Meet our Club Members

Posted 10/05/21

Spring Club Book
April 2021

As you know, we are very passionate about Hermit Woods Winery and take every opportunity we can to share our passion and our story with you, our most devoted followers. We have regaled you with our travels, new developments at the winery, and all the wonderful people on our team who help make it all happen. 

For this release, we thought we would tell your story, at least some of you. We asked you to share a little about yourselves, your passions and share some of your wine experiences with us. Thank you to all those who were able to take the time to respond to our request. We have enjoyed learning more about you. 

The following are your stories and a chance for you to get to know each other. We got more responses to our request than we had pages to share. We want to express our most sincere gratitude to all those who took the time to respond to our request. If your story did not make it into our book, rest assured, we will share it on our website for all to enjoy. 

Meet Judy and Richard Hopkins
Club Member since 2016 

Rich and Judy Hopkins are from Sterling Junction, MA. We joined the Hermit Woods Wine Club in September 2017. Our first and earliest experience with Hermit Woods was in 2013 when we visited the upstart winery in the lower level of Bob & Jerilyn’s house on Taylor Road. From that first visit, we were hooked on the entire Hermit Woods experience. 

The sincerity and personal touch of Bob, Ken, Jerilyn, and Maya convinced us that there was more to the Hermit Woods Winery than just wine. We have since fallen in love with the entire Hermit Woods family of wines and, in particular, the Dolgo Heirloom Crabapple, Petite Blue, Red Scare, and Deep Red, to name a few.

Over the years, our wine experience has included trips to the Montepulciano region of Italy, Long Island, NY, the up-and-coming ‘coastal plain’ region of NJ, and the shores of Lake Erie in PA and NY, where they don’t grow Concord grapes anymore! 

Our bucket list of areas to visit includes Virginia, California, Washington state, Oregon, Portugal, or Spain.

The Hermit Woods team has always made us feel welcome. Every time we visit, we are greeted like old friends! Thank you, Ken, for making the wine, Bob, for keeping us informed of Hermit Woods events, and Chuck for your ‘worldly’ input. And yes, we have a number of bottles of Hermit Woods wines on the rack aging and waiting for that perfect time to enjoy them —– which is almost anytime. 

Meet Jason & Elizabeth “Izzy” McKinney 
Wine Club Members since 2016

We live full-time in Londonderry, New Hampshire, and are lucky to have a home on Lake Winnipesaukee in Minge Cove.  

We discovered Hermit Woods Winery about nine years ago after we bought our lake home. Meredith has always been one of our favorite towns on the lake. 

We joined the wine club immediately after we had our first tasting.

Our favorite Hermit Woods wine is the Petite Blue and Petite Blue Reserve. During the summer months, we have been known to load up on the Strawberry Rhubarb wine. It is a perfect complement to a warm sunny day by the lake. We enjoy the Sparkling Crabapple Wine around the Thanksgiving and Christmas Holidays. It seems we can taste the change of the seasons through Hermit Woods wine.  

Jason works in Finance. Izzy is a children’s book author. Under her real/pen name, Elizabeth McKinney has written two books about her children with Jason. The book’s titles are What Makes Me Special! & My Buddy Bryant: A Story of Friendship & Dyspraxia. Both books donate their profits to charities locally and nationally. “What Makes Me Special!” donates to the High Hopes Foundation of NH and My Buddy Bryant: A Story of Friendship & Dyspraxia contributes to the Dyspraxia Foundation USA.  

Had we considered another career path, Jason would have been a sports broadcaster, and Izzy, not sure. 

Our kids, wine, boating, hiking, skiing are our passions outside of work. 

Our favorite wine adventure was to Cinque Terra in Italy. It was an incredible experience hiking in between the towns lined with family vineyards and tasting the local wine along the way.

Our favorite wine, other than Hermit Woods, would be Hoopes from California, Chardonnay from Rombauer.

Another craft beverage we particularly enjoy would be 603 Hard Seltzers.

Wine-related story. Years ago, before wine flights were popular, there was a restaurant called UnWine’d. It was a really special place. It started small and grew over the years. It began as a wine bar and then offered food with live jazz music. They had a vase and faux flowers on the tables. If you needed service, you took the flower out of the vase and placed it on the table. The servers had a wealth of knowledge about wine. If you weren’t sure what to order, you could fill out a survey of your preferences, and they would suggest a glass of something for you. On our first date, Jason and I were introduced to Gewurztraminer at UnWine’d. After years of date nights and trying new wines, Jason purposed at UnWine’d, and a year later, the restaurant hosted our rehearsal dinner. Unfortunately, the restaurant is now closed, but we are happy we can continue our tasting experiences at Hermit Woods.

Things that we enjoy about our experience with Hermit Woods. We love all the renovations. We had a wonderful experience with all the deli has to offer.

We look forward to seeing the upstairs and hopefully hosting events. We have been extremely impressed with the education wine tastings that Bob has presented virtually for Jason’s client events.  

When I, Izzy, have a girls’ weekend, Hermit Woods is always one of our first stops. The knowledgeable staff clearly have a passion for wine and make it easy to enjoy. The environment is full of light and truly showcases all that is Hermit Woods. 

Meet Richard and Carol Gerken
Wine Club members since 2016

Richard was born in NJ, lived on Long Island, then in southern CT and RI as a boy. We spent 25 years in the Chicago area before relocating to Meredith in 2001. Carol was born in Quincy, MA, and is a graduate of Plymouth State University (PSU), which is part of the reason we chose NH.

We discovered Hermit Woods while we were attending the annual Winnipesaukee Wine Fest one year, and Ken had set up a tasting table in the area outside the event ballroom. Curiosity led me to the table, and I was blown away that a fruit wine could be so dry, flavorful, and nuanced when I had expected a syrupy sweet dessert-style wine.

We were charter members of the Hermit Woods wine club. Richard belongs to several wine clubs, and the idea of expanding our palate on fruit wines was an eagerly anticipated challenge. Also, Ken gave several different tours of his blending experiments with wines (which were fascinating). The complimentary tastings were an added bonus, as were the pre-COVID special wine tasting events.

Richard has tasted virtually every style of wine that Hermit Woods makes. Both he and Carol favor Petite Blue (and the Reserve), Winnipesaukee Rose, and the Sparkling Crabapple.

Richard was a corporation lawyer in CT and IL and an Adjunct Professor of Business at PSU. Carol was a grade school teacher, elected library trustee, and non-profit business manager and fundraiser.

Richard enjoyed his career in law but also his semi-retirement as an adjunct professor in college education. He is very passionate about his work as a CASA volunteer serving as a guardian ad litem for abused and neglected children in the NH Court system. Carol has enjoyed planning and implementing conservation projects like Page Pond & Forest phases I and II, plus most recently, the Laverack Nature Trail at Hawkins Brook.

In addition to our volunteer work, we like to stay active with walking, hiking, biking, summer aquatics, travel, and enjoying our family and grandkids.

Wine has absolutely influenced our travel. Several years ago, we took a Viking river cruise down the Douro River in Portugal. Sampling their red and white table wines was an unexpected treat as more emphasis has always been on their fortified wines such as Port. In 2019, we traveled on a river cruise from Budapest to Amsterdam, tasting many wines and beers. We have recently tried to schedule a cruise in the Loire and Bordeaux regions of France, but the COVID pandemic has interfered with those plans.

Richard used to serve as a member of the wine committee at a club in IL, where he had the opportunity to sample many styles and types of wine. He and Carol have also visited several wine areas in CA, notably Napa, Sonoma, Paso Robles, and Santa Barbara. We also visited the Veneto region of Italy, where we became acquainted with Valpolicella and Amarone. When our daughter studied in Spain, we had the opportunity to sample their fine wines. The fun is in experimenting with different grape varieties and styles of wine and trying to match them with food offerings. Richard believes that the wine community places too much emphasis on the high-end Bordeaux rather than enjoying other counties and regional wines.

Other craft beverages we enjoy. Craft beers are an occasional treat but not regularly. Amber ale with pub food is great, but Richard has no taste for IPAs. Carol sticks to wine.

Wine-related story. My maternal grandfather and namesake owned a restaurant in Hackensack, NJ, as I was growing up. He supplied my Dad with wines, mostly Italian, but I later learned that Dad stored them incorrectly in the attic. My grandfather gave me my first taste of wine, but as a kid, it didn’t taste too good. It was in my professional career that I was first exposed to fine wines and gracious dining.

Two quick feel-good stories. On a trip to the Dominican Republic in 2019 to celebrate our 50th wedding anniversary, our son-in-law surprised us by ordering a bottle of Opus One, which was phenomenal. Before the pandemic, we organized a dinner with some close friends, and he brought two bottles of Penfold’s Grange. Richard cooked an Australian rack of lamb on the grill, and the combination was fantastic.

Ken taught me to keep an open mind and avoid making preconceived assumptions about fruit wines like those produced by Hermit Woods. In 2017, Carol and I attended a Rotary-sponsored wine tour in the Finger Lakes region of New York State. We met fellow Rotarians and sampled wines from the area. After the first day of tasting, I broke out a bottle of Petite Blue and another of Sparkling Crabapple. It was a blind taste test, and our fellow Rotarians were blown away after it was revealed that these wines were not made from grapes.

Wine enhances the company, mood-setting, and food. Carol and Richard enjoy entertaining at home and serving wines to compliment the food offerings. The other thing is to experiment with different varieties and styles of wine. See what appeals or doesn’t appeal to your tastes. Don’t allow other so-called experts to intimidate you. Last, you don’t need to spend a fortune to find a wine that you can enjoy. Try wines at various price points within your budget, and make your own decision on price/performance. For example, use the NH Power Buys to sample a wine that ordinarily you would consider too expensive and judge the results.

Meet Brie Stephens
Wine Club Member since 2016

I am from Moultonborough, NH 

I discovered Hermit Woods when my brokerage was having a meet-up at their Main Street location in Meredith. We were invited to do a tasting, and I was instantly hooked. I had never in my life enjoyed wine. This was unlike any wine I had ever experienced before, and I finally felt a part of the “wine lovers” club. 

I wanted to join their club as soon as I could. After my first tasting, I knew this was something new and different for me to explore, and I wanted to take advantage of all the club offered and share that experience with friends and family. 

Favorites Hermit Woods wines are Winnipesaukee Rose (regular and sparkling, strawberry rhubarb, crabapple, and the cranberry cyser. 

I am a Local Real Estate Broker 

I love what I do, and it is, without a doubt, my passion. The job is not just about helping people sell or buy property, but I get to share all the incredible things about the area in which I work, and that is one of the biggest parts of my job. I get to help promote my community and this beautiful area. 

When not working in Real Estate, I love to be on the lake in the boat. There is nothing like being the captain and cruising around the shores looking at all the beautiful shoreline we have on Winnipesaukee. 

Hermit Woods is the only wine I enjoy, and I am fortunate enough that it is located just a town over from me, so I don’t have to adventure far! Hermit Woods is it for me! 

Other craft beverages I enjoy. I enjoy a sour beer! Twin Barns seasonal special sour beers are great, as well as Kettlehead in Tilton. 

Wine-related story. I simply love to share the wine with all that are in the area and with visitors. Each summer, I like to do at least a couple of sunset cruises on the boat and host my own wine tasting with the various Hermit Woods wines with family and friends. 

How Hermit Woods inspires me, I love how the Rose is partnered with the Lake Winnipesaukee Association. I am big with giving back and think one of the area’s biggest assets is the lake, and we must protect and care for that asset because if something were to happen to it, the area would not be the same in which we love so much. 

I always felt left out when it came to wine drinking. I never had the palette for it. I had given up on trying wines, and then hermit woods came along, and I had never encountered fruit wines or honey wines before. I kept that open mind and gave it a try and still will try other wines today to make sure I am not missing out. If I had not given it a chance, I would not have the business relationship I do now with my company Lake Life Realty and Hermit Woods. I would have missed out on their awesome new deli and the many memories I have now visited their awesome space in town. I now provide all my buyer clients at closing a voucher and wine key to visit Hermit Woods to claim their closing gift – a bottle of wine. I want people to experience their space, explore all they offer and promote local. 

Meet Priscilla Merrill 
Wine Club Member since 2018

As a Navy Brat and later an Air Force member, I always find the question of where I am from challenging. I was born at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard in Virginia but moved at a few months of age. I would say my formative years were in McLean, Virginia.

I discovered Hermit Woods Roughly four years ago. My hairdresser, Brian Waldron of Christian Michael, waxed philosophic about wine and asked me if I had ever tried Petite Blue. I scoffed at a blueberry wine, but he convinced me to put aside preconceived notions. He told me it was amazing and not what one would expect. I was intrigued and went right away rocking my new doo and bought a bottle at the Concord liquor store, and he was RIGHT!!! I visited Meredith shortly thereafter. Love at first taste and later sight!  

I decided to join their club after a tasting and tour.

My favorite Hermit Woods wines are Petite Blue/Reserve, Red Scare, Rhubarb, Cranberry, and the dessert one (blanking on the name) as a special treat.

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I was a USAF nurse, more recently a family nurse practitioner recently retired.

If I had chosen another career path, it might have been an Archeologist or Oceanographer, specifically a whale researcher. 

My other passions are hiking, biking, kayaking, and skiing.

Regarding my wine-related travels, I loved my trip to Napa Valley, though I was there for medical teaching course USAF tour. We had a driver who didn’t drink but loved the scenery. I also loved the family reunion to the Finger Lakes and discovering the wine country there. I never knew about Niagara on the Lake until a friend took me after a weekend trip to see Niagara Falls. Lovely surprise!

My favorite wine other than Hermit Woods is Napa Valley Chardonnay, of which Clos Pegasse is my favorite. 

I occasionally visit microbrews, but wine is always my first choice.

Wine-related story.  I was visiting Sterling Vineyards in Calistoga and partaking in the glorious sky ride over the vineyard. I wonder if that has changed with the fires. This was 20 years ago! Also, the picnics among the mustard fields in Napa. My favorite winery with incredible worldly art is Clos Pegasse in Calistoga, owned by Jan Shrem. He came to the wine festival a few years ago at Wentworth by the Sea for a spectacular pairing dinner.

What I enjoy about Hermit Woods, everyone treats you like family. The shop is full of fabulous treasures, and the tour is well worth the time. I love that it’s so informal and genuinely kind. Beautiful spot too! I have loved the Monday 4 pm gatherings.

Wine is the Nectar of the Gods. Enjoy! Someone on a tasting said to us once, “chew your wine.” That has stuck with me as I have learned to savor versus gulp and experience all of the alchemy that goes into each glass. It’s meditative and utilizes all of your senses. I appreciate those who make it possible with the loudest shout-out to Mah Nature! Vine times ahead!

Meet Mike Means & Meghan Weed
Club Members since 2016

We are from Gorham, Maine! About 30 minutes outside of Portland, Maine, and 10 minutes away from Sebago Lake! 

I first discovered Hermit Woods Winery in 2015 while I was living in Hanover, NH. I found it with a group of my girlfriends on a girls’ weekend road trip! Since then, I have introduced Mike, and we have been going to Hermit Woods together a few times each year!

I joined the Wine Club after my first visit! I was sold on the roots of the company and, of course, on the wine! 

Favorite Hermit Woods wines. Wow, this is a tough one! If I could say every single wine from Hermit Woods, I would! I would have to say, my favorite “red” is the Petite Blue, and my favorite “white/rose” is the Heirloom Crabapple! Mike’s favorite is by far the Deep Blue! 

I am a Labor & Delivery Nurse, and Mike owns his own Landscaping & Property Maintenance company out of Gorham. We both love our jobs and couldn’t imagine anything else! 

Outside of our professions, Meghan loves to quilt, hike, and practice yoga! Mike loves to golf, snowmobile, and work on different woodworking projects! 

Our love for wine hasn’t influenced us to travel outside of Maine and NH, but we consider our “Hermit Woods Trip” a day trip/vacation as we live about 2 hours away! It is worth the trip every time, and we always look forward to coming to Hermit Woods! 

We haven’t ventured far from Hermit Woods yet, so I would have to say our favorite wine/wine region is still Meredith, NH, and Hermit Woods Winery! 

We both love craft beers in addition to Hermit Woods Wine! Living just outside of Portland, ME, we have hundreds of local breweries close by to us! Some of our favorites are Mast Landing, Sebago Brewing, and Foundation Brewery! 

Hermit Woods inspires us to visit, as going to Hermit Woods is always a fun day road trip for Mike and me! We live about 2 hours away, so we always plan to make a day of it. While we love to come to drink the wine, it is always fun to experience Hermit Woods’ atmosphere and enjoy and charcuterie board while there! 

While we LOVE Hermit Woods and want to tell all of our friends and family about it, we also want to keep it our little secret as this is one of our favorite places to go together! We love Hermit Woods and hope to continue coming for many years to come! We are also expecting our first baby! While I can’t drink right now, we still plan to come this spring to pick up our next wine club box and enjoy some time away before our little one arrives in August!

Meet Stefanie Breton
Club Members since 2018

Hello, I am Stefanie Breton, and I currently live in Concord, but I grew up in the Lakes Region. My grandparents made wine when I was younger, but I wasn’t overly interested then. After working at an all Italian restaurant in Massachusetts where I had to learn a lot of information quickly, I became very interested in learning more about wine and visiting wineries. Hermit Woods was a natural choice because I grew up going to Steele Hill with my family.

In early 2012, I began writing a wine column for The Hippo, so that was a great excuse to visit Hermit Woods. One of my first and fondest memories is attending barrel tasting weekend in the fall of 2013. A group of us ventured out and made a day of it. I have many other Hermit Woods memories, but my favorite is the wine release dinner of 2013, where the winery paired up with Local Eatery to deliver what was probably the best meal I have ever had in a beautiful setting (lakeside on Winnisquam). I still dream about that event and how fantastic it was. 

During my time as a columnist, Bob, Ken and Chuck were always so accommodating and helpful. I have a passion for wine and have learned a lot, but I am not a winemaker or expert. I always learned something new when speaking to them, and for that, I will be forever grateful.

The Heirloom Crabapple will probably always be my favorite because it was one of the first Hermit Woods wines I enjoyed. It’s hard to narrow my favorites down to a shortlist, but I also like Petite Blue, Deep Blue, Lakehouse White, and the cider.

My husband and I joined the wine club a few years ago because it seemed like a natural choice to get wine from a place that we both enjoy. We like the selection and the timing a few times a year with the option of adding in some extras, too. We also like supporting our local New Hampshire wineries and businesses. We have some great wine here in New Hampshire, and I try to spread the word about this whenever I can. 

I no longer write a wine column, so now wine is just a passion without the demands to produce content. But if I had my ultimate dream job, I would work in communications or marketing for a winery. 

I have by no means known Hermit Woods from the very beginning. Still, I have enjoyed seeing the transformation and growth from the winery in Sanbornton to the new facility in Meredith and all the expansions there. I hope there are only more memories and successes to come for the Hermit Woods group, and I am happy to be part of it all as a wine club member! 

Meet Jon L. Greenawalt
Club Members since 2019              

I was born and raised in Grand Rapids, Michigan. I lived in Bloomfield Hills, MI, for 46 years before moving full-time to New Hampshire in 2017.

I discovered Hermit Woods when my daughter Cindy and I were in the Corner House bar in Sandwich, May 2018, where we met Bob and his wife. We went to Hermit Woods the next day! We joined the wine club right away.

My favorite Hermit Woods Wine is Petite Blue.

I am a Management Consultant in the firm I founded in 1987.

My life vision is for all people to discover, live and share their unique genius as a gift to the world. I have dedicated my life to supporting clients, family, friends, and others to do that.

My other passions are hiking, camping, kayaking, writing, reading, gardening, home repairs, engaging strangers in conversations that brighten their day.

My wine interests have resulted in travel to Napa and Sonoma Valley, CA, and Texas.

Some of my other favorite wines are Bonfi’s Brunello Di Montalcino Riserva; Shaefer Fire Break; Grgich Hills Cabernet; Malbec, Pinot Grigio. I also enjoy an occasional Angry Orchard hard cider.

One of my favorite wine stories is: My wife was the founder and President of a specialty food brokerage business in Michigan for 30 years. She had a great pallet and an excellent ability to identify fine foods and wines. We would travel to San Francisco in the spring of each year to attend the NASFT. While there, we’d visit wineries in Napa and Sonoma. Because of her business, we were able to schedule wine tours not available to the general public. One particular visit was to the Jarvis Winery’s tasting and event cave into the mountainside. It has been hollowed out to permit a large auditorium-sized seating, demonstration, and tasting area. The large crystal chandelier dominates the ceiling, providing a subdued yet elegant effect. Extraordinary!!

What I appreciate about Hermit Woods is the openness, friendliness, and availability of Ken and Bob to share their story, give guided tours and spend one on one time that they probably don’t have with us. The added Deli is a bonus.

Serving high-quality wine in the appropriate glass to enhance a gourmet dinner sends a welcoming message to family and friends that they are important and honored.

Meet Lynn and Matthew Denette
Club Members since 2019

We discovered the winery three years ago as a Christmas gift from our daughter. One of our 1974 Super Beetles brought us there.

We joined the Wine Club the minute Abby said we would get a discount on The Red Scare, which had immediately become one of our favorite wines.

The Red Scare and Winnipesaukee Rose. My favorite mead is Three Honey. Matt 

loves Honeycomb. We have not found a cider that we don’t love. Cyser is especially good.

Matt is in IT and I am a ICU RN. Neither of us is particularly passionate about our work.

Matt traveled with a carnival as a young man. It was a wonderful job. He probably should have been some sort of tour guide. He loves planning adventures and plans ten for everyone we do. 

He loves kayaking, hiking, and biking. We paddle and cycle tandem and do self-supported week-long tours, pulling our gear in a trailer behind our tandem. I’m a Scoutmaster for an all-girl BSA Scout Troop, so not just hiking, biking, and paddling with kids, but getting them out rappelling, ice climbing, shooting, and camping. I also make bobbin lace. I’m passionate about that. I want to spend time on a barge in Belgium drinking ale, eating chocolate, and making lace.

We toured France by canal barge from the Loire over to the Seine, to the Yonne, Bourgoyne, and Nivernais, exploring wines and wineries all along the route. Matt captains the barges we rent. We backpacked across England from coast to coast on Hadrian’s Wall in our 50’s and enjoyed local ales, stouts, ciders, and meads every day. In Ireland, we piloted a boat up the Shannon from Limerick to Boyle, enjoying distilleries, meads, and hard ciders. In Scotland, we traversed the Caledonian Canal from Fort William to Inverness, doing the same and never seeing the Loch Ness monster. Local beverages are part of every adventure! We have spent three vacations in the Finger Lakes, and every day features at least one winery, distillery, or brewery. We love to try all the local beverages, cheeses, and especially meats.

Apparently, we prefer fruit wines. We didn’t know that for quite a while. We just knew our wine tastes were eclectic. We loved that Bob would tell us that it didn’t matter what he likes. It’s all about what we like. With Ken, however, it is just the opposite. It matters MOST that we like what HE likes to make! Matt loves aged Scotch and good Irish whiskey. I love English and Irish hard ciders. Our Monday afternoons have emboldened us to branch out.

My wine story is how my Monday night Facebook ‘classes’ have enlightened us and expanded our horizons. We toured 20 wineries in the Finger Lakes this fall, and I tried all the unusual wines. Matt was exploring the Moet and Chandon Champagne in ’70. It left a lasting impression on him. He savors a glass of wine and fine cheese on the upper deck every evening as life on the canal settles down, often inviting captains from nearby boats to join us.

We adore ëthe story in every bottleí. We relish stories that we get told by the staff and other guests at the winery. We enjoy stories on Mondays on Facebook. We love sharing in your story of developing and growing your business. We feared for the worst with COVID and were inspired throughout the pandemic by your persistence and optimism. Hermit Woods was our bright spot in what will always be remembered as a bleak year. We are very excited to see our first show in the performance space.

When COVID started shutting things down, we couldn’t get any meads. Bob offered to ship us some. We asked Bob, Ken, Chuck, Jerilyn, and Abby to each select a wine or mead for us to experiment with. We ordered enough of each to enjoy for years to come and wrote the year to consume each on the bottles and who picked it for us. We realized we were writing a story on every bottle. We installed a 200-bottle, climate-controlled wine cellar for Christmas and have started collecting wines of interest or curiosity. Letting others pick the wines for our library has been most entertaining. At one vineyard, all the wines were fine. We asked the tasting guide to select two cases of his choice and write his name on them to add to our collection so we can be surprised on a Thursday night. That was a fun investment in our hobby. 

Thank you!

We appreciate everyone’s participation in our Spring Club Book. It has been fun learning more about you. 

Many more of you agreed to participate than we were able to fit in our book. We are sorry we were not able to include every one of your beautiful stories. Those stories not told here will be shared on our website and social media.

Again, we want to express our most sincere thank you for being part of our club and allowing us to share your stories.