human trafficking. Girls age 12 to 17. Um, we have a facility in pool or an undisclosed location where the girls will live and learn and, um, grow and, uh, get therapy. They'll stay with us for about a year and we are hoping, I used to say we're opening this summer, but summer happened two days ago and we're not close to opening <laugh>. So we are hopeful this fall. Um, it's been a really, really fast project we started about a year and a half ago. So to be able to open up, um, in 18 or 21 months is really awesome.

Yeah, and I wanna come back to that some point 'cause it, it, from my perspective, it has been moving incredibly fast.

<laugh> mine too. <laugh>.

Okay. Well we're gonna come back to that because it just seems like these things usually take a lot longer. So I'm, I'm curious as to how it's been moving so quick. But before we dive into that, I wanna hear a little bit more about you and your background. So, uh, what is your background and how did you get into the anti-trafficking work in the first place?

You know, like so many things you never expect to be, I always tell like people going to college and graduate school, like you think you know exactly the path you'll take and you have your five and 10 year plan, like put it away. Mm-hmm. I mean, it's good to have goals and stuff, um, but like so many things that kind of just life led me to this as opposed to me leading myself to it. Um, I'm an attorney by training and went to law school in undergrad at University of Georgia. Go Dogs.

Go Dogs. I graduated from U G A with a degree in Ag economics. Okay, good. So there you go.

What year

Were you? Uh, 2011. Oh,

Okay. I was a little before

<laugh>. A little before <laugh> 96. You do not have to say it. The camera <laugh>. Okay.

Nice. And I will say my daughter's gonna Georgia Tech this fall.

Okay. Well

I, I'm sorry. And so I'm also like, no, I'm like, go jackets. You


<laugh>. That's fine. So, um, anyway, so I was a lawyer and came out. I was really big into like doing big corporate law. I wanted to be like the top lawyer in product liability defense work. There had been a woman I had kind of followed in Atlanta that was just a total cool, awesome woman and mom and lawyer. Um, and so I did big law for a few years. I actually really enjoyed it, but it's really intense. Um, we were up in Boston and as I started having children I realized like, you cannot do it all to all the women who, you know, there's a lot. And so we moved to Savannah, very intentional move to slow it down. And, um, I worked right before I had my third child at the US Attorney's Office. And the position that happened to be open at the time was the Project Safe Childhood Coordinator.

Huh. So that's the position I took. And so I was prosecuting, um, at the time it was mostly child pornography cases. Um, trafficking, trafficking as a word wasn't really used. There were certainly the cases of the, um, perpetrators who would entice people across state lines. You know, they were like adults posing as children online. Um, but we weren't really seeing trafficking. So I did that for a year. Again, it wasn't like I applied, I wanted to do that. That was just the job. That was the job Open was open at the US Attorney's office and I wanted to be a prosecutor. Um, and then when I had my third child, I, um, left the prosecutor's office and did defense work for about 10 years. Criminal defense work actually liked that better than prosecuting. I did not like sending mm-hmm. People to jail. We can have another podcast about our Okay. Justice system. Yeah. <laugh> and the inadequacies of prison and stuff

With Hope Court, maybe. Yeah. With Hope or the organization. Yep. Alright. That's

A whole other thing. Yeah. Um, and so I was doing defense work. I was representing a lot of 35 year old guys in federal court on drug and gun cases. And they had all these similar stories. They had been grown up, most of them, frankly, in Savannah, in unstable high poverty homes. Um, they were making their way through the public school system and they would do what I consider like age appropriate defiant activities, things that my children would do, but because they didn't have the support network like my kids do, to hold them up when they do stupid teenage stuff that we all did. They'd get in juvenile court and then once they're in juvenile court, every time they sneeze they'd get in trouble. Mm-hmm. And so they were under the thumb of the system, under the thumb, and then they would become adults and all of a sudden their juvenile age appropriate, you know, pushback became misdemeanors, and then they're felonies and, and it's just this terrible, terrible system. Most of these people were good people. I had good conversations with them. And so I would plead their case, like, the, the system is broken, not these people. And they'd go to jail for 20 years. And I was like, oh, this is really unsatisfying. Um, this is a long answer. This is probably longer than you

Wanted. No, I'm loving it. No, I appreciate you

Sharing it. On my other time, I was also on the Board of Education for Chatham County Public Schools for 10 years. I have a real passion for public education. Um, and there we were seeing sort of the flip side of that. So we were seeing the young people who, you know, depending on your, sometimes your race or your poverty status were being suspended more. They were slipping through, they didn't have the support network. Um, and so I was seeing these two, like competing parts of my life, um, and not really able to fix any of it. So I stopped practicing law and I went to Park Place Outreach, which is a teen homeless shelter in Savannah. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. Wow.

So you went from practicing law and in, um, a, a part of the Board of Education out of both of those into kind of social work, homeless shelter.

Yeah. Well, I stayed on the board of education Okay. Until Covid hit. That's other story. Okay. <laugh>. But, um, but so I was really wanting to work with youth directly because I was seeing like, like if, if you get on the wrong path when you're 14 or 15, it's really hard Wow. To right the path. It really is. And p kids do it all the time, but it's really hard. And for a lot of these kids, they need people, advocates for them every step of the way. That can be their parents, but it also, it might need other people. So I went to Park Place Outreach, uh, ran that for five years, loved it. Um, we did a lot of really great work. We added some new programs. Um, I think as a lawyer coming into nonprofit, I brought a perspective that other people don't have. And when you say, I went into social service, I mean, I still don't know how to like provide therapy to a young person, you know? Um, so I brought kind a business perspective and in the course of that work, now I'm getting to your question Yeah. That you asked five minutes ago. Um, I was brought into a lot of conversations about the need for a shelter for human trafficking. Mm-hmm. So

You were hearing about that in the homeless shelter

Circles. There had been two girls, God, this must have been like 2015, that had been identified and traffic by law enforcement as part of, um, victims of trafficking and in Savannah. And there was nowhere for these girls to go. Hmm. Nowhere to go. And so they took them to the hospital, to the emergency room at Memorial, which is really re-traumatizing, right? I mean, so here they were. They had no place to go. No one knew what to do, and they kind of dumped 'em off. And that situation led to this conversation. Um, and there was task force and there were subcommittees and you know how everyone of talks a lot about the problem, but it's a really big problem to fix. And so, um, that conversation had been going on for a long time. Um, sort of at the end of that Judge Forey started Hope Court.

Mm-hmm. Which is a dedicated treatment court for survivors of human trafficking. I hope you'll be able to have someone from her court on this. Yep. So there now was this kind of dedicated nucleus for, um, minor victims of human trafficking. And, um, I identified some, I was kind of, I get bored easily. So I was kind of done at Park Place and, um, identified some seed money, um, because the problem was, the task was way too big for like someone to do as a side gig. Yep. You know, like it was too big for a volunteer group to do. It was too big for another organization to take on entirely. And so we found some seed money, um, to get us started. And I started it in January of 2022. Okay. So left Park place and started it. So I was Yeah, 18 months ago almost. Exactly. Wow.

Yeah. Here we're so, so there's all these different committees and groups that are ready to, they want to do something with it and they wanna play their part. But it seems like what you're saying, and I see it too, it takes a lot of time. <laugh>, it takes a lot of money and it takes dedication and potentially even a spearhead or a leader. Did you start Theo's place? Did you say, Hey, I'm doing this, let's start the safe house? Or was there a group that said, let's do this together?

I just said, I'll do it. <laugh>.

Alright. Because you get bored easily and you seem very driven.

Well, I had, so there was this, um, anonymous donor who, um, unfortunately has since passed away. And she was doing good work and a lot of, um, a lot of spaces. And I went to the lawyer that was facilitating her giving. And initially I wanted a bunch of money for birthplace <laugh>. And, um, I said, you know, what is, what does she want? Who, you know, like, I was intrigued by this person who was anonymous and was like giving money throughout the community. I mean, how awesome mm-hmm. <affirmative>. And he said, you know, she wants to do something big her is she real focus is girls and like sexual abuse issues. So why don't you go talk to some people and kind of see. And so I put together three different things. And one of them was, um, it wasn't called there, it was a place at the time, it was just a shelter for survivors of trafficking.

And that really piqued her interest. And so I put together a proposal of here's kind of a three-year plan. And I identified kind of some numbers. And, um, she agreed. Wow. And, um, so this whole project has been like, I mean, even you and I meeting has things have just fallen in place Hmm. In a really miraculous way. And so that was the first sort of sign that, okay, we're gonna be able to do this. Um, yeah. And so it's such a shame that she's passed because she'll never get to see, um, or at least, you know, here in Savannah see the project. Um, yeah.

So, well, I appreciate you sharing. I think it's even worth taking a minute and just honoring her and, and I'm, I'm sure there's maybe some security things of not knowing her name and things like that, but it's worth mentioning that it definitely takes a driven personality. And, and I think a lot of your business acumen seems to have helped maybe speed this along once again. Maybe we'll get to that in a minute. But also, it's worth mentioning this woman who donated so much money. We need that, right? Yeah. We, we need the donators. <laugh>. Yes. We need the people who are willing to give financially. Yes. Um, and they may not have as active as a role or at least visually as active as a role. And yet Oh, would that even happen without her being a part

Without her? Would not happen. Wow. We would not be here. Um, no. And, um, you know, I get a lot of people who come and be like, I have a vision to open a house. And I mean, and it's true to their heart and they wanna do it. And I'm like, well, you're gonna need <laugh>. Yeah. Some significant financials where I'm like, if you wanna jump in on what we're doing, but, um, yes. Without her, and she's impacted a lot of organizations in the community, um, very much from behind the scenes. Um, and what a gift. Yep.

What a gift. Absolutely. Wow. Awesome. I am, I'm seeing a consistent theme in your story, um, in terms of your, you're clearly, you seem very driven, which is awesome. Um, you also seem to, you loved everything you did and everything you did does not seem very lovely <laugh> from the outside, if I'm just being honest. Right. Like, I'm helping people in jail, I'm helping children in homelessness, I'm helping victims of sex trafficking. I'm, and and you just seem to have this sense of, of, uh, of joy or I'm, I'm, I got this optimism I'm gonna fight through. Where, where do you think that comes from?

Uh, I have no idea. I'll tell you, the hardest of all of that is I would meet these great people who are my clients. Some had done some really horrible things, but others, and I'm not saying like selling drugs is good or caring. I mean, I'm, I'm not saying that at all. But like, they were good people. And like, I would go home to my lovely home with my children and husband and, you know, my comfortable bed. And I would think, oh my God, that guy is sleeping in jail tonight. Mm-hmm. And there is nothing. He's my, I'm his last hope and there's nothing I can do. And I, many nights would lay there just thinking. So, um, yeah. So I'm glad I don't have to do that anymore. <laugh>. Yeah. Yeah. Um, and one thing that both Park Place and Tharros Place is really was really committed to and is committed to, is really creating places that feel like home, not institutional. When you think homeless shelter, you think cots sterile. And our goal at Park Place and at Tharros Place is to really create a very home-like environment with well decorated bedrooms and comfortable spaces that really feel homelike. Um, wow. And 'cause that's what all kids

Deserve. Absolutely. Yeah. And I have just that sense of comfort in home. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. Right. So that's amazing. 'cause you know, in, in all of your optimism and, and and passion for getting this done, there's still hard nights <laugh>, there's still nights where you're, you're maybe you're sad, you're, you're you're upset or it's Right. Yeah. Um, and I can relate to that. 'cause when we first, when my wife and I, we had heard about the anti, you know, the human trafficking issue for, for some time, heard some statistics, and of course we said, that's bad, that's wrong. But nothing that really pushed us to strong action of saying, yeah, okay, what do we do about this? And it wasn't until we actually met someone in Indonesia in 20,

Um, so can I interview you now? Oh my goodness. Can you share

My goodness. Here we go. <laugh>. Alright. So I think I'm ready, <laugh>. Um, but no, and, and we, I mean, we met someone, we met someone who was a victim of sex trafficking in a coffee shop. And

Did you meet him in that context, or you just

Met him in a human way? We, them, they had already gotten out of that context. Okay. And we met them in a coffee shop and they were wanting to get involved in helping others. And I remember that night I did not sleep. I mean, it was, uh, you know, I'm just laying there in bed thinking this is happening to people. Right.

And she probably seemed like just a normal,

Uh, yeah. Girl, normal person. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, good person. Right. I, so I can relate to that sense of just, man, it just, it, it hit a lot harder at that time. But I also think it really is amazing that you do, you, you just seem to have this sense of, okay, well what's next? What else can I do? What do we do next? We need to find a solution, which I think is really neat. Um, so tell me a little bit about the name Theos Place. Where did that come from?

So Theos means, uh, courage in Greek. And um, I have a friend that's a trademark lawyer and she's always says, you can't just, you know, you couldn't have like Statesboro coffee house mm-hmm. <affirmative>, you had to have three trees. Mm-hmm. And so she was always, for years, even before this, like, you need something unique. And so, um, we wanted something real unique. So we just, a couple of us got on Google and, 'cause we were having again had a little, and it was all Zoom back then. Right. And so we were talking like, what's the name? What's the name? And they were, you know, so it was like Savannah Trafficking House or Da Dah. And I was like, let's think. Like, and so I just found like a list of words that I kind of wanted to represent and started Googling them in different languages. Mm-hmm. <affirmative> <laugh>. So that's where it came from. I mean, literally like, I was like, Theros. That's cool. Yeah. Um, I don't even know if I'm pronouncing it right. Yeah. It could be Theros, <laugh>, <laugh>. Think it's Theros.

Awesome. Well, we'll let other people vet us on that <laugh>. Um, but uh, that's awesome. Okay.

Yeah. All your viewers are listeners

Are gonna be like, oh, that's right. It's kinda like for us, the three Truth A kechi or a collage, it's this little pastry we have and, uh, oh, what is it? It's up for debate. I call it Kechi. Uh, we call it kechi as well, but we have been corrected vigorously a couple times. Oh, okay. Both directions. So they're

Delicious. I didn't know you had those. They are really good.

Okay. Yes. Um, so yeah. Um, so I guess what I'd love to know next is you mentioned January, 2022, right? Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, wasn't that when you said like,

We are, we were a piece of paper. Okay. Like we had been incorporated the Secretary of State mm-hmm. <affirmative> and that was it. And if you've ever done that, that takes like five minutes and a hundred dollars and Yep. Boom. Nice. So, um, that was had,

So you had a piece of paper <laugh> five minutes and $25 in, uh, yes. You're okay. Yeah. Uh, what, what did you do next? Uh, if you could almost map this out. Yeah. Let's say someone actually wanted to start a safe house. I mean, this clearly takes a lot of work. It's

Not different than any business. Mm-hmm. Right. Um, so we had a bo I have a board of director. So if you're a nonprofit, you have a board of director. So you immediately have a group that's invested in, you know, kind of pushing you along. Um, we started branding pretty quickly, so we did, you know, and again, y'all would do the same thing for a coffee house. So we have a really great brand that Jennifer Graham did for us. Um, logo and colors and everything. And we wanted to play up on kind of the Greek theme and the earthy theme. We didn't want it to be all like pink and stuff. Mm-hmm. Um, and so we worked on that. Um, I quickly started raising some money 'cause even though we had some seed money, we realized we needed some more seed money <laugh>. And so we went to some people that we knew and we did like a real early, like, um, you know, kind of jumped on early. We, um, of course at our 5 0 1 C three application. Mm-hmm. Um, and so that's kind of an aous process.

Oh. But I mean, what, yeah, what was that like? Yeah, because I hear it's awful, but I don't know what that means. Just lots of paperwork

Or, so I, I will put in a self plug. I also actually do legal work for nonprofits now. And so I do a lot of these applications, but my first one was ours, so I had to get it done. And it's just kind of tedious stuff once you, now when I do them, I can kind of power through them. But you have to make your case for the I r s that you're a legit nonprofit and you have to show your a board and your bylaws and what your proposed budget is and stuff. Um, so it helps you as you're starting. 'cause you do have to put some things in paper to kind of create your vision. Um, and then I started talking to a lot of people, and again, the same as your business, I think particularly in smaller communities, we're still communities of relationships.

Hmm. So just like, you probably go and talk to people all the time about your business and things kind of pieces come together. It was the same thing. So we, I talked to a lot of people that I already knew in nonprofit. Um, went up to Atlanta. Um, Atlanta has some really great facilities. And so went up there to make connections. And probably the first big win we got is, um, I had made some contacts with the Criminal Justice Coordinating Council, which is a state, um, office. They handle, um, like victim witness funds and they do a lot of, you know, criminal justice coordinating. Mm-hmm. <affirmative> and I had made some, um, friends there. I quickly jumped on the state, um, human ta uh, trafficking task force, which might be something you'd be interested in, given your, okay. Yeah. So we'll talk about that later.

Let's talk. So, and again, I was just talking to people and talking to people, and I applied for a grant for outreach money because not many people in Savannah knew what trafficking was. There's a lot of misconceptions about it. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. Um, and so they, there was just a general lack of awareness, even though we had a pretty big problem. Um, at the time we were seventh in the state. Unfortunately, we've jumped to fourth, but, um, and I got a $75,000 grant from the state of Georgia. Wow. So I was like, wow, that's, that's cool. Like, and so that started July one and we hired an outreach coordinator. So that was the first kind of big win we got. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. And then last summer, you know, if you're not in direct services, you have more time. So I wrote this huge grant for the Department of Justice, um, and we had no facility, no staff, no clients. And um, but I had a lot of time to write a really, really good grant. And we got a grant. And you

Were a lawyer, which I imagine helped. I'm a, I'm a decent writer. You can build your case. Right.

I'm a decent writer. Um, and we got a grant for $750,000. Wow. And that, I got it. Like, the email must have come like September 25th around there. And it came at like nine at night, which I thought was really weird. <laugh>. And I remember waking, I go to bed Really? I woke up the next morning, I was like, I think I need to check that again. Like, yeah.

Was that real?

Did I dream that? So that's been a real shot in the arm. I think it speaks to two things. I think a, it speaks to the need in our community because if the federal government's gonna come in and invest that kind of money, they know the area. I mean, of course we had a whole thing that we set out in the grant about the need, but I think it spoke to the significant need in the community. And then I think it spoke to the fact that we had the right people at the table to be the one to do it. Because I think there's, so anyway, that's been a huge shot in the arm. It's just for operations. It's not for capital. So we still had to raise all the money for the building, but, um, okay. That's been a huge, huge shot in the arm. Wow. So amazing. So yeah. Things have just come together. It's

Crazy. That's so cool. And there really are a lot of similarities between starting a business mm-hmm. <affirmative> and starting this safe house. Mm-hmm. <affirmative> and, 'cause you're right, it's, we started with some branding. We, you know, well we started with a product, right? Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, um, which I guess you could just call it a vision. Like Yeah. What did we wanna do? What were, what were we wanting to accomplish? Um, and our mission as well. Yeah. We started branding. We got a logo. We, we got some bags out there. We attended the local farmer's market. We got out in the community, we started networking with other people. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, right. And, and then you start raising funds, right. 'cause we were saying, okay, you know what? We think we can go places. We need to start raising capital, getting some

Funds. So you were roast so you didn't have a store, you were roasting at your house?

Just roasting at our

House and then just going to the farmer's market.

I going to the farmer's market, I was working at a bank, actually I'm, so, I'm a banker by a trade. See, I,

Which was such boring jobs. I

We have, I know. That's why I got into coffee. It's so much cooler to say I, I I work in coffee. Right. Um, but yeah, no, I was doing banking and then did the roasting on the side. Uh, my wife and I both, and then started selling the farmer's market. And it was the first coffee shop we opened in 2015. That was kind of the big jump. Yeah. Raising capital, hiring staff. I mean, a lot of these things that you're saying,

Right? Yeah. Same thing. Um, so what's your like risk adverse tolerance? Like, are you pretty risk adverse or? No,

I'm very risk averse. Yeah. I, I do not like taking risks. Oh. Which is really funny. 'cause that's not how most entrepreneurial Right. Journeys are. Um, maybe

That's why you're so successful is 'cause you made sure

Like, well, I think it's because I have a wife that's very versatile <laugh>, that she's all about taking some risks and we balance each other well. And so every time I've said, I just don't know, she's the one that's always nudged that faith when it's needed to say, let's do this. Okay, that's,

Let's take

A jump. That's good. That's good. The yin and the yang. Like, okay. Exactly. And then of course I'm sometimes the voice that's like, this is not a good idea. Let's slow down. And I'm, I'm the banker, right. I'm looking at some numbers and trying to make sure everything makes sense. Yeah. And,

Um, but you need that business sense. Mm-hmm. You need to, I mean, in the legal sense, like I think every of course we're validating our own education and stuff. Yeah. But you know, I do think you really need that. There's a lot of nonprofits, rightly so run by social service providers and they do a great, great job. Mm-hmm. But at the end of the day, whether you're making widgets mm-hmm. Or you are, or making coffee or providing social services, like mm-hmm. You gotta pay the bills. Yep. You gotta make sure you pay the taxes. Yep. And you gotta do all the things.

So Yeah. You gotta be able to rally people. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, you can't do it alone. You gotta be able to rally people too. Yeah. Um, so I just think it's amazing how your journey really does map out a lot of what a businesses journey mm-hmm. Would look like. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. So

Wait, before we get too far, what does three trees come from? Yeah.

So three trees because of our threefold mission. So we see a tree as kind of a, uh, a symbol of life in a lot of ways. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, it is giving oxygen for us to breathe. It is giving a place for the birds to nest. It is giving food for us to eat. And so just as a tree is giving life in many ways, we wanna give life in three ways. Empower our farmers and human trafficking and engage the community.

Amazing. Um, and I mentioned Michelle earlier and we actually have a podcast episode where we're gonna unpack this further, encourage y'all to check that out. Um, but I mean, really, a lot of people ask when did three trees start? And a lot of people think 2015 when we opened up the coffee shop mm-hmm. <affirmative>, we were technically roasting in 2014. If you wanna take it back that far. I go back to 2013 when we met Michelle and coffee wasn't even a part of the equation. Yeah. My wife and I said, what can we do to end human trafficking? And it just so happened to be coffee. Yeah. And I like it. It's fun. It's a fun thing to work in. Um, but uh, but there's, there's something bigger going on. Something bigger that we wanna be a part of.

So, and I think people appreciate, whether it's small businesses or even, you know, if there're there's corporate philanthropy Hmm. And picking something and being very proud of it and committed to it. And I think, you know, you've picked trafficking, someone else will pick environmental, it all kind of mm-hmm. Evens out in the end. But I think people when they spend their dollar are starting to look for that more. Yeah, absolutely. And, um, I think that's

Great and we all want purpose in what we do. And I even think about your story. I mean, there's a lot of law that could be done, but it seems like you were almost going towards the law that also gave you a sense of, I'm doing something for people. I'm, I'm giving back, I'm investing in people.

I mean, you can only write those. Like please be advised letters so much before you're like, please be advised, this is a terrible <laugh>. Yes.

Yeah. So Well, and so I I I, we all want purpose in what we do. And, and so that's why I, I don't think I would get as excited day in and day out for what we do at Three Tree if we didn't have a mission or a purpose mm-hmm. <affirmative>. So Yeah. The customers love it, but we love it too. Yeah. I mean, I think it's what really gives us juice to say, let's keep going. Especially in some of the tougher times. So, um, alright. This is so neat. So, uh, I'm kind of curious, $750,000 grant. Do you hire people? Do you buy a big sign, <laugh>? Do you, uh, do ads on Facebook? What do you, what'd

You do? Yeah, so I mean, it's a pretty tight budget. Um, and we, frankly, you things are moving fast, but we're a little behind. Um, so the federal fiscal year starts in October. So we find out like literally September 25th, fifth, like, here you go. And like, you may now access the money October 1st. I'm like, oh my gosh. So we, um, again, things fall in your lap. We had looked, which we're talking to architects about building something, which, you know, right now would be Wow. Very expensive. Take forever and super expensive. And I, I was having coffee. I was having coffee with someone. That's a good thing. Not at three trees. Sorry. I

Know. Oh, let's edit that

Out. I know. We'll not mention the play. I'm kidding. So it was in Savannah, it's in my neighborhood <laugh>. Um, and I, it was someone who involved in local politics and I was just telling like, Hey, I want you, I wanna tell you about this project I'm working on. And he said, my brother has this facility in pool that's for sale. And I was like, okay. And that's what we ended up buying. Wow. And it was at a fraction of the cost and it was able to move much more quickly. And so that was solely the result of a conversation over

Coffee, conversation over coffee. Not as good over this. So yes, <laugh>. So let's take a moment right there. And if you're listening to this, I'm, I think there's a really valuable lesson to learn out of all this. And it's take the time and make the effort to network and meet other people. Yes. I mean, both for starting a business, for starting a nonprofit, for starting a safe house, whoever's listening you have some goals or some vision for something. I, I hope And you're gonna need other people. Yeah. And, and don't be afraid just to put yourself out there. 'cause I can't think of how many times I had to just, I was uncomfortable. Right. I didn't want to, or I was tired. And you wanna make excuses. And I say sometimes I do, but sometimes it's like, let's step out, let's go for it. Right. And you never know what are gonna be the opportunities that really open up

A hundred percent. And you think sometimes I'm like, if I could just go in a closet and respond to emails all day, that's what I need to do. I've gotta just catch up on this or this or that. But if you're just doing that, you wouldn't have those moments of synergy or, um, connection. And so Yeah. You, you're right. You gotta get out there. Yeah. Awesome. And I'm glad we're in a community where you can do that. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, I don't know if it would be the same in Atlanta. Mm. You know, but like here you can, I always say you could come to Savannah and you could probably have a meeting with the mayor by the end of the week. Wow. You know, if you kind of met the right people and stuff. Yep. So, um, yeah. Absolutely. So I'm lucky to, we're lucky to be in communities where we can do that.

Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, so. Absolutely. Um, so yeah, so we got the facility, we, um, it's seller financed. Mm-hmm. Um, I mean, I'll be real frank with the numbers. Wow. So we bought it for 1.2 million. Mm-hmm. Um, at a 6% interest rate financed by the sellers. We paid like three 50 as our first payment and then we owe $250,000 every January for the next four years. Wow. So we do not own it outright. I mean, we own it. Yep. But, um, and so that's our challenge for the next four years. And once we're open, that's really where my focus will turn, um, into, you know, raising that. Yeah. Um, it seems like big numbers, but then sometimes it doesn't seem like big numbers. It's quick. It just depends on who you're talking to. <laugh>. Yeah,

That's true <laugh>. Very true. Yeah.

Um, and so, so once we got that secured, we closed on that in March and we just hired a residential director, you know, hiring's challenging. I'm sure you see it in the retail coffee space. Um, just, it's just challenging, particularly a new organization. 'cause we were needing someone who had the residential social service experience, but also had that go-getter entrepreneurial spirit mm-hmm. <affirmative>. And those don't always align. Right. And so sometimes I'd meet the person, they have great qualifications. I'd be like, what do you feel about starting a brand new program? They'd be like, I don't wanna do that part. <laugh>. Yep. And so it took us a while for the wait for the right person, but we hired, um, Latoya Scott mm-hmm. <affirmative> in May. Um, and she is the right person. 100%. She brings residential experience, youth residential experience, um, but a real go-getter, real take, take charge, take control. Mm-hmm. And so we're super happy to have her on. Right. Um, and we're now kinda looking for the next layer of leadership. Mm-hmm. And then we'll do the next layer. And by the time we open, we'll have a team of about 25 people.

Okay. I was gonna ask, how many people do you have right now on your team?

Three, <laugh>.

Three. Okay. But it's gonna get to 25. And

I have great interns. I have three great interns. Awesome. So yeah. So she'll run the residential program. Um, she has that social service experience, the youth experience, she's has the regulatory experience. Then we'll hire, like I said, the next leadership team. And the bulk of the staff will be house parents, the direct staff. And that's the hardest job, right? Mm-hmm. Because they are with the girls 24 7, 365. We have to have two on staff at all times. And that's, that's the tough work. That's really hard. And we'll have the gift, because we have this funds now, we'll be able to hire them and train them before we ever open the doors. So we'll really be able to come together as a team and do a lot of training on trafficking, deescalation, behavior management. Um, and so that's where we are.

Wow. Awesome. Okay. Uh, in your journey, what do you think is one skillset you have or a characteristic you have that has helped success?

Oh, I don't know. I think I just am not afraid to just like, talk to people and ask them for things. <laugh>.

Yeah. So not afraid to ask for money

<laugh> or whatever. Yeah. Um, yeah. I just have a lot of energy and, um, I'm excited to see this happen and so I'm just Yeah. I'm not afraid to ask people for stuff.

Yeah. So, yeah. Awesome.

I mean, some of my friends now, they're like, turn the other way. When they see me

Coming <laugh>, the person who asks for

Stuff like, like at Rotary, I'm like, okay, this week I need everyone to volunteer. Yeah. And next week I need everyone, um mm-hmm. <affirmative>. So I mean, it helps that I was, I've been in the community a long time. It helps that I was on the board of education and stuff. Um,

You already had a lot of connections 'cause of the networking Right. That you've done the best. Yeah. Right. It almost gets easier maybe if you have done the legwork to begin with. Maybe.

Yeah. You know, I had pulled a lot of my support group into Park Place and I didn't wanna take from that. And so, um, I've made new friends. There you go.

Like you <laugh> new friends. That's, I guess, right. Awesome. Okay. Um, so now let's kinda look ahead. Um, I mean, and your wildest dreams. What would success look like for Theo's place down the road five years out, 10 years out,

Whatever. So the biggest success for me would be in like 10 or 15 years getting a Christmas card from a girl. And it's like a picture of her and her family and her beautiful kids. And she's got a good job and she's just sending me her Christmas card about her, like very normal, boring, safe life. Wow. Um, that's what I would like. Yeah. If people still send Christmas cards in in her

15 years


Or an email, that's a big ask. Just the Christmas card part. Um, yeah.

Yeah. I mean our goal is like, we're not here to just like stabilize and keep you safe. Mm-hmm. Like, I think in a year's time with the right team and the right girl, like, I think you can change the course of someone's life. Like, I don't mean to be like pie in the sky, like these are young kids. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, you know, they're, they've still got lots of learning. They're so flexible, they're still nimble. And I, I really think you can change outcomes. Mm-hmm. And you can take what was a terrible situation and in a, a thoughtful, compassionate way. Show them another path. Yeah. Um, and yeah. So that's what we wanna do. Amazing. And, you know, they're not all gonna be success stories. Yeah. And I think that's something I learned when I came into this space, you know, seven years ago, that, you know, you're not gonna be able to do that for everyone. Mm-hmm. But I think you can change outcomes and I think you can change lives. Absolutely. And that's pretty cool. That is super cool.

Like that's awesome. I mean, we've seen that in our business and not even just with teenagers either. I mean, it's amazing to see, um, the impact that we can have on people. Yes. And it, it's so easy to fall into the temptation of thinking that it just can't happen, that people can't change. And I, I'll be honest, I've felt that at times. Right. I think we all felt that in 2020 where it's just like, oh my gosh, this is just chaos. Right. And what is happening to our society. Um, and yet people can change. Yeah. And, and I've seen,

So we do talk about that for like, employees that you've brought in and maybe you really believed in them and invested in

Them. And, you know, it's interesting 'cause I mentioned our threefold mission earlier, and that is 100% why we do what we do. The surprising, um, reward in all of this has been Yeah. Getting to invest in staff that go on and do bigger and better things. I like it when staff stay too. Right, right. <laugh> and do bigger and better things in three three. So I'm definitely not saying move on, but I mean, I, I just named so many people that went on and did big amazing, awesome things. And some of them will send me, it's never a Christmas card <laugh>, but that letter, they, they'll still hand write a letter. Funny. Yeah. That just says, you know, going through college, I was just trying to get my degree, make as much money as I could, and this really caused me to slow down and think, what can I use my life for?

So you're almost a mentor

And that, oh, that's, that's been the most rewarding part. Yeah's the leadership development components and not just me. There's other people in Three Tree that are facilitating this and investing in others. Um, but you're

Creating the culture. Uh, I mean it starts at the

Top. Uh, it, it does start at the top. I mean, there's a level of responsibility, uh, but I also depend on others mm-hmm. <affirmative> to, to bring it too. I mean, you mentioned Latoya, right? So I mean, I have people in our organization that are also bringing the culture, um, that they definitely get credit as well. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. And it's not even about credit. It's just amazing to see, um, people grow and people change and it does not happen with everyone. Right. Right. But when it does, it's just so rewarding. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. And I think in your work, what a, what a turn, I mean, of directions that people could be going so, um, in their teens and suddenly maybe they, they have a more normal life, safe life, things like that.

Well, and one thing I'm excited about, and I think this comes from my public education work, we'll have a full-time educator who will be a certified teacher. And so, and she's only gonna have a class or a group of 12. And so a lot of these girls, well before they were victims of trafficking, may have never in their educational space, had an opportunity to have really one-on-one conversations with an educator. You know, what do you like to do? What are your favorite skills? Um, you know, an assessment. And so we, I think really can dive into a young person's education and not only while they're there and hopefully get them cut up. And I mean, we hear now about, you know, reading levels so far behind and, and try to do that. And again, just actually reading at night and stuff. Mm-hmm. But what is your path forward?

Mm-hmm. You know, what do you wanna be, what's your vision and how do we get you there? And even when kids leave us, you know, I hope we will have created a path for them, um, and we'll, we'll stay with them. Um, so I think the education piece is a really cool opportunity, um, because most, I mean, hardly any kids are getting that really small, um, environment. So that's a position we have posted now that we're looking for. And I think there's just huge opportunities. And I think for the educator who maybe has been, you know, in a class of 30 kids and also never been able to really provide that one-on-one attention, it's a great opportunity for the educator to really do maybe all the creative things that they wanted to do, but just didn't have the capacity when they were, you know, in a full time. So that's my plug. Absolutely. Hopefully though by the time this airs we have that. I

Was about to say, so, yeah. Well, and if, if you're listening and you're a teacher and you're an educator Yes. And you're looking for an opportunity for more of that one-on-one investment mentorship, um, what an opportunity. And we actually had someone on a, a previous podcast, uh, Dr. Karen Lambie, who she was an educator for, um, quite some time. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, um, and out of that became an advocate and then does a lot of, um, mobilization raising awareness sort of work. Um,

And she was part of those very early conversations. Oh, was she? Remember the two girls I told you about? Yes, absolutely. They were on the first task force. She was part of that.

Okay, awesome. Yeah. Well, and she mentioned being a part of Savannah working against human trafficking and things like that. So anyways, educators, that's an important piece. Lawyers, business, women go-getters a part of the equation, right. People who give money a part of the equation needs a lot of different people working together, emphasis on networking yet again. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. So then I guess my next question would be, um, what advice would you give people that are maybe hearing some of this stuff and saying, I wish there was something I could do, or I wish there was something that could be done, but what do I do or what's my next step?

Right. So I think there's a, I mean, there's a few ways we are really leveraging partnerships. Um, right now we are doing a lot of volunteer work, um, to get our facility ready. I got paintbrushes going all the time. Um, we do have, we've submitted a permit and we are doing some actual like true renovation work. Um, and so right now we're doing a lot of volunteer. We have some fun Amazon wishlists where people can go on your, you know, buy pillows or towels or mixing bowls for us. So that's been really fun. Um, when we open, like our volunteer capacity, we'll switch drastically because the, because right now we don't have girls, so I can have people in and out. I have, everyone does have to sign a non-disclosure agreement to uh, agree not to share where the location is. Um, but we don't have girls there.

And so it can be pretty open. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, um, once we have girls there, you know, the whole culture will change because we'll be very protective of them. They become our priority. Um, and so we will have volunteers in, but they'll be working more directly with the kids. Um, those people have to go through a background check. Um, and we'll have to make sure that they're safe to work with the kids. We'll still be supervised. Um, but we'll be in that case looking for like, uh, academic tutors and mentors, art teachers, yoga teachers, any sort of teach how to brew coffee. Um, there you go. Or make a latte or something. Maybe we could have them to your shop and you could teach them all. Um, you know, kind of just pouring in opportunities on these young people, um, both at the facility and then, um, then out in the community as well.

Yeah. The other thing we really want people to do is talk about this. Um, here's something you may or may not know, but like the, the whole term trafficking is relatively new. The US didn't have a law on trafficking until, I think it's 2001. And the state of Georgia, which is actually pretty progressive and ahead of a lot of states on their trafficking legislation, didn't have anything until 2007. Hmm. So I think that's why there's fewer services for other things. 'cause we weren't, we didn't really call it trafficking like it was happening. And I think internationally it was happening before, but it really didn't come to be recognized as a problem in America until like 20 or 25 years ago. Hmm. So I think that kind of puts it in Yeah. Perspective of why we might be a little behind. And again, George's doing the, the First Lady, um, Mrs. Kemp is, this is one of her priorities. She's, I've met with her individually. Um, this is a big priority for her. So George is doing a lot of really, really good work. Wow. Um,

Yeah. Awesome. So, so two ways to get involved. One is volunteer. Mm-hmm. Volunteer your local safe houses, domestic violence shelters. If you're in the Savannah Pooler, Richmond Hill, Bloomingdale area. Mm-hmm. <affirmative> volunteer at Tharros Place. They have some needs and there's an Amazon wishlist. Mm-hmm. <affirmative> you mentioned as well. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. Um, but then also just spreading the word. Right. Right. Uh, spreading the word, sharing this episode, sharing about Theo's place with some of your friends. Once again, helping the networking piece. 'cause Julie can't do it all on her own. She's a networking genius it seems like. Can I hear that? Um, but even then you can help, right. You can help spread the

Word. So what, when people come to your coffee shop and they see the trafficking on all the branding and everything, what kind of remarks do you get? Do people say, what is this or this is great, or what kind of feedback do you get from people?

Yeah. It seems like there's a general recognition that it's a thing and it's a bad thing. Um, but I don't think there's much understanding. So a lot of people, a lot of times will just ask, tell what, tell more about this. What, what is this? Why is this there? Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. And that maybe goes in line with what you're saying about it not being recognized specifically with this terminology for some time. Um, so yeah. And, and then of course we have a lot of people that don't even know it's our mission. That's one of the hardest parts in any branding is communication. Mm-hmm. And is easy. We're a coffee shop. People expect us to know coffee and talk about coffee. It's hard to find those spaces to talk about this. And we push it out there a ton. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, it's on every shop's wall. It's on our social media, it's on our website, and we still have people that have no clue that this is a part of what we're trying to do. And so, yeah. I mean, I think education is super important and people just being willing to spread the word. And then of course, research. I mean, we all have, we all have smartphones. We can all take 10 minutes to research more about human trafficking mm-hmm. In our areas and what organizations are doing things to stop that. Right.

Um, and that's one thing that I think there's a lot of misunderstanding. Like, we get a lot of questions like, oh, are the ports like bringing in container ships of girls? I'm like, no, no, they're consumers. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, but they're not importing, you know, big container ships. And most of the girls that Hope Court is encountering that we will have, they are Savannah girls. Mm. They're Chatham County girls. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. Um, occasionally we'll get a runaway from a, you know, another state mm-hmm. <affirmative> even less. Occasionally we'll get a, you know, a, a migrant mm-hmm. <affirmative>, but most of these are our girls. Wow. Local. And, and that surprises a lot of people. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, um, yeah. But that's, that's who they're seeing at Hope Court.

Yep. Absolutely. Well, and another thing that I hear a lot, and from what I can tell when talking to other people, it happens, but it's not the most common, it's kind of the abduction envision of people are literally being taken away. Yeah. From other people when it's a lot, usually a lot more coercion, fraud, deception. Yep. Manipulation,

Like the term hiding in plain sight. Mm-hmm. <affirmative> that is, that is what is happening. Yeah. They may, um, and now we're gonna turn to, I guess the darker part. You know, the, they may be their abuser and trafficker may have had them addicted to drugs and so now they need their abuser and trafficker to provide the drugs. Or maybe the abuser and traffickers threaten their family. And if you don't do this, I'm gonna kill your mom or you owe me this money. And so once they're kind of in, and these are young, you know, so I, they're young teenage girls who think they know everything. 'cause that's what teenage girls do, and they think they figured out this situation and they're being manipulated and, um, abused. And so yeah, it is definitely hiding in plain sight. Mm. Um, yeah, I think most of the cases.

Wow. And, and it's, this is important information for us to know mm-hmm. <affirmative>. Um, and once again, for me as a parent and for any of us as parents, I hope it's a wake up call to just be in tune with your children's lives. Yeah. Right. Be paying attention, paying attention to some of the signs. 'cause even in some of these more, um, secretive manners of these things happening, you're the closest to them. You can still spot some of these signs. Right. Um, so just have an awareness about these things is so important. So. Awesome. Okay. Um, well then I guess the last thing, um, is I would just love for you to share how can, how can people help Theos place? What's the next step? Should they look up your website? Or how do they get in touch with Theo's place?

Sure. So we're on, so we have a unique name, so that's good. You can find us. So, um, we're on social media. Um, our website is theos place.com. Um, you can there kind of log on to get an email, um, you know, get on our e-blast. Um, uh, obviously we, it's gonna be about a million dollars a year to run. I mean, you hire staff, so my hiring staff that worked 24 7 365, just think of the numbers. Yep. You're like, oh, <laugh>. So, I mean, it will be expensive. Um, and so we will continue to, uh, raise money. Um, and again, just kind of talk and, and share what we're doing. Yep. Awesome. So I have one other cool thing I wanna talk about. Okay. Can I do that? Yeah, please. Okay. So talk about networking and stuff. So I'm kind of an exercise freak and I'm exercising at Orange Theory and I'm talking to this guy that you know, and, um, turns out he is the head of SCAD serve.

His name's Scott Lindsay and I get on a Zoom again, I don't really know what that is. This is early, early, early in the thing. And I'm like, let's get onto Zoom and like talk about opportunities. And he said, so yeah. So we, um, have a program where we have a class dedicated to a project and the whole purpose of the class is to complete this project. And I said, oh, well I have a project for you. What if the class designed our interiors? He was like, that's perfect. Wow. Okay. So this was, God, this must have been, I feel like it was last summer. So we went through all the paperwork and everything and so for spring semester or spring quarter at scad, there were 18 students and their sole purpose was designed. That's all they did in the class, was to design our interiors.

Yep. And these young people, I mean, there's, I love working with young people. They're so bright. And they did all this research on trafficking. We had, um, we set up opportunities for them to interview survivors. What would you have wanted in a facility? Um, they had little competitions, design competitions. And they have designed the most beautiful, thoughtful, pleasant facilities. I mean, I would've just slapped some paint up there. Yeah. Right. I mean, it's not my skillset. <laugh>. And it is beautiful. We have an intern this summer, Jessica Connolly, who's working with us to, from the class to put the plan in place. 'cause they gave me this like, book that was like a foot thick of all the specs. And I was like, I don't know what to do with that. Yeah. So it is just been this beautiful, beautiful project. And then Ikea and Wayfair, which have warehouses here full of stuff full, they're donating the furniture.

Wow. Because they have stuff either that's, you know, I mean, slightly damaged, perfectly fine. Um, or they, for, um, one of them we've actually put some orders in, in they're, I'm just giving it, so it's another just perfect example of like education and, you know, the warehouse port industry mm-hmm. <affirmative> all coming together. Yeah. Yeah. And it started over an exercise class, over an exercise class <laugh>. So be sure to exercise. Well, I mean, it's just, it just, it, that project has amazed me because it's just, it's been fun. It's gonna be a beautiful product. Um, the students loved it because they came back with some really fanciful stuff and I was like, that is not gonna work. <laugh>. And so I had to push back and be like, well, you know, like, who's gonna maintain this? And, and this is a safety risk and the students are really appreciative. They're like, oh, we've never, you know, everything else has just been in a classroom. Yeah. So that's been a really, really fun project. So when you see the final project and it looks beautiful. Wow. That is why, because these young people just, and you know, they're close in age to these girls mm-hmm. <affirmative> so they can, I'm not close in age. Yeah. I'm like three times their age mm-hmm. <affirmative> so they can really, um, you know, relate more closely to what they might need. So that's been another just fun project in our networking theme.

Absolutely. That is so cool. Yeah. And I appreciate you sharing and we, we briefly touched on this earlier, but just the, and, and I think you could speak, and in fact I'm gonna ask you, I mean, what is, what does a comfortable place do for someone in this situation? What, let's say we've vision a sterile room that's just kind of tan and nothing else, right. Versus a room that was maybe designed. What, what do you, what, why, what does that do for someone?

Well, it's just everyone has their safe space, right? Everyone has their comfort space. All the girls will have their own room mm-hmm. <affirmative>, um, and they're, all the rooms have windows and light. Um, and the one thing that this guy kids, they're just brilliant. They came up with this, the difference between privacy and secrecy. Hmm. And I think that's so important for this population because like, everyone wants some privacy that shows respect. Right? I mean, if, if we're gonna give you privacy that shows we respect you, we know you need your own space. We trust you to be in that space verse secrecy where you're hiding something. Mm-hmm. Um, and you know, we're having to kind of like, we're not gonna have cameras in your room. Mm-hmm. 'cause we want, you know, you to have some privacy. And so that was something they came up with that I thought really resonated. Like just the, the whole vibe and the tone of the place is, is different if you're respecting privacy as opposed to prohibiting secrecy.

Wow. Absolutely. And it helps build trust. Right? I imagine. Right, right. If you're giving someone the privacy they want. Right. Well, still making sure it's secure and safe.

Sure. The regulations requires to check their room every 15 minutes. So

<laugh>, okay, there you go. Wow. Every 15 minutes.

Every 15

Minutes. Yeah. And so, I mean, I mean, it just, it helps make people feel at home and it eases tensions. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, it eases distrust, um, and it helps build relationships. Right. How amazing that a space can build relationships. But even I've seen it once again in business where I would say the stakes aren't as high. It's amazing how an environment can build trust, help people build trust, help

People feel comfortable or

Destroy trust or destroy

Trust. You've been in those work environments. I've been in those work

Environments. Absolutely. Yep. Absolutely. So that's amazing. Also, love about the story, how it got SCAD students involved learning more. Yes.


Um, now what will they take from this moving forward? So an amazing story and I appreciate you sharing

That. Yeah. Yeah. I just wanna get that in. 'cause it's been, it's, you know, again, we talked earlier like, this is dark work, but it can be fun. And that's been a really fun part.

Yep. Absolutely. Well, let's end on a little bit of a lively note. You were a lawyer in Hawaii, <laugh>. Yeah. Did I see that on your bio? Yeah. <laugh>. What, what did you, did you learn how to surf? What, what was that like living in Hawaii?

So I, uh, so we, uh, my husband had, uh, worked out there for a year. And so, um, we were both in graduate school together, different fields. And he, his work called him out there for a year. And so I practiced at a law firm. Um, and I, I surfing, I didn't really take, but I did take hula lessons. Okay. And, um, I can do a mad hae moon hula.

Oh my goodness. Not right

Now. <laugh> Not right now. I was gonna say I had a little rusty. But yeah, it was great. And you know what Hawaii did? So we had grown up in metro Atlanta and in Hawaii they talked about this thing called quality of life. We were like, what does that mean? And like, they're like, it's when you go surf before you go to work. And I was like, that's awesome. <laugh>. And that year, and you had years, obviously your year abroad, that changed our whole perspective. 'cause we were just work, work, work, boom, boom, boom. We're going to big city and, and quality of life. Mm-hmm. Living in Hawaii, um, really changed our perspective and I think that's why we're, we would never be in Savannah. Yep. But for that. But we loved being by the water. We loved being in a smaller community. Oh, wow. Um, so it was

Almost a stepping stone to Savannah.

Yes. Yeah. It was the aloha spirit. Yep. <laugh>. Nice.

That's awesome. Well, so cool. Well, Julie, thank you so much for coming on the show today. I've just enjoyed, I we've, we've loved what you've been doing, golly, for the past year and a half now, but just love learning more about your story. Um, I encourage everyone who's listening, uh, to definitely go check out Theo's place. Um, Julie, thank you for joining.

Thanks. I had no idea what to expect. This was my first podcast, but it was a lot of fun.

Well, you're a natural. No wonder you're good at networking <laugh>. Just

Talk about myself

All the time. There you go. Well, you interviewed me. Goodness. I feel like I had to come with some answers sometimes. So, um, awesome. So everyone who's listening, thank you so much for tuning in. Um, go check out Theo's place and just wanna send out a quick reminder with Tree Coffee. We donate $1 of every bag to Safe Houses and we have donated money to Theo's place. We've also donated to Out of Darkness and some other safe houses. So anyways, um, would love your support in that. Um, but definitely go check out theirs place, help them out, volunteer, buy off their Amazon watch list, uh, donate money, let's get involved. Appreciate you listening.

Thanks y'all.

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