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Sunday, October 22, 2017

citizensvoice.com/kids

AMAZING KIDS Celebrating the unique stories of NEPA youth

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SUNDAY, OCTOBER 22, 2017

2 THE CITIZENS' VOICE

Amazing Kids

INSIDE

‘If you work really hard and you’re kind, amazing things will happen.’

Nathan Tindell Wyoming Seminary Page E3

Riley Bowers

Hanover Area High School Page E5

Gavin Burke West Side CTC Page E7

Sawyer Christman

CONAN O’BRIEN Comedian and talk show host

Daring to dream big

The kids featured in the 2017 edition of ‘Amazing Kids’ know how to aim high. This special section, now in its sixth year, highlights some of the best and the brightest students from around the Wyoming Valley. In these pages, you’ll read about a young author who turned his love

of a video game into two books and became a popular YouTuber. You’ll meet a award-winning musician who is mastering two instruments and a competitive swimmer who won’t let a brain tumor stop him from living. And you’ll learn about a student who came to the area to study software engineering,

but makes time to teach children in need in her home country. While they may pursue different goals, the children featured here all share the same trait — the drive to succeed and make a difference in the world.

Kristen GayDos assistant city editor

Dallas Middle School Page E9

Nicholas Werner

St. Nicholas-St. Mary’s School Page E11

Nuhamin Minda Wyoming Seminary Page E13

Maddie McLendon Northwest Area High School Page E15

Rich Marie Billy Richie

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Amazing Kids

Breaking through adversity Nathan Tindell fought to overcome brain tumor By Charlotte l. JaCoBson Staff Writer

Q&A

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time that was really hard. the

do to remove that, that’s proba-

of situation like this to know to

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make sure they communicate to their kids that they’re going to be supported. to set your expectations accordingly as to where they are in that moment. Nathan was always a kid who wanted to do really well in school, really well in his swimming, every aspect of his life wanted to succeed. and there were times he couldn’t, he just physically couldn’t. He couldn’t do his homework that day, he couldn’t go to school that day, he couldn’t get in the pool that day and we had to let him know that was okay, and be that person that steps back and says, let’s find limitations, we’ll push through when we can but not push too hard.

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SUNDAY, OCTOBER 22, 2017 3

Please see tinDell, page E4

CHarLOtte L. JaCOBSON / Staff pHOtOgrapHer

THE CITIZENS' VOICE

On the surface, 16-year-old Nathan Tindell appears to be an overachiever in academics and hobbies alike. Between making the dean’s list at Wyoming Seminary Upper School and taking honors classes, while swimming competitively and performing with two different choirs at the school, he never stops pushing himself to be his very best. But the reason he continues to work hard and excel is much different than an average teenager’s driving force. At age 11, Nathan began suffering from severe headaches, which later turned out to be miningioma, a cancerous brain tumor in his left temporal lobe. “(The tumor) wrapped itself around the optic nerve of my left eye,” he said. “It was originally in my left temporal lobe, about the size of a lemon, taking up about a fourth of my brain. It was very big, and put a lot of pressure on my brain.” A week after an MRI showed this tumor, Nathan was in surgery at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. The tumor began to grow back almost immediately and he had a second surgery in January 2014, but the tumor was too close to Nathan Tindell went back to swimming about six weeks after his two surgeries for a brain tumor. the optic nerve to be completely removed. In order to contain the tumor (kind of) took over who bly the hardest. Nathan himself tumor, in the summer of 2014, he was for a while, made it diffi- is just a joy. So i mean, raising Nathan went in for 45 days and 30 cult for him to do physical activi- Nathan has been easy. But rounds of proton radiation therapy. ties, made it difficult in terms of being helpless to be able to And through it all, he managed being able to think. So his abili- help when he’s clearly in pain to stay active with his extracurricuty to overcome that, to stay pos- and suffering, that was hard. lar activities, keep up with his itive through that, to come back Before we discovered the brain Debbie and John tindell, school work and maintain a posito who he is, was really truly tumor, that was really hard. We nathan’s parents tive attitude. remarkable. knew there was something “After the tumor was removed, it wrong and we were trying to figcertainly took me a little while to be At what moment did ure out what it was, and it took What is the greatest back to the person that I was beforeyou realize your child a while. challenge you’ve hand. It took me a long time to was special? recover mentally and physically,” encountered in raising Debbie Tindell: Nathan really What successful parentNathan said. “In terms of extracuryour child? was one of those kids that as a riculars, I was swimming pretty ing strategy can you Debbie Tindell: Helplessness. baby, he would give something much six weeks after both of my share? feeling helpless at times. You surgeries. It was a while until I away even if it was the only know when you’ve got a kid who John Tindell: i think it’s imporcould do flip turns and dives in the thing he had. He just had a tant for parents who have kids is clearly hurting and in pain water … so short term it paused my heart of gold, for forever. With who are going through any type and there’s not much you can life for a while.” the tumor, there was a period of


Amazing Kids

TINDELL: ‘I like to be there for people and help them out’ Nathan Tindell and ONLINE EXTRA his See video of Nathan parents, at citizensvoice.com/kids. Debbie and John Tindell. ly care about how people feel all of

From page e3

CHarLoTTe L. JaCoBSoN / STaFF pHoTograpHer

to the same level as others. I told myself that everybody has their strengths and difficulties ... so I took my strengths and applied it to my difficulties, like you can look at life with a glass half full or half empty. I always kept that half-full attitude whenever I was discouraged about how I was feeling.” Today, Nathan continues to score

top marks at school, while swimming competitively for the Wyoming Seminary Blue Knights and the Wilkes-Barre YMCA Dolphins. He works as a certified lifeguard at the YMCA, where he also teaches swim lessons. He also performs as a tenor in Wyoming Seminary’s chorale and select Madrigal Singers. Although only a high school

the time,” he explained. “When I can be, I like to be there for people and help them out. I like problems a lot. I like being able to figure out this is what’s going on, and this is how we can help it. I like being the person there for others when they don’t have someone or when they need someone.” His desire to help others does not come as a surprise to his parents, who claim he earned a greater sense of maturity and empathy throughout his experience with the brain tumor. But after everything Nathan struggled through, he is like many other high school students who continue to look forward to daily achievements. “I’m always very excited to improve my times in swimming and for concerts and different things in singing,” Nathan said. “And just in general, I’m excited to continue life.“

junior, Nathan continues to think toward his future. He said he has considered going to college for physical therapy, either combining it with his love for water or working with children who need it. “I guess the main reason I’m interested in doing physical thera- Contact the writer: py, which I think is the same reason cjacobson@citizensvoice.com I started lifeguarding, is I really, tru- 570-821-2061; @CVcljacobson

4 THE CITIZENS' VOICE

SUNDAY, OCTOBER 22, 2017

“After his first surgery his face was so swollen that his eyes were swollen shut, he couldn’t see for a little bit,” Nathan’s mother, Debbie Tindell, added. “In all of these pictures, you just see him smiling with his thumbs up and smiling like, ‘I’ve got this, it’s OK,’ with this swollen face.” The tumor has been stable for the past three years since the radiation therapy, but Nathan receives MRI scans on an annual basis to check on its status. “From the surgeries, I’ve often had a very optimistic outlook on life,” Nathan said. “I think it really gave me a different perspective on life since it was a very major surgery. When you have to look death in the face, it helps you appreciate life a bit.” Nathan said that although he felt like he had to work harder to learn in school and grasp concepts while he was going through treatment, it pushed him to spend that much more time on both excelling in school and in his hobbies. “I’d say I became discouraged a lot,” he added. “I had to study a lot harder and work a lot harder to get

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Amazing Kids

‘An inspiration to everyone’ Riley Bowers doesn’t let autism hold her back from doing what she loves By Michael P. Buffer Staff Writer

Riley Bowers was named student of the month at Hanover Area High School. Riley loves the theater and goes to see shows on Broadway two or three times per year.

ONLINE EXTRA

See video of riley at citizensvoice.com/kids. Riley at the board meeting. “From the moment I had a chance to meet her here at the school, she put a smile on my face,” Malloy said. “And I again think she has that effect on every individual that she comes across. In the world that we live in that can be so negative at times, it’s beautiful to have somebody like Riley in my school that not only brightens my day but everybody else’s as well.” Riley says she enjoys going to school for the learning experiences and the time she can spend with friends, and she appreciates her teachers. Please see Bowers, page E6

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Submitted photo

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Submitted photo

THE CITIZENS' VOICE

October has been a busy month for Riley Bowers. The 18-year-old senior at Hanover Area High School was first honored as student of the month at a school board meeting, and a few days later, her fellow seniors picked her to be homecoming queen. “When I first heard I was student of the month, I was so happy. I was smiling from ear to ear because I was being recognized for all the hard work I put into my studies and classes over the years,” Riley said at the school board meeting. “I have a serious learning disability called autism. But this hasn’t held me back from what I want to achieve in life. I will continue my studies in college in musical theater and someday like to direct a musical play.” Riley is a very active student. She participates in the Leo Club, drama club and reading club and is captain of the Fusion dance team. She also has been performing with the KISS Theatre Company since she was 13. Her disability makes her brain work “a little differently,” she explained, noting how she deals with being autistic. “I try controlling it,” she said. “It gets a little easier as I go.” Riley says her selection as homecoming queen was a surprise. “Yeah, at first I thought I’m not going to win. Then I thought, “Wow,’” she said, recalling her reaction. Hanover Area teachers and administrators are also fond of Riley. “We don’t get emotional too much over the student of the month,” teacher Christa Koter-Langdon said at the school board meeting. “You have a whole second row here with tissues. You really are a beautiful young lady, inside and out, and you are an inspiration to everyone.” Hanover Area High School Principal Daniel Malloy introduced


Bowers: Acting and dancing come naturally to teen FRom pAge e5

“I have a strong connection with most of my teachers,” she said. Riley said she has been “inspired to do theater for a long time.” It’s been so long, she doesn’t remember how she discovered it. Her interest in theater is just who she is. “I don’t know,” she said. “I just got hooked on to it since I was real little. It’s pretty natural.” She goes to New York City to see Broadway shows two or three times a year, and her favorite was “Footloose.” “Into the Woods” is her personal favorite of the shows in which she performed. “I played the grandmother and the giant,” she said. As captain of the Fusion dance team, she said, “I try choreographing dancing, go over some stuff and keep the girls in line.” Riley says she is interested in continuing her education at Luzerne County Community College or King’s College. She has some interest in becoming a special education teacher if she doesn’t pursue a career in theater.

BOWERS

League Sports Bar & Restaurant in Sugar Notch. Her mother said Riley faced a challenge being “socially accepted” and that began to change when she was 13 and enrolled at KISS Theatre. “It made a world of difference,” she said. “The kids there, not everybody is autistic there. Everyone there seems to be — I don’t want to say social misfit — that’s not nice to say, however, it is like that. They’re just not socially, they’re not the norm. And together it’s a nice fit. They’re just nice kids. Everybody is nice to each other. No one is making fun of anyone. It’s a great, great place. Riley instantly fit in with the other children there.” Riley was in the hospital 11 times with breathing difficulties before she was 18 months old and started talking when she was 4 years old, her mother said. Physical therapy and a speech therapist helped her catch up with other children her age. “We came a long, long way,” Tara Bowers said.

Riley lives with her parents and brother Connor, 20, in Hanover Twp. “My family is always there,” she said. “My family never gave up on me. They always taught me to be the best I can be.” Her father George is a township commissioner and manager at Procter & Gamble in Mehoopany. Her mother, Tara, works for the Contact the writer: food service provider at Hanover mbuffer@citizensvoice.com Area schools, and she owns Major 570-821-2073, @cvmikebuffer

Q& A

At what moment did you realize your child was special?

Really early, because my son hit his milestones earlier than normal and my daughter was not hitting milestones until much later. And I knew there was something different. She was in the Tara Bowers, parent hospital 11 times (with What successful parent- breathing difficulties) before she was 18 months, 11 ing strategy can you times in and out, in and out. share with other parI just knew things were ents? wrong, but at age 4, she With Riley, it’s always positive started talking. And physical reinforcement. And no matter therapy and a speech therawhat she wants to do, we pist, we came a long, long always back up whatever she way. wants and we try, even my son who is going to be 21, What is the greatest we try to let them make their challenge you’ve encounown decisions and then tered in raising your sometimes face their consequences or however it works child? out. Try not to tell them what For Riley to be socially accepted. She is more innocent than to do. Figure it out on their peers her age. own.

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6 THE CITIZENS' VOICE

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Amazing Kids

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Amazing Kids

Ready to serve and protect Gavin Burke plans to & Q become A restaurateur, U.S. marshal

Tanya Suda, mother, and Darryl Mathis, father

By Eric Mark Staff Writer

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Darryl Mathis: these days not everyone is as respectful as Gavin is.

What successful parenting strategy can you share with other parents? Tanya Suda: Being strict with him. raising him to be the best man he can be.

At what moment did you realize he was special? Darryl Mathis: the day of his birth. Beyond that he just grew into an exceptional young man. always willing to help anyone.

ONLINE EXTRA

WarreN rUDa / Staff PHOtOGraPHer

Gavin Burke, a senior at West Side Career and Technical Center, will graduate from the law enforcement program.

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See video of Gavin at citizensvoice. com/kids.

SUNDAY, OCTOBER 22, 2017 7

Please see BurkE, page E8

What is the greatest challenge you’ve encountered in raising your child?

THE CITIZENS' VOICE

Gavin Burke, U.S. Marshal. That is the goal to which Burke, a 17-year-old senior at West Side Career and Technical Center, aspires. But first Burke, who decided on his future career as a marshal during his sophomore year in the school’s law enforcement program, has another goal. He wants to obtain a culinary degree and open a restaurant, then go back to college, obtain a criminal justice degree and pursue his dream career as a marshal. “I want my future to be as bright as possible,” Burke said. Burke, who lives in Forty Fort, said his plan to open a restaurant was inspired by his father, Darryl Mathis, a talented chef. “He taught me to be a great cook,” Burke said. In return for the lessons in culinary secrets, Burke plans to make his dad the head chef at his restaurant someday. For now, as he prepares for college and his planned dual career, Burke excels in academics and activities at his school and does volunteer work in the community, including at the Irem Temple Shriner’s Circus and the Salvation Army bell-ringing drive. Burke is the captain of the school’s law enforcement program. He also participates in honor society, the school’s Ambassador program and Poet’s Society. During his junior year he was honored as the school’s Titan of the Month. Burke said he is lucky to have good role models in his life. He credited his father, his mother Tanya Suda, of Forty Fort and his grandmother, Caroline Burke, with helping him to develop strong selfdiscipline and leadership skills beyond his years.


SUNDAY, OCTOBER 22, 2017

8 THE CITIZENS' VOICE

Amazing Kids ‘I believe in leading by example. I am always on time; I never let anyone down.’ GAVIN BURKE

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Gavin Burke said he has learned a lot from Forty Fort police Chief Daniel Hunsinger.

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BURKE: Police chief inspired teen From page e7

on him. Burke said he believes in community policing and wants to help improve relations between law enforcement officers and the people they serve and protect. Burke said he is not tempted by alcohol, tobacco or drugs and tries to set an example for his friends and classmates. That includes fellow teens who are searching to find their way in life and might act out at times, he said, noting that “attitudes are like clothes; you can change them.”

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“I believe in leading by example,” he said. “I am always on time; I never let anyone down.” Burke cited the law enforcement prog ram’s adviser, Forty Fort police Chief Daniel Hunsinger, as a mentor. He said he has learned a great deal from the law enforcement professionals Hunsinger has brought in to speak with students in the program. The stories of veteran officers who recall walking a beat in a neighborhood where people knew each oth- Contact the writer: er made a strong impression emark@citizensvoice.com

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Amazing Kids

‘Fly a mile, you see the world’ Sawyer Christman gaining leadership skills as cadet By Bill Wellock Staff Writer

Warren ruda / Staff photographer

Sawyer Christman of Dallas is a cadet in the Civil Air Patrol and working toward becoming an officer with the group.

Paul and Nicole Burke, parents What successful parenting strategy can you share with other parents? Let your child try many different activities until they find

At what moment did you realize your child was special? We have four children and they are all special. Sawyer has always wanted to tr y

new things and have new experiences. When he was 10 years old, we saw a Civil air patrol information table at an air show. he decided that day that as soon as he turned 12, he would join that organization. two years later, he retrieved the flyer he got at that show and reminded us that he was now old enough to join. that’s when we called and got him

star ted in the program.

What is the greatest challenge you’ve encountered in raising your child? it’s difficult to find a balance between school and all the other after-school activities he wants to be involved in. Sometimes we need to say no to some activities just so we can fit everything in.

Please see christmaN, Page E10

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Q& A

the one that is a good fit for them. While it’s important to be involved, we always try to carve out some family time so they also learn the importance of family.

THE CITIZENS' VOICE

DALLAS TWP. — When 14-year-old Sawyer Christman looks at the sky, he sees a place he knows better than most teenagers. Sawyer is a cadet in the Civil Air Patrol, an organization that’s taken him into the sky a n d helped ONLINE him grow EXTRA as a person and See video of leader. Sawyer H e ’s at citizenss p e n t voice.com/ t i m e at kids. camps in the woods and inside airplanes that he’s helped to pilot. He’s experienced and seen a lot along the way. “There’sanexpression:Drivea mile, see a mile. Fly a mile, you see the world,” he said. “And it’s pretty true; you get to see a ton of stuff and the views are amazing.” The expression refers specifically to the experience of flying, but the air patrol has shown Sawyer a lot on the ground too. He was 10 years old when he learned about the Civil Air Patrol at an air show, two years away from being able to join the organization. When his 12th birthday came, he remembered to ask his parents to sign him up. Now, he’s working toward holding more responsibility and becoming an officer with the group. He appreciates the military connection, the chance to fly and the other things the organization offers. T h e C iv i l A i r P a t r o l formed during World War II to help protect the United States from attack. Today, the org anization focuses on three missions: aerospace education, emergency services and the cadet program that Sawyer participates in.


SUNDAY, OCTOBER 22, 2017

10 THE CITIZENS' VOICE

Amazing Kids

Warren ruda / staff photographer

Sawyer Christman of Dallas joined the Civil Air Patrol when he was 12 years old.

Christman: Flown several times from page e9

His favorite part of being a cadet has been getting to experience different things with the patrol. Cadets learn about safety, aerospace education, physical fitness and character development at weekly meetings. He’s been to the Hawk Mountain Ranger Training School, a wilderness search and rescue training camp in Berks County. The Dallas Middle School student has also flown several times, and is a good candidate to join a glider flight

program in the future, said Maj. Glenn Carman of the Civil Air Patrol Scranton Composite Squadron 201. Sawyer is a motivated and capable cadet, and he’s been able to learn quickly and overcome difficulties. “I’ve always had this saying with cadets, ‘We’re all going to fail at one point. If you’re going to fail and fall down, fall forward,’” Carman said. “You pick yourself up, ask what did I do wrong, figure it out and carry on.” Sawyer can learn from mistakes, and when he

works with younger cadets, he instills that behavior in them as well, Carman said. “He has a great attitude,” he said. Sawyer’s advice to other students working toward a goal is to not give up, to understand what their goals are as best they can and to get help with those goals. He also recommends kids his age try out the Civil Air Patrol, the organization that’s helped him take to the sky. Contact the writer: bwellock@citizensvoice.com 570-821-2051, @CVBillW

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Amazing Kids

Already excels at driving

Nicholas Werner competes in golf around the world By James HalpiN STAff WrITer

Nicholas Werner, 10, a fifth-grader at St. Nicholas-St. Mary’s School, recently finished 28th in his age group at the U.S. Kids Golf European Championship.

ONLINE EXTRA

See video of Nicholas at citizensvoice.com/kids. always come back for a strong finish if he keeps trying, he said. His advice to others? “They should just keep on going for it, no matter how the time’s going,” Nicholas said. “If you’re not hitting the ball well, if it’s a cut or a pole hook, then just work really hard to get it out of that direction.” Contact the writer: jhalpin@citizensvoice.com 570-821-2058

Q&A

Joe Werner, Nicholas’ father

What successful parenting strategy can you share? Try to make it as fun as you possibly can. And that’s a challenge. That’s not always easy.

What is the greatest

challenge you’ve encountered in raising your child? Sometimes you have to remember you’re a father first and not a fan. ... You have to remember that he’s only 7, 8, 9, 10 years old and you can’t be a fan. You’ve got to be a dad, and that was a lesson I had to learn. It’s not easy to do. Because I caddy for him most of the time, and if it starts going downhill, it’s easy to fall into fan mode and not dad mode. And you’ve got to remem-

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ber sometimes that that’s the most important thing.

At what moment did you realize your child was special? When he was 2 he was able to hit the ball. I have a picture of him at 2½ here (at the Wyoming Valley Country Club) on this first hole. He’s honestly been coming here since he’s 2½ hitting balls, so I knew he had really good hand-eye coordination at that point.

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WArreN rUDA / STAff PHOTOGrAPHer

THE CITIZENS' VOICE

WILKES-BARRE — He’s only 10 years old, but already Nicholas Werner has established himself as a skilled golfer. Earlier this year, the fifth grader at St. Nicholas-St. Mary’s School traveled to Scotland and finished 28th in his age group at the U.S. Kids Golf European Championship. In September, he also made it to the regional finals of the Drive, Chip and Putt Championship at the Pinehurst Resort in North Carolina. “That was a pretty good accomplishment, just because the competition is so good,” his father Joe Werner, of Wilkes-Barre, said recently at the Wyoming Valley Country Club. Nicholas got his start in golfing as a toddler — his father said he was able to hit a golf ball when he was only 2 years old. As a young boy watching his father play, Nicholas decided to give it a try and took right to it, he said. “It turns out now it’s a good sport for me, and I play it a lot,” Nicholas said. Nicholas began playing competitively when he was 6 years old, and so far has won 22 championships, he said. His accomplishments include winning competitions at the Wyoming Valley Country Club, and shooting a 74 during a competitive tournament in Ohio. He says professional golfers motivate him to succeed and that he enjoys the feeling that comes with a round well-played. “If you make a few birdies on that round, you feel really good,” Nicholas said. “If you don’t, it’s hard to motivate yourself back up, but yet you get it by the next round.” When he feels like giving up, he reminds himself that he can


SUNDAY, OCTOBER 22, 2017

12 THE CITIZENS' VOICE

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Amazing Kids

Taking on technology

Nuhamin Minda came to the U.S. to pursue future degree By Samantha Stanich Staff Writer

Nuhamin Minda, a senior at Wyoming Seminary, is from Ethiopia and is planning on majoring in software engineering in college. was when she started asking her teachers for help and opening up to those who wanted and were able to help her. “I told them my problems and they came up with solutions to help me,” she said. “I made so many friends here as well, everyone is really great. All the teachers, all the dorm parents and all the students here are really supportive. The dorm community is my second family.” This sense of community is what catapulted Nuhamin toward becoming the involved student she is today. She is a resident assistant in her dorm on campus, a member of the school’s dance company, the True Blue club, the baking club, the international club and the Model United Nations. Her very active social schedule is a far cry from her life in Ethiopia. “In Ethiopia, it’s just how everybody is; they don’t talk loud and they can’t express themselves,” she explains, “It’s still really hard for me to do it because it is not what

Q&A

Bekalu minda, father, and meseret Wolde, mother What successful parenting strategy can you share? We’ve always encouraged Nuhamin to follow her dreams and take risks. We try to support all her dreams and do the best we can to make them successful. We never liked making deciwe’re used to. I don’t know why, it’s just been like that. I think it is a very important skill to have; you need to be able to express yourself and tell people how you are feeling.

sions for Nuhamin starting from when she was young we always discussed everything and try to involve her and encourage her to make her own decisions.

she was 2 and she liked to do it herself, in fact, she always liked to do everything herself which made her grow into such a strong independent woman.

At what moment did you realize your child was special?

What is the greatest challenge you’ve encountered in raising your child?

We realized Nuhamin was special at a very young age. She first shocked us when she was about 10 months old. She accidentally pushed a vase that was on the table and shifted it from its original position, so she went back to fix it and it was from this day on we realized she was extremely cautious of everything she does. Her room has always been organized since

the greatest challenge we’ve faced was when Nuhamin moved to a boarding school thousands of miles away from us. We were worried we couldn’t be there as soon as she needed us and couldn’t help her through the stressful time she faced in the beginning of the year, but she turned out successful.

If you don’t describe yourself, As a member of the True Blue nobody else can do it for you.” Club, she helps with admissions As a resident assistant, she helps and gives families tours of campus. faculty around the dorm and helps Please see minda, page E14 students with anything they need.

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WarreN rUDa / Staff PHOtOGraPHer

THE CITIZENS' VOICE

At 16 years old, Nuhamin Minda traveled 7,175 miles to get an education that could launch her into the field of software engineering. She always wanted to study in the U.S., and thought if the chance came earlier it would prepare her for college. She told her parents she wanted to study at a boarding school, and like any other parents of teenagers, they took her decision with a grain of salt. They told her to find a school and if she found a good one, then she could go. “At first they thought I was joking. They didn’t expect me to find a school,” she laughed. “I was scrolling through the list and was looking for schools who were still enrolling because I was pretty late and I found Wyoming Seminary. I went through the website and liked it. Then my parents did their research and they said OK. I got accepted and came. That was it.” Nuhamin is now 17 years old, a senior at Wyoming Seminary living in Swetland Hall on the Kingston campus. She is beginning the college application process, applying to schools such as Cornell University and University of California, Berkeley. She credits the school for helping her find her passion for computers — at first she wasn’t sure about computer science because her old school didn’t have the resources to study it. Wyoming Seminary exposed her to what she wanted, and now she is achieving her goals — though a year ago, it seemed like it was never going to happen. “I was very homesick the first term. It was very hard getting used to everything,” Nuhamin said. “The curriculum was very different. I used to go to British school in Ethiopia, and it was just different the way questions were asked and how they asked us to write essays, then add that on top of homesickness and it was terrible.” The turning point for Nuhamin


SUNDAY, OCTOBER 22, 2017

14 THE CITIZENS' VOICE

Amazing Kids

MINDA: Wyoming Sem senior works with children in need From page e13

Nuhamin credits Wyoming Seminary for helping her become more outgoing and expressive, and said her involvement with the school’s activities is a way to give back. One student Nuhamin has definitely helped is her younger sister, Salem, who came to Wyoming Seminary last year because of her sister’s encouragement. The two sisters live together and help ease each other’s homesickness. “After the first week, she said to me, ‘I don’t know how I would have done this if you weren’t already here. I would have no idea what to do,’” she said. “She has helped me too; it is always good to have someone.” Nuhamin states that the thing she misses most about Ethiopia is the food and the culture. Her native country celebrates holidays differently — Christmas and New Year’s Day are on different days, for example — however, what she misses about those holidays is universal. “Whenever we would have a holiday, school would be closed and my whole family

would be at my grandparents house just eating and being with each other. I really miss that,” she said. “I also miss kitfo, which is minced meat with Ethiopian butter, which is regular butter but they melt it and put in Ethiopian spices, and then it is frozen again. They use it to make everything and it just makes our food taste really different and good. Also, everything you eat is with your hands; we don’t use forks often.” Nuhamin does go home over the summer, just as any student, but unlike other teenagers, when Nuhamin goes home she spends her summer inter ning at a research and development company as well as a charity that helps feed and educate children ages three to 12. She interned at iCog Labs in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia where she helped advance science and technology with a special

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focus on artificial intelligence and on the use of cutting-edge technology to help leapfrog her country into the future. “When I get my degree, I do want to go back and open a company. Also, it is mostly males that are doing the computers and women are involved in the marketing. It is intimidating (to break into the field), and there are more females joining, but it is still not enough,” she said. Her work with the Muday Association in Kotebe helps “Ethiopia’s most vulnerable” with love and compassion. Nuhamin has been volun-

teering at the charity, founded to help women and children in need, since she started high school. Nuhamin teaches math and English to the children who were once on the streets and are now in classrooms. So despite the initial homesickness and surviving a 30-inch snowstor m last spring, Nuhamin is a dean’s list student who is preparing CourteSy oF NuhamiN miNda for college and getting ready to take on the computer Nuhamin Minda teaches at an orphanage in Ethiopia. world one key stroke at a time.

ONLINE EXTRA

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Amazing Kids

Joy of teaching culinary arts

Maddie McLendon helps teach kids how to cook at camp By BoB KaLinowsKi staff WrIter

ONLINE EXTRA

see video of Maddie at citizensvoice.com/kids.

out is something I feel I should be doing. It’s time give back to her,” Maddie said. Perhaps a tougher volunteer assignment comes every Sunday — teaching young children about the Bible. After the family goes to church, Maddie and her mother teach Sunday school classes for kids in preschool through third grade. “We teach them about Jesus. We take a story out of the Bible, (and) we break it down a little bit so it’s easier for them to understand and we’ll do a whole session on that. Then we’ll do an activity that involves them with the story,” she said.

Q& A

Gary and Kim McLendon, Maddie’s parents What successful parenting strategy can you share with other parents?

choices and encourage her 5 years old explain to you with love and support. her goal of doing something, and achieving it to me is exceptional.

At what moment did you realize your child was special?

What is the greatest challenge you’ve I realized Maddie had a special heart when she was encountered in raising your child? about 5 years old. she is

the type of girl that sets her mind on a goal, and doesn’t stop until she has succeeded. she wanted to ride horses, and we supIf I had to create a recipe for parenting, it would have ported that wish. she took riding lessons and told us four essential ingredients she was going to race — faith, love, encouragement and patience. Which around barrels, and she did! she not only raced all ironically rooted our marriage. We allow Maddie around those barrels but she broke a record time. to make choices on her own, always reminding her earning herself several ribbons from her riding to listen to that voice of reason, but we respect her school. to have a child at

the greatest challenge in my opinion is this world. It’s teaching our children that this world is still a great place, but also teaching them what’s right and what’s wrong. It’s ver y hard to raise a teen in today’s world, but again if you apply that basic parenting/ life recipe of faith, love, patience and encouragement you will have an amazing kid like ours.

Please see McLendon, Page E16

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Mark Moran / staff photographer

Maddie McLendon, a sophomore at Northwest Area High School, dedicated most of her summer to the Kid’s Cooking Camp at Luzerne County Community College.

THE CITIZENS' VOICE

SHICKSHINNY — Maddie McLendon likes to help other kids learn how to cook. Her mother, Kim, is a chef after all. Maddie helps her culinary instructor mother at her kids cooking camps, even giving each young chef a cookbook to take home. Maddie also helps youngsters learn the Bible, teaching Sunday school classes alongside her mother at Sunshine Full Gospel Church in Huntington Twp. “Helping others is something I love doing,” Maddie said. “Helping another person, putting a smile on their face, it’s something I love seeing.” Maddie, 15, is a sophomore at Northwest Area High School, where she plays basketball and is an accomplished pole vaulter for the school’s track and field squad. She also is a yearbook photographer. But she’s best known for volunteering and helping others. Maddie dedicated most of her summer to the Kid’s Cooking Camp at Luzerne County Community College. Her mother, a chef who is a culinary instructor at the school, leads several weeklong sessions and Maddie accompanies her the entire time. That comes with a 6 a.m. wakeup call and a full day of work. Maddie even gives her mom advice on how to tweak some recipes. “My mom is not like, ‘You have to go.’ I like when little girls are like, ‘Will you help me do this?’” Maddie said. While she’s still a teen, Maddie said she tries to do whatever she can to thank her parents for raising her right. Helping her mother is just one way, she said. “When I was little and growing up, she helped me a lot to become the person I am today. Helping her


Amazing Kids

MCLendon: May become a veterinarian From Page e15

Maddie also used to help her mother when she was a veterinary assistant and is interested in possibly becoming a veterinarian one day. First, she plans to start volunteering with the local chapter for the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. She knows it will be a lot of work, but doesn’t think it will overwhelm her. She thinks she’s doing a good job now balancing school, sports and volunteer work. “I always think if I ever think of giving up, always look at people who are less fortunate and don’t have that much. I think if I just put a little bit of motivation in, and do that extra thing, I can go

Maddie McLendon helps her mother Kim at kids’ cooking camps. Maddie also helps teach Sunday school classes alongside her mother, Kim, at Sunshine Full Gospel Church in Huntington Twp.

‘No matter what your goal is, you should try and go beyond that goal.’ MAddIe MCLendon back and help those people,” Maddie said. “Be more fortunate for what you have. It can all be gone the next day.” Asked for her advice to other youngsters, she said to dream big. “No matter what your goal is, you should try and go beyond that goal,” Maddie said. Contact the writer: bkalinowski@citizensvoice.com 570-821-2055, @cvbobkal

mark moran / staFF PhotograPher

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Amazing Kids

Minecraft mastermind

Elijah Stroud published two books about the video game By Sarah Scinto Staff Writer

Elijah Stroud has more than 8,000 subscribers to his YouTube channel, which has videos of his adventures in the game Minecraft.

ONLINE EXTRA

See video of elijah at citizensvoice.com/kids. Elijah and his dad, Chris Stroud, used the money he earned from his books to gather equipment to make Youtube videos. Elijah’s channel, named after his character GoldenNinja50, recently surpassed 8,000 subscribers and 300,000 total views on his videos. He has a gaming room in his father’s Kingston home with three monitors, a gaming keyboard, cameras, microphones and lighting for his videos. Please see Stroud, page E18

Q&A

thing as small as being polite to someone to getting a good grade on a test at school. Christine Stroud: read, read, read! read to them, have them read to you ... encourage reading!

christopher Stroud and christine Stroud, Elijah’s parents At what moment did you What successful parent- realize your child was ing strategy can you special? share with other parents? Christopher Stroud: Be involved with your child. reward your child when he/ she does a great job with something. acknowledge their achievements from any-

Christine Stroud: the moment he was born and we looked into those blue eyes. Christopher Stroud: i always knew he was special. We waited a long time before we had a child and that alone

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made him something extremely special. But in your context i would say when he came home with that notebook full of writing that he did on his own which became his future amazon book really told me he was unique.

What is the greatest challenge you’ve encountered in raising your child? Christine Stroud: Co-parenting

after divorce.

Christopher Stroud: the greatest challenge has been his mom and i splitting up and him having to go between two homes.

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DaVe SCHerBeNCO / Staff PHOtOGraPHer

THE CITIZENS' VOICE

At school, Elijah Stroud is a computer-savvy fifth-grader at Dana Street Elementary. After school, he’s GoldenNinja50, an expert Minecraft player, Youtuber and published author. “I have a YouTube channel and I have a lot of subscribers on it,” Elijah said. “I do live streams and videos and people come on and watch me.” Elijah records his adventures in Minecraft, a video game that encourages players to mine for and build structures with textured cubes. He’s been playing for about five years, ever since a friend introduced him to the game. “I went to my friend’s birthday party and he had the game on Xbox,” he said. “I thought it was really cool looking.” Since he started playing, Elijah has written and published two books about his Minecraft adventures. His first book, “The Story of My Minecraft Life,” hit number one on Amazon.com and allowed him to host a book signing at Barnes & Noble in Wilkes-Barre. “It’s about me and my friend Jake, we were in this survival world on Xbox and I just wrote about what we did,” Elijah said. He published the first book in 2015 and a second, “The Last Day of Minecraft,” in 2016. “The second one is about me and my friend saving the world from this fictional character that a lot of Minecraft players know,” he said. Elijah said he just wrote the first book for fun — when he decided to try publishing it, he never expected to end up signing copies at a bookstore. “I was pretty happy with that,” he said. “I thought it was awesome.”


SUNDAY, OCTOBER 22, 2017

18 THE CITIZENS' VOICE

Amazing Kids

STROUD: Gamer presented at Minecraft convention From page e17

Elijah said playing Minecraft has helped him learn coding and even gives him a chance to implement what he learns in his favorite school subject, math. He’s most proud of two things in the game — a monster-filled “asylum” he and his friends built,

He’s also been invited to Minefaire, a Minecraft convention, four times. He attended this year’s conCheck out elijah’s Youtube vention in Philadelphia to give a channel at https://www.youpresentation as a YouTuber and tube.com/goldenninja50. player. “You meet some of your fans and a server he started a year ago there,” he said. “I signed autowhere players can gather to play graphs and they took pictures with survival and other games together. me.”

ONLINE EXTRA

Elijah’s only 9 years old, but Minecraft has given him a pretty good idea what he might want to do when he grows up — aside from becoming an even bigger YouTuber. “One day I’d like to be a computer programmer,” he said. Contact the writer: sscinto@citizensvoice.com 570-821-2048, @sscintoCV

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Amazing Kids

Hitting the right notes Korina Cheng performed at world-famous concert venue By Steve MocarSky Staff Writer

Korina Cheng began playing the piano eight years ago and has won awards at Northeastern Pennsylvania Philharmonic and Kutztown University piano competitions.

ONLINE EXTRA

See video of Korina at citizensvoice.com/kids. you play,” she said. “Also, school this year is definitely a lot more challenging than last year. I’m taking three (advanced placement) classes this year, so it’s a lot of work,” she added. At school, Korina also has participated in the Science Olympiad, Pennsylvania Junior Academy of Science, National Honor Society, Spanish Honor Society, Math Club, Key Club and Interact Club. She also plays with the school string ensemble, accompanies the school chorus on piano, plays violin with the Civic Orchestra at Wyoming

Seminary Upper School and volunteers with a book club she helped found at the Marian Sutherland Kirby Library in Mountain Top. And let’s not forget about sports — she’s in her third year playing golf at Crestwood, she was on the Wilkes-Barre Family YMCA swim team for two years, and this year, she started playing tennis. Oh, did we mention she’s studied karate for 10 years and holds a black belt? She even managed to convince her younger brother, Kevin, who’s in the eighth grade, to participate in many of the same activities she does. For any students to have so many irons in the fire, a music teacher would normally worry that they wouldn’t excel at any of the activi-

ties, said Andrea Bogusko, who was Korina’s first piano teacher. “But that’s not the case. Korina and Kevin both handle all of their activities well. They’re the exception to the rule,” Bogusko said. Lynn Hurst, Korina’s violin teacher, is equally impressed. “To me, Korina is like the most perfect teenager. She’s a hard worker with oodles of talent. She just started violin three years ago and already made the ranks of district and regional orchestra. It’s just mind-boggling. Her drive is wonderful,” Hurst said. Korina’s determination is equally impressive, Hurst said, recalling that she played a piano recital last spring with a broken finger. “She caught her finger in a car door, but she insisted on playing the

WB_VOICE/SPECIAL_SECTION/PAGES [E19] | 10/14/17

recital. They didn’t find out until later that her finger was broken,” Hurst said. Korina believes her parents, Howard and Caitlin Cheng, instilled in her their love for music. “My parents were interested in it, and then I became interested in it when I started taking lessons, and I got my brother to go along with it too,” Korina said. And although Korina plans to continue playing music through her adulthood, her post-graduation plans take a different turn. “I want to major in biochemistry and hopefully go to medical school,” said Korina, who envisions a career as an orthopedic surgeon. Please see cheng, page E20

22:33 | DONLINKEVI

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DaVe SCHerBeNCO / Staff PHOtOGraPHer

THE CITIZENS' VOICE

Korina Cheng is quite familiar with one of the world’s most famous destination jokes: “How do you get to Carnegie Hall?” But rather than rattle off the expected punch line — Practice! — when the question is posed, the 16-year-old Crestwood High School junior tells you it’s through “hard work and persistence.” And she should know. Korina has performed as a pianist at the worldfamous concert hall in New York City twice — in 2013 and 2015, having been chosen to do so along with some other talented young musicians by the The Northeast Pennsylvania Music Teachers Association. It’s one of the accomplishments of which she’s most proud, along with taking first place in the junior division of the Northeastern Pennsylvania Philharmonic’s 2016 Piano Competition and the Mansfield University Piano Competition last year, as well as being a finalist in the Kutztown University Young Artists Piano Competition this past March. And while Korina has devoted the last eight years to mastering the piano, she decided she wanted to learn a second instrument and began studying violin three years ago. This year, she placed high enough at the Pennsylvania Music Educators Association District Orchestra festival to advance to the regional festival. She practices an hour to 90 minutes a day on each instrument. “I would practice more, but with the school work and sports, it’s hard to juggle the time around for those,” Korina said. Other than juggling her time, Korina’s biggest challenge to date is mastering the violin. “I think studying violin was definitely a different kind of view on music because, for the piano, it’s always in tune; for the violin, you have to tune every single note that


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Amazing Kids CHeng: Musician plans to go to medical school FROm PAGE E19

“I think music is a thing that’s always with you. Even though you’re older, you can always play,” Korina said. “So, I would like to continue

— maybe not taking lessons, but definitely continue playing.” Asked her favorite activity, Korina couldn’t pick just one. “I think it’s everything, because it makes me who I

Q&A

Howard Cheng, Korina’s father What’s the greatest challenge you’ve encountered in raising your child? I think time management is always tough, having many activities. Going from one place to another with her schedule and so many things that she does, it’s pretty challenging. She also likes to explore different things. This year, she decided to play tennis, so it’s another thing added on to what she’s currently doing, especially with college planning. Visiting the colleges this year makes it even more challenging.

In addition to playing the piano and violin, Korina Cheng plays golf, tennis and holds a black belt in karate.

am — piano, tennis, I like all of it.” Contact the writer: smocarsky@citizensvoice.com 570-821-2110 @StevemocarskyCV

think that’s the best thing I’ve ever done. Once they develop that interest and appreciate books, that helps them academically. And I think music is very important because it’s something that you work at every single day, you find ways to get better. Different pieces have different challenges. I find that if you encourage the child, she’s able to get a sense of accomplishment. But at the end of the day, support and encouragement are very crucial.

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I think very early on. At the time, I wasn’t sure whether she was musically gifted, but I have to say talent is not everything. I think the hard work you put in, the dedication, the commitment are in my opinion even more important. When she was only a few months old, I bought her a toy — it was like a monkey with cymbals — and What successful parenting I let her listen and play and, at the time, strategy can you share? she was so interested in it and stayed reI think the key thing is to offer as much ally focused with the toy. At that point, I support as possible for whatever your didn’t quite know. And then later on, many kid’s interest is going to be, and spend a years later, actually, my wife decided to let lot of time with them. Instill an interest in her start taking music lessons and she them to have a love for books early on; I just fell in love with it.

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Amazing Kids

Philanthropist at heart

Gia Cella raise funds, donations to help those in need By Denise AllABAugh Staff Writer

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causes she’s supported are, at right from top, St. Joseph’s Baby Pantry, Alex’s Lemonade Stand and Locks for Love.

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Please see CellA, page E22

THE CITIZENS' VOICE

DALLAS — When 10-year-old Giavanna Cella heard that pediatric cancer research was underfunded, she decided to take action. Gia, a fifth-grader at Wycallis Elementary School in Dallas, recently hosted a lemonade stand at her great aunt’s home in West Pittston. With help from her family, friends and neighbors and support from her church, Gia raised nearly $2,100 for Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation. The national foundation raises money and awareness of childhood cancer causes and research into new treatments and cures. It was founded by Alexandra “Alex” Scott, who was diagnosed with childhood cancer just before her first birthday and died at age 8. “I wanted to have a lemonade stand, and I didn’t really just want to have an ordinary one, so I went online and I found out about Alex’s Lemonade Stand,” Gia said. “There’s not enough money to research for medicine for pediatric cancer so I decided to do an ‘Alex’s Lemonade Stand.’” Last summer, Gia also took the initiative to help financially disadvantaged children. The Dallas resident donated her six-inch ponytail to Locks of Love, a nonprofit organization that provides hairpieces to financially disadvantaged children in the U.S. and Canada who are suffering from long-term medical hair loss from any diagnosis. “I wanted my hair cut so I thought I might as well do it to help people because they need it,” she said. “It’s for a good cause.” Gia dedicated both the lemonade stand and the Locks of Love projWarreN rUDa / Staff PHOtOGraPHer ects to her Pop Pop, Louis Cella, who died from cancer in 2013. Giavanna Cella is a fifth-grade student at Wycallis Elementary in Dallas. Some of the charitable


Cella: Dallas student is committed to her community service H e r a dv i c e t o o t h e r yo u n g p e o p l e wo rk i n g toward a goal is, “Just do your best and keep going and don’t stop until you reached the goal.” In addition to her commitment to community service, Gia also is a tap dancer at Back Mountain Dance Studio. She plays soccer and has performed in plays at the Music Box D i n n e r P l ay h o u s e i n Swoyersville. Gia is the daughter of Mario Cella, a physical education teacher at State Street Elementary School in Larksville, and Stacy Cella, a phar macist at Moses Taylor Hospital in Scranton. She is big sister to Nico, Arianna and Matteo Cella.

FROM PAGE A21

In addition to her interest in helping children w i t h c a n c e r, G i a h a s donated her birthday gifts to the St. Joseph’s Baby Pantry in Scranton for the last five years. In lieu of gifts, she asks her guests to bring baby items for the pantry. She and her mom then deliver the items to the pantry that is a free community service available to all families who need baby food, clothing up to size 6, diapers and other baby items. “I don’t really need my presents as much as they need all their stuff,” she said. “People can come and take the stuff if they can’t afford it in a regular Contact the writer: dallabaugh@citizensvoice.com store.” When asked what is the 570-821-2115, @CVAllabaugh most rewarding part of doing things for others, Gia said, “It just really makes me feel good.”

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Q& A

Stacy Cella, mother What successful parenting strategy can you share with other parents? We always try to teach the kids to think about how other people feel and to try to put others first.

At what moment did you realize your child was special?

When she was really little, she was always concerned about her brother. When she went to the bank and they would give her a lollipop, she would immediately ask for one for him because they are close in age. When she started preschool, she always tried to help the less fortunate. When she was 3, she took a ballet class and there was a little boy with special needs. He didn’t walk very well. He had some surgery and she just gravitated

toward him. If he fell, she would pick him up.

What is the greatest challenge you’ve encountered in raising your child? The world today. It’s a scary place today especially with what just happened (in Las Vegas). We try to teach them even though there’s bad people out there, there’s good people. People do things like Gia did and it makes it a better place.

‘I don’t really need my presents as much as they need all their stuff. People can come and take the stuff if they can’t afford it in a regular store.’ GIaVaNNa Cella On why she donates to St. Joseph’s Baby Pantry

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