May 2015

Page 1

MAY 2015

new in the cuse BRIDAL FITNESS

platter chatter

healthy woman



sw inspire





I lost 80 lbs. and found my sense of adventure. Corrine couldn’t find the courage to step out of her comfort zone. Since having weight-loss surgery, she’s stepping into her harness and finding comfort high above the trees. And at Crouse, she’s discovered a support group, along with trusted surgeons and nutritional experts who encourage her quest for a happier, healthier life. Come to our next weight-loss surgery seminar and discover what you can find.

A partnership with CNY Surgical Physicians

may Letter from the Editor

48 6

Out & About 7


Fashion Forward: Vintage Fashion


Platter Chatter: Koinonia Organic Juice Bar


Fab Finds: Fitness Apps


Special Feature: CLASP


Healthy Woman: Probiotics


For a Good Cause: Race for the Cure


Cover Story: Jill Catherine


Queen of Arts: Pam Werts


Fitness: Ride for Roswell



Special Feature: MAICO Hearing Aid Service 36


In Her Own Words: Jennifer Wolsey


Syracuse Women Inspire


Fit & Flavorful: Cinco de Mayo Recipe


New in the Cuse: Aubrey Taylor Health & Fitness 46 SWM Main Events 48 SWM Calendar 49

42 38





Connecting Lives At St. Joseph’s, our doctors and nurses connect with patients and families from the moment they walk through our doors. It may be as simple as an honest conversation. Maybe it’s a few extra moments to make everyone more comfortable with a procedure. Whatever it is, you know that while you’re here, the people caring for you or a loved one are truly invested in delivering the best possible outcome. It’s our way of connecting lives – and that’s what it means to provide A Higher Level of Care. Resource Line (physician & program information): 315-703-2138 301 Prospect Ave., Syracuse, NY 13203 St. Joseph’s is sponsored by the Sisters of St. Francis. Franciscan Companies is a member of the St. Joseph’s Hospital Health Center system.

LETTER FROM THE EDITOR to Arizona and traveling to wherever her intuition took her. The experience taught her to listen to her inner voice, the one that’s inside each of us saying, “Everything’s going to be okay. You’re doing the right thing.” Jill has let that voice guide her life ever since and, today, she is the proud founder of 44 Hearts, which strives to revolutionize the way people relate to their bodies. Her healing journey reminds us to trust our inner voice on our path through life.

The Path of Least Resistance “People take different roads seeking fulfillment and happiness. Just because they’re not on your road doesn’t mean they’ve gotten lost.” — Dalai Lama

Never in a million years would I have guessed I’d be the editor of Syracuse Woman Magazine. Why? Because it just wasn’t part of “my plan.” I spent my freshman year at SUNY Geneseo studying biology. I thought I wanted to be an OBGYN, deliver babies and bring all this joy into the world. That dream was quickly lost in the fray of mandatory biology, chemistry and calculus classes — I have no rote memorization skills. I’d always been a decent writer and enjoyed it, so my sophomore year I became an English major. The joke was on me because, according to almost anyone over the age of 30, there are “no jobs for English majors.” To remedy the situation, I tacked on an adolescent education concentration and received my NYS teaching certification. But I felt I needed more life experience before entering the classroom. So I delayed real life for a bit longer and attended journalism school. And even though I completed an internship with SWM during my final semester there, my goal was to get out. Seattle, D.C., Boston, Allentown — I applied to externships all over the country with the hopes to get a fresh start and move away from the area I’d always been so stuck to. Where did I land a job? With a small publishing company in my own backyard. And when Farah contacted me last summer to apply for the managing editor position, I was, frankly, shocked. I couldn’t imagine her leaving the magazine — and I certainly didn’t imagine I’d ever be editor. May cover woman Jill Catherine took quite an unexpected path in life, too. A very spiritual path filled with meditation, dance, drum and travel. In an effort to heal from an eating disorder she developed while in college, Jill took a leave of absence from school and simply went, hopping on a bus

Photographer Jennifer Wolsey never expected to create something as wonderful as The Grace Project, a nonprofit photography business that focuses on hospital photography for babies or children with life-threatening illnesses. She offers a first-person insight into the incredible amount of grace she feels each time she captures images of these fragile but beautiful lives in this month’s In Her Own Words article. All three of this month’s Inspires found themselves on a path they didn’t predict. Charlene Vernak admits that she and her husband hadn’t planned to build a pharmacy when they opened Vernak Farms Country Store in Skaneateles in 2007. Regardless, they decided to add one in 2010 and, today, it is accredited by the Pharmacy Compounding Accreditation Board and remains one of the only compounding pharmacies in the area. Doulas of CNY founder Christine Goldman owned a daycare before starting her birth coaching business. It wasn’t until she attended a child birth class that she started training to become a doula, a guide for expecting mothers. When Jacqueline Coe Hannon began her career at ACR Health, she was sure she’d only work in the not-for-profit sector for a year. The assistant director of development just celebrated four years at the organization and shares with us her ongoing pride and passion for the work she does. Although I never expected to have such a major role at SWM, I can honestly say what really caught me off guard is the passion and love I carry in my heart for this community. You all took me in with open arms, and I will be forever grateful for that. My life will be forever changed by each and every one of you who’s crossed my path. To health, happiness and the unexpected, Alyssa LaFaro ON OUR COVER

Jill Catherine was photographed by Chris Szulwach of The Story Photography (thestoryphotography. com) at Green Lakes State Park, a place Jill holds near and dear to her heart. Cover woman makeup artistry provided by freelance makeup artist Julianna Pastella.


Alyssa LaFaro was photographed by James Bass of James Bass Photography ( at 210 W. Water St. in Syracuse


Kelly Breuer Barbara McSpadden


Barbara McSpadden


Alyssa LaFaro



Gerard H. Gaskin Steven J. Pallone Rachel Liz Photography Jussara Potter Stephen Reardon Photography Chris Szulwach Jennifer Wolsey Matthew Zhou

CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Olivia Cuccaro Shauna Diliberto Amy Doyle Brittany Sperino Horsford Kayla Isaacs Alyssa LaFaro Tracie Long Samantha McCarthy Lisa Morgan Amari D. Pollard Pam Werts Jennifer Wolsey


Renee Moonan Linda Jabbour Please contact Renee Moonan (315) 657-7690


Unlike any other publication in the Syracuse area, our feature articles address major topics that interest local women. Each issue includes articles on health, fashion, fitness, finance, home matters, dining, lifestyle and personal perspectives, as well as a spotlight on local Syracuse women. Ads are due on the 15th of the month prior to publication. The print magazines will be distributed locally in over 350 locations and will be in your inbox electronically by the middle of every month. The publication is available free of charge.

CONTACT OUR HOME OFFICE 315.434.8889 2501 James Street, Suite 100 Syracuse, NY 13206


The magazine is published 12 times a year by Syracuse Woman Magazine, llc. and Eagle Publications, 2501 James Street, Suite 100, Syracuse, NY 13206. Copyright © 2014 Syracuse Woman Magazine, llc. No part of this magazine may be reproduced or republished without the consent of the publishers. Syracuse Woman Magazine is not responsible for unsolicited submissions, manuscripts, photos or artwork. All such submissions become the property of Syracuse Woman Magazine, llc. and will not be returned.

o&A MOVIES Hot Pursuit – 5/8 An uptight and by-the-book cop (Reese Witherspoon) tries to protect the sexy and outgoing widow (Sopia Vergara) of a drug boss as they race through Texas, pursued by crooked cops and murderous gunmen.


If April showers bring May flowers, what do May flowers bring? In Baldwinsville, it’s “A Cause to Celebrate,” a spring fashion show and fundraising event to be held for the first time from 7 to 10 p.m. on Friday, May 8, at Mohegan Manor.

The event will begin with a cocktail reception and silent auction from 7 to 8:30 p.m., followed by a fashion show and dessert buffet from 9 to 10 p.m. Tickets cost $25 per person and $45 for couples, the proceeds of which will benefit the Baldwinsville Theatre Guild and a scholarship for a Baker High School graduating senior studying music with Dr. Damiano. The theme is “Downton comes to the Village.” The event will continue on Saturday, May 9, with a “Shop & Stroll” event featuring English tea refreshments served at each participating merchant in the village of Baldwinsville. Merchants collaborating on this event include The Savvy Chick, Beyond the Attic Door, Two Twisted Sisters and Stacy Kate Designs, with the help of business advocate Sharon Reiser. For more information or to reserve your tickets, call The Savvy Chick at 315-416-4556 or visit

Mad Max:Fury Road – 5/15 Mad Max becomes swept up with a group fleeing across the Wasteland in a War Rig driven by an elite Imperator, Furiosa. They are escaping a Citadel tyrannized by the Immortan Joe, from whom something irreplaceable has been taken. Enraged, the Warlord marshals all his gangs and pursues the rebels ruthlessly in the high-octane Road War that follows.

Spy – 5/22 Susan Cooper (Melissa McCarthy) is an unassuming, desk bound CIA analyst, and the unsung hero behind the Agency’s most dangerous missions. But when her partner (Jude Law) falls off the grid and another top agent (Jason Statham) is compromised, she volunteers to go deep undercover to infiltrate the world of a deadly arms dealer, and prevent a global disaster.

Entourage – 6/5 Movie star Vincent Chase (Adrian Grenier), together with his boys, Eric (Kevin Connolly), Turtle (Jerry Ferrara) and Johnny (Kevin Dillon), are back…and back in business with super agent-turned-studio head Ari Gold (Jeremy Piven). Some of their ambitions have changed, but the bond between them remains strong as they navigate the capricious and often cutthroat world of Hollywood.


Grab your irons and head over to HOPE for Bereaved’s 23rd annual Captain & Crew Golf Tournament at 10 a.m. on Monday, May 18. This year’s tournament will be held in memory of Donna Kalb, who was very active with the Syracuse Police Herman Edge Tournament of HOPE. Donna was a HOPE staff member for 36 years until her death in June 2014. It is very appropriate to honor Donna for all her dedication, hard work and compassion for the bereaved. HOPE for Bereaved is dedicated to helping grieving children, teens and adults by providing core services at no charge. The independent nonprofit offers support, understanding, coping strategies, friendship and hope to the bereaved, as well as education, consultation and resources for their families, friends, employers, school/daycare staff, co-workers and invested professionals. For more information, visit


The Columbian Presbyterian Church in LaFayette will be hosting its annual Memorial Day Benefit for LaFayette Outreach on Monday, May 25, from 8 a.m. to noon. LaFayette Outreach is a local food pantry and service referral agency that serves clients in LaFayette and surrounding communities. The event will consist of a bake sale, plant sale, silent auction, “red, white & blue” ice cream sundaes, and a free kids’ craft area. All of the funds raised will be donated directly to LaFayette Outreach. If you would like to donate or volunteer, contact the church at 315-677-3293 or For more information, visit or












Since I started maeflowers vintage a little over a year ago, I have been learning so much about what Syracuse women are comfortable with when it comes to shopping, and what they are wearing. I had a false reality about how women approached shopping from living in New York City for so many years. Almost all the women in my life in NYC loved to shop and rarely uttered the words, “Where am I going to wear this?” and “I can’t pull that off.” I don’t know if it’s the anything goes attitude in NYC, but I do know that with a little help we can work together to embrace fashion while still being you. Vintage fashion is the perfect way to add something different and unique to your wardrobe. Nervous about “pulling it off?” Here are some suggestions.


Some pieces are meant to stay in the past. These include anything that reminds you of your grandmother’s house coat, poodle skirts and leisure suits. Also, exaggerated collars, too much polyester and unnecessary neck ruffles should be avoided. Look for pieces with a classic silhouette that feel timeless. Pencil skirts, blazers, tie front blouses, and shift and a-line dresses are easy to find in most vintage stores, and will never go out of style.


Since you’re keeping a classic silhouette, take liberty with prints and patterns. Why not wear a full floral blazer? A bright orange and pink striped pencil skirt? The ’60s and ’70s were full of amazing prints. Rock them! You can pull them off.


In the same vein of picking classic silhouettes and avoiding looking too costume-esque, pair your vintage pieces with something modern. A pleated midi skirt always goes great with your favorite chambray shirt. The 1960s floral shift would be lovely layered with a simple blazer, and your go-to white t-shirt is begging to be tucked into your vintage printed pants.


Assuming you don’t own a sewing machine, it’s time to find a tailor/ seamstress you love and trust. Vintage is “one-of-a-kind.” Don’t pass on a print you love just because it’s too big or the sleeves are a tad too short. Most things are fixable when it comes to size. Besides the obvious taking in, a seamstress can add side panels or take out the seams slightly to add a little more room. Also, don’t be afraid to make the look more customized — just by having collars and/or sleeves removed and cheap looking buttons changed, you will have a fresh, updated, but still charmingly vintage piece. Whether or not you keep the shoulder pads is totally up to you! However you decide to add vintage into your wardrobe, just remember to have fun. maeflowers vintage believes shopping and getting dressed is a celebration of you and your love for your body. Stop asking the questions, “Where would I wear that?” and “Can I pull that off?” Don’t wait for an occasion to get “dressed.” Throw on that adorable ’60s floral print and have your friends over for champagne! For more information about maeflowers vintage, visit maeflowersvintage. com or follow on Facebook at To learn more about Shauna, go to and search “Shauna Diliberto.” Shauna was a Syracuse Woman Magazine cover woman for the September 2014 Fashion Edition.



Breast Care

and Surgery

Specializing in Breast Disease and Treatment

• More than 15 years serving the CNY community

Compassionate. Comprehensive. Coordinated Breast Care. .

• Highly skilled team of physicians lead by Kara C. Kort, MD, medical director • Breast cancer evaluation and treatment planning for diseases of the breast • Multi-specialty approach ensures coordination of care between surgery, radiology, pathology, medical, and radiology oncology • Genetic counseling and testing • Nurse Navigators guide and support each patient through treatment and the survivorship process

Offices in Liverpool and Fayetteville | Call 315.744.1551 to schedule your next appointment. | For more information visit St. Joseph’s Physicians is an affiliate of St. Joseph’s Hospital Health Center

30 Years of Helping People Live Home & Live Well • • • • • •

Medical Equipment Home Health Care Oxygen & CPAP Lifeline Medical Alert In-Home Senior Services Medication Dispensing Service

Franciscan Companies is an affiliate of St. Joseph’s Hospital Health Center

(315) 458-3200 •

chatter ::PLATTER

Find Your Remedy

at Koinonia Organic Juice Bar





As a seventh grade student, Theresa Grosso was constantly in the hospital, plagued by illness without answers or diagnosis from her doctors. Realizing the doctors were a resource to pull from, and not a remedy, Theresa cured herself by turning to nutrition. She found that if she did not let toxins in, she did not have to worry about getting them out. Completely altering her diet, Theresa saw miraculous improvement as her body healed itself. “Nutrition was really the key for me,” said Theresa, founder and owner of Koinonia Organic Juice Bar. “Our ability to heal is phenomenal. If we just prepare the environment and let our body do what it naturally knows how to do, it doesn’t matter if you’re battling diabetes or cancer or allergies — you just prepare the groundwork and the body knows exactly what to do.” Today, Theresa gets the groundwork going for the Syracuse community through her juice bar, which serves fresh juices and smoothies, wraps and salads, and offers juice cleansing programs and supplements. It was founded from a 20-year-long dream of opening a full retreat center, which is in the works as Theresa’s business has blossomed into the Koinonia Center of Health, which includes the juice bar and an athletic club. Originally opening her Fayetteville juice bar in 2011, Theresa expanded to Westcott to reach “the minds of tomorrow.” Hoping to educate a younger audience from the surrounding colleges, Theresa opened this second storefront last February. Listening to her pastor at a church service one day, Theresa was introduced to the word “koinonia,” meaning community, relationship and sharing. It encapsulated the vision she held for her light and airy storefront, which features a spacious sit-down area and a kitchen that resembles one from home, an inviting sight even on the grayest of Syracuse days. It’s what happens when customers gather for a meal and shed their difficulties; it’s what happens when customers form connections. Theresa’s vision is to give everyone a healthy, high-quality experience while generating this unconditional love. “These people don’t feel like clients, they don’t feel like members — they feel like my community,” said Theresa. “This is an intimate connection. This is my family, and they’re getting their needs met, and that’s what brings my heart to peace.” Based on recipes Theresa’s family friend learned while on a holistic retreat in Mexico, Koinonia incorporates fresh, raw, organic and gluten-free ingredients — with no added sugars — to provide fuel for the body. The foundation is alkaline living, versus an acidic, disease-generating one. “If we can become alkaline, our body can function and heal itself,” she said. “It’s what you’re eating. You can sit and have a normal meal, but it can be medicine.” This medicine tastes as good as it makes customers feel. Popular from the food menu is the Bison Meatball in a bowl or wrap. The Bailey’s Cadillac, a staple juice, includes almost every ingredient, from cucumber, apple and lemon, to ginger, parsley and spinach. And flying off of the shelves are Theresa’s power balls, also sold at locations like Green Planet Grocery and Syracuse Real Food Co-Op. High in protein, low in sugar and nutrient-dense, they are eaten as a snack or meal. “It’s not only that it tastes good in the moment,” said Theresa. “After they leave, customers still feel really good … and it lasts, and then they want more of that.” This is, perhaps, the secret ingredient to Koinonia’s success. It’s this feel-good menu that allows Theresa to offer an affordable and effective healthy lifestyle, creating the best-of-the-best while going through all the ups and downs together with her community. This is the essence of Theresa’s health center. It’s the connection and the love that customer’s come to know. It’s Koinonia. For more information on Koinonia Organic Juice Bar, visit SYRACUSEWOMANMAG.COM :: MAY 2015



honor one. save one. be one.

CNY Race for the Cure

suppo busines

locally Ow

Saturday, May 16th NYS Fairgrounds

It’s your time MOM, and you’re worth it! oodbye, packaged foods. oodbye, tight jeans. oodbye, to never getting the results you want.

If mom’s NOT HAPPY, NO ONE is happy!



6903 E. Genesee St

New Hartford Shopping Center

ort sses


Hours: 10:00 - 4:30 Tuesday - Saturday 315-363-3003 622 Sherrill Rd, Sherrill, NY (In the former Yankee LTD building)

Owner: Anne Marie Costello


If you are struggling with family issues, relationship issues, or feeling overwhelmed with stress there is help available. I know from personal and professional experience that people can heal and improve their overall wellbeing, and I offer you hope on your journey. I provide individual therapy for those experiencing, or who have experienced: anxiety addiction PTSD anger management issues depression sexual abuse relationship difficulties and other issues As a Certified Alcohol and Substance Abuse Counselor and a Licensed Mental Health Counselor I have worked extensively with those who suffer from both addiction and mental health issues. I am also well versed in scripture and am able to provide a Christian based counseling approach if desired.

NATURAL HEALTH CONSULTING A woman is interrupted in as little as 12 seconds of speaking to her health care provider. Imagine a 90 minute conversation with a women’s health specialist, ALL ABOUT YOU! April Ward MSN,CNM

Women’s Health and Hormone Balance

315-200-2349 • 112 Dewitt St. Syracuse, NY

I have published my memoir, Misery to Ministry, sharing my journey from a life of abuse and self-loathing to victorious life in Jesus Christ.

If you wish to make an appointment, please call (315) 436-6877

• bridal gowns • prom dresses • cocktail dresses • floor length gowns • bridesmaid • mother of the bride gowns • first communion dresses • flower girl dresses • headpieces • shawls • shoes • jewelry • handbags

Dr Suzanne Shapero, DMD, MBA, PC Family & Cosmetic Dentistry

We offer alteration services, shoe dyeing and custom jewelry by Elisha Joy. We sell top-quality formal wear to fit every budget!

“Don’t be afraid of the dentist, Dr Shapero is not only a dentist, but a good friend. Thanks to everyone there for making the trip to the dentist a painless and friendly experience.” - - Phillip E., patient

(315) 638.5200 • 4 West Genesee Street, Baldwinsville Hours: Tues., Thurs. & Fri. 11-6 • Wed 11-8 Sat. 11-4 • Sun. & Mon. by appointment.


Jussara Potter Photography

ATTENTION EMPLOYEES OF: • Wegmans • Anheuser-Busch • AARP • Erie Insurance • Lockheed Martin Corp. • M&T Bank • NY Power Authority • Clifton Springs • Cavalier Transportation We Accept: Delta Premier, Delta PPO, DeCare through Teamsters 1 Charlotte Street, Baldwinsville (across from the Police Station) In the old Post Office building opposite the Village Hall

This Mother’s Day, Relax & Refresh Her! $ 30 Spa Facial 21+. First time clients only. No cash value. Not valid on prior purchases or gift certificates. Expires 5/31/15. SWMMay

& Foot 40 Hand Salvation


Warm paraffin wax bath & soothing hand & foot massage With coupon. No cash value. Not valid on prior purchases. Expires 5/31/15. SWMMay Certificate� 45 “Gift Facial


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A Gift Certificate Purchase of $125 or More Gift Certificates Always Available

Stone 95 Hot Massage


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6900 Highbridge Rd. • Lyndon Corners, Rt. 92. Fayetteville • 449-4036


Offer good through 5/31/15

Relieve tension & draw out toxins With coupon. No cash value. Not valid on prior purchases. Expires 5/31/15. SWMMay

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With coupon. Not valid on prior purchases. Expires 5/31/15. SWMMay 315.256.5953 I

Let’s Talk!

Mary Ann Pierce, CLU

Take the first step & make an appointment.

It just gets easier from there. t 8F IBWF BO FYQFSJFODFE UFam of financial professionals. t 8F IFMQ PVS DMJFOUT TUSJWF UP SFBDI UIFJS GJOBODJBM HPBMT t 8F PGGFS B DPNQMFUF SBOHF PG TFSWJDFT JODMVding retirement planning, investments, financial strategies & insurance.

315.446.5797 t Securities and investment advice offered through Cadaret, Grant & Co., Inc. Member FINRA/SIPC Marathon Financial Advisors (Formerly Susan Budrakey & Associates) and Cadaret, Grant & Co., Inc. are separate entities.







::FAB One of the benefits of today’s technology is that you no longer need someone else to motivate you or help track your health and fitness regimen. It can all be done through your smartphone — and, usually, for no charge. SWM Editor Alyssa LaFaro researched some of the best apps out there that would appeal to all sorts of people, from the workout wiz to the brave beginner. Check out these six apps that are free and available for both iPhone and Android smartphones. FOR THE STRENGTH TRAINER

Jefit Workout Remember those workout sheets you’d carry with you from machine to machine to track your fitness regimen in high school? Well, the Jefit Workout app lets you say goodbye to the paper and hello to pumping iron. Its database features more than 1,300 exercises that help users create personalized workout routines and utilize existing routines, record weight and reps, provide body and benchmark statistics, measure progress and even count down between sets with a resting timer.


Runkeeper “The best way to get and stay fit,” Runkeeper hosts more than 30 million users from around the world. This app is a runner’s dream with its GPS tracking and other metrics like pace, distance, duration and calories burned. Users can choose to download local running routes or run their own route, which Runkeeper will record for future use. The app also acts as a great timeline through measuring a runner’s progress and workout history.


MapMyRide Equipped with GPS tracking, MapMyRide lets cyclers record their ride details like duration, distance, pace, speed, elevation, calories burned and route traveled. Not only does this app map rides, but it tracks nutrition, weight and more. This app is also compatible with a Bluetooth Smart Sensor, and its large database of routes allows bikers to explore almost any area of the country. For bikers looking for an upgrade, the premium version offers training plans, advanced route options and live tracking.


Lose It! Diet is just as important as exercise when it comes to becoming fit. The Lose It! app helps users log exercise, count calories and, hopefully, lose weight in a sustainable way. Included is a food database with calorie and nutrition information, a goal setter that creates a personal daily budget for calories, and the ability to connect to other fitness apps for accurately measuring calorie loss from workouts. And, according to the Lose It! website, the app really works — it’s helped users lose more than a combined 39 million pounds.


Zombies, Run! “Get fit. Escape zombies. Become a hero.” There is no better tagline than that! The Zombies, Run! app claims it can make users “run further and faster than ever before.” How? The app plays a story that users hear through their earbuds, and then run in response to what they hear (perhaps the growl of hungry zombies) to complete missions mentioned in the storyline. It sounds absurd, but it works — the app has received rave reviews from Lifehacker, Runner’s World, WIRED and BBC News.


Johnson & Johnson Official 7-Minute Workout Make every minute count with the Johnson & Johnson Official 7-Minute Workout. All you need to use this app is seven minutes, a chair and willpower. The app offers different intensity levels; the medium intensity, for example, includes jumping jacks, pushups, crunches, planks, triceps dips and more. Workouts were created with all abilities in mind by Chris Jordan, an exercise physiology specialist at the Human Performance Institute.



feature ::SPECIAL

SOMEBODY TO LEAN ON CLASP offers support services to people living with cancer





BY ALYSSA LAFARO I PHOTO BY MATTHEW ZHOU Earnestine Williams was diagnosed with breast cancer in December 2010. She had a lumpectomy and received chemotherapy treatments for a year-and-a-half. It didn’t take long before the hospital bills began to pile up. Then, in 2012 — at the tail end of her chemotherapy — her daughter passed away unexpectedly. Earnestine was thrown for a loop. Not only did she have to continue to pay her medical bills, but she had to organize funeral arrangements and attend court proceedings to gain custody of her then 12-year-old grandson, Deiondre. “I had no money,” she told me. “I was still paying hospital bills for my surgery and chemo treatments. Then I had to pay for my daughter’s funeral. All of those expenses piled up quickly.” At the time, a friend had told Earnestine to visit Hiscock Legal Aid Society, which provides free legal assistance to indigent residents of Onondaga County. While there, she learned about a program called CLASP — Cancer Legal Advocacy and Services Project — the goal of which is “to provide legal assistance and support to cancer survivors and their families to help reduce the burden of cancer,” explained Elaine Carnicelli Amory, an attorney with Legal Services of CNY, which runs the program in conjunction with Hiscock. Elaine often pairs up with Hiscock attorney Michaela Sarofeen, who helps clients with family, housing and unemployment insurance benefits matters, while Elaine assists clients with access to health care including Medicaid and Medicare issues, disability and public benefits, among other things. “We specialize in family law and landlord/tenant court at Hiscock,” added Michaela. “For example, I am currently working on a case to reduce the amount of child support that’s owed by a client who recently got oral cancer. Another client with breast cancer wasn’t able to find work and was being evicted. We were able to connect her to CancerConnects Inc. to get money to pay for rent for the upcoming month so she could stay in her house. We worked with the other side’s attorney to stop the eviction.” Elaine then assisted the client with a referral to Catholic Charities for further assistance to help her remain in her home. Legal Services of Central New York has a long history of specializing in access to health care, disability and public benefits work. Many of Elaine’s cases involve helping people qualify for much needed Medicaid. Elaine also shared an example of successfully appealing a case where Medicare had denied coverage of dental work for a client with oral cancer. It took two levels of appeals, but she was able to prove that the dental work was an integral part of her client’s cancer care. She also assisted a woman with breast cancer who was being denied participation in a clinical trial and won that case. She hopes that cases like these will have a broader impact on insurance companies denying such services. CLASP is funded by the New York State Department of Health and serves clients in 16 counties in the Central New York Region. Priority for representation is given to clients at or below 200 percent of the Federal Poverty Guidelines — currently, for one person, that’s an income of $1,945 a month. “If our clients aren’t already at that income level, they shortly become low-income when they go out on medical leave,” explained Elaine. Unfortunately, once someone is diagnosed with cancer, paying the medical bills and keeping health insurance becomes the priority and all other financial responsibilities start to fall out of place.


Cases like Earnestine’s — in which she was both fighting a custody battle and struggling to pay her medical bills — are not uncommon at both Hiscock and Legal Services of CNY. That’s why these organizations take a holistic approach to client cases. Their attorneys help with housing matters; family law issues such as divorce, custody and child support; public and private health insurance; public benefits; and personal planning needs such as wills, powers of attorney and health care proxies, to name just a few of the many legal issues they assist with. “We have learned that addressing nonmedical issues is just as important to a person’s health and quality of life as addressing medical issues,” said Elaine. “People are not just dealing with one issue. We ask clients what their source of income is, if they have applied for disability or other benefits, what their insurance coverage is, if they are having housing or employment issues, if they need a will or other legal documents. We call that a legal checkup.” Once clients are referred to CLASP through organizations like the American Cancer Society, Hospice, Office for the Aging, the Department of Health, and hospital and oncology social workers, they find themselves in very capable hands. Attorneys often provide clients with their personal contact information and even offer to travel to the client if needed. “The attorneys are wonderful,” said Earnestine. Attorney Sharon Sorkin worked closely with Earnestine at Hiscock, and often encouraged Earnestine to call her home number if she needed to talk. “I would call her and she would listen to me and answer my questions so I wasn’t worried when going to court. She was always there for me. Last year, I went through a second custody battle with another grandson, Malique. There were times when I was close to tears. He was born in this bad situation and his mom dropped him on the doorstep and never came back for him. It was all about what I could do to save this baby. I didn’t want him to end up on the street. I would text and email Sharon, and she worked it out. She was there to keep me from breaking down and losing it.” The attorneys are also quick to answer crisis calls, in which they go meet clients in the hospital or at their homes to prepare documents onsite. “That gives clients and their families great peace of mind,” said Elaine, who went on to explain how personal this work is to her. “I’ve been on the other side of this. I lost my father to cancer in 2007 and my mother is a cancer survivor, so I really do dedicate my work to my family and my clients. And I think that having that experience only helps bring more compassion and dedication to my work.” Like Elaine, Michaela finds many rewards in being a part of the CLASP Program. “I think it’s personally rewarding because I get to holistically help people,” she shared. “I don’t have to say, ‘Oh no, I can’t do that for you.’ I am not limited to one certain thing I can do for clients. I think it’s really rewarding to help people, especially when they are facing a terminal illness. They don’t have to go through the illness alone. I am incredibly lucky to have this job. I love working here and working with the clients I have.” For more information about CLASP, visit or



New to CNY...

Offering: Individual Nutrition Counseling - Sessions for those with diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, pulmonary disease, digestive disorders, cancer, obesity, weight loss, food allergies, pregnancy and more! Group Diet Education - Classes available for diabetes management and weight management, as well as classes discussing current trends in health and nutrition. A’ la Carte Session - We offer an individualized nutrient analysis of diet and food intake, supplement education, and grocery store tours. Many insurance companies, including Medicare, cover nutrition counseling!

For more information, or to schedule your appointment call 488-2112 813 Fay Road, Syracuse •

Early Learning at

Manlius Pebble Hill School NOW OFFERING new tuition rates to our earliest learners!

• Full-day Pre-K and KG plus extended day options • Academic instruction includes Singapore Math, World Language and Wilson Fundations • “Whole-child” approach promotes Spaces going critical thinking, character development and self-confidence quickly • Creative development through Call Today! Suzuki Strings Method, Music, Art and Dance For more information contact our Admissions Office at 315-446-2452 (ext 131) or visit us online at

Join the Syracuse Promise Walk for Preeclampsia Saturday May 30, 2015

Onondaga Lake Park Liverpool, NY 8:30 am Register at


Pamela Puri Owner, Tech4Kidz

s a CPA and CFP, Pamela has always worked with entrepreneurs helping them to navigate the financial path to success. While living in Boston, she launched a website that promoted children’s enrichment. Less than two years ago, Pamela, her husband and their three children moved to Central New York. After the move, a top priority for her was to find activities and programs that were engaging and enriching for her kids who were now in elementary school.

Pamela found technology classes that looked like a fit with what she was looking for, but they were mostly designed for kids in high school. Wanting her children to get something educational out of their screen time, her a-ha moment originated after the family participated in the popular program ‘An Hour of Code.’ Rather than seek out resources and classes for her kids that didn’t exist in the right capacity, she decided to create her own. “I knew I liked what I saw when the kids tried computer programming. When I couldn’t find any classes for them, I decided to create one myself,” says Pamela. “If you find a need that is PHOTO BY CINDY BELL PHOTOGRAPHY PAGE DESIGN BY ISCA DESIGN STUDIO



unmet, the likelihood is that there are many other people that are also experiencing the same unmet need.” Armed with her background in helping new ventures go through the startup process along with a passion for teaching others, she began providing both a beginner and an advanced class specifically targeting children ages 8-14. Her classes teach computer-programming skills in a collaborative work environment and typical projects include creating basic games and animations using customizable features such as characters, colors and even musical elements. “It’s amazing to see the look on the kids faces when their animations come together,” says Pamela. Pamela’s next steps include offering new programs, enrolling more girls in classes, and continuing to build strategic partnerships with organizations and institutions who can help her to roll out her classes to a greater population. “I feel fortunate to be launching this business doing something I love so it doesn’t feel like work,” says Pamela.

wise words of wisdom… “Whatever you choose to do, be the best that you can be.” – Pamela Puri

WISE HAPPENINGS: The Building Blocks for Starting a Business

Roundtable Discussion: Women in Business Against the Odds

May 5, 12:00 - 1:30PM May 27, 5:30 - 7:00PM

May 7, 12:00 - 1:00PM May 21, 12:00 - 1:00PM

Roundtable Discussion: Women in Food and Farming Businesses

Meet the Entrepreneur Series

May 6, 12:00 - 1:00PM

May 12, 12:00 - 1:00PM

Accounting & Bookkeeping Basics for your Business: Key Terms, Processes and Concepts

Accounting & Bookkeeping Basics for your Business: Taking the Next Step

May 13, 12:00 - 1:30PM

May 26, 12:00 - 1:30PM

Roundtable Discussion: Women in Creative Businesses May 14, 12:00 - 1:00PM May 28, 12:00 - 1:00PM

Check out for a complete list of upcoming events!

A PROGRAM OF THE FALCONE CENTER FOR ENTREPRENEURSHIP AT SYRACUSE UNIVERSITY Funded in part through a Cooperative Agreement with the U.S. Small Business Administration. All opinions, conclusions or recommendations expressed are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Small Business Administration. Reasonable accommodations for persons with disabilities will be made if requested at least 2 weeks in advance. Call (315) 443-8634.



woman ::HEALTHY

SUPERHERO Microbiota to the Rescue

BY AMY DOYLE, NUTRITIONIST, MSACN There are superheroes among us. Tiny, microscopic superheroes. What are they, you ask? The beneficial microbiota (a.k.a. good bacteria) that live in our body. When we consume these microorganisms they are called probiotics. Many popular advertisements today emphasize probiotics for gut health, yet most people don’t realize they are responsible for so much more. These microbiota don’t just reside in our GI tract, but also in our urogenital and respiratory tracts, and in our mouth, throat and skin. These miniature superheroes have big responsibilities. Here’s what they provide.

1. Immune protection. Both good and harmful bacteria want to adhere to the mucus-covered surfaces in our body and compete with each other for this space. When harmful bacteria stick to these surfaces, they release toxins. When good bacteria adhere to these surfaces, they release antibacterial compounds that kill or slow activity of bad bacteria, toxins, viruses, allergens and foreign proteins that can make us ill. Maintaining healthy levels of good bacteria through proper nutrition can provide protection against the flu and other respiratory disorders; digestive, vaginal and urinary tract infections; and also decrease susceptibility to asthma, airborne allergens, skin allergy and eczema.

2. Pain relief by releasing anti-inflammatory compounds that reduce inflammation, pain and tissue damage.

3. Help with stress by sending “calming” messages to the adrenal glands to maintain appropriate levels of stress hormones.

4. Protection of our body’s first line of defense: the gut. Approximately 70 percent of our immune tissue is in our GI tract. A single layer of cells works as a barrier between the contents of our intestines and our bloodstream. When this layer of cells gets compromised, food particles, toxins and pathogens are allowed through and into our bloodstream. This is known as leaky gut. Beneficial microbiota interact with proteins between these cells, helping to keep them intact and strengthen the intestinal barrier. They also assist in nutrient absorption and digestion, and even help regulate metabolism and cholesterol.



5. Protection for the brain. Toxins and foreign proteins allowed into the bloodstream due to leaky gut have direct access to the brain via the gut-brain axis. Multiple studies have shown a link between leaky gut and disorders like anxiety, depression, ADD/ADHD, OCD and Autism. A leaky gut not only gives toxins access to the brain, but also the rest of the body. Dysbiosis is a term that generally refers to a person being in a state where they have more bad bacteria than good bacteria — a major indication of leaky gut. Some conditions that have been associated with or contribute to dysbiosis are obesity, diabetes, Celiac disease, poor dental health, IBS, stress, food sensitivities and more.

How to maintain beneficial microbiota

You can help your body maintain healthy numbers of beneficial microbiota by avoiding excess sugar, alcohol, overconsumption of grains and processed foods. These items feed bad bacteria, causing inflammation and irritation of the GI tract, and ultimately leaky gut. Healthy microbiota feed off fiber and whole foods like fruits and vegetables, especially cruciferous vegetables, along with kale, asparagus, legumes, artichokes, leeks and onions. These are known as prebiotics, or “food” for probiotics. Probiotics can be obtained in supplement form and in naturally fermented foods. In addition to whole foods nutrition, I generally recommend probiotic supplements to most patients and provide recipes for making fermented foods at home. Because they have immunomodulating effects, meaning they can either stimulate or quiet down the immune system, probiotics are not a onesize-fits-all solution. As there are numerous strains and brands available, I recommend consulting a health professional knowledgeable about clinically proven strains and quality manufacturers to determine which probiotic is best for you. Amy Doyle is a nutritionist with a master’s degree in Applied Clinical Nutrition from the New York Chiropractic College. She has pending certification as a Certified Clinical Nutritionist and as a Certified Nutrition Specialist. She is married with two children. You can contact Amy at


12th Annual Shearing Festival May 23rd & 24th • 10 AM to 5 PM, Rain or Shine Thanks to Country Propane, DeRuyter Farm & Garden, and Woodford Brothers

Eric’s Honey, Spinners, Crafters, Fleece and Yarns, & Chainsaw Carver! Live Music! Sat. “Slippery Rock”/ Sun. “Pigeon Post String Band”

Admission: $7 Per Adult • $3 Per Child $20 Family Maximum Handicap & Stroller Accessible

1940 Jerome Road • Fabius Just 12 miles South of Syracuse From Route 20, Take Route 91 South 2 miles to Jerome Road

ALSO SPONSORED BY: Cazenovia Equipment, Lou Rathburn CPA, Onondaga Co. Farm Bureau

cause ::FOR A GOOD




Race for the Cure celebrates 21 years in Syracuse BY ALYSSA LAFARO I PHOTOS COURTESY OF KOMEN CNY

“It’s magic.” The words of Kate Flannery, executive director of Komen CNY, describing the feeling she gets on the morning of Komen’s biggest fundraising event, Race for the Cure.

This year, the race will celebrate 21 years in Central New York and 26 since the very first race began in Illinois. Kate, personally, will celebrate 10 years of hosting the race as the organization’s executive director. This year’s race will be held on Saturday, May 16, at 8 a.m. at the New York State Fairgrounds. “Race for the Cure is the place we come together on a specific day to raise valuable funds to save lives,” explained Kate, “funds that will support women in our community, will celebrate survivorship and will take a moment to honor all the women we have lost. It is the best of our community. On that day, I will look out and see a sea of more than 6,000 people. There is this thread that runs through every one of them, each wanting to be part of the solution and the support for women with breast cancer.”


This year’s race theme is “Everyday Heroes,” because that’s what attendees will see as they look around the fairgrounds that day — people who use their time, their voice and their resources to support women and women’s health and to fight breast cancer. “Some are survivors currently in treatment; some are 35 year-plus survivors,” said Kate. “Some have lost someone important to them. Some have a coworker or neighbor who’s been recently diagnosed and want to show their support. Some come just because of the feeling of that day — being connected and supporting women. And you can’t forget the hundreds of volunteers, 45 of which spend their time year-round working toward this one day.”

Race for the Cure, according to Kate, has something for everyone. A “Kids for the Cure & One Mile Fun Walk” begins at 9 a.m., followed by the 5k wheelchair division start at 10 and then the 5k competitive run at 10:05. A 5k fun run/walk will follow the competitive run.


Not only are the race options a draw, but so is the speaker — Ann Marie Stonecypher, who will share her story about living with metastatic breast cancer (when the cancer spreads to the brain, liver, lungs and bones). Metastatic cancer requires ongoing treatment throughout the patient’s life, and Ann Marie can shed light on how she pushes through each day, giving strength and hope to those who listen. “We have a procession with 400-plus breast cancer survivors in pink who will come up to the stage, and Ann Marie will address them with a brief commentary and share some of her experiences and her hopes,” said Kate. “We really focus on survivorship that day. We have a tent for survivors that we fill with lovely music. We serve them breakfast. They get a small gift. They can speak with each other. It’s a wonderful morning. There’s an opportunity to reflect. There’s an opportunity to be thankful. There’s an opportunity to be hopeful for the future. There’s also room for sorrow. It’s everything.”


Outside of survivorship, the biggest goal that day is education. Women need to know their risk, the different types of breast cancer, screening options, lifestyle factors, warning signs and more. “There isn’t a onesize cookie cutter response for all of us,” admitted Kate. “It’s important women are educated with the facts and have a better understanding of their own personal breast health. People’s behaviors don’t change until they are educated.” For more information on Komen CNY or to register for Race for the Cure, visit







l Catherine ::COVER





Imagine, for a moment, the rhythmic sound of an African drum. Tap, tap, tut, tut. Tap, tap, tut, tut, tap. The drummer’s hands move slow and steady. A dancer sways to the sounds of the drum, letting its ebb and flow guide her feet, her hips, her arms.

“Drumming is a parallel for life,” explained Jill Catherine. “We have our own beat in life and when we are distracted from the pressures of the world, we can fall off our beat. But we can always get back on by following the beat of our heart. Cultural dance, on the other hand, allows me to feel that oneness of spirit and then express it. It heals. We are taught in the West that our bodies are objects. We want to look a certain way; we want to be a certain size. That’s not the purpose of the body in other cultures. The purpose of the body is to express the instrument you are.” Jill brings her passion for dance and drum into her role as founder of 44 Hearts, which strives to revolutionize the way people relate to their bodies. She facilitates workshops and retreats, provides coaching, and conducts “performance presentations,” where she shares her story of healing and infuses dance and drumming into the presentation. She is also the spokesperson for Ophelia’s Place, the goal of which is to “redefine beauty and health by empowering individuals, families and communities impacted by eating disorders, disordered eating, and body dissatisfaction.” Body image is important to Jill, who suffered from an eating disorder when she was 18 years old. “I always felt pressure from the world and the people around me that my body never measured up,” she told me. “I only understood my body as an object — as a shape, as a size, my arms, my stomach, my boobs, my butt.”

She learned to heal from her disorder through the drum, dance and lots of travel. “I am a very physical person and have been an athlete my whole life,” she told me. “That’s how I move through the world — being grounded through my body and expressing myself through my body. Travel wakes me up. It gets me out of that busy mind and helps me become present. Early on in my healing, when I was really struggling, I traveled to and immersed myself in all of these beautiful places. When I physically put myself in nature, I start to feel my own nature, to feel my own inner sense of who I really am. Not who the world has shaped me to be. Not who my family or friends have shaped me to be. But who nature has created me to be.”

A HEALING NOMAD After her diagnosis in 1996, Jill quickly got on a treatment plan, working with a treatment team of clinicians to help her heal. But even after a few years of recovery, it became very clear to her that she had to reevaluate everything in her life. “I had to redefine the purpose of life and, more importantly, the purpose of my body. An eating disorder is a mental disorder. It’s a sickness that lives in both the body and the brain. It consumes you.”

During her junior year at Ithaca College, after a few years of treatment, Jill continued to struggle with the behaviors that come with eating disorders. “It’s common that just as you are getting better the disorder gets worse because it really holds onto you,” she explained. She needed to wake up and separate herself from the critical voice in her head. So when a friend invited her to come to Mardis Gras in New Orleans that spring, she hopped on a bus and went. “I needed that adventure,” she said. She needed it so much that she took a bus to Arizona after. “I didn’t know where I was going, just that I was going to go. I trusted this call inside of me.” She took a leave of absence from school with the plan to come back in the fall. Each location she visited after arriving in Arizona was driven by the people she met and the places they recommended she visit. “I never knew where I was headed,” she admitted. “The people I met along the way guided me to my next location. I camped with them, traveled with them. It was this wakeup call to trust my inner voice. And I knew I’d be okay if I just listened.” Six weeks later, she returned to New York and everything had changed — her feelings about life, her love for nature, the way she approached her healing from the eating disorder. “It gave me the inner strength and courage to listen to my inner voice.” Jill returned to college and graduated in 1999 with a degree in communications and sports information. Shortly after, she moved to Colorado. After some time there, she decided to go cross-country with a friend. They spent two months in the car and headed to California, stopping in Utah and Arizona along the way. “I camped in a number of National Parks, including the bottom of the Grand Canyon,” she remembered. “You can’t articulate the power of the Grand Canyon. It just resonated so deeply within me that I could do

story ::COVER

2013 anything I wanted. Whatever I put my heart and soul into, I knew I would be supported.”


The more Jill traveled, the more she healed. So in 2001, she began another journey. But this time, she had a definite end goal: to run a marathon … in Hawaii. She spent three months traveling across the U.S., training in 13 different states along the way. “Hawaii was the pinnacle in my healing journey,” Jill told me numerous times during our conversation. While on the race course of the Honolulu Marathon, three mantras ran through her head: Slow and steady wins the race; patience and perseverance; and object in motion, stays in motion. She thinks about these mantras every day. “Those three elements that came up in that run taught me you just have to keep showing up in life. That was a huge ‘aha moment’ for me.” She fell in love with the magic and energy of the islands — so much so that she ended up moving to the island of Kauai. The continuously warm weather and water of the island helped her become comfortable in her own skin, as her wardrobe called for fewer layers and more swimsuits. While there, she took her first African drum and dance classes. “I started moving my body in this new way,” she recalled. “It evoked this feminine energy inside of me and I came alive. I became free.” She fell in love with African drum and dance — so much that she left Hawaii and moved to New York City in January 2003 to continue her study of the art form at the Djoniba Dance and Drum Center under the guidance of world-renowned teachers from Africa, one of which — Biboti Ouikahilo — she would later marry. In 2008, Jill and Biboti founded Wacheva Cultural Arts in the Westcott neighborhood. Today, the nonprofit offers classes and performances that incorporate arts and cultural experiences from around the world. Some of the classes include African dance and drum, cardio salsa, flamenco, yoga ashtanga-vinyasa and much more. Jill teaches a movement class and a women’s drum circle there once a month.


Jill moved back home to Liverpool in July 2003. She heard about Ophelia’s

44 hea

Place, which had opened the year prior to her return, and volunteered almost immediately. “My spirit really called to give back, to share my story so others knew healing is possible,” she said. “I would share my story and speak on their behalf as a volunteer. And talk to some of the folks who would come into the organization and needed help.” Throughout the years, Ophelia’s Place has remained near and dear to Jill’s heart. Her role at the organization evolved the longer she was there, from volunteer to staff member to board president. Today, she is the organization’s spokesperson — and a big proponent of its new initiative, Circles of Change. “In order to change the culture and conversation around health, beauty and body image, we must first start with ourselves and then within our own circles of influence,” explained Jill. “Ophelia’s Place birthed this concept with the desire to spread the message beyond Syracuse. We, as a small organization, recognize we can’t do this ourselves. We need to be able to empower people to make this change themselves. That’s why whenever I speak at an organization, college or business, my intention is to make an impact within that circle of people, with the hope that they share that knowledge with others and impact their own circle of friends.” For example, during the month of February, Sun Auto donated a portion of its car sales to Ophelia’s Place. As part of its PR efforts, Sun Auto educated its customers (its circle of influence) with information about eating disorders, body image and the work that takes place at Ophelia’s Place. “Even though Sun Auto is a car dealership and not in the same sphere as the work of Ophelia’s Place, their values of giving back to the community through a social cause aligns with ours,” noted Jill.


In the fall of 2013, Jill suffered the loss of two friends in the same week. It was during this time she felt the call again, and a specific call at that — the call to learn Indian dance. A few months later, she arrived in India and began working with an Indian dance master. “I felt at home in India,” she admitted. “In India, spirituality is physically present everywhere you go. I would go into a store to buy some clothes and would find candles and deities on an altar inside. And when people greet you, they touch their heart. In the U.S., our spirituality is behind

4 rts closed doors. If we do it, we do it in our own space. In India, it’s public. That’s a huge shift for someone like me who needs to be connected to my own spirit. To be in an environment where that’s all around you, it’s so comforting.” In January 2014, she returned to life in Syracuse and her job as the director of communications for the Division of Student Affairs at Syracuse University. But it wasn’t long before her inner voice spoke to her again. She left her job this past August to pursue her true passion — 44 Hearts. “My communications experience at Syracuse University helped to develop who I am today and gave me the chance to work with more than 25 departments to come up with strategies, campaigns and messaging,” she explained. “I fell in love with digital content and website development. That experience, paired with my dance and drum training with my former husband Biboti, shaped my career path. I feel I have been training my whole life to be in this world, share this message and help others find that wholeness.” Hawaiians believe that the number four transcends the element of life. The number 44 has special meaning in Syracuse — “it’s the jersey number for athletes who were brave and courageous and broke boundaries no one else thought they could,” said Jill. SU football player Ernie Davis wore 44 and was the first AfricanAmerican to win the Heisman Trophy. Jim Brown, another local football player, set the SU record for highest rush average in a season, most rushing touchdowns and most points scored in a game. He, too, wore the number 44. 44 Hearts allows Jill the freedom to pursue her passion of travel. She lives in Santa Cruz and flies back to Syracuse each month to promote Ophelia’s Place. She has finally found her purpose. “Some people know what their purpose is at 10 years old. They have an idea of how they want to be in the world. Then there are many people who don’t. I decide in the moment. The next decision I make is aligned with what makes me feel good in that moment. I didn’t know what my purpose was. I just knew the next decision I made had to align with my values and my spirit. Your purpose will find you. You don’t have to go looking for it. You just have to make the next best decision for yourself.” For more information about Jill and her work with 44 Hearts, visit or follow 44 Hearts on Facebook at



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funny } arts




BY MARGARET MADIGAN | PHOTO BY STEPHEN REARDON It’s the age-old question—what do you want to be when you grow up? For most of us, the answer constantly changes as we mature from idealistic teenager into adulthood. For Pam Werts however, the answer to that question has never changed. As she was preparing to head off to college, Werts father asked her what she wanted to do with her life. When she told him that she wanted to be a stand-up comic, her father was quick to reply “not an option” as he proceeded to make a throat slashing motion with finger across his neck. So heading her father’s advice, Werts ventured off to SUNY Fredonia to earn a degree in Business Administration. But the stand-up thought was always in the back of her mind.

A couple of decades after college, Werts was the Vice President of the board of a local breast cancer organization which was putting on a fundraiser at GEVA Theater. In preparation, committee members were working with a professional comedian.One evening as they were relaxing after a session with the comedian, she asked him “Do you ever work with anyone trying to get into the business?” He rolled his eyes and said, “Yea, sometimes”. She responded, “because I’m really f@*kin’ funny”. He spit his drink out and said, “What did you just say?” to which she repeated her response. He called her several days later and said he had a showcase at The Comedy Club in Webster, NY and wanted her to perform. Werts was stopped in her tracks saying, “Um, yea I can’t do that now. I meant later, when I grow up”. Of course he talked her into it. But she was still petrified of having her first stand-up experience. She went ahead and did the showcase. “It was me and about seventeen males, all of whom I could’ve given birth to”, comments Werts on the lineup that night. She ended up blowing the doors off the place and as she walked off stage the manager of the club told her she was opening for local favorite and nationally known comic Jamie Lissow the following week. She was baffled, did he not understand she just had her first time on stage? He did and he didn’t care. That was in 2010. She decided to follow her dream and has never looked back. Eventually she had her first paying gig which was opening for legendary comedian Richard Lewis. She performed five shows opening for him at The Comedy Club in Webster, NY. She thought, “My first paying gig was with a legend, where do you go from there?” Well, she kept going anyway, opening for other comedians such as Judy Gold and being a headline performer herself. There were many places for her to go. She decided to create a special all-female comedy show, “Comedy with Curves” which filled the house once a month at The Comedy Club in Webster. She became friendly with Syracuse comedian Anna Phillips who had been a featured comedian in “Comedy with Curves”. One day Anna approached Werts and said she wanted to produce an all-female comedy show in Syracuse and would like her to be the regular host of the show. The show entitled “Chicks are Funny” has become a smashing success, packing the house at the Funny Bone in Syracuse, a national comedy club chain. The show fills the 350-seat house the last Wednesday of every month. Sometimes standing room

is even filled. The next show is Wednesday March 25th at 7:30 at the Funny Bone in Syracuse. This June will be the two year anniversary of the launch of “Chicks are Funny”—proving the title to be correct. All-female or not, two years is an amazing run for a comedy show. Werts has just learned that the show will be expanding its run to the Funny Bone in Hartford, CT.

Phillips and Werts are always on the lookout for good talent to showcase in “Chicks are Funny”. She said she has found great women comedians all over the place, from comedy competitions to shows in clubs to just networking with other comedians. She believes there are a whole lot of funny women out there, which is indicative of the packed house every month at “Chicks are Funny”. Werts has also been a finalist in Rochester’s Funniest Person Contest and recently won Comedy Central New York’s ‘Cut the Check’ contest. In October she performed at the legendary Caroline’s in New York City, something she is particularly proud of. They have asked her to come back to perform and they are working out the dates.

When asked if she finds there is a certain prejudice against females she stated that, “There are places that are friendly (to females) and places that are not.” She notes that the comedy business in general is very competitive, so people will find an edge and it sometimes means men trying to bump women. According to many folks, there has always been an underlying belief in the business that “women aren’t funny.” As evidenced by the documentary “Women Aren’t Funny” created by husband and wife comedians Rich Voss and Bonnie McFarlane. It takes on the old adage and proves it wrong. Werts finds that women are more supportive of each other and that it’s an honor to work with them. And she is very grateful to the people of Syracuse for supporting their show and these funny women. By the way, the audience is a healthy mix of men and women for the all-female show. When asked what advice she would give to anyone looking to breakin to stand-up comedy, she suggests getting up at open mic sessions and showcases as much as you can. Just look online, you can find them all around town. She says, “Comedy is material and delivery. Novices make mistakes to hurry and fill the 8 minutes with just reciting the material as fast as they can, no good delivery or pauses for laughs. Practice and then just get out there and do it. It doesn’t matter who thinks you’re funny. Comedian Ralph Teta gave me the best piece of advice, ‘Just go up there and have fun, the laughs are a bonus’.” Werts believes you need a lot of guts to do stand-up and perhaps be a little damaged to subject yourself to it, “It’s like public speaking on crack cocaine”, she says. In the future, her overall goal is to have her own special on Comedy Central or HBO. She would also love to have her own show on Sirius XM Satellite Radio. But in the meantime she’s going to try to keep moving up the rungs and getting bigger, better and more frequent shows. You can catch Werts in Rochester at various venues and fundraisers, be sure to check her website for dates and times for upcoming shows. You can also follow her on Facebook by searching for Pamela Werts Comedian.


Cycling for a

CAUSE The Ride for Roswell

BY LISA MORGAN I PHOTOS COURTESY OF THE RIDE FOR ROSWELL The morning was warm and the traffic was heavy. It was 6:30 a.m. when my friend Maria and I arrived at the University of Buffalo. We parked and rode our bikes to the holding area, where we waited — for what seemed like forever — before heading to the starting line. I hope I have the energy for this 44-mile ride, I thought to myself. I was not a pro at riding in large groups and worried about using my newly acquired clips. Maria and I hugged the curb for fear of collision. But we got used to the route and soon developed our own cadence. And so my journey started. My involvement with The Ride for Roswell in Buffalo began in June 2014, when I participated in what is known as “an inspirational and emotional Celebration of Hope.” I agreed to ride when my sister’s inlaws spoke of the ride numerous times before and asked if I would ride in memory of a family member, William Blair. Bill passed away at a very young age of 48 from lung cancer. I thought to myself, What a great experience this would be, so I registered for the 44-mile country ride. My biking experience was not very lengthy. I had participated in two Iron Girls, so I was well aware of what a long ride consisted of. Little did I know or realize what a huge impact this would have on me. Prior to this ride, I had thoughts that this would be just another event, the amount of miles I had to ride, “just finishing the ride.” But once I was there, the ride took on a whole new meaning — it was an event, it was people who appreciated our commitment, and it was about life. The Ride for Roswell began in 1996 with 1,000 riders raising funds for the institute. Last year, I participated with 8,000 riders who raised $4 million for the first time. I remember being in the sea of riders at the starting line and having goose bumps as we watched the big screen

TV, listening to the survivors and family members of those who lost their battle tell their heart-warming stories. The message was loud and clear: “Thank you.” It was powerful and brought a tear to my eye. As I crossed the finish line at the end of the race, all I could think about was registering again for the next year. During the ride, at every street corner and intersection were children and adults waving posters, ringing bells and chanting “thank you” as they waved us through. And the finish line was more of the same — a sea of people who knew someone living with cancer, survivors and those who were still battling it. And thousands of volunteers, who return each year to help organize this tremendous event. This June, The Ride for Roswell will celebrate 20 years. I have added two more names to my memory ride, two of my dearest friends who passed away at a very young age from cancer: John Ilacqua, who passed away in 2006, and Tom Leo, who passed away in 2013. My personal goal is to raise $1,000 to donate to the institute, but I know that will be far surpassed. I am proud to once again participate in such a humbling experience and know monies raised will go to cutting-edge research, patient care programs, support new clinical treatments and procedures, and advance education for future clinicians. As a nurse and health care provider, I understand the importance of continuing research and experimentation and also the vital role education plays. My ride this June will consist of a 65.6-mile route. I know I will have three angels sitting on my shoulder cheering me on. My goal for next year? To attempt the 102-mile ride. The Ride for Roswell takes place June 26 and 27 in Buffalo. For more information or to register, visit

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feature feature ::SPECIAL ::SPECIAL







The of MAICO HEARING AID SERVICE BY BRITTANY SPERINO HORSFORD I PHOTOS BY JENNIFER WOLSEY Catherine Porter knew nothing of hearing aid technology when she joined MAICO Hearing Aid Service in 1978, but by 1986 she owned the company.

“I had no idea I would end up in this industry,” Catherine said. “It just happened by chance.” Catherine graduated from SUNY Potsdam with a bachelor’s degree in psychology and a concentration in speech pathology and audiology. Fresh out of college, she submitted her resume to an agency looking for someone who could test hearing — something Catherine did while in college. While under a different name at the time, the agency was what would become MAICO. “In 1986, I bought the agency with a partner from the previous owner,” explained Catherine. In 1993, Catherine bought out her partner’s share and MAICO moved from Downtown Syracuse to Liverpool. “MAICO has been my baby, my creation so to speak, and we’ve brought it a long way from what it was. I’m very happy about what it’s become.” According to the Center for Hearing and Communication, about 38 million Americans are living with significant hearing loss. MAICO Hearing Aid Service provides something needed by 12 percent of the U.S. population. “There are a lot of rewarding parts to my job,” Catherine told me. “But the most rewarding is knowing that I’ve helped someone. Seeing the results when I put that hearing aid on somebody and to see how well they’re functioning and how it’s making a difference in their life is very, very satisfying. “Hearing aids are so much fun to work with,” she added. “They’re so much fun to fit and tinker with on the technical side. I also love the business part of it, seeing how the numbers fit together and how we’re doing compared to last year.” So how exactly does a hearing aid work? MAICO breaks down hearing aids into three basic parts: a microphone, amplifier and speaker. These parts work together to pick up sound, make the sound louder and deliver it. There are many different brands, types and styles of hearing aids. Depending on a person’s hearing needs and lifestyle, MAICO finds the right type for the patient. A unique characteristic of the MAICO office is that it consists of all women, but for Catherine there’s nothing really unique about that at all. “It’s been this way for so long,” she said. “As things moved along we added more staff, and it just so happened that the types of jobs we were recruiting for lent itself to this flavor of women. We get along very well and have similar standards we work toward. It’s such a compassionate field and, not to be stereotypical, but we have an emotional attachment to our patients.” “The fields that I’m in are heavily dominated by women,” said Erin Bagley, who is a New York State licensed audiologist, speech-language pathologist and registered hearing aid dispenser with MAICO. “My first career is in

speech pathology, which statistically is 95 percent women, so we have a IW very tightknit relationship here. Erin first got involved with MAICO about six years ago. “My grandfather was actually a patient here,” she shared. “I met Cathy through a friend of a friend and started working here. Then, I took a little time off and finished my doctorate in audiology, and came back to MAICO two years ago. We have a lot of fun together and we all support each other, both at work and personally. It’s the best job I’ve ever had.” Crystal Thomas, a New York State registered hearing aid dispenser, has been a part of MAICO for three-and-a-half years. She expressed similar sentiments. “It’s more like a family here,” she explained. “It’s a friendly, relaxing environment where everyone feels comfortable, and we can do what we need to for our patients.” Catherine splits up her week so she is able to consult with patients and fulfill her administrative duties as an owner. She admits she’ll stay a little later to make sure everything is done — and done well. “I work better without interruptions,” she said. “Then I can focus on things a little bit better. You have to be willing to invest the time. It’s not just a 9-to-5 job. You take it home with you. If you’re passionate about what you’re doing, it’s not a job. “What has kept me in this as long as I have been is willingness to change,” she continued. “You have to be willing to reinvent yourself and take on a different role in order to move forward. With any job, you can fall into a stale routine, so know when to move on from that. Surround yourself with successful people that support your ideals and goals. It has to be a team effort.” Catherine and the women of MAICO all take great pride in their work, but it doesn’t come without some frustrations. “There are always headaches that come with owning a practice,” said Catherine. “You can get bogged down in the administrative functions, like the paperwork.” Regardless of the road bumps, MAICO has been Catherine’s life’s work for more than 35 years and remains so today. She and her staff have worked hard to weave an environment of passion, fun and camaraderie to grow the patient trust and community impact needed to be successful. “To me, the most important thing for MAICO is that we treat people with respect,” concluded Catherine. “Patients are treated with the utmost care and concern when they are being counseled and taught to use their hearing aid. They’re really given instruction and education about their hearing loss, and what’s to be expected with a hearing aid. I would rather have someone here every single day working out the problem, than to have a client be dissatisfied and put the hearing aid away in a drawer. As a legacy, I want to know that we’ve done the absolute top job we can for all individuals.” For more information on MAICO Hearing Aid Service¬, visit

words ::IN HER OWN



Finding Grace words



It started in the most unexpected way, really — this thing that has taken over my heart. I didn’t want to love it, but here I am, head over heels in love with these tiny souls and their beautiful stories. I am a photographer who works primarily with families and children in the Central New York area. I love what I do, but at no point did I set out to do this kind of work. It found me.

About a year and a half ago, I was asked if I would ever do hospital photography. I didn’t hesitate in saying I didn’t think it would be a good fit for me. I wasn’t confident in my skill level, and I knew myself well enough to know that grace wasn’t my strength. I seriously didn’t know if I could keep my own emotions in check if faced with a child or a baby who was ill, so I declined. Repeatedly. Lucky for me, I had an amazing friend, Kara, who absolutely believed in me — not only in my skill level, but, more importantly, in me. Kara was working for CompassioNET, a pediatric palliative care program that supports families caring for children with a life-threatening illness, and she called one day with a request to meet a young mother who was due to deliver shortly and wanted photos of her child. With a surge of confidence I agreed, and with that commitment, my life changed. I’ll never forget that day, walking into the unknown. As I stepped into the room and saw that young mom looking at me, shielding her sweet baby girl behind her swaddling blanket, my heart connected with hers. I looked down at this tiny baby with abnormalities beyond what I had ever known could exist, and I saw the most beautiful soul. I wanted to honor her and the love that her mother felt for her. As I set about photographing her short little life, I was amazed at the incredible amount of grace that was present in the room. Not ever having any experience in this type of setting, I was surprised at how comfortable I was. It was sad and incredibly beautiful at the same time, and that’s when I realized that this was a gift for both of us. It was 18 long years ago that I had lost my own little girl in a miscarriage — long before photographing that sort of thing was as acceptable as it is today. Other than a handful of medical records and a sore heart, I have nothing to remind me of her. I never want another family to feel that way. It’s been about a year since I started this journey, and in that time, I have been honored to witness and document the lives of so many children, from 10-ounce babies to full-term ones and several medically fragile children, as well. I’m inspired to see that there seems to be a shift in our culture that’s slowly taking place. I have clients who proudly display the photos of their children for all to see, no longer a secret that makes others uncomfortable, but beautiful art that tells a story of love. Until recently, I have operated this part of my business in a nonprofit way, and now I can say that I’m so grateful for the support of CompassioNET, which provides me with payment for a typical onehour shoot. That being said, I have never stayed for only an hour. These things take time; families are under an enormous amount of emotional stress and allowing things to unfold naturally is so important. We talk a little about how this is going to hurt for a very long time, but for this time that we have together, we are going to focus on how beautiful this


child is. I photograph them holding their child, loving on them and grieving for them. I focus on the tiny toes and soft lashes, and we often include special blankets, clothing and jewelry.

After I work with the parents, oftentimes siblings are included, as well as extended family. It’s a slow and gentle process with lots of tears, but also many smiles and stories about the dreams they had for their child and what pregnancy was like. We talk about how baby has Mommy’s lips or Daddy’s nose and how beautiful each part of him or her is.

One of my most special stories that I use to inspire the way my sessions unfold is the story of little Sadie Mae. Sadie’s mother had a difficult pregnancy and nearing the end, she was placed in the hospital on bed rest. Unfortunately, at the 30-week mark, she experienced a cord prolapse and Sadie was thrust into this world before she was ready. By the time I received the call, Sadie’s parents had already said their goodbyes to their sweet baby and requested that I simply photograph their daughter in a private room at the hospital. Once I laid eyes on that beautiful child and heard the story of her early arrival and how traumatic it had been for her parents to lose her like that, I could absolutely understand how difficult it would be for them to see her again. But I also knew from experience that you can never get this time back, and the healing would be so much less painful if the last memories of their daughter were soft and precious, rather than the intense fear and panic that surrounded her traumatic birth. In this case, I was fortunate enough to be allowed time to meet with the parents and encourage them to see their daughter again. What resulted from that second chance is nothing short of a blessing. Sadie was returned to her mother’s arms, and I was graced with witnessing more love than I ever thought possible. I photographed them taking in every moment with her and was so happy to know that after I left them, they spent the next few days holding her, singing to her and whispering how much they loved her. When I hear from Sadie’s mom these days, I am in awe of her strength and courage. Everyone knows about Sadie Mae. In fact, their beautiful baby graced the cover of their Christmas card this year — this is what healing looks like for them. Losing a child or a pregnancy shouldn’t be a secret that’s kept to avoid making others uncomfortable. I know I experienced shame that I had somehow failed our child, that my job as her mother was unsuccessful because she wasn’t there with us. How incredible would it be if we were all given the grace to always love? No shame or guilt, and, like in Sadie’s case, no regrets. At many times over this last year I have experienced fear about how I will continue to provide my services, sometimes after scrounging for change to get out of the parking garage after a long night’s work at the hospital. But never once have I thought of turning back. In fact, I’m pushing forward. I am currently searching for a way to fund The Grace Project on a larger scale. I have a wonderful network of folks I work with through CompassioNET and our local hospital. The need is there, the cases are available, but I need financial assistance in order to meet the community’s needs. It would also be wonderful to take it a little further by giving the families some prints or special keepsakes as a package. I am humbled and honored to be on this journey. I believe grace brought me here and by grace I just know this is going to turn into something beautiful. SYRACUSEWOMANMAG.COM :: MAY 2015


513 S. Main Street (RT 11) North Syracuse, NY 315-452-0744




BY SAMANTHA MCCARTHY I PHOTO BY JUSSARA POTTER One of the most rewarding experiences for Doulas of CNY owner Christine Goldman is when a mom says, “I didn’t know what it was going to be like and I can walk away knowing that step by step I accomplished my goal,” after her birthing experience. Christine has been helping pregnant mothers and their families during the birthing cycle since 2001. According to the company’s website, a doula is “now used to refer to a trained and experienced professional who provides continuous physical, emotional and informational support to the mother before, during and just after birth; or who provides emotional and practical support during the postpartum period.”

Before becoming a doula, Christine owned her own daycare for 17 years — so she could stay at home with her five children — and spent her nights working as a medical assistant in an obstetric office. She became interested in becoming a doula after attending a child birth class, and soon after began training through She has always had a passion for pregnancy education and helping pregnant mothers and families. “There is just something in my heart. I am passionate about birthing,” said the doula of 15 years. The process for becoming a doula is open-ended, with so many different avenues to pursue for a professional career. The training itself can go in so many different directions; doulas can complete their education online, hands-on or through a specific company. For pregnant mothers, the process of finding a doula is very personal — a doula needs to be comforting to both the mother and family. Typically, someone who is seeking a doula will call in and talk after visiting the website. An interview process is completed to find the doula that clicks with the mother’s and family’s needs and wants before making a decision. “A doula is a guide physically and emotionally — for both mom and her partner. Being part of a birth team as an advocate for her, with an objective view, can make the process less stressful,” said Christine. Every doula is available 24/7 for any questions via email, text or phone. There are personal and company-wide goals that Christine hopes to accomplish every time there is a new client. “Striving to always meet the mom’s expectations” is a personal goal of Christine’s, while staying involved in the community and taking the time to make the experience personal are important to the company as a whole. Knowing a pregnant mother met her goals and had the birth experience she wanted are the two most incredible things that happen at Doulas of CNY and, really, for any doula that works for the company, shared Christine. But with these successes come a few challenges as well. Being able to balance family and work and meeting everyone’s needs at the same time is very tough — but very rewarding. “Doulas have a serving spirit. We are very giving, and it is hard for us to say no,” said Christine, which is why a doula must take personal time and recharge. Preparation and partnership are also vital, explained Christine. As a mother of five, she has always planned accordingly to make sure continued on page 44)




“I really like customer service on a more personal level. I like the independent, small pharmacy approach.”



Compounding Pharmacist at Vernak Farms Pharmacy BY OLIVIA CUCCARO I PHOTO BY GERARD H. GASKIN

For Charlene Vernak, “every day is a good day at work.” Pursuing what she’s wanted to do since childhood, it’s not hard to believe. “Growing up in New Jersey, there was a small, independent pharmacy by my house,” said Charlene. “The pharmacist had a major relationship with both my family and our family doctor, and I liked it. It was just one of those things that I had always seen myself being able to do and enjoying.” While she may have known pharmacy was in her future, she never foresaw being recognized for it. This past October, Charlene was awarded the George Roentsch Scholarship by the Professional Compounding Centers of America (PCCA). “In my own community of pharmacists, I can’t think of a better compliment,” said Charlene. “I don’t know anybody who wasn’t affected by George Roentsch. He came up with some amazing formulations that are still used every single day all over the country. He was really a visionary and very open-minded. If in my life I never win another award, this is probably the best award I could get.” Charlene graduated from the Philadelphia College of Pharmacy and Science in 1997. After spending several years in retail pharmacy, her passion for helping others sparked an interest in a different approach. “There are a lot of people who are outside the bell curve, who are not responding to traditional treatments,” she explained. “I really believe that they need answers and options. The role of a pharmacist is to provide help when they can to both the physician and the patient, to be that link that can facilitate patient care. For me, compounding was really a no-brainer.” Pharmacy compounding is the preparation of personalized medications for patients. Based on a provider’s prescription, compounded medications mix individual ingredients together in a specific strength and dosage form to meet the unique needs of a patient. “Compounding is really custom medicine,” said Charlene. “It’s a patient-specific approach to healthcare.” After studying pharmacy compounding at the Medisca Compounding Site in Florida and receiving additional training from PCCA, Charlene decided she wanted to take what she’d learned and venture out on her own. “I really like customer service on a more personal level. I like the independent, small pharmacy approach. I wanted to have my own spin on it.” In 2007, Charlene and her husband Christopher opened Vernak Farms in Skaneateles. What began as a country store and deli eventually grew to include a pharmacy department, which Charlene supervises to this day. “Our business has really evolved. When we first opened, we couldn’t afford to have someone ring the register, so I’d be ringing people up holding my brand new baby!”



Since opening in 2010, the pharmacy department has become accredited by the Pharmacy Compounding Accreditation Board. Vernak Farms specializes in compounding medications for a variety of issues such as dermatology, pediatrics, custom hormones and (continued on page 44)


“No matter what I’m doing, it’s all about relationships.”



Assistant Director of Development, ACR Health BY AMARI D. POLLARD I PHOTO BY JUSSARA POTTER

Whenever people ask Jacki how she got into the not-for-profit world, she always says she fell into it “backwards and sideways.” It wasn’t until she was well into her career in sales and as an entrepreneur that she contemplated working for a not-for-profit when her friend Carrie Portzline-Large approached her about working for ACR Health. Back when she started in December of 2010, Jacki thought she’d only work in not-for-profit for a year, but then she became so passionate about the work she was doing. The startling statistics and stories helped her to better understand what teenagers were facing, and with two teenage boys of her own she realized those subjects were so close to her own life. “While learning about the actual age of sexual activity, and the statistics for drugs and pregnancy, I realized that none of my friends knew,” said Jacki. “And how could we raise our kids, and not know? So I’ve been doing it ever since.” One of the most startling revelations Jacki has had during her time at ACR as the assistant director of development is the role drugs play in teenagers’ lives. In the last year there was a 222 percent increase in heroin use in Upstate and Central New York; and the issue runs deeper than the needle of a syringe — it’s not just heroin. It’s opioids, it’s marijuana. And when children enter high-stress environments their exposure to such drugs surges. “There is not a fear there that needs to be there. They describe heroin as the best friend you’ve never had — you have no idea what your personality is until you take it,” said Jacki. “We just hired a youth syringe exchange position across the state because the average Caucasian, 50-year-old male is not the heroin user anymore; the age has gone down significantly.” Since Jacki joined the ACR team four years ago, the organization has evolved from AIDS and HIV education to 222 chronic illnesses. In an attempt to protect people, especially the youth, from the harm that comes with drug use, ACR has created a syringe exchange program as part of their model. If someone uses a needle for heroin or hormones or insulin, the center will give the person clean needles to use. This program has helped to reduce HIV and Hepatitis C severely in the areas it has been implemented in. The AIDS Institute of the New York State Department of Health estimates that the 21 established syringe exchange programs may be responsible for at least a 50 percent and possibly as much as a 75 percent decline in rates of new HIV infection. While some people still have reservations about syringe exchange programs, Jacki explained not only do these programs help people practice needle safety, but they also help to expose people to a support system and a different solution. “It could be the first relationship some users may have in order to take the first step to whatever their recovery looks like.” With experience in sales and marketing — and a bleeding heart — Jacki accredits her career background for providing her with a unique perspective and a great base as a not-for-profit employee, especially (continued on page 44) SYRACUSEWOMANMAG.COM :: MAY 2015





her children are well taken care of when she could not be there. This is where partnership comes in — partnership with her husband, who has a flexible job and could help with the kids when she wasn’t available, and partnership with her doula team. Partnership is also key when it comes to supporting a mother and her family. “The mom and partner work together, and the partner has to be the rock,” she said. “The doula guides the mom and helps the partner support the mom.”

nutrition. Patients and providers consult the pharmacy in instances such as: a need for medications that are no longer produced by pharmaceutical companies or drugs in short supply; allergies to ingredients in massproduced pills; or unique health needs that cannot be treated with the mass-produced drugs offered by regular pharmacies.

when it comes to speaking with large corporations. However, she does admit that the job comes with its challenges. Jacki said one of the most challenging aspects for her is learning to accept the fact that she can’t help every single person all the time — but that doesn’t mean she still won’t try.




Doulas of CNY offers antepartum, birthing and postpartum doulas to assist moms at every aspect of the pregnancy. Services like birth photography, belly casting, grocery shopping, placenta encapsulation and more are also available; as well as educational classes that cover topics including birth fitness, child birth education, breast feeding basics, birth plan consulting, comfort measures, VBAC prep, and a Dads Duty class. In addition, the company provides “Mommy Meals,” which are meal plans that help moms stay nutritious and satisfy cravings in a healthy way. All these services and classes go to show that “birth is unpredictable,” said Christine, which is why she and her team of doulas are trained to handle anything that comes their way. For more information, visit or like Doulas of CNY on Facebook at DoulasOfCNY.


“Some people feel like they’ve hit a brick wall,” said Charlene. “Instead of going into despair, it’s nice to feel like there’s something. Sometimes it’s just a matter of slowing down and listening. A lot of stuff is a little obvious, but everybody is moving so fast that, in the long run, it can affect the quality of care. We really take it personally and make sure it’s the best that we can do.” Charlene attributes the success of Vernak Farms to the support of her Central New York community. “It’s difficult, but what I do is rewarding. There are times when you ask, ‘Is it worth it?’ Then I see how welcoming people are in the community. There are patients who are happy every day. The store that we own is their store. They know how hard we work. It’s really helped us.” Vernak Farms Pharmacy is open five days a week and the country store seven day a week. For more information, visit


Every day is something different: one day Jacki could be writing grants and the next day she could be having conversations with different leaders in Carthage to talk about youth programming and why it’s important to be in their town. And as long as it helps to make a difference in the community, Jacki is up for any task. Although life can get pretty hectic for Jacki — working for ACR, running a business called Sugar & Spice Party Planners, waiting tables part-time and raising two boys as a single mom — she makes sure to take time for herself. A part of that fun and relaxation comes from managing Sugar & Spice, which hosts princess tea parties, spy parties at Method 360 and day spa parties. “I love that I get the best part of kids — I get the two hours. I take the stress out of it for parents. On the weekends I crawl around, goof off and play and use my imagination, which is a ton of fun.” For more information on ACR Health, visit


Spend Some Special Time with your Mom! One World Flower Festival Utica’s Oneida Square May 9, Utica

Theatre Du Jour presents ‘Murder at Cafe Noir’

Kristen’s Kitchen at Battle Island May 15, Fulton

Syracuse City Ballet: Swan Lake Crouse Hinds Theater May 15 - 16, Syracuse

Main Street First Opera and Broadway Treasures Masonic Temple May 16, Little Falls


For more events from around CNY MAY 2015 :: SYRACUSEWOMANMAG.COM

CNY Fiber Artists FIBER FESTIVAL June 13 & 14 • 10 AM to 5 PM Butternut Hill Campground Route 20, in Bouckville, NY

Enjoy these Fun Family Activities! Children’s Fiber Story Hour Wheel Corral Sheep Shearing & Dog Herding Demo! ENJOY THE MAGIC.... Fiber vendors • Animals Children's Activities • And more! Check us out on the web!

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In honor of Cinco de Mayo, I only felt it was appropriate to share a Mexican-style recipe with some heat (optional, of course). Since this recipe utilizes the crockpot, you don’t have to keep an eye on it — especially while you are busy preparing your margaritas! CHICKEN BURRITOS

Ingredients: 2-3 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts 1 large tomato, deseeded 1 medium white onion, chopped 2 jalapeño peppers, chopped small* 2 cloves garlic, minced or use a microplane grater 2 cups reduced sodium chicken or vegetable broth 1 teaspoon cumin Dash salt 1/2 teaspoon pepper 12-inch tortillas, flour or corn 1 can (15.25 oz.) black beans, rinsed, optional Brown rice, prepare following cooking instructions, optional 2 cups shredded colby jack and/or pepper jack cheese, can substitute reduced fat Optional toppings: salsa, fresh cilantro, plain non-fat Greek yogurt (a healthier choice over sour cream; you gain higher protein, lower fat, saturated fat, sodium and cholesterol) Directions: 1. Place the chicken in the crockpot and top with the tomato, onion, jalapeños, garlic, cumin, salt and pepper. Pour in the can of chicken broth. 2. Cook on low for six hours or high for three to four hours. If you plan to add black beans, add the can for the last half-hour of cooking. 3. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. 4. Once the chicken is done, while it is still warm, remove it from the crockpot, place it on a plate and use two forks to shred the chicken — insert them into the chicken and pull them apart.

5. Using a slotted spoon, scoop some of the beans, tomatoes, onion, peppers and garlic from the crockpot and stir into the chicken. Lay out the tortillas and place some chicken in the middle. Sprinkle some cheese over the chicken/beans and roll the tortillas. 6. Place in a greased 9 x 13 baking dish. Once you have placed all of the burritos in the dish, sprinkle additional cheese on top. 7. Place in the oven and bake for approximately 20 minutes, until all cheese is melted. Since the chicken is already cooked, you are just heating them through and melting the cheese.

*The seeds are the source of the heat in the peppers. If you would prefer a less spicy dish, remove the seeds when chopping the jalapeño pepper. For more heat, leave the seeds in!


Ingredients: 1 cup uncooked quinoa, rinsed 1 can (15.25oz) black beans, rinsed Vegetable broth Directions: 1. Exchange the quinoa and black beans for the chicken. If a lot of liquid remains, remove the lid, stir and leave uncovered for the last 30 minutes and it should absorb. If you feel there is not enough liquid over the course of cooking, pour some additional vegetable broth or water in. 2. Stir all ingredients and spoon onto the tortillas. Tips & Ideas You can easily double the recipe and freeze the extra meat. If making the chicken option, double all ingredients except the liquid and use three jalapeños, unless you are looking for a lot of heat. For the vegetarian option, you will need the additional liquid. Then, next time you just need to pull it from the freezer. This chicken or quinoa base can also be used as the meat in a taco — prepare the meat and use it in a hard or soft taco shell, or even on nachos! It is universal and allows the cook to make a variety of dishes. If you make a double batch, you can make burritos the first time, freeze the meat, and then make tacos theSYRACUSEWOMANMAG.COM next time. :: MAY 2015 45

cuse ::NEW IN THE


Aubrey Branagan tailors health & fitness for brides BY ALYSSA LAFARO I PHOTOS BY STEVEN J. PALLONE

“I want every bride to feel as fantastic as I did on my wedding day,” said Aubrey Branagan, an accountant-turned-personal trainer and the new owner of Aubrey Taylor Health & Fitness. “I know how special that day is.”

Aubrey has always been a fitness fanatic. She started gymnastics when she was just 4 years old and practiced rigorously for 14 years until an injury discontinued her passion. She managed to fill her need for exercise with cardio — “I was that girl always on the cardio equipment running, running, running,” she explained. Then, in January 2014, she began working with a personal trainer with the hopes to tone some areas of her body before her big day later that year in October. And so begins her love story with personal training. The encouragement from her trainer MC Riedy Davidson, the owner of Fayetteville Towne Center Fitness, made all the difference. “Really, I owe a lot of my success to her. She not only put me on the right track fitness-wise — she completely changed the way I look at working out. I went from an hour to two hours a day of cardio, to an hour or two hours a week of cardio. She taught me how to properly strength train, that women with muscles aren’t bulky and how to get a great physique for my wedding. Working with her made me get that feeling that I had back in my gymnastics days.” Throughout their training sessions, MC encouraged Aubrey to consider becoming a personal trainer. “And one day I thought, Maybe I will,” she said. She became certified in June, got her first client — and married — in October, acquired her DBA in December, and officially left her full-time job as an internal editor at a bank in February. 46 MAY 2015 :: SYRACUSEWOMANMAG.COM

Today, she specializes in bridal fitness through her Fit Fabulous Bride side of the business. “I want to help brides feel the best they can feel on their wedding day,” she said. When she takes on a new client, she begins by asking them when their wedding date is, “because that determines how their training will go. If it’s in the next three months, that’s a much different plan than next year. “For example,” she continued, “I have two different brides on each end of the spectrum — one is getting married this month and the other in August 2016. I saw my May bride twice a week for an hour in three different phases, each one gradually more intense than the other. She is petite and wanted to gain a little muscle and tone. I see my August bride twice a week for 30 minutes. Her sessions are much less intense and the goal is very different. She is someone who wants to lose a lot of weight, and she didn’t exercise at all before. Her plan isn’t so much set in stone;it’s more month-to-month when we do our weigh-ins to see how things are going.” Aubrey also places focus on at-home nutrition in her fitness plans. “I am a firm believer in that 80 percent of your results are your diet. We can spend hours and hours at the gym, but if you’re not eating correctly at home, you’re not going to have the results you want,” which is why Aubrey offers eating tips, recipes and meal plans to clients, if they want it. “I let the client decide if they want help with nutrition. I don’t want them to feel like I am telling them what to eat.” She also offers a weekly “Bridal Boot Camp” at Towne Center Fitness in Fayetteville. This private class is included in all packages for bridal clients, but individuals can also take the boot camp without signing up for private sessions. “I just want to impact lives and continue to motivate,” she concluded. “I want to spread happy and healthy to everyone.” For more information, visit



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Fun, fashion and all for a good cause — that’s what Hope for Heather’s third annual Breakfast at Tiffany’s Fashion Show was all about on Sunday, March 22. This year’s event, held at the Sheraton University Hotel, featured pre-show vendors, followed by breakfast and a fashion show featuring local boutiques. Syracuse Woman Magazine Editor Alyssa LaFaro walked down the runway with SWM veterans Stefanie Heath Higgins and Jill Smith, as well as former editor Farah Jadran, to support this beautiful organization that raises awareness for ovarian cancer. More than 350 people attended the event, which raised an estimated $15,000 for ovarian cancer research. Photos courtesy of Rick Policaastro.


Approximately 120 people headed over to Sky Zone Syracuse on Monday, March 30, to participate in Hiscock Legal Aid Society’s first-ever “Jumping for Justice” event. The organization — which provides free legal assistance to low-income residents of Onondaga County — raised $3,000. Participants could choose from an array of fundraising options including a dodgeball tournament, a jump-a-thon and a free jump. Jason Torreano, Hiscock’s director of development, told us the organization “hopes to slowly grow the event each year so it becomes a staple in CNY.”


CONNECTING TO WELLNESS WHEN: 8:30 a.m. to 12 p.m.

WHAT: CancerConnects presents a delightful morning of wellness for the mind, body and spirit, with yoga, Reiki, massage, fitness classes, meditation, wellness presentations and so much more. WHERE: The Wellness Center, 5700 W. Genesee St., Camillus INFO: Tickets are $25 presale and $30 at the door. For more information, visit or email



WHAT: Hospice of Central New York is “Celebrating Life Through Chocolate” and you are invited. There will be music, wine tasting, a silent auction — and all the chocolate you can eat! What a sweet way to support a great cause! WHERE: Bella Domani, 5988 East Taft Road, North Syracuse INFO: Advance sale tickets $30 each, $35 at the door. For more information, visit



WHAT: Join the Miss Syracuse Organization as they wish their best to nine local titleholders who will compete in Miss New York in June. Proceeds to benefit the Miss Syracuse Scholarship Organization and Salt City Legacy Scholars. WHERE: Twin Trees, 7608 Oswego Road, Liverpool INFO: Tickets cost $15/person and include a pizza buffet, cake and karaoke contest.



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WHAT: From the Ground Up Therapeutic Horsemanship is celebrating the 28th birthday of “Tina Turner,” a foundation mare for the Norwegian Fjord horse breed in the U.S. and one of its best therapy horses. Enjoy demonstrations, food, music, games, hiking and celebration. WHERE: From the Ground Up Therapeutic Horsemanship, 2130 Webber Road, New Woodstock INFO: For more information, visit or call 315-662-3000.

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May 6th-12th

The Public Employees Federation Supports the "Safe Staffing for Quality Care Act" The number of patients assigned to nurses has a direct impact on their ability to appropriately assess, monitor and care for patients.

Staffing ratios mandated in California PROVE that quality of care is improved, hospital stays are shorter and that lives are saved.

We Nurses Believe PATIENTS SHOULD COME BEFORE PROFITS and that hospitals should disclose the amount of patients your nurse is responsible to provide care for.

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