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Kindness is Blooming, Rocking and Rolling

U Magazine, we dare to be different! Provided by Sisters U Foundation. Interested in becoming part of our organization and getting connected with your community? Visit or email!

Cultivating Empowerment in the Next Generation of Women Seasonal Clothing Trends

Sisters U empowers women with education, resources, and opportunities to benefit the community.

If you are interested in advertising in U Magazine, please contact We offer various sponsorship levels that are tax deductible since our foundation is a 501(3)c. Our magazine reaches thousands of local women and many sponsors have been very happy with the business they have gotten from their sponsorships. Photography by Heart and Soul Portraits




Karen D. Chellew

CEO & Founder Sisters U Foundation, Inc.

Melissa Kelley

Managing Editor - U Magazine Sisters U Foundation, Inc.

Kimberly Rabago

Director of Administration Sisters U Foundation, Inc.

Michelle Kane

Director of Marketing Sisters U Foundation, Inc. Principal, VoiceMatters, LLC

Shawna Boell

Fashion Editor - U Magazine Owner, Get it Together Mom

Tricia Glodowski

Wellness Editor - U Magazine Owner, FindYes Fitness & Nutrition

Amy McDermott

Photography Editor - U Magazine Owner, Heart and Soul Portraits

Tracy McGinty

Copy Editor - U Magazine Sisters U Foundation, Inc.

Christin Smith Myers

Copy Editor - U Magazine Positivity Speaker

Rodney Altemose

Advisor - U Magazine Executive Director, Upper Bucks Campus Bucks County Community College

Joanna Bartholomew

Advisor - U Magazine Administration, Upper Bucks Campus Bucks County Community College

Amber Fitch

Layout/Graphic Design - U Magazine Bucks County Community College


Kindness is Blooming, Rocking and Rolling .............................................5


Creative Expressions of Bloom ........................................................... 8


Make a Difference in Your Community with Sisters U ........................... 9


Getting to Know the U Magazine Editorial Committee ...........................10


Growing Kindness in the Community ............................................... 12


Cultivating Empowerment in the Next Generation of Women ............... 14


Changing the Landscape of Recovery ................................................ 16


Grow Your Voice with a Podcast ...................................................... 18


A Rebirth of Family Relationships .................................................... 20


Seasonal Clothing Trends ............................................................... 24


How to Purge, Organize and Utilize Your Clothes ............................... 25

A NOTE FROM OUR FOUNDER We’ve all heard the phrase, “Bloom where you are planted.” Yet sometimes it seems that blooming where we are planted is daunting for a variety of reasons. Blooming in a perfect environment seems easy, but if we find ourselves planted under what seems like concrete, blooming can seem impossible! Finding our surroundings seemingly impossible may lead to excuses for why we may not be able to bloom to our dreams. So let’s break it down. The very essence of blooming is the seed, the core of who we are. Then you add water, a nurturing environment, and before you know it, the bloom happens. Right? We learned that in elementary school. Another part of the blooming process is appreciating our environment and absorbing all that is good and helpful and providing back what may be good and helpful to others. This “giving back” piece is what inspires us to push through. I find myself looking for ways to encourage someone every day and to appreciate the

fact that my struggles have prepared me to be in the path of someone that needs me to have experienced my specific journey. When I read U Magazine, I find ways I can improve my own growth, and I think less about how I need others to change. I am reminded to allow things to happen as they may and focus on growing and learning so that I can be my own best self. Like the eye at the center of a storm, we can choose to keep our tranquility even when the world around us is swirling. If other people are late, I can still arrive on time. If others have given up, I can continue. If my peers make choices that are adverse to mine, I can choose to stand in my own truth.

hope that as you read, you will meet new people you would have never known and have a new awareness of your community and its nurturing environment. We hope that this magazine puts you right into the path of someone whom you can inspire or who can inspire you. I encourage you to bloom where you are planted. Even if you find yourself planted under some concrete in this particular moment, look for the crack in the concrete to find your way out. And despite all odds, choose to bloom anyways.

I cannot end my note without expressing my enormous gratitude for the committee who put this issue of U Magazine together. This truly is a collaborative work of experts, community members, As Steve Jobs said, “You cannot connect the and students. My deepest gratitude to dots looking forward; you can only connect all who contributed. I am so proud of them looking backwards. So you have to the leadership, the mentorship and the trust that the dots will somehow connect extraordinary team that was part of the in the future.” “blooming” process of U Magazine. We hope that this issue will somehow connect you to the dot that will come next for you, so you can attach yourself to your higher purpose and give it your best. We

Karen Chellew

CEO & founder of Sisters U®

What is Sisters U?

We are not a business group

-but we support professional growth.

We are not a networking group

-but we connect women from all walks of life.

We are not a social group

-but we facilitate authentic friendships.

We are not philosophers

-but we urge women to nd their own inspiration.

Each of us has a story. Come to Sisters U and share yours.

Upcoming EVENTS

Sisters U Monthly Meeting - Thursday, May 17th 7:00 PM - 9:00 PM Sisters U Monthly Meeting - Thursday, June 21th 7:00 PM - 9:00 PM Sisters U Wine, Woo & Spirits - Friday, July 27th 7:00 PM - 10:00 PM Sisters U - Swim with your Sisters! (members only) TBD

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For more information on any of these events and other Sisters U activities, please visit or email




Noah Webster defined kindness as “good

will; benevolence; that temper or disposition which delights in contributing to the

happiness of others, which is exercised

cheerfully in gratifying their wishes,

supplying their wants or alleviating their

distresses.” Here are stories exploring how local residents practice acts of kindness

that have created a ripple effect that

continues to grow within the community.




Blooming Kindness One Bouquet at a Time

Patricia Gallagher is known to many around Southeastern Pennsylvania as the “Flower Lady.” She started a project in 1993 with her mother, Claire Mohan (mid 80’s), and friend, Bob Goodwin (age 91). They would pick up donated day-old flowers and bouquets from grocery stores, florists, and floral distributors all around Philadelphia, as well as Bucks and Montgomery counties. From there they would make floral deliveries to residents of senior living communities or hospitals. Patricia calls it “delivering joy and flowers to those in need of hope.” Her mother and friend have since passed on, but Patricia has continued the mission, delivering over 28,000 bouquets to those who need them most. She will often sing her go-to song “Happy Flower Day to You” (to the tune of “Happy Birthday”) at the time of delivery to bring a smile or sometimes a happy tear to her lucky recipients’ faces. Often she has them join in on the song so it can be heard across all the halls. Continued next page SUMMER 2018


COVER STORY…continued Patricia defines kindness in words credited to Mother Teresa, “Do all the good you can, in all the ways you can, whenever you can, while you can.” She also credits her mother for being the one who taught her the most about how to be kind.

A Special Story from Patricia on Making Days Brighter

“One time we were taking flowers to a nursing home in Germantown where a lady said to my mom, ‘There ain’t no Santa Claus anymore and there ain’t no children that come around anymore.’ So my mother asked, ‘If there was a Santa Claus, what would you want him to bring?’ The lady replied that he would bring her a really good flannel nightgown like her mother used to make. “So my mother, who was 85 at the time, asked me to take her to JCPenney, and she bought two nightgowns and went on to wrap them all up. We then took them down to the lady the same day. When she received them, her face was full of color and life. My heart from that day on has really been for seniors. They are the ones who I feel really need to be shown more kindness.”

What is a “Day of Flowering” with Patricia Like?

“Sometimes I might have five shopping carts full of white trash bags containing flowers. Other days I might only have just 30 bouquets. I go wherever God takes me. Sometimes it’s to a bus stop. Sometimes it’s to a McDonald’s or Burger King. It doesn’t matter where I end up, receiving a flower brightens everyone’s day. Flowers have a universal language of love. But

my favorite place to deliver flowers is to nursing homes or senior living centers. The scenario goes something like this. I walk in and say, 'Hi, I’m Patricia Gallagher. We have some beautiful bouquets donated by several florists. May I pass them out to your residents?' I then go into the rooms to visit the bedridden patients. I move merrily through the lobby and craft rooms, up and down the halls, and then back out to the front desk. I just pick the flowers up, carry them in and am delighted to see all the smiles they bring. What I have learned is that flowers strike a universal chord with all people, men or women of all races and cultures. It doesn’t matter if they are veterans, fast-food employees, or homeless. Wherever a flower shows up, so does a smile! The vibrant colors, delightful scent, and soft texture and feel of flowers shake all the blues away.”

Kindness Prescription from Patricia Gallagher

“If you’re looking for your purpose, happiness, or something to do, there’s nothing like bringing flowers to people and making their frowns turn upside down! A flower day is any day that you show gestures of affection, hope, and friendship, while sharing free garden-given delights.”

How Do I Join the Happy Flower Day Project?

Learn more by purchasing Patricia Gallagher’s book, Start Your Own Free and Fun "Happy Flower Day Project" in Your Community. It teaches readers how to collect hundreds of dayold flowers and bouquets from grocery stores and to surprise residents, staff and patients of nursing homes, hospitals, and hospices with the gift of free flowers… all donated! Patricia Gallagher Photography by Heart and Soul Portraits 6


Rocking and Rolling Out Kindness

The start of a global movement began on the shores of a beach in Cape Cod, Massachusetts, when Megan Murphy was on a stroll. On special occasions she would find heartshaped rocks or rare sea glass. To her, these were blessings, signs, or messages from her father or mother, who had passed when she was only nine, that she was on the right path. Walking on the beach, listening to the ebb and flow of the waves early in the morning was Megan’s calming meditation where she could become introspective and feel most connected to God, her parents, and her soul. One day, Megan had an epiphany as she realized that the other people she passed by on her walk may be there for the very same reason. Maybe they also needed time to reflect or just clear their minds from life’s stresses. So she decided to write inspirational messages with a permanent marker on a few beach rocks for others to discover. Megan hoped that these rocks would be the message that other beach walkers needed for encouragement, just as the heart shaped rocks or sea glass were hers. “It turns out...I was right, thus The Kindness Rocks Project was born! My self doubt was gone after receiving the first message of gratitude from a rock recipient. One turned into many, and today I receive an overwhelming number of photos, stories, and sentiments about the positive effect of the rocks. As the project evolved, I did too, listening to my inner voice telling me to push forward.” Today, the Kindness Rocks Project has grown into hundreds of smaller subgroups in cities, counties, and towns all over the world. The majority of the groups are listed on Megan Murphy’s website,  There are additional rock groups indexed on USA Painted Rocks, a Facebook group designed to connect people with rockpainting groups in their area. “This isn’t about me. The project is about people,” Megan said. “It’s about after people find a rock and they have that feeling about the rock and realize there’s another human being who actually gets them. I started with the notion that if I could make just one person happy by finding this rock, that would make me happy too.”

Local Kindness Rocks - Sherah Cooney

I started the Bucks County Kindness Rocks Facebook page after my older sister brought a few rocks and paint down from upstate New York for Thanksgiving. I watched my nieces and nephews smiling and laughing as they painted the rocks. They were looking on Pinterest for a few inspirational quotes and Christmas messages, and I felt kindness blooming in their hearts as they read them all. After painting, drying, scrubbing hands, and even changing some clothes, we went for a walk around the block to drop them throughout the area. When I witnessed an older gentleman’s smile after my three-year-old niece randomly handed him a painted rock that said “You Are Loved,” I knew we needed a Kindness Rocks Bucks County.  I since have been gathering acrylic paints, non-toxic spray paints, round river rocks, and oil paint or permanent markers to get ready for spring and summer. I have just started to reach out to scout troops, churches, YMCAs and libraries in the Central and Northern Bucks County area to see if they would like to have a Kindness Rocks painting party or gathering. I'll even provide the supplies needed. Just the act of painting the rock and placing it somewhere in the community makes my heart flutter. It feels so comforting when writing or drawing something out of love and care for the unknown receiver. Who will find it? Will it make them smile? Or will it deliver a message that they needed at that time? Join the Kindness Rocks and community Rocks Groups in the area Facebook pages listed below. Sherah Cooney is the Internet Director at Ciocca Ford Souderton. If she's not on the job helping her customers, she will be at home with her husband painting and planning for Kindness Rocks Bucks County or playing with her two mutts while K-Love plays in the background.

Kindness Rocks and Community Rocks Groups Facebook Pages Kindness Rocks Bucks County Kindness Rocks Chester and Montgomery County Kindness Rocks Jamison Quakertown Rocks! Perkasie Rocks Doylestown Rocks! Rock Hunting in Doylestown Montgomery County, PA Rocks Lansdale Rocks Group






"Music. I love to sing. I sang in my church choir. Music has brought so much to my life. It’s made so many of my friendships possible. I’ve had the chance to travel to some wonderful places because of music, and I’m a proud sponsor of our local Sellersville Theater."

Linda Reid

Event Coordinator for Perkasie Borough A Yarn Bloom has been installed under the direction of Linda Reid, Event Coordinator for Perkasie Borough. The installation goes alongside of the proposed Mural Arts Project, which will first create a new community mural to be painted on a large retaining wall on 7th Street behind Perkasie Borough Hall. Local artist Tim Gibson is painting the mural before setting out on a cross-country trip called the Ten Thousand Flowers project. Linda’s discussion with Tim about the mural led to the idea for the Yarn Bloom art installation. While the Yarn Bloom is part of an international “Yarn Bombing” movement, over 100 local women have crocheted, knitted, woven, embroidered or braided designs using yarn to temporarily decorate trees, fences, panels and benches around Menlo Park. Linda herself pieced together many donated items to create covers for two trees, as well as a number of crocheted flowers, hearts and circles that have been incorporated in various places in the Bloom. Linda has witnessed a heightened sense of community in the number of different crafting groups that formed to work on the Yarn Bloom. One group in particular, “The Shady Ladies,” stands out to Linda. “Many members of this group are elderly or have limited mobility,” she explained. “They were so thrilled to use their skills to make a contribution to the community. It was very rewarding to have so many members of the group visit the park during the installation.” A self-described lifelong needlecrafter, Linda credits working with others on the Yarn Bloom as having helped to further develop her skills and form new friendships. 8


Martha Otto

2018 Recipient of Sister U's Empowered Woman of the Year Award

"Getting to the heart of an issue, creating awareness, and finding a solution. It’s one of the best parts of my job as commissioner. In my professional and personal life, I love trying something new, something that you never knew you’d be good at and surprising yourself. I recently tiled a room in my home and now, I love it!"

Diane Ellis-Marseglia

Bucks County Commissioner Best Foot Forward Keynote Speaker

“I know that the communities created during the Bloom will endure long past the life of this gorgeous installation," she said. “That makes me happy.” The art installation opened to the public during Perkasie’s Earth Day celebration last month and will remain on display through May 24. The mural will be painted on June 2–3. Learn more on the Perkasie Borough website or Facebook page. Kim Rabago is Director of Administration for SistersU Foundation. Photography by Heart and Soul Portraits


Are you looking to make a difference in your community? We would love to have you help us!

Sisters U is in need of volunteers to help with: • Landscaping our front yard • Helping with clean-up after meetings • Performing administrative duties • Joining committees • And much more!

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U Magazine Editorial Committee

This is the fifth issue of U Magazine, and we are learning and growing each time we publish. This issue brings several exciting changes, including great additions to the editorial committee. We asked committee members to share insights about themselves or their role with the magazine.

Karen Chellew CEO and Founder of Sisters U Q: How did this magazine originate and how do you see it continuing to evolve?

Kim Rabago Director of Administration for Sisters U Q: How do you see U Magazine strengthening the organization it represents?

A: U Magazine originated from the vision of the Sisters U community to share the stories of individuals in written form. We believe that our collective stories form the very fabric of our community and allow us to be introduced to people we may not have ever had the privilege to meet.  As the magazine continues to grow, it is my hope that U Magazine will continue the conversations of diversity and inclusion. 

A: The beautiful visual story the magazine shares is an extension of what the organization means to so many of our members and the community. What I love so much about U Magazine is that it provides me with the opportunity to read the stories of people who I may see in the community, walk up to them and say, “I read your story in U Magazine and it was so inspiring.” The foundation of Sisters U is based on the stories we tell and how those stories may resonate with someone else.   

Melissa Kelley U Magazine Managing Editor Q: What do you find the most rewarding in your work as Managing Editor? A: This is my first issue in this role, so this has been an incredible learning experience. I come from a publication background, and yet it still amazes me to see how all the different roles, from the writing, editing, design, photography, and business perspective, contribute to the finished publication. I would say the most rewarding experience about my work has been to witness members of the staff work together as a team, and how that translates into a finished product that helps support our community.



Michelle Kane Director of Marketing for Sisters U Q: What makes U Magazine stand out as a community publication? A: Sisters U has built -- and continues to build -- a community of women eager to connect with each other, to learn from each other, and to take that inspiration out into their everyday lives. U Magazine is a tangible extension of that community. We like to say the magic is in our monthly meetings. U Magazine helps share that connection and invite the greater community to join us.

Amy McDermott U Magazine Photography Editor Q: How do you hope to influence the look and feel of U Magazine?

A: As a photographer, it is my job to create a feeling or an interest to know more about the subject. What better way to showcase my talents than on the cover of one of Bucks County’s best women’s magazines, U Magazine?

Tricia Glodowski U Magazine Wellness Editor Q: How do you see U Magazine starting conversation within the community?

A: Our wellness stories, like U Magazine itself, can reveal amazing outcomes we achieve through small, maybe even monotonous, steps. Wellness is behavior-based at least as much as fact-based. Information is great, but examples evoke action. There are people doing incredible things all around us to which we can emulate or aspire. Where other publications rely on a camera, we’re more likely holding up a mirror. We see the hero in you.

Shawna Boell U Magazine Fashion Editor Q: How do you hope U Magazine influences those who read it?

A: As fashion editor, I am hoping everyone takes a second look at their clothes to find the hidden gem. It can be an article of clothing you can use in a different way, or maybe an accessory to use with a different outfit. Something that makes you feel confident in your everyday life!

Tracy McGinty U Magazine Copy Editor and Proofreader Q: How do you see the content of U Magazine capturing the “voice” of Sisters U?

A: The content of U Magazine is as vibrant and varied as the women who belong to Sisters U. Every issue is a learning experience for me and, I hope, for other readers, too. The organization’s emphasis on “creating your best self ” shines through in the voices and images of U Magazine in articles about health, nutrition, physical fitness and awareness, women we should know, and all sorts of intriguing and interesting ideas.

Christin Smith Myers U Magazine Copy Editor and Proofreader Q: What are the components of compelling editorial content?

A: Real stories from real people seem to be the most compelling. I also write a blog, and I find I get the most engagement on the posts that share something that’s personal and relatable, with key takeaways to help the readers make positive changes in their own lives.

Rodney Altemose U Magazine Advisor Q: How do you measure the success of a community publication such as this?

A: In looking at the mission of Sisters U coupled with my own mantra, I believe success of this publication can be measured on cultivating relationships, making a difference, and living authentically. If readers walk away with any of those items, it was a success!

Joanna Bartholomew U Magazine Advisor Q: What types of topics do you hope U Magazine addresses in future issues? Why do you feel these topics are important to U Magazine readers?

A: As a creative person, what interests me most are articles and items that enhance my artsy and aesthetic spirit. Everyone has something, that thing that makes them feel relaxed, cleansed, and empowered to be their true selves. The nice draw about the magazine is that it always highlights local experts and/or articles written by people we may know in our community.  There is always something for someone to learn or influence a spark in their own creativity.

Amber Fitch U Magazine Designer Q: What is your creative process, and how does it influence your design work for U Magazine?

A: As a graphic designer, my goal is to make pieces that are functional and beautiful. To achieve this result, I draw from my past experiences, learning and inspirations to kick off the creative process and create a compelling design. I apply the same principles to the work I do for U Magazine.

Have feedback on the magazine? Got a great idea for the next issue? Interested in getting involved with Sisters U or U Magazine? We’d love to hear from you as we continue to grow. Get in touch by emailing SUMMER 2018



Sowing the Seeds of Kindness

Local Educator Christa Tinari Discusses Growing Kindness in the Community

I recently had the privilege of meeting Christa Tinari, a local public speaker and educator. For over 20 years, Christa has contributed unique insights to the field of education as a school-based student assistance counselor, staff development trainer, curriculum writer, program evaluator, and college instructor. She presents, to rave reviews, at national and international educational conferences such as ASCD, Association for Middle Level Education, Character Education Partnership, and International Bullying Prevention Association. Christa is the creator of the Feel & Deal Activity Deck, a researched-based emotional intelligence tool for K-8 students, and co-creator of the School Climate Thermometer, a middle grades school climate measure. She is also the author of Create A Culture of Kindness in Middle School: 48 CharacterBuilding Lessons to Foster Respect and Prevent Bullying, used in many schools. I interviewed her to learn more about how we can spread kindness that withstands the storm of life.

Education on Kindness Sherah: Why is kindness important in schools today? Christa: Wow! Well, I think kindness is important everywhere really, but the work I’ve always done is in schools. It’s really important that we focus on what we do want instead of what we don’t want. We know that we don’t want: teasing, bullying, and kids picking on other kids because of who they are. So instead of focusing on what we’re trying to get rid of, we’re really helping kids focus on the skills of kindness by understanding empathy, appreciating diversity in others, noticing who’s left 12


out, and learning how to really express emotions. Students who need help with that will get that help instead of lashing out in anger. There are so many different types of social and emotional skills that we can teach to kids in a really fun way. We can really teach them to be kind in real-time.

Achew! Kindness is Contagious Sherah: I have always loved the saying, “Kindness is contagious.” Can you share a story about how someone started something and then it bloomed into something more and took off with force? Christa: The great thing about kindness is it has a boomerang effect. When someone is kind to you, you feel good and they feel good. You are then more likely to pay it forward to someone else. So when I have done work with student groups in schools, I usually start with two or three kids who pledge to start a kindness campaign. One group comes to mind where I had them write positive affirmations like “You are wonderful” and place them randomly throughout the school. Another group of students noticed it and asked to be involved too. So it’s like a natural growth as more students get involved.

Sherah: I’ve learned that bullying happens a lot in the bathrooms at schools. Is that right? Christa: Yes that’s true. Bullying does happen a lot more in the less structured area of the schools or maybe when there are no other adults around. So places like the bathroom, recess time, lunch time, or the hallways are more likely. Students can take leadership roles and make it clear that

they are going to stand for kindness and not accept or tolerate bullying behaviors. This is a really powerful message for them to share.

Sherah: What can adults or teachers do in situations like this? Christa: Our example matters quite a lot. So first, model kindness. That’s number one. But I think also teaching our children how to be more empathetic is also very important. One way we can instill these skills in children is by wondering out loud about people’s experiences. So let’s say you’re at a store and it’s very crowded. The cashier is under a lot of pressure with the long line. You may want to complain that this is taking so long and wish this line was going faster. But another way to take control of that situation and model empathy to your child is by saying, “Wow, this is a long line! I wonder how the cashier feels? I wonder if this is frustrating to them?” And then notice the cashier’s body language and think about their experience and how they are feeling. And when you get to the cashier, do something to have a personal connection with them instead of something based on the roles that you’re playing in that moment in time.

There’s a Kindness Diamond in the Rough Sherah: One of the things you’ve written about that has inspired me is second chances. Sometimes people have said or done things that have truly hurt and I feel angry or in pain. When is it right to give people that second chance? Christa: One of the kindness tips that I put in my students' take-home bags of goodies is, “Give people a second chance

when they admit they were wrong.” If we can reach out to someone and at the same time protect our own boundaries on what is acceptable and not acceptable, we'll all be more kind. We all have to accept that emotions are part of our human experience and that they come, go, and change. We can do positive things with our emotions by talking to someone or helping others. But if we feed the anger or negative emotion by not forgiving when someone is apologetic, we’re more likely to engage in unkind acts and not have the control or awareness to make those quality decisions that need to be made in other situations.

Take Action with Kindness Sherah: What is something students, teachers, or parents should do when they see bullying? Christa: Kids who are bullied have reported that the most important and helpful action for them is to receive support, proof that someone is listening to them. Examples include someone texting the bullied person later to see how they’re doing, or joining the bullied person at the lunch table when the victim is sitting alone. It’s the little actions both adults or students can take to help students feel like they have social support in a situation.

Sherah: What can students do to stop cyber-bullying? Christa: That’s an interesting question because in the latest bullying survey we learned students still feel that more bullying is happening in person than online. But if bullying is happening towards one person online, it will probably be seen by at least 30 other people. But it’s only that one person experiencing this. So many more people are involved, which makes the pain deeper. So, one of the things that kids say is helpful on social media is to do “positive slamming.” If you see something negative, just start typing positive things. Don’t directly attack the person that said the negative thing. This is called the balance strategy when I teach upstander skills. Just saying or doing something positive shows you’re not going along with the bullying behavior.


Christa's Kindness Goodie Bags Practice giving someone your FULL attention when listening. Kindness starts with you.

Be willing to compromise with someone with whom you’re in conflict. Kindness starts with you. Be happy for the happiness of others. There’s enough happiness to go around. Kindness starts with you. Choose your words carefully. They mean the world to someone. Kindness starts with you.

Kindness Starts with You!

Say this wish or prayer: “May all people be safe, well, and happy. May they be fully accepted and respected.” Kindness starts with you.

Christa Tinari’s kindness goodie bags contain candy, stickers, and even a a few kindness tips. See the above tips from Christa, so maybe we all can shine a little kindness on the world around us. Christa can be reached at ctinari@ or 267-885-4177. Learn more at

Sherah Cooney is the Internet Director at Ciocca Ford Souderton. If she's not on the job helping her customers, she will be at home with her husband painting and planning for Kindness Rocks Bucks County or playing with her two mutts while K-Love plays in the background.





in the Next Generation of Women Reflections Girls Empowerment Camp Amy Tarlo is an educator, leader, mom, friend, and now camp director/entrepreneur. After two years of brainstorming and planning, Tarlo and three of her co-workers at Souderton Area High School (SAHS) have developed the Reflections Girls Empowerment Camp to be held this summer. The purpose of the four-day program is to empower young women and build upon their leadership skills, volunteerism and self-confidence. The four Souderton Area High School (SAHS) co-workers and founders of Reflections Girls Empowerment Camp. From left to right: Maria Halteman, SAHS Business Teacher and Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA) Advisor; Tara Weismantel, SAHS Family Consumer Science Teacher and Student Government Advisor; Jennifer Granito, SAHS Instructional Job Coach and Student Council Advisor; and Amy Tarlo, Mentorship and Transition Coordinator and Student Council Advisor for SAHS.



The campers will not need to look very far for inspiration and role models, as the four friends and new business partners personify all of the traits they hope to instill in the next generation of women. Joining Tarlo, who is the Mentorship and Transition Coordinator and Student Council Advisor for SAHS, are Jen Granito, SAHS Instructional Job Coach and Student Council Advisor; Tara Weismantel, SAHS Family Consumer Science Teacher and Student Government Advisor; and Maria Halteman, SAHS Business Teacher and Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA) Advisor.

All four partners are moms of girls. Among the four of them they have seven daughters ranging from age of 9 to 19. There are also seven sons among them. Tarlo’s 13-year-old daughter will be attending Reflections this summer, and Tarlo is excited for her because most camps are sports-related and that is not where her daughter’s interest lies. It is easy to find soccer, field hockey and other sports camps in the Bucks/Montgomery area, and even specialty camps like horseback riding, but leadership development and empowerment camps are sparse. Camps for teenagers are even more difficult to come by as most summer opportunities are geared toward younger children. “We wanted to create a camp that would give girls like my daughter the opportunity to hone in on their strengths which may not be related to athletics, and that focuses more on leadership development and connecting with other girls like them,” said Tarlo. “All four of us working on the camp are excited about bringing together girls from other schools who may have different life experiences but who have the same interests.”

Camp Information

more deeply into programs that build upon the girls’ inner strengths and potential. "We are still finalizing details but our plans include breakout sessions for the campers including CPR training, working with search and rescue canines, and yoga and other stress reduction activities,” said Granito. Weismantel added, “We are also working on a large service project for the girls because we want to show them how important it is to give back to communities in which they live.”

Service Project

The camp organizers are creating a camplong service project for which the girls will need to come up with the project idea, build upon it, and present it to a panel of community members who will then help them bring the idea to life. Through the years, Weismantel has learned that parents often want their children involved in community service but don’t know how to get them started. This camp is aimed at introducing girls to the concept at an earlier time than high school that will hopefully help them find their passion.

Reflections Girls Empowerment Camp Reunion Plans is open to girls ages 12 to 15 in all And the campers’ experience will not fade Montgomery and Bucks County school with summer. In the works are a series of districts. It will be held Monday to reunion events throughout the year for the Thursday, July 23 to 26, from 9 am to girls to regroup, continue their friendships 3 pm at Calvary Church, 820 Route 113, Souderton, PA. The cost is $195. and have fun. Currently there is space for approximately "We all have daughters in middle school 120 campers, but the ever-prepared organizers have a second week reserved just right now, and we sometimes see them and their classmates as being shy and lacking in case the demand for the camp exceeds current capacity. High school students will communication skills and a connection be assisting at the camp and serving as role to each other and their community,” said Weismantel. “We wanted to offer a camp models for their younger counterparts. that our daughters and girls like them The camp will provide girls the would want to attend and that would help opportunities for outdoors team building, create future leaders for us.” problem solving, conflict resolution, leadership development and much more. “And the more we talked about  it the more It will include some of the traditional we thought women our age could have summer camp activities, such as cooking used a camp like this,” Weismantel added. and crafts, but it will also delve much

Focus on Middle School Girls

Tarlo, Granito, Weismantel, and Halteman all currently work every day with high school students. They are excited about working with middle school girls this summer. “We all love working with kids inside and outside of the academic realm, and we all work primarily with older girls. It is fascinating to me what happens when I take my intelligent, confident students to a state conference; they excel at what they do, but I’ll see their self-confidence dwindle and they’ll second-guess themselves because they are out of their comfortable environment,” said Halteman. “We want to help change that. And the younger we work with these girls, the better.” The fact that the four women are friends and all leaders themselves made the task of setting up a camp less daunting. Their combined personal skills, backgrounds and experience have helped them overcome the challenges that often come with starting a business. “We are motivated by our desire to help and guide this age group of girls. This desire pushes us through any time or logistic hurdles that we have encountered and may come across in the future,” said Weismantel. And what is in it for the four coworkers and friends? “Anytime we can work with and help the next generation, we are learning from them too,” said Halteman. “It is good all around.” Christine Kroznuski has worked in the community engagement field for more than 25 years and was previously a newspaper reporter and features writer. Her most challenging, yet rewarding, job is raising and empowering her two young daughters.

For more information or to register, log onto You can also reach the camp at SUMMER 2018






Changing the Landscape of Recovery with Cardio, Community and Coffee

By the time this BLOOM issue of U Magazine goes to print, we can hope the relentless winter of 2017-18 will be a distant memory. But, as another Nor’easter whips through town, I remind myself that winter has an upside. Many perennials would never flower if they did not endure winter’s frigid temperatures or diminished daylight. Our health and wellness have seasons like this, too. Although we yearn for sunny days free from the cocoon of coats and boots, Mother Nature uses the harsher elements to ultimately make us more fruitful. We survive tough times practically dormant until we can literally break through the dark and cold and unabashedly lift our hearts to the sun. These thoughts run through my mind as I hurriedly pack my gym bag. I spend A LOT of time in the gym, but today is a vast departure from the familiar routine established more than a dozen years and a hundred pounds ago. I am nervous. My heartbeat is fast, and my breath is shallow. I have never gone to the gym in a limo before. Worry heckles me about everything from what I will wear to how paltry my results will be (for someone who earns her living in fitness). But, doubt is drowned out by the braver, seasoned version of me. Somehow, she’s emerged stronger and wiser, her two years of pain and misery revealing insights like a trusted almanac: • Struggle is inevitable, but your body is not your enemy. • Never stop searching for experts who fight for your best outcomes. 16


• Invest time and resources in support systems that help you. • Life has seasons. Survive until you can thrive.

Self-Destruct or Find a Way

The injury was a freak thing. For months, it defied explanation, no matter how many experts or tests I consulted. My right calf was severely swollen, and it ached constantly, worsening to a burning pain the more I stood, walked, or drove. When you’re a trainer, you expect minor issues that come from overuse or age. This was neither. Nearly six months and five specialists after my initial symptoms began, we found that I had dislocated my peroneal tendon, which herniated the fascia in my calf. I had just gone from running my first half marathon and being one of the top trainers in my company to practically being an invalid. I felt lame in every sense of the word. I was going to self-destruct if I didn’t find a way to replace my daily cardio and repel my inner demons without ruining my body and career.

Cardio and Hope

I purchased a spin bike, promising to obey my doctor’s stern warnings: “no clipping in, no standing on the pedals, use lowmoderate resistance…” Fortunately, even such tame spinning provided an outlet for my stress and frustration. When a colleague praised his Peloton workouts, I signed up for the Peloton app. I had no intention of investing thousands in the

fancier spin bike but did hope to break up the monotony my limitations caused. My first “class” was Christine D’Ercole’s Best of Soundtracks. Without the stats that a Peloton bike displays, Christine’s cues for breathing, effort and leg speed were the only way I could gauge my performance. I did my best to mimic the riders on screen and in the process something amazing happened. The voice in my head (the one that despised being restricted and relegated to a non-weight bearing workout) stopped, and Christine’s voice took over. For those 45 minutes I wasn’t stuck in my house, on my own, railing against my pathetic situation. I was climbing - not just a simulated hill, but out of a pit of despair. Her words affected me so much that I wrote them on my white board before I even changed out of my triumphantly sweat-drenched clothes. “You’ve got somewhere to go. You cannot afford to take the pressure off.” Suddenly, this class wasn’t a last resort anymore. This ride was the proudest I had felt in a long time and Christine’s trademark mantra “I AM I CAN I WILL I DO” dared me to hope. I wish I could say that I was fully recovered and on my way back to “normal” after a year of spinning and rehab, but months in a boot wrought havoc with my hips and back. I developed drop foot. I tried and abandoned physical therapy and chiropractic care, leaving appointments in more pain and desperation than when I arrived. My spine was such a mess that when I did a closed chain exercise, like an upright row, my calf would feel like a lightning bolt shot down the side. I knelt for many upper body lifts and avoided most leg exercises. And, let me tell you, there is a nasty psychological effect to being brought to your knees, even if you don’t show it.

Self-Care and Recovery

Thankfully, about this time I changed jobs and started really focusing on what I needed personally and professionally. Having more flexible hours and a much shorter commute alleviated some of the pressure on my anatomy and schedule. I started following Christine on Facebook and Instagram and identified with the struggles and victories of her “tribe.” I basically never posted and didn’t directly connect to any other followers. I did comment a few times on Christine’s posts. That was more than I ever expected to interact with any online fitness community. Until I saw Lisa Scheller’s event: “Hope and Coffee. Riding for Recovery. Addiction is a disease that affects so many of us. On April 3rd at 5:30 PM, I will be in the NYC studio celebrating 36 years clean and sober. I am making it my mission to advocate for recovery and have started in my hometown, Tamaqua, PA, where the addiction rate is well above the national average. I have spearheaded and am sponsoring a project, “Hope and Coffee.” Hope and Coffee, currently under construction, will be a coffee shop celebrating recovery and community...” I didn’t know Lisa yet, but I recognized Tamaqua. And more importantly, I’ve seen far too many families like mine whose lives have been ravaged by addiction. I reserved a Hope and Coffee

bike, determined that if Lisa was willing to open herself up so boldly to help others, I could dismiss whatever flaws my ride revealed. The desire to make a difference was building a bridge, not only from PA to NYC, but from the online to in-person community and back again.  It turns out, I would be crossing that bridge in Lisa’s limo.

Breaking Through Darkness

Two hours riding with Lisa and her friends created the solidarity that comes from narrowly missed high speed collisions, traffic induced limo wardrobe changes, and of course, the affinity for this shining star in our midst whose courage and energy are impacting the world with her own version of photosynthesis. I recently asked Lisa how Hope and Coffee and the Peloton Ride for Recovery came about, and she told me, “Even though I was successful in business, in my personal life, and as an elected official, I wasn’t satisfied with myself. I came to the realization that even at my age, I allowed other people’s opinions of me to define how I felt about myself. My feelings about myself collided with the opioid epidemic, and I had an opportunity and obligation to help others even if it meant risking my security. I had seen how the issue of addiction resonated with the Peloton community. How could I do nothing when I have been so blessed and could help? It’s not about a single person or the government; it’s about awareness, normalization of recovery and communities coming together to help each other.” That sense of community (riding in person and online) was undeniable as we moved from the lobby to the locker room; and then, the studio doors opened, and rows of Hope and Coffee riders filled up the room and the leaderboard. Peloton staffers helped newbies like myself adjust seats and shoes and screens while Christine joyfully celebrated the milestone and cause that lit up a room that was technically dark. Thousands of dollars were raised that day, and I bet that is nothing compared to the spirits already and eventually lifted by Hope and Coffee. Whether you are dealing with addiction or other adversities that attack your health and wellness, when it feels like your life is over and you’re fighting every instinct inside, remember there is hope and help (and coffee) in a community just beyond your sights. It may seem foreign and impossible at first, but there will be hands on your back raising you up, cultivating the best in you until it unfolds and feeds the world. Tricia Glodowski, U Magazine’s Health & Wellness Editor, struggled with obesity for decades before losing a hundred pounds and launching a career as a personal trainer specializing in weight loss. She credits much of her success to her husband and children who have cheered her on at home and at many start and finish lines. Her blog and her business FindYes Fitness & Nutrition reflect her motto: “Even when life says NO you can still find Yes.”




Lessons from the Inside254 Podcast


n 2016, people kept writing to us, telling us they wanted to know what we thought about current politics and news stories. We had amassed a decade’s worth of public writing on blogs and online publications.  Now that writing had led to opportunities we hadn’t imagined when we started writing mainly for ourselves, people knew who we were and wanted to hear from us.  Because on a daily basis, scholars, friends, and acquaintances were asking us to use our expertise to help them understand what was happening in the world, we decided to create a podcast that met the stream of requests made to us. We decided to create a format of delving into a specific topic to explain a larger structural issue, recommending something to read, giving a minute or two to the current political climate (with a focus on something that would have been easy to miss), and suggesting an answer to the question we continually get in and out of our classrooms: What can I do?

We created Inside254 as a way to give voice to those who are still finding courage to use their own. Named for our shared office at Kutztown University, the podcast is an invitation to join us for the conversations we have when we close the door of our office.  Our connection to the topics we cover is both professional and personal.  We bring both a unique body of knowledge to the specific topics we choose to discuss on the podcast and a talent for quickly explaining the content of a topic, all while making sure listeners know why the topic matters in a larger structural context.  And we had NO idea what we were doing when we started the podcast. Fortunately, Amanda had dipped her toes into the podcasting world a few years earlier, but neither of us had ever 18


endeavored to create a sustained public product. But we felt a call to do it, so we decided to trust ourselves enough to venture down a new path. If you are so called to put your voice out into the open, we hope our lessons will help you chart your own course.

Define Your Focus

A good podcast needs focus. We didn’t want to fall into the trap of just talking with no real point, something we saw on blogs and other podcasts, so we decided to play to our strengths:  our areas of academic expertise.  Amanda, faculty union chapter president and indigenous rhetorics scholar, and Colleen, Director of Women’s and Gender Studies and postcolonial feminist scholar, love to talk shop in a fun and approachable way. Therefore, our podcast is focused on a specific range of current events--labor, indigeneity, gender, and world issues--co-hosted by two female public intellectuals. Inside254 works to distill major social issues into understandable segments so listeners can make sense of all of the stories that are coming at them so quickly.  

Fit your Work into Your Audience’s Schedule

An episode of Inside254 generally runs 30-40 minutes to be more accessible to our audience members, who can listen during their commute, on a dog walk, or on the way to class.  Everyone is busy, and people already feel stretched thin with their media consumption, so if you want folks to listen to your message, you need to create something they can fit into their lives. 

Ask for Help!

We needed a bunch of equipment to get off the ground. Podcasting is a labor of love.  We knew we would be volunteering our time researching, recording, editing, and promoting the work.  So we asked our peers for financial assistance to purchase quality

recording equipment. We created a GoFundMe page that explained our specific purpose and mission.  Within three days, our community had fully funded our request and we purchased most of the equipment we needed.  

Expand Your Knowledge About Social Media

We thought we were social media savvy until we started having to use it for promotion and not just friendship. The only way to cut through all of the noise and get people to take a chance on your podcast is to meet them where they are. That means sharing your product across many platforms. We have a blog (, a Twitter account (@inside254pod), an Instagram page (@inside254), and a Facebook page (Inside254podcast).  Maintaining those spaces and keeping up with their changes require time and effort, but such effort is mandatory in today’s digital landscape.

Learn About Editing and Online Posting Platforms

We learned from trial and error, from making mistakes. But we also learned to keep learning! Use online videos, ask other podcasters questions, and attend workshops.  You need to give time and attention to your product. 

Do Something You Love

We created the podcast because we felt called to do it. There is very little that is sexy or glamorous about the hours of work we spend on each episode.  But we love creating a community and reminding people that they are not alone.  Podcasting is an opportunity for growth of a message or business.  Because of the podcast, we have been invited to present at a variety of community events, have been invited to be on television shows, and most importantly, have honed our own ideas to create a crisp and clear brand.  The podcast teaches us new lessons with every episode. If you have something to say, podcasting gives you the platform to share your message with others.  We are glad we started Inside254, even if we didn’t really know what we were doing! Colleen Lutz Clemens, Ph.D. is Associate Professor, Non-Western Literatures, English Department and Director, Women’s and Gender Studies at Kutztown University.  Amanda Morris, Ph.D. is Associate Professor of Indigenous Rhetorics at Kutztown University, where she is also the union president.




Hope Blooms from Loss

A Rebirth of Family Relationships The Early Years

My earliest memory of Zachary – or Zak, as he was known to our family – was that of a chubby baby with dark hair, long fingernails and a pronounced forehead. He was born on October 16, 1981, a week after my own birthday. He was my fourth brother and the sixth child born to my parents. I was nine years old when it was announced to my third-grade class over the intercom that my new baby brother had arrived, and I was excited to meet him when he came home from the hospital.

News of the death of my younger brother, Zachary Kelley, on Tuesday, March 14, 2017, shouldn’t have come as a shock to me, because I was well aware of the troubled and unpredictable life he lived. Still, it’s one thing to try to prepare emotionally for the death of a loved one, but it’s an entirely different thing to deal with the reality once it happens. Fortunately, our family has found a way to come together in light of our loss.

As a baby and then a toddler, Zak was stubborn and emotional. Yet even from an early age, he had a tremendous capacity to care for others and was very close to his brothers and sisters. He loved music and would often rock back and forth on the flowered 1970’s-era sofa with his brothers, all dressed in Dr. Denton onepiece pajamas in varying colors and stages of boyhood wear and tear, as songs by John Denver, Neil Diamond and Harry Chapin filled the room from large Panasonic speakers.

Growing Up and Growing Apart

In his early years, Zak’s interests ranged from rough and tumble play with toy cars and trucks to riding Big Wheels, tricycles, and eventually two-wheel bikes around the neighborhood with his brothers and their friends. However, as his older sister, I knew that despite all the ways in which he was a typical boy, Zak secretly cherished his large and varied collection of stuffed animals that included teddy bears and Pound Puppies. That same collection of well-loved, tattered and battered plush creatures would comfort him during the many times in his childhood when he struggled with asthma or when he fought against having to wear glasses in elementary school. I wish I had gotten to know Zak better in those early years, but I was busy as the oldest of what would become a family of seven children, taking care of my five little brothers through my parents’ divorce. I also worked various jobs and took college prep classes in high school, which further kept me from spending quality time with my brothers. I left home to go away to college in the fall of 1991. I was 18 and Zak was 9. It was at that time when our lives diverged, me trying to find my way in the world, and Zak growing from that little boy I remembered into a teenager and young man I thought I knew, but to whom I couldn’t relate anymore.

Signs of Trouble and a Crossroads

Over the years, I heard stories of Zak getting into trouble in the neighborhood and experimenting with smoking and drinking. Eventually that experimenting led to drug use that would result 20


The five blankets created from the contents of a duffle bag found unexpectedly in a storage unit. The clothing used in the blankets, once worn by a family member who passed away, now provide comfort to surviving family members.

in brushes with the law, jail time, and time spent in rehab. I would see him occasionally on holidays and birthdays. On some of those occasions, he would be going through a rough patch in his life, but he would try to put on a brave face. Other times, our family thought he was finally overcoming his fight with substance abuse, only to find out weeks or months later that he had relapsed yet again. By the winter of 2017, at 35 years old, Zak found himself at a crossroads. The year before, his two young sons were removed from the house he and the mother of his children shared and were now being raised in foster care. Zak was living out of the homes of several people he knew from his days of drugs and crime, following a holiday stint in rehab. Yet he had just found a new job and was making plans to improve his life so that one day he may be given the chance to raise his children again. His Facebook posts looked promising as he made plans for the future. His very last Facebook post from February 19 shows Zak and his six-year-old son Joshua sitting on a bench. Joshua and Zak are both smiling, yet it is easy to see the sadness in Zak’s eyes as he looks into the camera. Still, Zak posting a picture of his son spoke of his love for his two children and the hope of a future with Joshua and his three-year-old son Jacob. And so, we watched and waited.

Death from Drug Overdose

On Tuesday, March 14, 2017, many of us woke up to a thick blanket of snow that kept us at home. I had just finished an epic struggle with our snow blower and was full of pride that I had been able to clear our driveway all on my own. And then, the message from my youngest brother, Justin, saying that Zak

had passed away that morning from a drug overdose. A chilling numbness overtook me, protecting me from the devastating reality of the loss I had been expecting for so long. Our family members who had been estranged from each other for a long time managed to come together to make arrangements for Zak’s funeral and burial. During the arrangement process, my sister Kate and my brother Justin began the search to determine what, if any, possessions Zak had left behind. Because of the life he had lived, Zak didn’t have a permanent residence, and what could be located was scattered in several locations around the area, including a storage unit in Allentown. Following the funeral, during which Zak was laid to rest with drawings from his sons, two Pound Puppies stuffed animals, and a pack of his favorite cigarettes, Kate and Justin set out to make something bloom from the life that had just been lost.

An Unexpected Discovery

The first step in piecing together the patchwork of Zak’s life occurred when Kate and Justin gained access to the storage unit. My sister and brother did not know what they would find when they finally opened the door and looked inside. “Zak had decided he was going to get a storage unit because he wanted to make sure that the things that were important to him were safe,” Kate recalled. “We didn’t know what we would find that day, but we were hoping it would be something special, something for the family to remember him by. When we looked inside, I recognized a large blue duffel bag. I had seen the bag before when I had picked it up from where Zak had been living Continued next page SUMMER 2018


RELATIONSHIPS…continued in Quakertown. I used it to bring his clothes to him during one of his stays in rehab.” Kate remembered being surprised to see this bag in the storage unit, thinking that this would be something she would find in someone’s apartment or storage shed. But she wasn’t surprised at the bag’s condition. “It was literally falling apart, and it stunk so badly, but it was filled with something,” she said. When Kate arrived back at her house, she finally opened the bag. “It contained almost all of the clothing I’d seen Zak wearing over the last few years,” she said. “I was very sad when I took the clothing out and realized what we had found. Touching the clothes made me feel close to him, but it reminded me that I would never see him wearing them again. The first thing I did was wash everything, because, of course, it stunk of dirty laundry and the storage unit. I knew I wanted to do something with the clothing we found, because Zak had so little to share with the rest of us. So I went online for ideas.”

Piecing Together an Idea

On Facebook, Kate read an article about a woman who made blankets out of old t-shirts from loved ones who had passed away. The idea of making a blanket out of the clothing intrigued her, so she posted on a Facebook page for Bucks County online yard sales that she was looking for someone to make something out of the clothing. She was surprised at one of the responses from a woman Kate knew well named Connie Price, who mentioned someone Kate also knew well, Dee McCarthy. “I was shocked when my mom Connie answered the post and said her sister, my Aunt Dee, could do the work. I had no idea my mom was watching the board,” Kate said. “I put everything in a garbage bag and gave the bag to my mom to give to Aunt Dee. I remember feeling I had a lot of faith when I gave the clothes to my mom. I felt like I was doing a good thing for Zak.” Zak’s clothing continued its journey into the skilled hands of our Aunt Dee, who looked through everything that was given to her. She was told by her sister Connie that this was all the clothing there was with which to work, and that she hoped Dee could create something meaningful. A creative crafter with many years of sewing experience, Dee laid out every article of clothing and considered her options. “It’s not going to be a quilt. It’s going to be a blanket,” Dee said, remembering her thought process. “It was going to be pieced together and layered so it wouldn’t come apart, so it could be strong enough to be part of the recipient’s everyday life. And if you make more than one of these, each one is going to be different.” Connie remembered the day Dee called her with a special request. 22


“I remember Dee calling me and saying that she had laid out all of Zak’s clothes,” she said. "Dee asked for my permission to cut them up. She said, 'If I can cut them up and piece them, I can make one great big blanket, or I can make one for each household to have.'" Laughing, Connie recalled how Dee had asked if Zak had anything in a color that was a little brighter than the dark clothing she had been given. “I told her, ‘No, red is as good as it’s going to get!’”

Creating Comfort with a Personal Touch

Undeterred by the lack of brighter colors, Dee set to work creating something meaningful that would make a lasting impact in the lives of Zak’s surviving family members. “I realized the best thing I had to use were the sleeves and the fronts of the shirts and then it just evolved,” Dee said thoughtfully. “I used what I could to make each blanket a little more personal to the recipient. I thought that sewing the arms of the sleeves to the blanket but leaving the cuffs open would give the blankets a bit of a more personal touch instead of just having everything sewn perfectly flat. I could picture the recipient sitting with the blanket on his or her lap, and being able to put a hand inside the sleeves as a way of maintaining the functionality of the clothing.” Dee also noted that once she all the materials together, the project moved quickly. “I had the time to include personal touches like buttons, pockets, and sleeves. When I was working, I didn’t make specific blankets for specific recipients. I figured each person would gravitate to the blanket they felt closest to. It wasn’t a matter of artistry as much as it was a personal connection.” When the project was completed, Dee put all of the blankets in a big shopping bag and waited for what she considered to be the right moment to gift her sister with the five finished blankets. Dee smiled playfully as she recalled how she chose that special moment. “It was around the time of Connie’s birthday in June, and she had stopped over at my house for a visit,” Dee said. “I just remember giving her the bag as she was walking out the door. I had made sure the top blanket was the one she would choose for herself. Before she could look through the bag, I sent her on her way.”

A Living Memento

Looking back on what she created for the family, Dee is grateful for her role as the one to put together the finished product as a way of giving back.

“I hope that the blankets become part of the life of each of the recipients, and the recipients can continue to pass Zak’s story down from one to the other as they so choose. I feel like it’s a forever thing,” she said. “I was very happy to do it, and I was glad they were well received. The blankets are a memento of Zak to each of his family members.”

For Zak’s mother Connie, receiving such a memento of her son and being able to share her son’s story through the sharing of the blankets with her children was a relief. “When I first opened the bag from Dee and saw the top blanket, I immediately recognized the shirt on that blanket as a gift I had given him for his birthday,” she said. “I felt like I had a part of him back. I always knew that Dee was creative, but this was creativity to a higher level. She created something that wasn’t just tangible. She gave us a piece of Zak that we can carry with us, something we can hold on to. Mine is never far from my hands, and I’m just grateful that we all have them.”

Treasuring Growth from Tragedy

The five blankets that the family now share are treasured by each member in a different way. Zak’s older brothers Michael, Brenden and Jared, who share a home together, keep their blanket folded in a rectangle on a writing desk where they see their brother’s personality in the material. Zak’s younger brother Justin is working on ideas for displaying his blanket in his home, and is planning on passing his blanket to Zak’s sons Joshua and Jacob. Zak’s sister Kate keeps her blanket close to her so she can see it every day, however, she feels each blanket is special because she sees his favorite shirt in every one of them.

As Zak’s oldest sister, I have had my blanket wrapped around my shoulders as I have been writing. The feel of Zak’s favorite shirt next to my skin is like a reassuring hug. That reassurance has helped me to piece together this story in much the same way as my brother’s clothing is pieced together in my blanket. He would not want to focus on the darker parts of his story, but rather the hope that has bloomed now that he is no longer with us physically. Those blooms include rebuilt relationships between surviving family members, the introduction into our family of loving adoptive parents for Zak’s sons, Joshua and Jacob, and special dates that our family now observes in Zak’s honor. It is important for all of us to look for the ways in which we can grow from tragedy. Look with a grateful heart to the legacy of your loved one and take the good in that legacy to create your own blanket (whether physical or metaphorical) that can surround you and comfort you during the times you need it most. Melissa Kelley is Managing Editor of U Magazine. She lives with her husband, Ed, and their family of chihuahuas, cats and guinea pigs in Perkasie, PA. She dedicates this story to the memory of her brother, as well as to the memory of her friend, Ed Kroznuski.


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Fashion is Blooming

Local clothing shop owners talk about what's trending this summer and what will pull any outfit together

“The perfect pair of sunglasses will not only save your eyes from the sun, but they are the perfect accessory to make your outfit pop! Make sure you find a pair that frames your face and accentuates your features.” - Juliet Patrone, owner of Juliet’s Closet

“One piece that everybody needs this spring is a lightweight, gauzy kimono in a funky print. Long or short, as you please - toss one over your favorite basics and instantly transform your outfit from classic to cool. Get one that is so light that it can double as a scarf and it’ll do you double-duty. And when the weather REALLY heats up this summer, it will be a super chic swimsuit coverup!” - Elana Donmoyer, owner of Threddies



"Floral for Spring? ‘Ground breaking’” – The Devil Wears Prada. “But this season it’s true, they are everywhere, but with a twist. This season, look for ‘furniture florals.’ We predict that we’ll be embracing more oversized, garish, acid-hued 60s inspired florals in the near future. Miu Miu, Dries Can Noten, Simone Rocha, and Marc Jacobs all embraced this poppy feeling for spring, so break out the bold hues this spring.” - Jill Strickland, owner of Frox

“Spring is a season for accessories! Whether you’re a casual chic kind of gal or a street style chick, kick your look up a notch with a bold shoe, statement necklace, floral scarf or tassel earrings. Fashion is a feeling. When you feel beautiful in what you’re wearing, your confidence will bloom!” - Dani Crouse, owner of DANI’s Eco-Chic Resale


Seas nal Changing


e’ve all seen them on Pinterest: the clothes closets that seem to go on forever and are meticulously organized. While we can’t all have the giant closet, we can all have the organization. Closets come in all sizes and can all be organized with ease. This is a perfect time of year to do a purge. It’s “Spring cleaning” time. If this is the first time you’ve done a closet purge, set aside a few hours. Seriously, we are gutting out your closet. Since I’ve been purging for a few years, when it comes to a seasonal change, I can be done with my closet in under an hour. If you have a small closet like me, you’ll have to purge at the change of the season. If you have a larger closet, you may not have to put things in storage, but you can move the in-season clothes to a place in your closet that is easier to access.

Create Multiple Piles

Utilize your bed and floor to have space for these piles and get a bag for each: Keep (in-season), Keep (out-of-season), Donate, Consign, Trash, Not Sure. The pile for consignment is optional; I work with a local consigner, so I take clothes that are new or in excellent condition to her to make some money as I clean out.

Take Everything Out of Your Closet

Take pieces out of your closet one by one and put them into one of the above piles. Once your closet is cleaned out completely, sweep and vacuum the floor. Take a moment to enjoy your clean slate, because now it’s time to put it all away.

Turn the Hangers Backwards

There is a great trick that is posted on Pinterest and many organizers’ sites: as you put your clothes away, turn the hangers backwards. As you wear an article of clothing, turn the hanger around. The next time that you clean out your closet, get rid of any article of clothing that is still on a backwards hanger. Give this a try. I know how difficult it is to get rid of clothes, but I have become a firm believer in “If you haven’t worn it in a year, you probably won’t wear it.” There are, of course, exceptions to the rule. I have clothes that are for specific/special occasions. I have a few dresses I wear to weddings, funerals, and black-tie events. I don’t have a lot of them, and I’m the kind of person who doesn’t care if I wear them over and over again, so they’re in the back of my closet only to be pulled out when I need them.

Separate In-Season Clothing You Are Keeping

There are a few ways to separate in-season clothing in the closet. You can separate work vs. casual or by cut of clothing (shirts, pants, skirts, etc.). Once you choose your layout, put one piece at a time away. Even if you’ve separated work and casual, within those groups separate your clothes into cuts. This makes things easier to

How to Purge, Organize, and Utilize Your Cl thes find. For example, from left to right, my shirts go tanks, sleeveless, short sleeves, ¾ sleeves, long sleeves. This way, if you’re going for a layered look, the pieces are easier to find. Put all skirts together, pants together, dresses together. You get the point.

Small Closet Storage

If you have a small closet and need to store the out-of-season clothes, make sure you get a container that is airtight and secure, especially if you’re storing it in an attic or basement. While I have a small closet area, I have the space to keep my out of season bin at the bottom of the closet.

Large Closet Organization

If you have a closet large enough to hold all of your clothes, put the out-of-season collection toward the back of the closet. This way, you can focus on using the clothes that are in season and not add undue stress to your dressing time. If you put all your shirts together and you have too many, you may look at all of them and get overwhelmed with the choices. When you have them separated by season and by cut, you’re looking at a smaller selection. This might help you choose your outfit more quickly.

The "Not Sure" Pile

Take each piece from the "not sure" pile and look at it. Ask yourself if it’s something you’ve worn in the last year, and if you’ll wear it again. If it still has a tag on it, ask yourself if you’ll ever really wear it. If the answer is no, it’s time to let it go. When you get to the bottom of the pile, put away what you’re keeping and add the clothes you’re getting rid of to the donate or consign piles.

Donate, Consign and/or Take Out the Trash

You’re coming down the home stretch! Your clothes are organized and hung in the closet, you have a bag for donations, a bag for consignment, and a bag for trash. Take out the trash and go immediately to the donation center and the consigner. Don’t drive around with bags of clothes in your car forever!


How does it feel to have a closet that is easier to navigate? You should be able to plan your outfits more quickly, find new coordinating outfits, and do the next purge much more easily. Now, go out and be your stylish self!

Shawna Boell is Fashion Editor for U Magazine and Owner and Creator of Get It Together Mom, an organizational company aimed at helping home owners organize their spaces. She lives in Telford with her husband and two sons. SUMMER 2018





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Profile for Sisters U

U Magazine Summer 2018  

U Magazine, the official magazine of Sisters U Foundation, Perkasie, Pennsylvania. The theme for the Summer 2018 edition is Bloom. Content i...

U Magazine Summer 2018  

U Magazine, the official magazine of Sisters U Foundation, Perkasie, Pennsylvania. The theme for the Summer 2018 edition is Bloom. Content i...

Profile for sistersu