LTS Podcast Ep. 12: BiG

Jonathan Jones: Hello and welcome to the Lift the Spirit podcast with DEMDACO. This is Jonathan Jones and Aaron Heim, my co host, and we have the privilege today of being joined by Erin Kiltz and Robin Gilleland. And they're with a non profit in Texas called Brookwood in Georgetown, or BIG for short. You might also hear us refer to Aaron Heim as A. J. during this podcast. We set that up so there wouldn't be confusion between the Aarons, but I'd like to welcome both of you. Thank you so much for being here.

Erin Kiltz: Thank you so much for having us. We are honored.

Jonathan Jones: I think I'd like to start with just the very first question. How did BIG begin? Can you tell us a little bit about that story?

Erin Kiltz: Sure, BIG is really all about a desperate mom on a mission meeting a need that I didn't know existed until Gracie was aging out of high school. But to back up a little bit, Gracie's kind of growing [00:01:00] up in a nutshell was she was our third born child. She was born with Down syndrome. At two, she was diagnosed with AML, with leukemia. And then after a year of inpatient chemo, she went septic and flatlined for 20 minutes as a result of sepsis, they gave her no chance of living, but by the grace of God, she survived, but was left and a much weaker state. So she could no longer walk, talk. She was blind for a period of time. But the most heartbreaking is that she lost her ability to smile. And that was just from the minute she started smiling at about, six weeks. That was her greatest gift. Everywhere Gracie went she was just, She attracted people for her smile. And so that every night when I put my older two [00:02:00] children to bed, they would pray for nothing more than, or less than that smile to return. And miraculously so that as God would have it, six months later, her smile returned, 15 years later, that beautiful smile earned her the title of homecoming queen at a 5A high school , and that was a huge deal not only to us, but her entire peer group at the high school, and it actually made ABC world News and Diane Sawyer picked it up. So it was a really big deal. But. About a week later, still being on cloud nine, I met with her educators to ask what was next and they just looked at me like, where have you been? And I said, well, as a mom of a child with special needs. I really take it a year at a time. It's a little too daunting to look too far ahead, but I never thought to ask that [00:03:00] question until that graduating, ARD is what they were called, admissions review and dismissal, which I never found out what that a meeting even met until that moment. And we had them for years, but all I heard was dismissal. And they said, Erin, I hate to tell you this, but there's nothing for Gracie. There, there might be options for some of her friends, but given Gracie's, dependent state there's really nothing. And that just pierced my heart. So I left that meeting crying and called my husband and said It's over, like this was really a great ride and such a way to end that we're, it's the support, the community, the purpose it all ends at 21, which is when most kids with special needs age out of the school system. That was enough to [00:04:00] launch me on a mission. So that was the beginning point.

Jonathan Jones: Wow. That would be a lot to process. I can't even imagine. So what was it like? What was the first idea? The first inkling where, and I'm assuming the BiG organization probably looks a little bit different than what your first idea was. Am I accurate in that? Has it become much more than you imagined?

Erin Kiltz: Oh, yes, but I had no idea what it would become. I definitely. Just was looking for something that probably resonated with who I am and what I wanted to see Gracie do. And so I began to search all over Austin, central Texas, really the whole nation via, just the, just searching the web and I finally [00:05:00] came upon, what I found was kind of heart wrenching. But I finally on a different search engine at about two o'clock in the morning. I stumbled upon the Brookwood community outside of Houston in Berkshire, Texas, and thought this is too good to be true. And I made an appointment to, for my husband and I to go visit and that's, I just fell in love. I truly describe it as, I felt like Dorothy on the Wizard of Oz when her home crashes down to, After the tornado and she opens the door and everything goes from black and white to color. And it was the most beautiful, life giving, creative community that I had ever witnessed. And there were, it's 220 individuals that live and work there. They were, it was like Santa's workshop. They were all creating beautiful things to sell in their, Gift shop and cafe. And I just knew right then I had found the [00:06:00] model that I wanted to replicate. My background is in design. And so of course that was obviously a contributing factor to why it resonated. But I think since then, what we, what I take away from that moment is. Why is it that when we create, we, there's something deep within our soul that is satisfied versus when we do something rote again and again, and this population has usually been given those rote exercises. Oh, we'll pay you per piece and you can roll a thousand napkins a day. I just thought, wow, but they can also learn to create art and. And sell it in a beautiful gift shop. And so when I found the Brookwood community, I knew that I had found what I wanted to begin [00:07:00] in Georgetown. And so I just really fastened myself to the executive director and the founder, and they began to mentor me through that process. So we started out very organic. You just give me my marching orders. I'm not going to recreate this wheel. You've done this successfully for 40 years. And so she said, go back and start something. And I thought, okay, my background's in design for 30 years, and I really don't know how to begin. And she goes, well, have you ever taught vacation Bible school? And I said, Yes. And she goes, you'll be just fine. I went back to the school district and I was kind of bluffing my way through the entire thing, but I told them that I wanted to come in and teach their 18 to 21 year olds. I wanted to come in and teach them and they said, great, what? And I didn't think about answering that question until right then. And [00:08:00] I just signed up for a pottery class. And so I said, pottery without any expertise in pottery. And so we began to learn together.

Jonathan Jones: I often think that bluffing is confidently taking unknown forward steps.

Erin Kiltz: Yes, for sure. For sure. And so I, people say, well, what was your strategic business plan? And I said, it was to get down on my knees and plead with God to show me what to do next. That's how we went about creating BiG. So we started out, You know going from the school district, I was testing out everything I'd learned at the Brookwood community Then we went to my home and

Jonathan Jones: real quick Brookwood was an existing organization just outside Houston, correct? That's

Erin Kiltz: correct. They were 30 years old at the time.

Jonathan Jones: How many years?

Erin Kiltz: They were 30 years old at the time and were established in 1983.

Jonathan Jones: Okay.

Erin Kiltz: Okay. So they're what, 40, 41 [00:09:00] now. And so, yes. And I mean, people ask, how in the heck were you the chosen child? And I said, I was a pest and I wouldn't stop visiting. And I was, I became a student of their culture and their model. And then I began to test everything I was learning on this pilot program. And so this pilot program, really launched and the fire started in March of 2011. And then

Jonathan Jones: what do you mean by the fire started?

Erin Kiltz: Well, what, for the first time I was giving students with special needs the opportunity to create something beautiful to sell.

Jonathan Jones: Okay.

Erin Kiltz: And so, the founder said, Erin, Our Citizens, we call them Citizens, the participants with a capital C because they are contributors to society. They are not [00:10:00] consumers. They are not clients. They are giving back. And so we call it Citizens with a capital C. And so she, she just said that you have started a fire because these Citizens. They've already taken ownership and pride in what they're creating and selling. And I asked them one day, I said, do you want, we were making crosses right before Easter. I said, do you want to give these to your parents for Easter? And they're like, Oh yeah. And I said, or do you want to sell them and make money and have a pizza party at the end of the year? And they're like, Oh, we want to do that. And so she said that they really do understand the free enterprise system. I, at first I was skeptical, but then I quickly understood that they did understand their free enterprise system. And so we began, obviously we had more orders than we could actually produce, which was great. So we [00:11:00] moved in the summer. We had, she says, you got to keep this fire going. Cause the, now the parents are excited. They want to know what's next. So I said, great, we'll move to my home. So we began to plant mammoth sunflowers, one seed at a time. We planted 1, 400 sunflowers in Texas heat that summer. We were, I always say bootlegging granola, cause I didn't know you needed a licensed kitchen and selling it very successfully. And we continued with our, the pottery. But one day my husband came home and said, Hey babe, I love what we're doing. But we're getting pottery dust everywhere. Do you think we could find some free church space? And I said, well, I'll try. So that led us to finding free church space. So we started with eight Citizens. We opened our doors officially November 1st of 2011. And now we have 95 [00:12:00] Citizens across three different campuses. And we just, Actually launched and opened our residential community on 127 acres but that is still very much of a, it's the beginning of a residential community and kind of the answer to the greatest fear of every parent, which is what happens when we are no longer here, who will where they live, where we're children live, who will care for them.

Jonathan Jones: Robin, I know you and I met at the Dallas showroom when you came into the DEMDACO showroom as part of the buying group for the retail side of BiG, can you talk a little bit about that and how all of that is a part of what you're doing with your Citizens?

Robin Gilleland: Yeah, we have a beautiful boutique here in Georgetown, Texas, and our Citizens actually work in our boutique. We are super strategic about what we carry in our boutique. We try to be [00:13:00] mindful and we just fell in love with DEMDACO. And every time we go in there, there's something new and different.

Jonathan Jones: I can imagine that there's a sense of dignity that the Citizens, Get when they see something they created for sale in a store. What is that like?

Robin Gilleland: Well, it's amazing. And it's also amazing because our Citizens do work in our shop and when a piece of their pottery or something else they've made is sold, they get so excited. So every piece of pottery is one of a kind item. that is sold in our shop. And people love that they can say it's one of a kind. There's not another piece of pottery like that in the world. And each piece of pottery is stamped with that citizen's name. So when you purchase that, you get a bio card that has their picture and tells about their interests. And what they love about BiG. [00:14:00] And it's even better than that. Like earlier today, we were in the lobby here and one of our Citizens had just done a shift in the shop. And she came in to tell us that she had sold a piece of her pottery.

Jonathan Jones: Oh, that's great.

Robin Gilleland: So excited. She had to hug Erin. She had to hug me. She had to tell us, that story. So yes, there is definitely pride in that. And our Citizens actually come up with new enterprises and new things and they suggest certain things. We have one of our major fundraisers that we have every year is our art auction and our Citizens make one of a kind art and it's Some of pieces sell for thousands of dollars. And so they're very creative. They take a lot of pride in their work and they are very excited to show anyone what they do.

Aaron Heim: Obviously, there were challenges along the way that you didn't see coming. Maybe some you [00:15:00] did see coming. , talk to us a little bit about the challenges that seemed insurmountable, but may not have ultimately been insurmountable. And, were there times when you thought to yourself, this is just too much. I can't, it's not possible. Or did the doubt never enter your consciousness, if you will. Does that make sense?

Erin Kiltz: Yes. So I think once a week, I think about running for the hills but I've been advised by that precious founder Yvonne Straight of the Brookwood community. He was 96 and her daughter, one of her daughters is the CEO of the Brooklyn community and said, Erin, the mission is worth it. You have to keep your eye on the mission. And. It's hard. What's easy is when you spend time with the Citizens and that re centers why we are doing what we are doing and yes, [00:16:00] they are worth it and their future is worth it. But there's these things called people that you have to manage. And I happen to be p eople pleaser, and that's really hard. I just want to make people happy. I don't care about being popular and that's not why I'm a people pleaser, but I really thrive on people being happy. And as a CEO, I, I've given the torch to my successor. So I am founder very much a partner of Robin's and buying and product development. Anything that's design the design of Grace Place, all of that. But I was so happy to give that torch to someone else to manage people. But it is still a challenge, but it's not, the Citizens are not a challenge. It is, they are the joy and the reason why I am still here. Almost 13 years later. [00:17:00]

Jonathan Jones: What would be the one thing. That you would want people to know about your Citizens or what do you think is the biggest misconception people have?

Erin Kiltz: They are some of the most gifted souls. And I mean, in the complete way, spiritually just emotionally they are just not giving credit for who God created them to be. They are, they truly are what we call our Citizens co laborers. They are not to be pitied. They're not to feel sorry for. They have just gifts that we could never even touch. And, I just think of time and time again, when I was, there's this one citizen that I would take to public speak with me and I, I. I, there's nothing I hate more than public [00:18:00] speaking. So I'm like, God has a sense of humor. I'm always in that position, but I decided I wouldn't leave home without a citizen because they're the testimony of what BiG is doing in their lives. And so we were on our. And she said she was so excited about the speaking engagement. And I said, gosh, Tracy, I wish I was more like you, but it really just undoes me on the inside. I just can't stand to speak. And yet, we're committed to doing this. And she goes, oh, miss Erin, you just need to remember it's not about you. And, the Citizens are worth it. And it just like cut me off at the knees. And I thought, oh, Lord, forgive me what pride I have. And, but like another citizen, he had been in our community for about six months. And he would always introduce himself. My name is Eric. I have autism and about six months of being engaged in meaningful work. [00:19:00] And community and purpose every day, this tour came through and he said, my name's Eric. I have four A's and I thought, Oh, wow. What did we, you never know. And he said, I am. An artist. I am an actor. I am an athlete and I am awesome. And his identity had completely changed. He was no longer defined by his disability. It was, he was truly defined of who he had discovered himself to be in a community that highly values every individual and we aren't there to Helping, we're there working alongside and together we are able to accomplish whatever. Thing we are making together. It is, it's just been the greatest privilege to see that [00:20:00] journey of seeing people that come into our program. Part of our mission is to change the way the world views this population.

Jonathan Jones: And

Erin Kiltz: that's done several different ways, but part of that is through wowing the world with what they can do through the product that is offered in our award winning gift shop. I mean, Our gift shop, Never Our Goal, has been given the best boutique in Georgetown, Texas, seven years in a row. That was Never Our Goal. And our citizen product, we are, is the number one vendor of everything that sells, so people come in. Just in awe of what they are able to purchase and what our Citizens have created. So that is, so, so taking people who come in, who might say, Oh, I really would love to help. I really love to volunteer alongside the Citizens. [00:21:00] And we say, great, and watching their attitude completely change from No longer feeling sorry to wanting to care, to building a friendship, to truly valuing them for who they are and realizing, oh, they have probably more to teach me than I have to. To teach them. And so when you see the light bulb go on, I mean, as parents, Robin and I get it because, shortly after you grieve the loss of having a typical child, you realize that you're Oh, wow. We have been so blessed and God is going to do amazing things. And then through this, this child who might be different than what we would have initially chosen, but we choose Kylie and Gracie again and again. And so, yeah, it's just really [00:22:00] exciting to see that change happen, not just through their product, but. Having that one on one engagement with their Citizens. And all of a sudden the disabilities just disappear and they see that individual for who they are and who God created them to be.

Aaron Heim: What are some of the items the products the magic that the Citizens create there as a part of BIG?

Robin Gilleland: Well, we have a lot and it's always changing. We have three campuses. So we are, our enterprises are kind of based on each campus. And so like our main campus does the majority of our pottery, and it is all kinds of pottery. We have crosses. We have platters. We have bowls. So our Citizens alongside with our job supervisors are always like developing a new earring or a new bracelet. We just launched, [00:23:00] we did adult bracelets, we just adult launched children's bracelets and they're like flying off the shelf.

Erin Kiltz: So we launched the big pie company and now we can ship pies anywhere in the country. And so we have about six different dark chocolate pecan bourbon pie, blueberry pie, chest pie, apple pie. Yes, we will send you one, AJ.

Aaron Heim: That's chocolate pecan bourbon is the one I was reacting to.

Erin Kiltz: It's actually better heated with ice cream. That's the way

Aaron Heim: I do it.

Jonathan Jones: That's the only way to do it. So while we're talking about this, can you just go ahead and give your website and how people can get involved? I'll talk about this at the end, but if someone wanted to order a pie, how would they do that?

Erin Kiltz: So you go to our website big tx. org And that will take you to our website And then you can put in your order for a pie.

Jonathan Jones: , I know there are big [00:24:00] plans for the Citizens becoming residents. Can you tell us more about that?

Erin Kiltz: Yeah. So, 12 years ago when BiG started. I was already looking for land because home is, has always been a really special to our family. And when you have a child with special needs, you actually spend a lot of time at home. And it's all what you create for, especially someone like Gracie, who was very dependent after her brain injury at three. And so home was everything. And we did have some space. We did live on land. And I say that because there was a freedom in having a piece of land that allowed us the privacy and the creativity to do things that would not have been accomplished on a 50 by 100 lot. [00:25:00] And that was, in my heart when Gracie was, three and we lived there for 14 years, and I don't think if we hadn't had that experience as a family, I would not have had a vision for Grace Place, which is on now 127 acres, but it was all that. Everything that kept me going at a frantic pace was the thought of what happens when we're gone. Who is going to care for her in the way that I care for her, in the way that her daddy cares for her? Who is going to You know, Gracie needed to be turned over in the middle of the night. Who is going to dress her in a way that makes her approachable, which was always kind of my goal. I wanted Gracie to be dressed in the best so that people [00:26:00] would be just more likely to come up to her and say, I love. That dress or, just so that was a consideration, but when we began at 12 years ago, looking for land, the founder wisely said, Oh, please don't do that. That's what we did. And we call that failing forward that we bought land. We built what they call the N for 36 individuals. And then. They move their Citizens in and say, what are we going to do every day, all day? And they, and so she advised us very wisely. You get the vocational community up and running humming. And then when you feel like you have that figured out, then you can consider meeting the greatest fear of every parent. And so we did that. So at year 10 was when we actually. [00:27:00] This piece of property kind of fell in our lap and felt like it was time to begin. We actually had an acute need earlier. And so we, before we had homes built, and so we rented two lease houses as a pilot program for five women. And I think God gave us the five most difficult women and really taught us a lot in that pilot program. So that really informed a lot about Grace Place, but now Grace Place has two community homes, which are home, each home is home to seven men and seven women. And then there's a respite, an eighth room, which is a respite room for parents that might not be ready for their child to be a full time citizen, residential citizen, but they might want to go on vacation for the first time in their life. And so now [00:28:00] they have a trusted place for their child to stay. And then we just opened the tiny home village, which is home to eight more independent. Individuals with close staff support. So there are two staff homes nestled within the eight tiny homes. And then they have a clubhouse that they go to and prepare their night meals. But it's really a community. It's families that live there that are raising their kids alongside our Citizens. It's not shift work. It's very much of a community where the Citizens. are just living in homes that are attached. They have an interior door that has a family living right next to them and providing the support that they need as well. So it, the goal is to be a home for 80 Citizens. We learned during COVID [00:29:00] that a lot of communities that served more than about a hundred. Really did not weather that storm very well. It was very hard to remain on top of all that was happening. And so we want to do what we do well for 80. I feel like in a crisis, I could ask, 10 of my friends to go out to Grace Place and we're going to cook or we're going to clean, or we're going to do whatever we need to do in a crisis. But we also want to remain. very much involved within their families and know their families and know their siblings. So I feel like you begin to lose that when you get over a hundred.

Jonathan Jones: For 90 residents, how many full time staff does that require?

Erin Kiltz: Well, it actually will be for 80, 80. Yes, give or take, but we, so we have a house parent or a house [00:30:00] manager. That over the seven that live in that community home, and then there will be an R. A. So it's a 1 to 4 ratio. Okay,

Jonathan Jones: where are you at in the so you've secured the property correct? And then what's status of construction? What are your needs? If people wanted to be involved, where could they go to donate?

Erin Kiltz: Right, right. So it is a 33 million capital campaign, and we are about halfway there.

Jonathan Jones: Wow.

Erin Kiltz: That has secured the land, the infrastructure, the road, the two community homes, the tiny home village the clubhouse. Right now, what is under construction is the gathering place, which will be really Like a huge clubhouse for the entire community and that will have some work enterprise rooms that will have a exercise fitness room that will have [00:31:00] a large room where we can break bread together and for the whole community to come and have maybe a Sunday night meal. And so, and we have raised money for two more staff homes and two more community homes. But we are kind of, putting a pause on any more development. The reason why is we realize the need for what we call the Welcome Home Fund, which is most of our families have been devastated financially just by raising a child with special needs. It's three times more expensive than raising a neurotypical child. And

Erin Kiltz: so we want to ensure that Every citizen that comes that they will, they'll be there for life. And so we are raising up this welcome home fund to be able to provide financially for our Citizens and their longterm needs. But the model of the residential [00:32:00] community really is a mirror of what is already happening here at big within our shopping cafe. So we call this a reverse inclusion model that people, they find out on Yelp that we have five stars on Yelp and they come in, they have no idea who we are, what we are, that we just have five stars on Yelp for breakfast and lunch. And it's

Jonathan Jones: great. That is so great.

Erin Kiltz: And so they come in or they hear that we got the, the best boutique in Georgetown seven years in a row. And so they just want to go shopping and then they realize, Oh, this is something more than just a shopping cafe. And they engage with our Citizens in an environment where they are set up for success. And so they, of course, that happens through being, having job supervisors that know how to set them up for success. Know that if there's something that's going to trigger them, that we're going to go outside and water the plants [00:33:00] or, take a walk. And so Grace Place will reflect that because we want to Really draw in the greater community to engage with our Citizens in a place where they truly are successful. And so we have front facing enterprises within the master plan that will do just that. And so we have. Chapel and a special event center. And so people can rent that out. It will be a place of worship for our Citizens, but it will draw in those young couples that want to get married in the country. And then a hundred percent of those proceeds will go into the welcome home fund. Then we'll have on, this is on the front 40 and then We'll have a modern day drive in movie theater amphitheater where we can bring in a food truck and our Citizens can, just sell snow cones and popcorn and be a part of that [00:34:00] community. So, family friendly movies will be, shown on that drive in. On that screen. And then we want to do a very small pet resort where our Citizens, we, when we asked our Citizens, what do you want to have at Grace Place when you move there? And they said, well, can we bring my dog and cat, and I'm like, Oh my gosh, we're going to have 80 dogs and 80 cats to take care of. I said, let me get back to you on that. And so we thought, well, if we just had. A very small pet boarding opportunity for the greater community than our Citizens can earn a pet care license. And they will have a therapeutic relationship with an animal, but not our responsibility to care for them 24 seven and not in charge of their shots, all of that that we can bring in revenue. At 40 or 50 bucks a night, it's crazy what it costs to board our pets now. And so there'll be assigned to a pet that they feed and walk. And I guarantee you [00:35:00] that dog or cat will be better taken care of than if they were just at home.

Aaron Heim: , you guys have touched on a lot of your greatest moments, and I think the thing that I'm taking away, Erin, is just how people's identity have changed. You've seen it happen in the moment. I'm not Eric with autism, I'm Eric with four A's. That's incredible. I think you would probably if I had to put words in your mouth, but I don't because I get to ask the question. But are there any other sort of pivotal moments? Greatest moments that you guys just carry with you? You've talked a little bit about what the future looks like with residential. Is there anything else you want to say on where you guys go next? So greatest moments and where do we go from here?

Erin Kiltz: Yeah. Oh, well, one, one of the initiatives that we discovered during COVID was, and this was after 10 years of people calling me and saying, will you help me? Will you mentor me through starting something in my hometown? And I would say, great, [00:36:00] here's my cell phone number. Just like Vivian Schutte gave to me at the Brookwood community. And I was spending more and more time. Like for three hours at, a block of time helping these individuals, because I so desperately wanted them to have what we have here at BiG. And even though over a dozen families have moved. Out of state from out of state to Georgetown, Texas for their son or daughter to participate in big, we know that, at some point we're going to be at capacity. And if our mission is to truly change the way the world views this population, then we need to spread the culture and model. And so we begin to look at what scaling look like. And at first I just thought it was impossible. And then COVID hit and this, platform called zoom became very familiar to all of us. And I thought, wow, I don't have to be there to, to train and equip other [00:37:00] like minded leaders. And so we began to mentor one community called BiG Great Lakes in Gurney, Illinois, and on our 10 year anniversary in 2021, they opened their doors called BiG Great Lakes. And

Erin Kiltz: so that was. Just the biggest anniversary gift. And it definitely was a highlight for me to be able to infuse courage and really courage day after day to this founder. And now since then, we have had, well, nine other communities come to us. And we haven't advertised at all. And so we, it's their own 501c3. We just are training and equipping. So we don't have the board governance over. We have non negotiables that they sign. We want it to be entrepreneurial. We want them to truly be committed to excellence and [00:38:00] in their product. And so through. Approving product, helping them with branding, all of those things. And truly they come here for a week. We just finished another replication cohort last week, one from New Jersey and one from Van, Texas. And so, but we have a community in Florida too, and Alabama. One in North Carolina and South Carolina and Indiana. So it's spreading and it's really like a discipleship model of BiG. And so that's probably been one of the greatest highlights. I would say the probably. One of the most kind of transformational moments when I kind of what I spoke to before, when you really get the transparency, the vulnerability, the giftedness of this population, [00:39:00] it was after Gracie's departure and one of the Citizens came up to me and said, Miss Erin, are you still sad? And I said, Oh, I'm sad every day, and I don't think that will go away. And immediately they said, or this individual said, Don't you worry, we will never forget about Gracie. She is the whole reason why we have a job. And I just thought, my best friends don't ask questions like that. They were so honest, unfiltered, just genuinely, and they still say to this day, five and a half years later, they, on tour, they will say, I've been praying for you, Miss Erin. I miss Gracie too. It's just incredible. They're just so tuned in and yes, the faith of our population [00:40:00] is unbelievable. It's just that, that childlike faith, so I think I continue to realize that. A lot of people are like, why is autism on the rise? And why is, all of, if the world had it their way, they would do away with this population. And I'm like, how do we know that God isn't sending down ambassadors that are uniquely created to teach? Us as neurotypicals, the most valuable lessons in life. And anyway, I just want to end with this one thing. There's a amazing author. Her name's Catherine Wolfe and she has a ministry called Hope Heals. And she came on a tour of BiG, and she said, this was right after Gracie's departure. And she said, you know what God's done here? And I said, no, tell me. And she said. Isaiah 45:3, and it was just a verse I could not recall. [00:41:00] And she said, Isaiah 45:3 says, I will give you treasures in the darkness, riches found in secret places. And BiG is that treasure that you have found in the darkness. And I. Every day since she told me that I have prayed God show me a treasure today and every day he has been faithful to do just that. So anyway,

Jonathan Jones: well, Erin and Robin, this has been great. It's been an honor to spend time with both of you. When we were thinking about the podcast and how we wanted it to be and the stories that we wanted to be able to help tell this is exactly what we wanted it to be. Just you know, our podcast is called Lift the Spirit And your story and the story of BiG is that exact thing. So it's been [00:42:00] great having Erin Kiltz and Robin Gilleland from Brookwood in Georgetown in Texas, you can go to their website big tx. org If you want to become involved you can donate you can also buy pies at big g tx. org and just thank you so much for giving us your time today.

Erin Kiltz: Thank you so much, Jonathan. Thank you, AJ. We are just honored and we love DEMDACO and we'll continue to be, just a proud retailer that shares the love and the joy that I think is found in especially the weighted hearts. So thank you. We love your product.

Jonathan Jones: Thank you again for listening to this episode of the Lift the Spirit podcast our guest today were Erin Kiltz and Robin Gilleland from Brookwood in Georgetown in Texas. This is Jonathan Jones with my co host Aaron Heim. Thanks again for [00:43:00] listening and please stay tuned

Aaron Heim: This episode is sponsored by Pie. Always delicious. Pie.