September 2015

Page 1


in her own words


sw inspire


special feature


Confronting the Disease




Superior stroke care. It’s about time.


hen it comes to stroke care, every moment matters. That’s why our EMS partners start assessing your condition even before you arrive at Crouse Hospital. And because we’ve streamlined our care delivery process, once you get here, you’re taken directly to our advanced CT imaging center, where our team of stroke specialists and clinical experts diagnose and immediately begin treatment. Patients needing higher-level care are quickly routed to one of two dedicated hybrid OR suites equipped with the region’s most state-of-the-art stroke care technology. Because saving moments saves more memory, mobility and lives. When it’s about time, say “Take me to Crouse.”


Letter from the Editor



Out & About 7



Fashion Forward: White After Labor Day


Platter Chatter: Muddy Waters


WBOC Leading Woman: Stacey Chilbert


In Her Own Words: Platoon Nana


Special Feature: Miss Heart of NY Nina Zesky


CNY Latina: Maria DeJesus


Special Feature: Be Your Own Boss


New in the Cuse: SpeakEasy CNY


Cover Story: Confronting the Disease



For a Good Cause: Joseph’s House for Women 32 Dollars & Sense: Children and Money


Special Feature: Kristie Carter


SW Inspire: Rebbecca Oppedisano


SW Inspire: Katherine Frontino


SW Inspire: Bobbi Hess Rogers


SWM Events & Calendar







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Letter from the Editor

mission to raise $425,000 to create a home to assist these women 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Well, they did it in less than one year — and are the subject of our For a Good Cause article this month.

A LITTLE HUMANITY Albert Einstein once said: “The world is not dangerous because of those who do harm, but because of those who look at it without doing anything.” Albert makes an excellent point — ignorance falls into the same category as violence, hate and oppression. Many of us are guilty as charged to wearing rose-colored glasses. It’s not difficult to get caught up in our personal cocoons, our own little worlds and the people in them. And the discomfort that goes hand-inhand with looking at serious topics like war and illness — and causes us to look away — unfortunately makes us just as guilty as those committing the offenses. However, I am proud to say that a handful of local organizations are drawing attention to causes that matter here Syracuse — and they’re proactively trying to create real change. Dr. Ednita Wright, Beth Hurny and Monika Taylor grace the cover of our September 2015 edition to educate and spread awareness about a topic that has dominated the news as of late: substance abuse. As the program director for OCC’s Alcohol and Substance Abuse Counseling Program, Ednita helps students learn how to become prevention specialists. Beth, the executive director of The Prevention Network, connects the community to prevention through programs. And Monika educates people after addiction as the director of Crouse Chemical Dependency. All three share their viewpoints on how addiction has changed in the past 20 years, how society views addiction, and how we, as a community, can work together to decrease alcohol and substance abuse. Maria Miller and Kitty Spinelli founded Joseph’s House for Women to give pregnant women who seek guidance a loving home and support during pregnancy and the early stages of their child’s life. Both felt called to this cause through prayer and made it their

Carol Wood writes our In Her Own Words piece this month. Most people know her as “Platoon Nana,” an advocate for military members and veterans. She began writing poems when her granddaughter Larissa joined the army in 2010. Today, her poems and efforts are becoming nationally recognized as a way to give hope to servicemen, women and their families; and educate people about the conditions they live with: the loneliness of separation and deployment, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), life-changing injuries and the alarming increase of suicide. Our group of Syracuse Women Inspires for the month is just as remarkable. Katherine Frontino helps disabled veterans grow their startup businesses as the national program coordinator for Syracuse University’s Entrepreurship Bootcamp for Veterans with Disabilities (EBV) and the Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans’ Families (EBV-F). Rebbecca Oppedisano touches people’s lives through music as the founder of Green Lakes Music Together. Her music classes help families and children 5 years and younger bond and grow. Autism Spectrum Disorder affects one in every 68 children — and that’s why Bobbi Hess Rogers founded Families for Effective Autism Treatment of Central New York (FEAT of CNY) in 2003. Today, the organization offers oneon-one support for families, and helps with expenses like working with behavior analysts, special education teachers and occupational therapists. All of the women featured in this issue are making real change in our community — and they do it because they believe in something strongly, strive to help others and aren’t afraid to look into the eyes of society’s problems. I’m not asking any of you to stop your life for a cause. But I do believe there are simple, everyday things we can do to be better humans. Be kind. Be honest. And don’t be afraid to give; gratitude, forgiveness and a hug can go a long way. Thanks for listening, Alyssa LaFaro


Dr. Ednita Wright, Beth Hurny and Monika Taylor were photographed by Chris Szulwach of The Story Photography ( at Onondaga Park in the Strathmore Neighborhood.


Kelly Breuer Barbara McSpadden


Barbara McSpadden


Alyssa LaFaro


PHOTOGRAPHY Ann Ellerton Gerard H. Gaskin Steven J. Pallone Alice G. Patterson Solon Quinn Chris Szulwach

CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Ashley M. Casey Alison Grimes Hayleigh Gowans Brittany Sperino Horsford Paige Kelly Alyssa LaFaro Samantha McCarthy Katharine M. Osborne Colette Powers Edwina Schleider Ann Marie Stonecypher Catherine Wilde Carol Wood


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.

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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.



Grab your running shoes and head over to Long Branch Park in Liverpool for the 21st annual Arc of Onondaga Race on Saturday, Sept. 12. Participate in the USATF-certified 5K run, certified half-marathon, KIDZ 1-Mile Fun Run or the 3K Fun Walk.


The Visit - Sept 11

The Visit focuses on a brother and sister who are sent to their grandparents’ remote Pennsylvania farm for a weeklong trip. Once the children discover that the elderly couple is involved in something deeply disturbing, they see their chances of getting back home are growing smaller every day.

This community-wide event provides a friendly atmosphere the whole family can enjoy. The event includes live music, entertainment, free snacks and refreshments, and an exhibition area with massages, giveaways, resources and vendors. Families can enjoy the Family Fun Zone with games and attractions for kids of all ages including face painting, clowns, crafts and more. Arc of Onondaga is one of the largest providers of services to people with developmental disabilities in Onondaga County, serving thousands of individuals and their families and employing 500 people. With nearly 40 different sites throughout Central New York, Arc provides a wide array of services including residential, day, employment and clinical, and recreation programs. For more information, visit

Everest - Sept 18 Everest documents the awe-inspiring journey of two different expeditions challenged beyond their limits by one of the fiercest snowstorms ever encountered by mankind. Their mettle tested by the harshest elements found on the planet, the climbers will face nearly impossible obstacles as a lifelong obsession becomes a breathtaking struggle for survival.

Captive - Sept 18 The true story of Ashley Smith (Mara), a single mother and recovering drug addict who was taken hostage in her own apartment by fugitive, murderer and accused rapist Brian Nichols (Oyelowo). With her back against the wall, Smith turned to the personal spiritual journey of Rick Warren’s best-selling book The Purpose Driven Life in an attempt to survive and help Brian find a better way out.

The Intern - Sept 25 In The Intern, Robert De Niro stars as Ben Whittaker, a 70-year-old widower who has discovered that retirement isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Seizing an opportunity to get back in the game, he becomes a senior intern at an online fashion site, founded and run by Jules Ostin (Anne Hathaway).


Support National Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month by attending the seventh annual Hope for Heather Teal Ribbon Run and Walk on Saturday, Sept. 19. Choose from the certified 5K or the 3K Family Fun Walk. Kids 12 and under can compete in the Teal Dash, new this year. Everyone will enjoy the free post-race family party and festival featuring food, music, raffles, games, crafts and more. The Hope for Heather Foundation honors Heather M. Weeks, who passed away at the age of 24 after battling colon cancer. The organization holds numerous events each year to raise money for ovarian cancer research, education and support for those affected by the disease that approximately 20,000 women are diagnosed with each year. For more information, visit


PEACE, Inc. is rolling out the red carpet for its 14th Annual Champions of Diversity event, to be held at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 30, at Drumlins Country Club. Tickets cost $125 and include stations, drinks, a silent auction and an awards ceremony honoring Rick Shafer, Community Service Award; George Kilpatrick, Lifetime Achievement Award; and Haylor Freyer & Coon, Corporate Commitment Award. PEACE, Inc. is Onondaga County’s federally designated Community Action Agency and seeks to help people become more self-sufficient by strengthening families, improving the conditions in which people live, encouraging people to own a stake in their own community, and developing partnerships with other organizations, businesses, and individuals to support these efforts. For more information, contact Sharon Thompson at 315-634-3719 or



forward ::FASHION

Not Wearing White after Labor Day, the Tooth Fairy and Other Childhood Fables Debunked

BY ANN MARIE STONECYPHER I PHOTOS BY SOLON QUINN PHOTOGRAPHY One of the most often asked fashion questions is: Can I wear white after every Labor Day? A better question should be, Why can’t I? To tackle this age-old question, we should probably look at where this controversial rule came from in the first place. Some say it is founded in practicality — white reflects the sun, making it more comfortable to wear in hot months. Others say it has more elitist, early 20th century roots. They believe that darker clothes represented the working class while the light, bright whites were more reflective of the well-to-do, who vacationed for the summer, shedding their urban duds for fulltime summer retreat wear. To whichever you subscribe, I hereby deem the statute antiquated, and relegate it to the annals of fashion history with the hoop skirt and the banana clip. As much as I am opposed to making more rules out of this, there are some tips to really making white work out of season. (If you wear any type of clothing out of its season, you risk looking out of place. You wouldn’t wear your snow boots in July.) The key is to think more about texture and weight than color, and try to find clothes that will cross into other seasons. I will buy a lightweight dark item because I know I can wear it into the warmer and cooler months. Conversely, I know my slightly heavier, light-colored clothing will transition better into the colder months, giving my whole wardrobe a little more seasonal longevity. White and shades of white fabric in denim, knits, tees and ponte (a polyester, rayon, spandex blend) added to your fall and winter wardrobe mix extremely well. Layering them with accessories like leather belts, scarves and boots creates some attention-grabbing looks as we have done on our models. All of the models are wearing clothes from their own closets, so chances are you have a lot of these things, too. Experiment with a long peasant skirt paired with a pop of chartreuse and denim shirt. Boots and a leather hat will round out

this striking bohemian look. Or grab your basic white blazer, cinch it at the waist with a wide, brown belt and add a scarf. (Do try a belt over your jacket.) We made white jeans a star in our shoot because they are such a workhorse. We paired them with a yummy knit poncho and boots, and with a red blazer and scarf for a pseudo equestrian look. Try a striped sweater and jacket, or mix patterns and add a quilted vest. My favorite look is winter white pants paired with a navy vintage coat. It’s a showstopper with a T-shirt and chunky pearls, but you could also substitute a cream turtleneck for additional warmth. The time to experiment with creating these new looks are when you are packing up your summer clothes and pulling out your cold weather garments. Play dress up with that eyelet dress by adding a denim jacket, brown leather belt and matching boots; finish with some turquoise jewelry to create a fun transitional look. Again, white jeans are a fabulous four-season warrior. They can be dressed up with high heels, dressed down with boots, and again dressed up with a classic navy blazer or dressed down with a denim shirt. Give it a try and remember, the mirror is your friend — if it looks weighty and you feel you are dressed for the weather, you probably got it right. The bottom line: If rules are meant to be broken, this one can go in the wood chipper. Oh, and I promised to tell you about the Tooth Fairy: Yes, she does wear white after Labor Day. Ann Marie Stonecypher is an award-winning businesswoman and the owner of AMS Models & Talent. She is also a stylist, inspirational speaker, cancer survivor and freelance writer, and lives in the Syracuse area with her children Taylor and Steven, and her dog Cocoa. Models from AMS Models: Kristin Bauer, Joyce Granger, Sarah Kirkpatrick, Sydney Wright. Styling: Ann Marie Stonecypher. Assistant Stylist: Tamara Pulley.




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Urban Cinematheque

Westcott Street Cultural Fair

SUDS! - The Rockin’ 1960’s Musical

An Intimate Evening with Syracuse City Ballet

September 4 @ 7pm Everson Museum of Art, Syracuse

Ends September 5 Cortland Repertory Theatre, Cortland

20th Annual Madison County Hop Fest September 18 - 20 Madison County Historical Society, Oneida

September 20, 2015 Westcott Street, Syracuse

September 23, 2015 BeVard Studio, Syracuse

The Calamari Sisters’ Big Fat Italian Wedding

September 9- 30 Auburn Public Theater, Auburn


chatter ::PLATTER

Bringin a Southern Kick to B’ville

Muddy Waters





“These people are knocking our doors down,” Tom Taylor says, gesturing to the tables of people basking on the patio of Muddy Waters Kitchen and Bar in Baldwinsville. On this particular day, Tom says a group of boaters enjoying the nearby Seneca River showed up 20 minutes before Muddy Waters opened, already hankering for some down-home cooking — and maybe some frozen hurricanes. While there are plenty of barbecue places in the greater ‘Cuse, there aren’t so many that are specifically, unapologetically Southern. So, in October 2014, veteran restaurateur and bar-owner Tom opened Muddy Waters, located at 2 Oswego St., as a nod to his relatives’ roots in South Carolina, where he enjoyed his grandfather’s fried chicken, grits, pimento cheese and soft-shell crab. Muddy Waters, located in the underbelly of the building that houses Tom’s other B’ville venture, Sammy Malone’s, is decked out in plank walls and neon lights, giving diners the feel of a party boat on the bayou. There’s an alligator head bursting through the bar, and classic rock is served up nice and loud — either over the speakers or from local live acts. Tom’s brother, David, is “the mastermind behind the whole menu,” which is heavy on the seafood and other New Orleans-inspired dishes, including Charleston crab hushpuppies, crawfish po’boys and duck fat French fries. There’s even a brunch menu with favorites such as Eggs Jenny, eggs Benedict topped with spicy shrimp — undoubtedly named for Forrest Gump’s true love — or French Quarter toast, French toast topped with bananas Foster. Tom spent 15 years operating bars in Armory Square, but as he grew older and began to raise a family, he wanted to change directions. “The concepts I had in Armory Square were a little adolescent — more bar-driven, more focused on the younger crowd,” he says. “We were successful, but I was becoming annoyed with the clientele. I just didn’t want to deal with the hassle.” Disillusioned with the rowdy crowds and burning the midnight oil, Tom decided to head north. His first foray into Baldwinsville was a bar called the Lake Effect, across the Seneca River from where he is now. Tom kept the neighborhood joint going for seven years before inspiration struck again. After some coaxing from his landlord, Tom opened Muddy Waters underneath his bar Sammy Malone’s. Tom credits his late friend and fellow restaurateur, Al Miller, with the name of the restaurant. Sadly, Al passed away in 2013, one year before Muddy Waters opened its doors. “It’s kind of a tribute to [Al] because he would absolutely love this place,” Tom says. Al, who dabbled in Southern cuisine himself, accompanied Tom to New Orleans as Tom developed the concept for what would become Muddy Waters. “We ate and we drank and we had a lot of fun. New Orleans is probably the coolest city in America,” Tom says. Tom pondered a few different names for the establishment, but Al came up with the winner: Muddy Waters, a name reminiscent not only of the famed blues musician but also the Seneca River rushing by the patio. “That’s perfect,” Tom recalls saying. “If you’ve ever had a house party … the party always ends up in the kitchen,” Tom says of the vibe at Muddy Waters. “It’s the culture: it’s about making the food, having fun and letting loose.” Muddy Waters’ kitchen is open from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday and from 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday. The bar is open from 4 p.m. to midnight Sunday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday and from 11:30 a.m. to 2 a.m. Friday and Saturday. Muddy Waters is closed Mondays. For more information, visit or like “Muddy Waters Baldwinsville NY” on Facebook. SYRACUSEWOMANMAG.COM :: SEPTEMBER 2015


leading woman ::WBOC

The Path of Least Resistance Stacey Chilbert finds her way in business BY ALYSSA LAFARO I PHOTO BY ALICE G. PATTERSON

Stacey Chilbert’s life has been an unpredictable one. She dabbled in marketing, spent a few years as a stay-at-home mom to her kids and worked as a nurse for 17 years. She did, however, have one goal that followed her wherever she went: “To be my own boss; to have my own business. And to spend time with my kids. That was always my dream,” admits Stacey, who, today, proudly co-owns Empire Specialty Printing — a screen printing and promotional products business — with her husband Dan Chilbert. Six years ago, Stacey and Dan loaded their four children into their van and spent two months traveling cross-country, with no definite plan of action. They admired the vastness of the Grand Canyon from a helicopter, stood in four states at the same time when visiting Four Corners (where Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona and Utah meet), and attended the X Games at The Staples Center in Los Angeles. “In preparing for this trip, we asked ourselves, How can we give this to our family? That was the beginning of our business.” Stacey affectionately refers to that summer as “the summer of yesses for a lifetime of nos.” They splurged and experienced life. And, although running their own business involved loads of elbow grease and dedication, Stacey and Dan have continued to take other trips with their children, like surprising them with a trip to Disney World for Christmas in 2014. “We have been able to show our children how they can have this kind of life,” explains Stacey. “And find something they love to do. We found a business we really love doing together.”

Empire Specialty Printing recently celebrated five years of business and, today, they are busier than ever, fulfilling orders for local schools and sports teams, hospitals, local businesses and “really anyone else who needs apparel,” says Stacey, who adds there is no job too small for the duo to handle. “Not only do we do screen printing and embroidery, but 12 SEPTEMBER 2015 :: SYRACUSEWOMANMAG.COM

we also do heat transfers, so we can do small orders of one or two items. A lot of businesses won’t offer that — and some people just don’t need 12 shirts or more.” An integral component to Stacey’s journey has been her involvement with WBOC (Women Business Opportunities Connections) and, similar to her life path, she really didn’t know where her membership would take her. But, today, Stacey is the organization’s acting vice president. In 2012, one year after joining, Stacey met Teri Nichols, who influenced her to meet new people in the organization by being a greeter at meetings. “It was a great opportunity to meet all the members,” she tells me. And apparently it was the right move — the following year, she was asked to join the board. “Teri was instrumental in that as well. I became a director-at-large that year.” This year, the acting vice president for 2013-2015, Nicole Davidheiser, as well as the former VP of Membership Allison Zales, recommended Stacey run for vice president for the 2015-2017 term. “I was so surprised,” says Stacey graciously. “WBOC becomes more and more of a passion each year because I keep meeting wonderful women and forming connections. I love to hear other people’s stories. That’s really why I’m in it.” She concludes with some helpful advice: “If you’re not having fun, then you’re doing something wrong. I think you need to have fun and passion for what you’re doing — to have excitement when you get up in the morning. Figure out what that is and let it guide you.” Women Business Opportunities Connections (WBOC) is a non-profit organization that has been supporting the Syracuse and CNY area for more than 20 years. To become a member, visit or follow the organization on Twitter at @WBOConnection. Syracuse Woman Magazine is a signature sponsor of the WBOC.

WH.09.8.5x5.5.qxp_Layout 1 8/25/15 11:59 AM Page 1

Join Us for NATIONAL WOMEN’S HEALTH & FITNESS DAY Wednesday, September 30 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Oswego Metro Center 100 S. Salina Street In Clinton Square, Syracuse Join Upstate Women’s Health and friends for a fun way to celebrate women’s health and fitness. Healthy food tastings and recipes, mini health talks, fitness demonstrations, screenings and our kick-off for Breast Cancer Awareness month.

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words ::IN HER OWN 16







Sympathy IGNITES Us. Empathy PROPELS Us.

Platoon Nana puts boots on the ground BY CAROL WOOD I PHOTO BY GERARD H. GASKIN

The first two questions are always the same: Who is Platoon Nana? and What do you do? My name is Carol Wood, and I am Platoon Nana. The heartwarming penname is a term of endearment bestowed upon me by my granddaughter Larissa’s boot camp unit. The second answer is as complicated as it is simple. My son Brian and I generate programs and products that support our military. We strive to achieve our goal by incorporating a love and appreciation of writing, poetry, music and art. Because the brand and sentiments are conducive to so many product lines, we invite licensing in order to reach a greater audience. My “darling soldier girl” was just 18 when she enlisted in the United States Army nearly five years ago. A tsunami of tears could have carried her more swiftly to Ft. Leonard Wood than the plane she boarded in Syracuse. In her backpack, she carried the laminated poem, “You Will Not Go Alone,” that I penned for the first leg of her journey. I committed to write ‘Riss daily and to compose a poem weekly for her unit for the duration of boot camp. It wasn’t long before she began forwarding me the names of soldiers who left mail call empty handed.


We felt confident in our ability to develop Platoon Nana into an effective platform. In addition to our newfound passion, we trusted that we had the necessary skills and discipline as well.

I had flexed my writing muscles on a beautiful project with internationally acclaimed artist Gregory Perillo. Greg commissioned me to collaborate on a beautiful art and poetry portfolio. Penning 30 poems to enhance 30 of his paintings gave me the confidence that I could meet deadlines and produce the caliber of work that would sell in the art community. Greg gifted our first portfolio to former Governor Mario Cuomo and his wife Matilda. I was signed to write, “Color Really Doesn’t Matter.” The children’s book espousing the unity of races was illustrated by Joe Glisson and published by Featherdown. I was beginning to feel ink in my veins. Currently, I am editing a children’s book from the perspective of a military mom or dad. A lover of music, it was just a matter of time before poems morphed into lyrics and found melodies. Our first release, “You Don’t March Alone,” was introduced at the Veteran’s Day Memorial program. Local writer and performer Maka Rouge collaborated with us on the CD produced at Sub Cat Studios. We hope to find an equally talented male country singer to interpret our next release, “Dog Tags and Crosses.”

As I immersed myself in the military environment, I was becoming more educated about the myriad of conditions reserved for the mere 1 percent that serve: the loneliness of separation and deployment, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), life-changing injuries and the alarming increase of suicide. We lose more servicemen and women to suicide than combat.

Our motto, “You Don’t March Alone,” sets the tenor for our programs, products and campaigns. We are introducing a “You Don’t March Alone” t-shirt line. One version features the silhouette of a wife or sweetheart in the shadow of a soldier; the other an angel. Additional images are in the hands of our graphic art designers.


We often receive correspondence from people who have read my poems and want to share their personal experiences with me. Many of them have children in the military and find that my words help them cope. Here’s an excerpt from a recent note I received.

There is an assumption that Platoon Nana is a not-for-profit organization. We opted early on not to assume the posture of a charity. Swimming in red ink is not for the faint of heart. Red ink is less buoyant than black, but the exercise builds strength, stamina and endurance. Our plan is to build a viable business that supports our troops through profits and to provide a model that attracts and employs veterans. I find consolation in articulating the “fight and plight” of our military. I rely on my God-given passion, compassion and empathy — along with a little humor. I feel blessed to be the face and voice of Platoon Nana, but am the first to acknowledge that it is Larissa’s dad that is the heart and head of our operation. My son Brian owns a local art gallery and premiere frame shop. He brings strong business skills and experience to the Platoon Nana vision. His spirit and passion have been ignited to the extent that he is transitioning from retail to a full-time commitment to build the brand. His current attention is concentrated on connecting with the “perfect” marketing firm that shares the vision.


Two of your poems made me cry. “Hold on Another Day” said all the things I would have loved to have said to my son Kevin. You said what I couldn’t put into words. “God Only Knows” touches me deeply and filled me with tears and, yet, I felt comforted. After reading it, I called another son and read it to him. He asked me for a copy that he could share with others. We can’t thank you enough for your thoughtfulness and giving spirit. From one mother to another, I send you a heartfelt embrace. I hope to continue to shine a light on our military’s unique needs addressing the loneliness, separation, camaraderie, patriotism, valor, PTSD and alarming rate of suicide. Persuaded that the pen is indeed mightier than the sword, I won’t be putting mine down any time soon. For more information on Platoon Nana, visit, like her on Facebook at or follow @PlatoonNana on Twitter.

feature :SPECIAL



nina zesky




CONSTRUCTING HER OWN Nina Zesky combines her passion for architecture and school security to create a platform that is all her own in the Miss America pageant system


Nina Zesky knows her way around a woodshop. She looks at ease there, even in her high heels and glimmering crown. The Miss Heart of New York titleholder — and recent second runner up at the Miss New York pageant — has gained local and state recognition for her subject of study at college: She is an environmental design major with a minor in architecture at the University at Buffalo. According to the Association of Collegiate Schools for Architecture: “The farther you look in the world of architecture, the fewer women you see.” It’s true. Fewer than 50 percent of women are represented in the field of architecture, reports the National Architecture Accrediting Board. The Kirkville resident attributes her passion for design and construction to many years spent in woodshop at East Syracuse Minoa High School. “I was the only girl in class,” she remembers, “and all my teachers really seemed to love it. They recognized that I wanted to be there and learn — not to be with all the boys — and were really supportive of that passion.” But Nina’s appetite for architecture remains just one of a handful of attributes that cause her to stand out in the pageant world. She also presents an interesting platform: school security. Inspired by her two parents, who are retired Manlius police officers, Nina says safety played an important role in her upbringing. So, today, she discusses school security and anti-bullying in her pageant platform.

such goals. “Ever since I was little, I knew I wanted to be an architect,” she notes. “Promoting STEM is so important to the future of the country. And you don’t see many women in these types of careers. I think it’s important that we let young girls know they can do this and be great at it.” Over the summer, Nina spent time helping out at the Northern Onondaga Public Library’s Makers Club, teaching young patrons how to make their own ideas come to life by using library resources and technology. Nina’s fascination with architecture and school security aren’t the only unconventional aspects to her participation in the pageant world. She suffers from a neurological condition called convergence insufficiency, which means it’s difficult or her to focus on objects. “It can be hard for her to tell the difference between something coming at her and something going past her,” explains Nina’s mom Nadine. And although this means that Nina needs to wear her glasses during competition, she truly hopes this essential wardrobe staple inspires others to be comfortable with themselves in their own skin. In fact, she is only the second woman in nearly 30 years of the Miss New York competition to compete while wearing glasses.


Although Nina never really thought she would be the type of girl to be involved in pageants, she’s truly fallen in love with her platform and plans to continue to be an avid participant in the scholarship program. This month, she will compete in the National Sweetheart competition. “One thing Miss America does is put on a Miss Sweetheart competition, which is pretty much a mini Miss America,” she explains. “They offer it to the first runner-up from every state, but the first runner-up in New York this year declined, so it went on to me and I am now Miss New York Sweetheart. I will be representing the state of New York in Illinois and compete for the National Sweetheart title.”


The experience and reward of making a difference in so many people’s lives is something Nina says she has been grateful for in her involvement in the Miss New York scholarship competitions. Although, learning more about herself has been a significant aspect. “The most important thing I’ve learned through this is to not hold myself back and to let myself be as amazing as I can be. I’ve really learned to open my horizons,” she says proudly. “This year, I experienced a lot of personal growth and I had a lot of great people in my life helping me for Miss New York. But a lot of it was kind of maturing on my own and — I know this sounds really corny — finding myself.”

Nina also includes the importance of STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) careers in some of her presentations. She strives to inspire the younger generation, especially women, to pursue

To learn more about Nina Zesky and follow her progress at the Miss Sweetheart competition, like her Facebook page “Miss Heart of New York 2015.”

The crown brings much responsibility to those who wear it, something many people probably don’t recognize when they think of the pageant world. But that’s what drew Nina to pageants in the first place. Today, she utilizes that responsibility to present her “You Be the Hero” program at local schools. “My theory is that, if we can’t protect our kids, then we can’t educate them properly. It’s not a topic many are comfortable talking about. My goal is to encourage kids in their confidence, to teach them to be their own superhero and to influence them to speak up if they think something is wrong or important.”

{comes true}



a childhood DREAM

BY ALISON GRIMES I PHOTO BY ANN ELLERTON What do you want to be when you grow up? Children are asked this question throughout their childhood and well into their young adult years. Today, they are aspiring to be (in order of priority): superheroes, celebrities, doctors, presidents, teachers, royalty, astronauts, chefs, police officers and, for some, Santa Clause. Maria DeJesus wanted to be a teacher. Today, she teaches Spanish at the Jamesville-DeWitt School District. But it took Maria a while to get here, and it wasn’t an easy journey. The question above ignites imagination, fulfilling a child’s wildest dreams, until it develops with age into: What do you want to study in college? What’s your major? What are your plans after graduation? Although these questions are just as open to imagination and fulfillment of dreams, they become more daunting and pressured when given the opinion of family and friends and while considering the required schooling. For Maria, pressure and challenges were a mere exercise in fulfilling her childhood dream of becoming the teacher she always admired. Maria’s inspiration came from her fifth grade teacher, Mr. Albert Freedman of Dr. Edwin Weeks Elementary School on Hawley Avenue in Syracuse. Aside from the fact that Mr. Freedman also taught Maria’s mother, aunt and uncles, she always admired the way he was able to connect and build meaningful relationships with each and every student. Looking up to him, Maria knew that, one day, she would run classrooms the same way. Four to five years later, as a senior at Westhill Central High School, Maria faced the greatest blessing and challenge simultaneously: motherhood. Just 18 years old, Maria remained as focused as ever in her career track, determined to be the first in her family to graduate from college and fulfill her dreams of becoming a teacher. Before starting her education track at Le Moyne College, she took time to tend to her young daughter, Mikayla. Nojaim Brothers Supermarket on the corner of Gifford and West streets in Syracuse offered her work. Here, Maria sharpened her discipline and leadership skills. Starting as a cash register attendant, Maria quickly proved herself a great manager at the supermarket, eventually leading summer programs for children, where she enjoyed connecting with inner city children the way Mr. Freedman did with her and her family during elementary school. Maria’s experiences at Nojaim helped enhance her discipline and the leadership skills that would help mold her career later on. Once Maria began her coursework at Le Moyne, she lived in public housing and impressively made up twice the coursework she missed while first caring for her newborn daughter. Difficult as it was, Maria was inspired by Mikayla on a daily basis to continue — giving up was never an option. She was guided by her professors and inspired by her high school Spanish teacher Kristin Schahczenski, the current department chair at Westhill, to concentrate in Spanish education. Maria graduated from Le Moyne College as a Spanish teacher in half the time it would take a traditional student. Easier said than done, her hard work and determination paid off. She remembers motivating herself along the way with a quote that has stuck by her for years: “If there is one thing in this world that no one can take away from you, it’s your education.” Ten years, one thriving marriage and three strong and beautiful daughters later, Maria is proud to connect her Puerto Rican upbringing with her Spanish education curriculum and students of the Jamesville-Dewitt School District. Proud as she is, Maria’s education track does not end here. She aspires to complete her CAS degree to inspire genuine and meaningful connections with even more students as an administrator. As soon as her third, now 3-month-old daughter, is old enough to be asked, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” Maria will continue to work hard to inspire those around her, while reminding them that education is yours and always yours. Stay tuned.



This article was provided by the CNY Latino newspaper, the only Hispanic-oriented publication in Central New York. The Spanish version of this article can be read in this month’s edition of the CNY Latino newspaper, in both the traditional paper version and/or the digital format at

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BE YOUR OWN BOSS Starting a business? Learn how to maximize your support team. BY EDWINA SCHLEIDER You have always wanted to be an entrepreneur — the owner of a business that will provide a service or create and market a product that you feel will be welcomed into the marketplace and allow you to prove to yourself and others that your dream can become reality. You’ve been thinking about this business for days, months, maybe even years, and you have finally come to the conclusion that your time is now. An attorney for more than 25 years, I work with new business owners and am personally involved in my own businesses. There is little that gives me more professional pride than working with a new business owner and watching her grow and establish herself in our community. After squaring away the details of your business — like finances, time management, competition and marketability — you’ll need to finalize your business plan and form your support team. Your business plan should be in writing, and be clear and concise. This is your message to yourself and to those you are going to be working with that you are serious, committed and ready to move forward. FIND A SUPPORT TEAM: LAWYER, ACCOUNTANT, BANKER Whether you are starting a new business or buying an existing one, your lawyer, accountant and banker are going to be your key people and are best chosen through referral or networking with other business connections. To make the best use of your support team, you should have already have that business plan in place to present to your team and fine-tune your startup process. Your team is there to help you identify and focus on your long-term goals and to assist you in charting that road map to get you to those goals. They should, ideally, communicate efficiently and effectively with each other.



The goal for your lawyer will be to assess your needs, and give advice for the formation of the most appropriate legal entity for your new business. Because of the variety of types of businesses, there is no one simple choice, and your lawyer can form your entity, thereby avoiding any inadvertent mistakes you might make if you attempt to do so yourself. In addition, there will potentially be regulations to review, contracts to draft, leases or purchase agreements to finalize and, if you are going to have others involved in the business as co-owners or employees, then your relationships should be formalized in writing. Getting input from your accountant for the choice of entity is also a key component. Your accountant can assess the financial information you have organized and review with an experienced eye to make sure that you have not overlooked any costs associated with taxes, filing fees, etc. Choosing your banker as part of your team is also important. The financial institution for a startup business should help your business run smoothly and, ideally, be able to provide you with resources for expansion once you have been able to successfully sustain your business. Doing your homework and formulating your business plan are key to moving forward with a business and to being your own boss. Choosing the team of professionals you can relate to, maximizing their expertise and letting them share your passion will all combine for a smooth launch of a new business. Edwina Schleider is an attorney in Syracuse, concentrating her practice in all aspects of Residential and Commercial Real Estate, Entity Formation, Business Law and Zoning. She is a member of the WBOC, Greater Syracuse Association of Realtors and Executive Women’s Golf Association. Working creatively with business owners as they start a new endeavor is a particular passion of hers. For more information or to contact Edwina, visit or email her at



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Take your mask off and speak for yourself



SpeakEasy CNY

BY BRITTANY SPERINO HORSFORD Public speaking and presenting, along with the evolving landscape of social media and video, are all important tools business owners can equip themselves with. Whether the goal is to attract clientele, seal the deal with a new sponsor or rebrand in a different direction, a credible and distinctive voice in person and online goes a long way. Joleene Moody, a creative coach, professional speaker and author, and Joanne DelBalso, owner of No Fuss Accounting Services and social media virtuoso, put their heads together to create an event to help business owners capitalize on their voice. Joleene and Joanne will be sharing their expertise at SpeakEasy CNY. “I had an idea for an event, and I knew it had to revolve around public speaking and video,” explains Joanne. “At the same time, Joleene had an idea in her own mind. We put our heads together and in a couple of hours SpeakEasy CNY was born.” SpeakEasy CNY will be from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 22, at the Crowne Plaza in Syracuse. The one-day Mardi Gras-themed event encourages attendees to “take your mask off and speak for yourself.” “It’s a transformational event for business owners and entrepreneurs who want to use speaking and presenting to potentially increase their income and clientele,” says Joleene. “SpeakEasy is a Central New York first. There are a lot of business conferences and women’s events, but we wanted something unique for men and women. This event is primarily to help people improve their communication and presentation skills, and get them back out there in front of people, so their clientele search isn’t agonizing.” Joleene and Joanne will be teaching two sessions each, focusing on different areas. Joleene will be focusing on how to find/create paid 24 SEPTEMBER 2015 :: SYRACUSEWOMANMAG.COM

speaking opportunities and how to write a talk and deliver it fearlessly. “We want people to find their strength and confidence,” she emphasizes. Joanne’s sessions will focus on the power of video and social media. “If they don’t have a video of themselves, I will be speaking on how they can get one done and different ways to use it,” she explains. “You can use social media to market yourself as a speaker, tell the world what you do, and brand and build your authority and community. For example, on Facebook we’re seeing video a lot more rather than just a stagnant post. “I want them to become more knowledgeable about the world of social media, learn how to promote themselves and, basically, just have a good time,” she continues. “I want them to be able to walk away with a nice tool belt full of tips and tricks that they’ll be able to implement into their business.” The duo hopes to appeal to a specific niche. “It’s for anybody that needs to learn how to improve themselves or sell their product or service in front of a crowd,” notes Joleene. Joanne concludes: “Our goal is to show people you could get the opportunity to speak — and maybe it’s not a paid speaking gig — but you could still make money off of it. You could offer a free consultation or have them sign up for your email list and sell to them down the road. You have a captured audience during a presentation; you want to use opportunity to connect and network with them and say, ‘Yes, I’m real. Yes, I’m true. You can trust me.’” People can register for the event at Tickets are $197. Anyone interested in attending or sponsoring the event can visit the site for more details.


story ::COVER

Confronting the D





BY ALYSSA LAFARO I PHOTOS BY CHRIS SZULWACH “The system in which we live is an addictive system. It has all the characteristics and exhibits all the processes of the individual alcoholic or addict. It functions in precisely the same ways. To say the society is an addictive system is not to condemn the society, just as an intervention with an alcoholic does not condemn the alcoholic. In fact, those of us who work with addicts know that the most caring thing to do is not to embrace the denial and to confront the disease. This is the only possibility the addict has to recover. Just as with the addict, one has to say that the society has a disease. It is not itself the disease. If it admits having the disease, it has the option of recovery.” — Anne Wilson Schaef, “When Society Becomes an Addict” Beth Hurny, Ednita Wright and Monika Taylor chat, laugh and pick on each other like old friends as they overlook the city of Syracuse from Onondaga Park. Intellect, joy and respect emanate from all of them. And, although they seem like a traditional trio of girlfriends, their bond and connection stems from something that plagues our society daily: addiction. For the past year or more, media outlets in Syracuse — and all over the world, really — have brought light to a startling abundance of stories on heroin addiction. But it’s more than that. Just last year, the New York State Department of Health reported that Onondaga County has the highest rate of newborns with drug-related problems in the state. This year, the Upstate New York Poison center received 414 synthetic marijuana calls — and 256 of those calls, 62 percent, came from Onondaga County. And, according to ACR Health, of the more than 1,300 people who use their Needle Exchange Program, nearly 95 percent of them are heroin users. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, 23.5 million people ages 12 and up needed treatment for an illicit drug or alcohol abuse problem in 2009. More than 15 million of those people are alcohol-dependent, nearly 4 million are dependent on drugs, and the rest are dependent on both. These staggering statistics beg the questions: How can we prevent drug abuse from happening? What in our society stimulates the need for people to escape? And how can we, as a community, educate one another and make a change? Beth, Ednita and Monika helped me answer those questions.


Last August, after eight years as the director of services, Beth Hurny became the executive director of Prevention Network, a not-for-profit that implements and supports strategies promoting healthy choices that prevent addictions and address related concerns. In short, Beth connects the community to prevention through programs. “I want Prevention Network to be the resource for information, education and understanding prevention and what it means,” she shares. “I think there’s a lot of misinformation out there that prevention is strictly educational. While that is an incredibly important role, there is a whole community piece that I don’t believe people have a solid understanding of.” Research shows, according to Beth, that the most effective prevention efforts take place at the community level because they focus on environmental strategies to make population-level change. “We, as a community, need to come together and realize we all have a role. The problem affects us all, and we can all be a part of the solution, but we have to be willing to come to the table.” To tackle that great responsibility, Prevention Network strives to bring together churches, businesses, schools, government officials and all other community sectors to create a holistic strategy to tackle the problem at large. “We really have to start talking about what’s really going on here,” agrees Dr. Ednita Wright, the coordinator for the Alcohol and Substance Abuse Counseling Program at Onondaga Community College (OCC). “We can no longer just look at the individual and say, ‘You are the addict. You are the problem.’ Addicts grew from somewhere — and we have to figure out how community or society helped or hindered their ability to become a human being. We have to start talking like that. Not as if addiction and society don’t meet. It can’t be just about the drug.”

story ::COVER

“We need better transition periods from rehab to real life — more halfway houses, recovery homes, supportive living places. Group therapy doesn’t happen on a corner.” — Dr. Ednita Wright


Observing society as a whole goes hand-in-hand with observing the addict as a whole. “An addict needs to have access to affordable medical services, counseling, housing, healthy food,” explains Ednita. “These kinds of things impact not only people who are already addicts, but people who aren’t.” One thing that has improved since Ednita entered the field more than 30 years ago is that relapse is finally considered part of the recovery process. It helps the addict discover his/her triggers. “And then we need to support them,” says Ednita. “We need better transition periods from rehab to real life — more halfway houses, recovery homes, supportive living places. Group therapy doesn’t happen on a corner.” Monika Taylor, the director of Crouse Chemical Dependency, adds that we, as a society, need to remember how big of a deal it is for people to make major life changes. “I look at my life and think how hard it is just to get into a new exercise routine,” she says. “We are asking people to turn their life completely around. And then, when they relapse, it’s seen as a character flaw, that they are a ‘bad person.’ But if a diabetic doesn’t follow protocol, you don’t see people pointing a finger at them. And I realize the difference between the two — relapsing from substances is not the same as relapsing from diabetes — but I think we still have a lot of stigmas and judgments when it comes to substance abuse disorders that prevent people from getting the help they need. I would like try to remove some, if not all, of them.” Beth notes that, to truly help patients, the most important thing you can do is listen. “You have to talk to the people you serve to find out what they need,” she shares. “And then, when we are able to respond, that is a pretty powerful experience. But it all starts from taking the time to listen. Clients know themselves; they know what they need.”

the triggers and stressors that got them using substances in the first place,” explains Monika. Because of this, Crouse Chemical Dependency really tries to focus on the individual. “For some people, meditation can be a very valuable tool for them to learn in treatment. Others need to learn how to have fun without substances. It’s important not to just focus on substance abuse. In fact, many patients have co-occurring mental health issues. And addiction counselors need to recognize these issues and then refer to someone with expertise in that area, as many clinicians working in the substance use field don’t have the necessary skill set to treat mental health.” This correlation between addiction and mental health explains why OCC requires students in the Alcohol and Substance Abuse Counseling Program to take Psychology 103 and Special Populations. “Psychology 103 gives students a generic look at psychological illnesses and health, as well as the history of psychology,” details Ednita. “Special Populations looks at mental health and substance abuse within specific populations, like adolescent co-occurring disorders, veterans, addiction and more.” It’s also why New York State is considering merging its Office of Mental Health with the Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services. “There’s such a profound and significant correlation between addiction and mental health issues,” notes Beth, who has more than 20 years of experience working as both a Credentialed Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Counselor (CASAC) and a Licensed Master Social Worker (LMSW). Although there is a direct relationship between substance use and mental health, Monika remains unsure about the Office of Mental Health and the Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services coming together “because the substance abuse field is much smaller than the mental health field. Addiction could get lost in the shuffle, and we might end up losing much needed resources.”

A LINK BETWEEN ADDICTION AND MENTAL HEALTH REMEMBER: ALCOHOL IS A DRUG, TOO People who suffer from addiction “need to be taught tools to deal with

Although there’s been a focus on substances like heroin and synthetic

marijuana lately, alcohol remains one of the deadliest drugs because of its legality. “Alcohol is socially acceptable, more so than anything else,” says Beth, “which makes it difficult for people to recognize that it’s problematic. It gets overlooked often because it is readily available — and ‘not as bad as’ fill in the blank. A drug is a drug is a drug, and alcohol happens to be a drug.” Ednita agrees with Beth. “I still think alcoholics are the hardest people to reach recovery and stay,” she says. “It’s one of the most dangerous and lethal drugs — and not just because it’s legal, but because people still see it as something other than a drug.” Monika adds that, for many years, it was the “drug of choice.” It wasn’t until 2011 that opiates began to surpass alcohol in regards to abuse.


Since all three women have been in the substance abuse field for 20 years or more, they’ve been able to see it change over time. While we now recognize relapse as a part of rehab and the fact that mental health may be linked to the problem, there are still complications in the field. “It’s gotten messier,” says Ednita. “Years ago, people were pure alcoholics and pure heroin addicts and pure cocaine addicts. But, today, people experiment with multiple drugs. And the drugs themselves aren’t pure. People don’t understand what it is they’re consuming, what the drugs are being cut with, how they’re being made.” Synthetic and manmade drugs really muddy the waters, says Beth. “Addiction is a more powerful beast, today, than it ever was. It’s harder on all levels because you’re not always sure what you are dealing with. The drugs have gotten more powerful, more potent and are full of things we don’t even know. And, not only are the drugs more powerful, but the environment is more toxic. We don’t have the resources to appropriately, adequately, effectively help people.” Users really don’t know what they’re getting anymore, notes Monika. “Synthetics get mixed with all kinds of ingredients, including acetone. And the

drug formulas keep changing. I’ve spoken with patients who, for example, use crack cocaine, and even they’ve admitted they’d never touch synthetic drugs.”


For Beth, Ednita and Monika, an integrated approach to addiction, where society stops blaming the individual, would be a blessing. Ednita references a book she read years ago called, “When Society Becomes an Addict,” written by Anne Wilson Schaef in 1987. The book discusses how society systemically produces addicts, and that, if we could just admit that we, as a society, have a disease, we can begin to heal from it. “We have to show the community that each person plays a role in addiction,” explains Beth. “It’s not about finger-pointing. It’s about coming together and recognizing we can all do something small. It’s like weaving a community tapestry, and if we all sew our part, we are going to have a finished product reflective of everyone involved.” Available funding goes hand-in-hand with societal acceptance of addiction, adds Monika. “Society needs both prevention and treatment. Combat Heroin, which was signed into law last year, raised a lot of awareness. But it’s done little for funding. Rehabilitation centers, typically, have long waitlists for people who need help. Awareness will only work if we have funding for treatment and vice versa.” Lastly, all three are hopeful that society will recognize that nature and nurture both play an integral role in addiction. “It’s not just nature and it’s not just nurture,” notes Ednita. “We need to figure out how we can create human beings that care about themselves, that see themselves as valuable contributing members of society. They are not just a number; they are a person who creates. We have to stop fighting each other and use all our resources to help folks that fall into this pit. Addiction is a spiritual process — the way in which someone sees the world. It’s about love and fear.” To learn more about prevention efforts in CNY, visit

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A home that never stops giving BY SAMANTHA MCCARTHY

“The mission was placed on both of our hearts,” shares Maria Miller, as she explains how the name Joseph’s House came about. In biblical terms, Saint Joseph took care of Mary while she was pregnant, something that Maria and Kitty Spinelli felt related to their mission: to “give a loving, supportive home to homeless, pregnant women while teaching them life skills to live independently two years after having a child.” Running 24 hours a day, seven days a week and 365 days a year, Joseph’s House for Women never stops giving to women in need. Maria and Kitty provide a loving home for pregnant women who seek guidance and support during pregnancy and during the early stages of their child’s life. With tremendous community support, Maria and Kitty were able to put together the finances to start Joseph’s House in Syracuse. “One of the most amazing miracles of Joseph’s House, and there are many, is that we were able to raise $425,000 to purchase our home in 90 days,” says Kitty, who adds that $40,000 was still needed to fully own the house. Just four days before the offer was going to expire, someone made the call and wrote the check for $40,000. Joseph’s House officially opened on March 19, 2014. The Burnet Avenue home becomes a family for the women who live there. While each woman in residence has different needs and wants, structure remains evident. Chores, curfews and responsibilities are all part of living in the house. In exchange for their help, residents are given guidance and support through the organization’s Life Skills Programs, which “focus on parenting, money and time management, spirituality, gratitude, nutrition and a host of other topics,” explain Maria and Kitty.

The house is set up like a dormitory living space, so the bathrooms, kitchen and laundry areas are all shared. There is also a chapel in the home to provide “a place for these young moms to reflect on their lives, contemplate what God has planned for them, and consider the bounty they can receive by taking part in our program,” notes Kitty. More than 30 women have been housed and helped by Joseph’s House, and many keep in contact with Marie and Kitty after living independently. Although Joseph’s House is a beautiful home with lots of support, there are still challenges that the home for women faces. Cost is one of the main concerns. “The home runs 24/7/365 and, as we all know, costs never go down, they only go up,” says Kitty, adding that fundraisers throughout the year are a necessity, so the house can give the pregnant women who stay there the care they need. Volunteers are always needed, as well, because of the organization’s commitment to full-time support. These challenges present a few setbacks for the home, but they don’t prevent Joseph’s House from providing services at all times. On Thursday, Sept. 24, Joseph’s House will host its second annual “A Lullaby Celebration” — one of the fundraisers that helps “encourage moms to believe in themselves,” comments Maria. The event will take place at Drumlins Country Club from 6 to 9 p.m., and tickets can be purchased on the Joseph’s House website for $50. The ticket includes dinner, and the winning ticket for a 2015 Tahoe LTZ will be pulled at the fundraiser. Maria and Kitty want to personally thank all of the sponsors for this year’s event. Kitty concludes: “In reaching out to these young moms and children in charity and love, we receive back 100 times more than we give through this blessed, life-affirming home, Joseph’s House.” For more information, visit or like them on Facebook at



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Tips to teach them about finances early on BY COLETTE POWERS One of the most important lifetime skills we can teach our children is how to handle money — how to save it, spend it, budget it, invest it, borrow it. However, while school classes typically include math, science and English, many formal educational programs leave the job of teaching financial skills to parents. So, what are some of the strategies parents can use to help their children develop good money management skills?


An allowance can be a good way to introduce the concept of money management and budgeting to your children. The question of whether to link an allowance to chores varies from family to family, however, once an allowance is agreed upon, it is important to discuss what you expect the allowance to cover. Do you expect your child to use their allowance to buy toys or pay for a movie night with friends? Also, you may wish to help them divide the allowance for saving, spending, investing and giving. This bucketing approach can be used with other types of income, too, like babysitting, lawn mowing, a lemonade stand. The concept should remain the same: Not all money made should be allocated to immediate spending.


For every dollar they set aside from their earnings, you may choose to match some or all of what they save. This illustrates how important you feel it is that they save. Sit with them each month and review their bank statement discussing beginning and ending balances, along with interest earned. Once a child gets used to putting aside a certain amount of their allowance or earnings, they are more likely as young adults to continue this practice.


Talk to them about where the money your household earns goes — spending, savings, charity, taxes — to reinforce that a dollar earned is not all available to be spent. Discuss what you feel are discretionary spending, nondiscretionary spending and luxury spending. This helps them understand why you say “yes” to buy some things and “no” to others, and that there is a finite amount to satisfy many spending needs, which may require hard decisions be made to balance what comes in and what goes out. 36



At some point, a child is going to be introduced to the concept of credit cards — and for many, that introduction happens at a time and place that you as a parent may have little influence over. Discuss with them how credit cards work, what interest is and the cost if the balance is not paid off each month. Work with them to find a card with no annual fee and a low interest rate. Emphasize that credit cards shouldn’t be used to purchase things they couldn’t afford to pay for with cash. This will give them a head start to building a good credit score.


Once the basics of spending and saving are covered, a broad understanding of investing is important in helping a child recognize the role other financial tools may play in their long-term goals, such as saving for the down payment for a house or funding college expenses that you do not plan to cover. Starting with basic investments, and discussing risks, how dividends work and potential gains and losses — or, perhaps, opening a small account for them — can be a good introduction to investing. When financial teaching and encouragement starts early and is practiced often, parents can provide their children with the tools and knowledge that will help them develop the skills necessary to make a lifetime of good financial decisions. Colette Powers is a Financial Advisor with UBS Financial Services Inc. Any information presented is general in nature and not intended to provide individually tailored investment advice. Investing involves risks and there is always the potential of losing money when you invest. The views expressed herein are those of the author and may not necessarily reflect the views of UBS Financial Services Inc. Neither UBS Financial Services Inc. nor its employees (including its Financial Advisors) provide tax or legal advice. You should consult with your legal counsel and/or your accountant or tax professional regarding the legal or tax implications of a particular suggestion, strategy or investment, including any estate planning strategies, before you invest or implement. As a firm providing wealth management services to clients, we offer both investment advisory and brokerage services. These services are separate and distinct, differ in material ways and are governed by different laws and separate contracts. For more information on the distinctions between our brokerage and investment advisory services, please speak with your Financial Advisor or visit our website at

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“Recently, my entire family flew in to help us celebrate my son’s baptism. We rented a lake house on Lake Ontario. One afternoon, we put our bathing suits on and had a cannonball contest off the dock. We were squealing like children. I completely forgot that I was bald, had terminal brain cancer, and had been given a relative death sentence. I was simply living in the moment.” — Kristie Carter Montgomery came into this world early in December 2014. He spent the first four weeks of his life in the neonatal intensive care unit. Kristie and her husband Michael, who affectionately call him “Monte,” spent many sleepless nights in the hospital until their son was finally discharged. When Kristie returned to work two weeks later, she found herself fatigued with headaches — a common side effect of having a newborn at home. But the headaches worsened. Then, she began falling. “I didn’t trust myself to carry the baby. I was driving erratically. And, my headaches were the worst I’ve had in my life,” she shares.

When her sister, a physician’s assistant, warned that she could be having a stroke, Kristie visited her doctor. After a CT scan and MRI, he told her she had a mass in her brain and needed to go the ER. She was admitted to Upstate University Hospital. After more scans and tests, Kristie was diagnosed with meningioma, a benign tumor that arises from the meninges. On Feb. 20, doctors operated on Kristie’s brain. What they discovered was much worse than what they expected. They found three tumors on the brain, but were, thankfully, able to remove the majority of them while still preserving brain function. The tumors went out for testing and six agonizing weeks later, Kristie learned the tumors were glioblastomas, or Stage IV brain cancer. She was given 12 to 18 months to live. WHAT IS A GLIOBLASTOMA? According to the American Brain Tumor Association, glioblastomas are generally found in the cerebral hemisphere of the brain and arise from astrocytes — the star-shaped cells that comprise the supportive tissue of the brain. They are highly malignant because the

cells reproduce quickly and are supported by a large network of blood vessels. This type of cancer is rare; it makes up 2 percent of U.S. cancer deaths. About 13,000 Americans die of malignant brain tumors each year. A SECOND OPINON After getting a second opinion from the Dana Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, Kristie’s diagnosis was confirmed. However, the additional tests she received there showed her glioblastomas were MGMT methylated, meaning the tumors are more susceptible to chemotherapy. Her life expectancy doubled. After six aggressive weeks of radiation and chemotherapy, Kristie’s re-scan looked promising as her tumors were stable, “which means they’re not growing, but they’re not shrinking,” she says. She was prescribed six months of intense chemotherapy — five days on, 23 days off — with re-scans every month. So far, she’s finished two rounds of chemo and completed two re-scans. But Kristie’s life has been on hold since, and she hasn’t been able to return to work. “The tumors have caused me to develop a seizure disorder, short term memory loss and anxiety, so I’ve lost a lot of my independence. It’s frustrating, but I can’t focus on that because my family needs me to be strong.”

BUT WITH THE BAD, COMES THE GOOD After her diagnosis, Kristie’s family flew in from Montana to take care of her and Monte. “We can no longer plan anything more than six weeks out as we don’t know how I’ll be feeling or what my treatment schedule will be. But, it’s definitely brought my family closer. We cherish every day. And we celebrate ‘good’ days. I feel blessed to have this time with my son. I feel like I can relish the small accomplishments he makes every day. And, every birthday, holiday and celebration is special — because it might be our last.” A fundraiser for Kristie and her family will be held Wednesday, Sept. 16, at 5 p.m. at Firudo Asian Food & Bar, located at 3011 Erie Blvd. East in Syracuse. Syracuse Woman Magazine is hosting a Ladies’ Night in conjunction with the event. Please come support the Carter family during this difficult time. To make an immediate donation, visit


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REBBECCA OPPEDISANO Director, Green Lakes Music Together

BY CATHERINE WILDE I PHOTO BY ALICE G. PATTERSON Many people may not find a cacophony of toddlers in a room shaking shakers and banging on drums to learn a sense of rhythm to be their idea of a good time, but music instructor Rebbecca Oppedisano is happiest in this environment. The director of Green Lakes Music Together says teaching music to children is her passion and joy, something she believes is integral to a youngster having a rich and full existence. Green Lakes Music Together offers music classes for children from birth to about 5 years of age in a variety of locations including Skaneateles, Camillus, DeWitt and Syracuse. Classes run in a number of sessions and are held weekly in sponsoring churches, preschools or dance studios. Rebbecca was trained in both education and music at the Crane School of Music at SUNY Potsdam and is now a professional singer performing in the Syracuse Opera Chorus. She started teaching at Green Lakes Music Together in 2003, and purchased the business from the owner two years ago. Today, she happily runs the program, teaches classes, oversees the marketing end of the business from home, and takes care of her three children, with the help of her husband, in between. When asked about her business philosophy, Rebbecca says, simply: “I run my business with my heart. My heart is really with the families and children and making my program really valuable for the families.” Rebbecca adds that she is lucky to have both a supportive husband and a “wonderful team of teachers” who share her enthusiasm for the classes. “We can all share in the wealth and it’s a real pleasure to teach the classes,” she says. One of the aspects of running her own business that Rebbecca particularly enjoys, is the fact that she wears many different hats and her days are varied, fun and challenging. She recalls the opportunity as falling in her lap, since she left her public teaching position to stay home and raise her children, and then was offered a chance to teach a few classes a week at first. “As they started getting busier with schooling, I started getting busier with teaching more and more classes,” she explains. “As soon as all the kids were in school, the opportunity arose to buy the business.” While the music lessons are intended to impart a sense of rhythm and help children become receptive to music at a young age, Rebbecca says an even more important aspect of the experience is the bonding that comes from it. Children come to her classes with parents, grandparents or caregivers, and the lessons focus on songs, movement and experiences that can be brought home. Song lyrics can be personalized for a particular child, so a parent can sing about something that would otherwise be stated, helping the child to both remember and bond with their parent over the experience.

Rebbecca, who fondly recalls bonding with her own family over music from a young age, believes that this is the most important message of classes taught by Green Lakes Music Together. “Music has brought me a lot of emotional peace over the years, from a very young age, and it has always done that for me,” she explains. “It has always been a very special part of my life since I was a baby. “That is why I connected with Music Together,” she continues. “The program is really about parents connecting musically with their children.” Even parents who are reluctant to sing are encouraged to expose their children to music. “Connecting musically with the family is the valuable part of their music making. Whether or not you sing in tune is not going to affect your child being able to sing in tune.” The benefits of early exposure to music are numerous and backed by science, adds Rebbecca. She says numerous studies have proven that children who are exposed to music at an early age benefit in a myriad of ways, from developing language skills earlier to having better “tonal confidence,” or the ability to sing in tune later in life. Not to mention, music just feels good. Even from infancy, babies will relax and smile or show signs of being stimulated by their environment when their loved ones are singing to them. Rebbecca’s classes are catered to newborns through age 5 for a reason. “At that age, they are learning so much so quickly,” she says, “and the development they can get through the musical activities that we do in class will carry them through for a very long time.” Children exposed to music early are more likely to have a greater aptitude for music later on, as well as the desire to pick up an instrument and keep a steady beat compared to those who experience music later in life, she notes. Perhaps this explains the increase in demand for her programs — like her class for newborns, who, although incredibly young, respond to music. Even before words are understood, music can impart emotions and affect moods and, because of that, its intrinsic value as a channel for communication is undeniable. “Music is something that everyone is born to be able to do,” explains Rebbecca. “It is a universal language.” New this year, a Montessori school in the Syracuse area has forged a partnership with Green Lakes Music Together. Rebbecca says it will be the first “music together school” in the whole county, and she is very excited to reach school-aged children. Rebbecca even offers scholarships for those families who want to be able to participate, but cannot afford it. “I want to bring music to people’s lives. That’s my goal.” For more information on Green Lakes Music Together, visit or like them on Facebook at GreenLakesMusicTogether.



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National Program Coordinator, EBV and EBV-F Programs at Syracuse University BY KATHARINE M. OSBORNE I PHOTO BY STEVEN J. PALLONE “It’s always been something I’ve grown up with,” says Katherine Frontino. Her grandfathers both served in the military, and her grandmother was an army nurse. Katie’s passion for her job — she’s the national program coordinator for the Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans with Disabilities (EBV) and the Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans’ Families (EBV-F) programs at Syracuse University — stems from this connection to the service. Katie appreciates all of the talented and hardworking individuals that are part of the military. “I love that the people I work with are people who are doing things they truly love to do,” says Katie, who really understands that “work hard, play hard” mentality. The EBV program has accepted veterans into their business program since Dr. J. Michael Haynie founded it at Syracuse University in 2007, when statistics showed that veterans who were transitioning from the military were having a difficult time finding jobs. Since then, the program has expanded nationwide and will be offered at 10 universities starting in 2016, including: Syracuse University, Florida State University, UCLA, Texas A&M, University of Connecticut, Purdue University, Louisiana State University, Cornell University, St. Joseph’s University and the University of Missouri. The program is divided up into three different phases: an online course, an on-campus residency and a technical assistance program (TAPs). As national program coordinator, Katie never seems to take a break. Her job is not on a normal school schedule. When people ask her what she is going to do with her free time for the summer, she laughs. Summer is the busiest time of the year for her, as July is when the oncampus visit for the students is held. Only 32-years-old, Katie says she’s “still learning all of this, but I’m very hardworking.” She believes that passion has a lot to do with whatever you choose to accomplish in your life. Katie cares so much about the program and puts her all into it. “I think enjoying the people that you get to work with and the people that support you is also a part of your success,” she reflects. The EBV program tends to bring out a lot of emotions in the students. “My favorite part of my job is working so closely with the students and getting them to see what they are capable of,” she says, her eyes watering. This program follows the students’ journey from the beginning to the end. The most rewarding part of her job is seeing them grow and develop through the EBV program. At the end of the long on-campus week, they finish feeling like they’ve had an experience that no one outside the program will understand and have formed a bond of friendship with their classmates. During their on-campus visit, the students work on venture pitches for their companies, and at the end of the week, they present to a panel of judges. Katie shares a story about a student who was having trouble

finishing his presentation; she told him that it’s important to, simply, “be honest.” The student got very emotional during his presentation and said: “This experience has meant the world to me. I had the chance to meet people who actually believe in me.” “We truly become a family,” smiles Katie, noting that 21 more students joined the family on Aug. 1, at the conclusion of the July 2015 program. Katie also helps run the Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans Families’ (EBV-F) program, which is primarily for the caregivers of disabled veterans. A majority of the time it turns into a support program for the veteran’s spouse, but Katie says that, occasionally, the child of a veteran will enroll in the program. This program is only offered at Syracuse University and Florida State University. Katie notes that her days are rarely the same. She may be finalizing student profiles, working on the agenda for the week, or making sure everything is booked — from hotels to music at the opening and closing ceremonies — but she is rarely sitting still. Having grown up in Western Pennsylvania, Katie explains how life in Syracuse is quite different. But, despite the differences, she believes that the EBV program is a good fit for her. Previously, she worked in Washington, D.C., at the Optical Society of America and the American Geophysical Union, where she met her now fiancé, who was born and raised in Syracuse. When her fiancé was accepted into law school at Syracuse University, they moved back to his hometown. In her free time, Katie obsesses over going to spin class, which she religiously attends four days a week; loves to attend local events in the area; and tries to stay active in her neighborhood. She also loves to sew and says she’s an avid cross-stitcher, as well as a stylist for Stella and Dot, a fashion jewelry and accessories company. On top of it all, Katie’s wedding is this month. As for her future, Katie believes that, for now, the program is her main focus and goal. She hopes to be a part of the expansion of the program to other universities. The best way to expand the program is through word-of-mouth — graduate veterans from the program can share their successes with the community and help the college reach out to others who are struggling. But Katie does have dreams for herself, too. She would like to pursue a master’s degree and figure out what she is interested in from there. Her eyes light up as she tells me about how she would love to run her own business. “The entrepreneurship thing has kind of rubbed off on me,” she laughs. For more information on the EBV program, visit, like the program on Facebook at or follow @ EBVProgram on Twitter. For more information on the EBV-F program, or like the program on Facebook at facebook. com/EBVFamilies.



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BY PAIGE KELLY I PHOTO BY GERARD H. GASKIN Autism Spectrum Disorder affects one in every 68 children born today, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Twelve years ago in Central New York, there were only a few services for families affected by such a common disorder. Bobbi Hess Rogers, mother to a son with autism, decided to change that. “I wanted to be as helpful as I could for my son and for everybody else. We’re all equal in God’s eyes,” she says. “Since I helped my son I want to help everybody.” Bobbi did just that. Families for Effective Autism Treatment of Central New York, or FEAT of CNY, began as an informal support group in 2003 for parents whose children had Autism Spectrum Disorder. Two years later, in February 2005, FEAT of CNY was established as a 501c3 non-profit organization. Thanks to grants and fundraising events, the organization now provides crisis intervention for families in need of help. FEAT offers an ever-changing approach to how it helps families. “Our goal is to always support parents with new ideas. We’re really dedicated to helping children and families with developmental disabilities in whatever way they feel would be the most helpful,” explains Bobbi. “It’s our goal to have our recipe be no recipe at all.” As a diverse disorder, individual attention is important in treating Autism Spectrum Disorder. The National Institute of Mental Health explains that Autism Spectrum Disorder can be characterized by deficits in social interaction and communication, restricted or repetitive patterns in interest and activities, and significant impairment in social and occupational areas of functioning. The symptoms range differently for each child; some can be mild while others can be severe. The “no recipe” approach allows Bobbi and the volunteers at FEAT to help each child and family the best way possible. The wants and needs of the parents determine the different activities held by FEAT of CNY each year. Recently, the organization hosted laser-tag, bounce house events, dance camp and pre-school groups for children, and the support groups now have smaller numbers rather than larger. FEAT focuses on helping families who are considered in crisis; they then get involved and see what they can do to help. This includes reimbursing families for expenses from working with behavior analysts, special education teachers and occupational therapists. Last year, FEAT worked with 25 to 30 families, offering one-on-one parent support. FEAT tries to help every family in need, not just the ones they know well and see at autism awareness events. As for what people in the community can do to help, Bobbi stresses awareness and compassion. “I like to say, ‘Just be positive and smile,’ because you never know if the person standing next to you is someone who is affected by a disability or what a family may be going through.

If there is an individual having a hard time, or if they’re upset and doing something disruptive, the best thing you can do is just smile. It lets them know it’s okay and that you’re not upset,” says Bobbi. “They’re uncomfortable in that situation and moment,” she continues. “You’re helping them feel a little less uncomfortable. That’s the best way to support anyone, not just people affected by developmental disabilities.” Bobbi believes that helping others is the best thing a person can do. “I just want to be part of the world that is helping and making life easier for people. It’s really spiritual for me.” Bobbi works hard to make FEAT the best it can be and to make sure the organization grows. The organization passed its 10-year mark last February. To celebrate, all the families involved met to help design FEAT’s expansion of their in-house services and create a place for parents to meet and children to play. The new expansion will hopefully include a new playroom, a new parent meeting place and a parent-designed sensory room. FEAT also plans to hold a 5K autism awareness run in September 2016. In the next 10 years, Bobbi wants to offer more services for adults, a project she says will take years of thought and hard work. “We would really like to create services that are very concrete, not something fragmented; a place where adults can work in a supported environment. We’re promoting success for each individual,” she explains. FEAT makes a huge difference for families affected by autism, and that’s the most rewarding part for Bobbi. “It’s my favorite part when we find a way to significantly help a family who is suffering and feeling alone day after day,” she says. “Especially when the difference is long lasting, this is what it’s all about. Finding the families who need help the most and being really good listeners to what it is that we can do for them. One family we’ve helped has become a one-on-one support system for two other families in their neighborhood in similar situations. That’s great, because we helped one family and, in return, they were such a support for two other families — and that’s a big deal.” Bobbi stresses the importance of others. “I’m just really grateful for all the people in the community who are kind and compassionate. The more people there are simply being kind to each other, the better able the rest of us are to do the things that we’re doing. Community members are the reason I feel strong and confident enough to run FEAT of CNY.” To volunteer or for more information on FEAT of CNY, visit or like them on Facebook at




Syracuse Woman Magazine

PHILANTHROPIC FOODIES FOURTH ANNUAL CULINARY SHOWCASE The fourth annual Philanthropic Foodies Culinary Showcase that took place on Sunday, Aug. 2featured food and drink samplings from Bull and Bear Roadhouse, LOFO, SKY Armory, Eva’s European Sweets, Smoke Incorporated BBQ, Modern Malt, Lincklaen House, 83 and Company, Diamond Catering and Empire Brewing Company. More than $60,000 was raised to be split evenly amongst three amazing local organizations: Friends of Dorothy House, Stupid Dumb Breast Cancer and The First Tee Syracuse. Photos courtesy of John Carnessali. MOLLY’S WISH & PUPPY MILL AWARENESS DAY THIRD ANNUAL BARKThe third annual Bark-A-Que on Sunday, Aug. 16, at Jake’s Grub & Grog in Brewerton featured more than 40 vendors and rescues including the Animal Alliance of Greater Syracuse, Cuse Pit Crew, Helping Hounds, Kindred Hearts Transportation Connections and Wanderers’ Rest, to name a few. More than 250 attendees enjoyed music from Sound Junction, Spies on the Fire, Off the Ground, Gun Runners and Long Time Coming, as well as raffles and, for just $20, a huge buffet. Molly’s Wish, a puppy mill awareness organization, raised more than $3,000 from the event. Syracuse Woman Magazine is a proud sponsor of Molly’s Wish.




WHAT: Last year’s runway show drew over 900 people — and this year’s show promises to do the same! A tent covers the runway, so the show goes on rain or shine. Enjoy fall fashions from downtown Syracuse boutiques and original designs by local designers. WHERE: 100th Block of Walton Street, Syracuse INFO: For more information, visit

11:30 a.m. OPHELIA’S PLACE GOLF EXTRAVAGANZA WHEN: WHAT: Come out to Timber Banks for the 14th annual Ophelia’s Place Golf


Extravaganza so that Ophelia’s Place can continue its mission to help individuals, families and communities impacted by eating disorders, disordered eating and body dissatisfaction. WHERE: Timber Banks Golf Course, 8184 River Rd., Baldwinsville INFO: For more information, visit


WHAT: September Song is Hospice of Central New York’s signature fundraising event. The evening features fabulous food, dancing and music by Prime Time Horns, decadent desserts, and a chance to mix and mingle with friends, old and new. WHERE: Traditions at the Links, 5900 N. Burdick St. #3, East Syracuse INFO: For more information, visit


CANINE CLASSIC 2015 WHEN: 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.


WHAT: Come to Wanderer’s Rest most important public education and fundraising event of the year — the proceeds of which help to underwrite the rising costs of sheltering, healing and caring for more than 1,000 homeless cats and dogs each year. WHERE: Jim Marshall Farms Foundation, 1978 New Boston Rd., Chittenango INFO: For more information, visit

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