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Healing Charlotte Podcast: Shannon Routh, Teal Diva

Today’s podcast guest is Shannon Routh, the founder and Executive Director of Teal Diva. This non-profit organization supports women with ovarian and other types of gynecological cancer in Charlotte. Shannon got the idea to start the group during her 3rd chemotherapy appointment at age 32 when she realized there were no other support groups and she wanted to meet someone else going through ovarian cancer like herself. Previously, she knew one other woman who was much older and in a different stage of life. She knew if it happened to her, there had to be other woman in similar life stages to her.

Teal Diva supports the mental and emotional health of women diagnosed with gynecological cancers as well as those who have completed their treatment. Before Teal Diva was created, there wasn’t any local support for women with ovarian cancer. As time went by, Shannon learned of other types of gynecological cancers such as vulva and uterine that also did not have support locally, so they began to accept them as well.

Some challenges in the ovarian cancer space is that there is no early screening tool. Most women don’t know this and believe that during their annual visit, they are being checked for it. The symptoms are also vague which leaves many women undiagnosed until it is much further down the line. Some of the symptoms are bloating, feeling full quickly, back pain, changes in bowel habits, etc. Shannon recommends being your own advocate and if these symptoms come on or change and it doesn’t feel right to you, get checked by a specialist.

Shannon and Teal Diva originally used their fundraising efforts to fund research but shifted to supporting women locally as they felt it had the greatest impact and would go further to improve women’s lives here in Charlotte. Money raised and donated goes towards their custom infusion shirts, supporting the “honey-do lists,” and the sisterhood retreats. The Dignity Shirt program was inspired by one local woman who lost her life to ovarian cancer and her husband wanted to create a legacy. These custom shirts are teal for recognition and have zipper openings for the ports instead of stretching out the shirt. The “Yes Girl” program is help women with household projects that they are unable to complete. Teal Diva recruits volunteers to come together on one day and complete the list of projects. The idea of the “Sisterhood Retreats” came from Shannon’s love of retreats that she had been on. They will have group members apply for the retreats and will select 20 women to go. The women usually don’t know each other beforehand and spend a weekend immersed together for support, creativity, and relaxation. Another program that Teal Diva has came during covid isolation. They recruit volunteers to send encouragement cards to women who need support.

“For us to be able to provide this “life-changing” experience {sisterhood retreats} to someone, there are many women who have attended our retreat who pass away 3-6 months or a year later and we were able to touch them. We were able to provide for them in their final time a better experience at the life they had left.”

The elephant mascot came from a story originally told by Jen Hatmaker that was read at Shannon’s remission party. The story goes that when a female elephant is going through labor or a difficult time, the other female elephants circle around her, stomp, and kick up dust to protect her. The story stuck with Shannon and with the help of some professionals became the official mascot with a hidden set of ovaries in it as well.

“When our sisters are vulnerable, when they are under attack and they need their people to surround them so they can heal, and create, and recover, we all get in formation and close our ranks and we have each other’s backs.”

For self-care, Shannon enjoys taking weekends away, being in nature, with her dog. She has learned through the years that she needs to separate from being the leader at times to being the survivor. Shannon also knows the importance of therapy especially with the losses and hardships the group members go through.

If you would like to support Teal Diva, they are accepting of volunteers for events, the “Yes Girl” program, and card writing, and financial donations and company sponsorships will help support all programming and the Dignity Shirts.

Shannon wanted to Heal Charlotte as she was born and raised here and wanted to make a difference in her community.

“I wanted to make a difference and I wanted to get involved and I wanted to be a voice and I feel like if there is a need, then why not.”

You can connect with Teal Diva on the website, Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, TikTok, and Pinterest.

Healing Charlotte Podcast: Daisha Williams, CleanAire NC

Today’s guest is Daisha Williams who is the Environmental Justice Manager for CleanAIRE NC. CleanAIRE NC utilizes action, education, and innovation in their partnerships to restore the environment. They started in 2003 as CleanAIRE Carolina where volunteers banded together to improve air quality and noticed the link between that and climate change and public health. Their focus today is on climate change and air quality; addressing it through advocacy, education, and community-driven research and programs. CleanAIRE NC has 4 programs; health, policy, citizen science, and environmental justice. The Health program provides information to help health professionals talk to their patients about climate change, air pollution, and how it is affecting their health. The Policy program advocates for strengthening environmental policies to limit the factors that contribute to air pollution and climate change. The Citizen Science program uses air monitors in impacted communities to translate data for actions and improvements. The Environmental Justice program incorporates all of the other programs to make sure those who have been affected the most by climate change concerns are being included in efforts and decisions as well as empowered with knowledge. While CleanAIRE NC is based in Charlotte, NC, they assist communities all over North Carolina and have offices in Greensboro and Durham as well.

Before landing at CleanAIRE NC, Daisha received her Bachelor’s of Science in Sustainable Development from Appalachian State University and was interested in animals so she joined the Woodland Park Zoo in Washington. From there she learned she was more interested in working with people, so she got a job as a Legislative Assistant at the Washington Environmental Council where she worked with students in Title I schools in the Seattle area on the legislative process, who their representatives are, and how to use their voice for change. She was also part of a team that helped create a policy strategy that was passed to safeguard the environment. Next, she decided to get a graduate degree in Policy at John’s Hopkins University, and moved back to Charlotte where she got a job working with the Americorps’ Regional Stormwater Partnership of the Carolinas and began her work in the Historic West End. Because of her strong work in the community, it made sense to be involved with CleanAIRE NC as the new Environmental Justice Manager. She also has a graduate certificate in Geographic Information Science and Technology.

The Historic West End in Charlotte was subjected to red lining back in the 1930s which caused this area to have a lot of pollution due to the nearby highways and industries. Three highway systems cross through this neighborhood. The Airkeepers program through CleanAIRE NC was launched in 2017 which was the first one in the state. This system measured particulate matter. This is important as our lungs cannot remove certain sizes of particulate matter as it reaches deep into the lungs and bloodstream. The intention for this program was to arm the community of how much particulate matter is present and when it’s at the highest concentration. In 2018, community members and CleanAIRE NC created a report on pollution and health concerns to present to the Mecklenburg County Board of Commissioner’s in order to advocate for a federal EPA monitor which they received. The importance of the federal EPA monitor is that now the government is responsible for implementing programs to address the present issues. This also helped them formalize a Historic West End Green District which is designed to improve air quality, reduce emissions, and improve overall health. The community-led program started with 3 volunteers and now has 13. The health impacts of poor air quality are great and include issues such as inflammation, imbalanced nervous systems, can exacerbate diabetes, heart disease, and asthma. Recent studies have even found that poor air quality has a strong link to death by COVID.

“It really disheartens me that pollution touches this community and many communities like it in a cumulative way; it’s not just water quality concerns, it’s not just air quality concerns, it’s also a concern of a lack of resources, whether that’s lack of access to fresh and healthy food, lack of access to medical services, you also have concerns of displacement as Charlotte expands and grows rapidly and these communities are getting pushed out of their neighborhoods.”

The Historic West End Green District’s projects are chosen by the residents and have 3 main goals; strategic tree planting and maintaining of current trees as well as installing green walls and roofs, advocating for electric car charging stations and increasing access to more clean transit, and education on sustainability and solutions for clean air. The Historic West End Green District is working on Community Benefits Agreements which would work with industries in the area to help cut down particulate matter and pollutants.

“So building up those relationships because that’s where you start is just listening and building up trust and expanding this work and even connecting other environmental justice communities to each other because there is power in numbers and there’s also a lot of solidarity in listening and creating solutions with those that are experiencing the same things.”

If you would like to support CleanAIRE NC, Daisha recommends educating yourself first on the historical inequities, environmental justice, and the legacy it has left behind. From there you can speak out against it and vote for people who will support efforts. You can join their Advocacy program or donate to support them.

For self-care, Daisha enjoys spending time in nature, walks with her dog, and baking.

To connect with CleanAIRE NC you can visit their website here or email Daisha at daisha@cleanaire.org.

Healing Charlotte Podcast: Amanda Jones, QC Hydrate

Amanda Jones from QC Hydrate joins us on the podcast to discuss her mobile hydration infusion company. The idea came to her 3 years ago and was pushed forward with the pandemic. Amanda recognized people’s discomfort in going into clinical settings unless absolutely necessary so she decided to take her idea into people’s homes. Amanda has been a nurse for 10 years and the last 6 were spent as an oncology nurse where she fell in love with the work. The day after chemotherapy is given, typically patients come back in for “replacements” which is an infusion of micronutrients such as magnesium, potassium, among others, and basic hydration and possibly zofran for nausea. Many times, patients aren’t able to come back into the hospital the next day for many reasons. Amanda had the idea of being able to travel to patients homes and give them what they need to recover. She has now stepped back from the oncology world to focus on the growth of her business.

Infusions have to be given by a licensed medical professional and Amanda’s nurses all have a strong infusion background of at least 5 years. QC Hydrate contracts with a physician to oversee policies, procedures, safety, and efficacy and works with a specialty pharmacy to create the infusions. QC Hydrate is the only Board Certified Hydration Company in Charlotte.

By offering this service in the home, people feel pampered, and can receive the treatment in their own space for a short amount of time. Amanda can help develop an individualized treatment plan with her client’s goals in mind. They can provide infusions to individuals, couples, or a group of people. Some have set up for bridal parties, golf events, or ladies night.

“One of the most common feedbacks that I get is ‘oh I feel so pampered, this is so luxurious, or I feel like a star’ and that’s what we want.”

At QC Hydrate, they have tried to create something that everyone can benefit from. They have immunity, athletic, beauty, and hangover blends to name a few. Infusions are not recommended for those under 18 or anyone with congestive heart failure, or liver or kidney disease.

Intravenous supplements are more effective than oral because when taking one orally, the gastric acid in the stomach breaks down the nutrients and therefore lose 50-60% of the efficacy. Infusions bypass the digestive system so that 100% of the micronutrients enter the bloodstream. Many people especially in the winter months are deficient in vitamins such as B and D. QC Hydrate has a 6-session package to get your levels balanced with a blood test before and after to.

According to the NIH, dehydration affects 75% of the population. Most people aren’t drinking enough water through the day to get hydrated and are also getting dehydrated in the sun or by drinking caffeine or alcohol. When people are properly hydrated, they feel better in their bodies, have less inflammation, and sleep better. QC Hydrate recommends infusions at least 2x a month to be within the therapeutic range of hydration.

“We are going to do everything we can to make sure that we are providing a safe, comfortable environment for you.”

By her 3 year mark, QC Hydrate wants to have a bus to provide mobile infusions to people in the community, and provide infusions to those in the community who can not access it through charitable donations.

Amanda loves reading as self-care and loves “Vitamized Health” by Dr. Stephen Petteruti. She wants to heal Charlotte by giving everyone an opportunity to feel the benefits of hydration.

Find QC Hydrate on their website, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Brave Step Group Therapy September 2022

I’m excited to facilitate this 12-week closed group for those identifying as female and are survivors of sexual violence. We will meet Sundays from 7-8:30pm at Noda Yoga(1620 Oakhurst Commons Dr, Suite 301, Charlotte, NC 28205).

Dates are as follows:

  • September 11
  • September 25
  • October 2
  • October 16
  • October 23
  • October 30
  • November 6
  • November 13
  • November 20
  • December 4
  • December 11
  • December 18

The group will primarily focus on emotional regulation and attachment. There is no cost for participants. Registration required here.

Healing Charlotte Podcast: Kerry Kalish, Healthy Buildings TASC Force

In this episode, we meet Kerry Kalish. She is a Design Project Manager at ODA, an architecture firm here in Charlotte, North Carolina. She also manages the TASC(Tactful Approach to Sustainable Cleanliness) force which focuses on research and development for “Well Building” strategies. Kerry went to Architecture school at UNCC in 2004 and was fascinated back then about how architecture relates to humans. Now she is even more health conscious and aware of how spaces affect people due to having a child with asthma and ADHD. Prior to joining ODA, she worked for a forensic architecture firm where she was involved with more reactive work and fixing problems that already happened. She was interested in doing more proactive work from there. She joined ODA two weeks before the COVID-19 pandemic hit. Her boss came to her with an idea to focus more on the healthy building movement. After some initial reading and research, Kerry realized how connected this movement was to her interest in college.

“I even thought it{Healthy Building Movement} was mostly germs and good clean air. In hindsight, I realized this is that neuroscience stuff, this is that same scientific stuff but also the psychology and how we’ve gotten so much more aware of mindfulness.”

There are a couple of certifications including Fit Wel and Well Standard. This movement started about 7 years ago but gained momentum due to the pandemic. These certifications include sections on; fitness and mind, light(that could cause glare and headaches or lowered productivity), water cleanliness, and air to name a few. The standards also address vending machines, catering, and cafeteria requirements.

ODA created the TASC force to educate themselves as architects as well as contractors, developers, and decision makers who they were already connected with. They developed a newsletter to educate and help people see the importance of these standars as well as the return on investment. JLL created the “3-30-300 rule” that helps illustrate where to invest money. Every business, per year, per square foot spends $3 for utilities, $30 for rent, and $300 for payroll(insurance, PTO, sick time, etc). So in essence, Healthy Buildings protect and enhance the lives of people on the inside. The focus most recently has been on ventilation(better air, UV filters, higher quality filters), high touch areas(using surfaces that can be cleaned and bleached), and connection with nature(rooftop terraces, courtyards, and biophilic design). Some industries that are currently adopting these standards are hospitality, self-storage, and education to name a few. Where the Healthy Building Movement protects the people on the inside, where as the Sustainable Movement which strives to not damage, create minimal damage, or regenerate the environment outside of the building. In the future, the TASC force may move beyond Healthy Buildings and look at technology of materials or regenerative design.

“You can really mitigate those if you reduce your employees sick time or if you can improve their productivity. You are going to be able to balance that out more than you can by putting in some slightly more energy efficient light bulbs in your building.”

Kerry wants to heal Charlotte because her friends and family are here and wants her daughter to have a healthy experience. Kerry is inspired by Envision Charlotte; a group that is focused on creating a circular economy including regenerative design, composting, recycling and using underemployed folx to help. Self-care for Kerry includes an anti-inflammatory diet and being intentional with the food she ingests.

“I want to take care of the people around me. I’ve always wanted to do that to some extent. I’ve always wanted to give a positive to the community around me in some way, shape, or form.”

Visit the TASC force website and subscribe to the quarterly newsletter. Reach out to Kerry directly at kkalish@oda.us.com or tascforce@oda.us.com.