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contents Laughter In Art - Karen Tashkovski Natural Family Planning In Finance - Saving for Education Cover - Jessimae Peluso Does an Apple a Day Keep the Doctor Away? Tummy Tuck Amari Pollard’s - Fresh Faces Premier Fitness for Women Core Leadership with Sue Kowalski
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Laughter By: Molly Lizzio, MA, LPMFT
our stomach is cramping and the air is escaping your lungs faster than it’s coming in. It’s becoming increasingly more difficult to speak or breathe, and tears are escaping out of the corner of your eyes. When was the last time you laughed that hard? They say laughter is the best medicine, and I have to say I agree. Laughter has numerous physiological benefits that can and will improve health and quality of life. When there’s laughter the body experiences a release of endorphins, the muscles relax, the immune system gets a boost, and it can help with blood flow which works towards good heart health. And those are just the physical benefits. Let’s think about the last time you had one of those great belly laughs that caught your breath. I bet you remember who you were with or what was being said that you found so funny. Laughter creates connection. When the energy is as high as it is with a great belly laugh it tends to leave an imprint on us, one we don’t soon forget. This energy is so powerful that merely recalling the sensations of a wonderful moment like that can bring the current energy level back up without discussion of the finite details. In other words, the act of remembering the laugh is enough. For that moment we’re transported back to the laugh, and its healing properties begin to work again from that encapsulated memory. What I’ve noticed about laughter however, is that like anything else in life it needs balance to be effective. Where laughter can often lead us to trouble is when we muck up that wonderful pure high energy laugh, with a negative energy like jealousy, contempt, disgust, or self loathing. Some
WOUNY.COM • SEPTEMBER 2015
times humor can take a mean turn.
one’s self- the good, the bad, and the ugly.
People often tend to joke about their own insecurities, which if you think about it doesn’t seem to make sense. “Here is my vulnerability- let me pick at it in front of people”. Put like that it sounds like a bad idea, however this form of picking at insecurities serves as an important defensive mechanism.
The problem crops up when we focus on a certain subset of those truths, such as vulnerability, and mentally filter out all the wonderful positive things. But it’s hard to show our confidence, our bravery, our pride. The lesson for women especially is that it would make us conceded. Which to many might be worse than the negative insecurity they bring up instead.
We recognize that piece of ourselves that we are insecure about- and are convinced people will eventually spot it- if they haven’t already. So we think let’s control the narrative and put it right out there. Let’s make it seems like it’s no big deal. So we joke. Women in particular lean this way with their humor. In the early days of women in stand up comedy stars like Phyllis Diller and Joan Rivers were famous for it. Perhaps it made men of that age more comfortable with a woman on stage. They sent a message: don’t be threatened by me- I can take a joke- in fact I’ll even do it at my own expense. As a culture women often do this. We make ourselves smaller for the comfort of others. Take a moment to notice how your female family and friends joke with one another. A woman speaks to another woman about how fat her thighs are, how bad of a cook she is, how much she drinks, etc. It’s a double-edged sword of comradery and comfort, versus self-deprecation and continued negative self talk. The harmless thought is that when we share the truth about who we really are it allows other people the grace to be themselves. This level of authenticity allows for people to form real connections and find comfort and acceptance. And there is absolutely nothing wrong with being true to
Try to go an entire day without making fun of yourself. It’s actually harder than you think. And the day could seem a lot less funny if all the material for the normal quips is off limits. It can give a moment’s pause to the easy targets for easy laughs, and it forces us all to elevate our conversations and our humor. If I no longer make other people or myself the butt of a joke what in the world can I joke about? My answer is that life is funny enough. Look for the truth in life that others can relate to: the silly, the bizarre, and the relatable. Be discerning in the fine line between poking fun, and being cruel. Somehow people have gotten the message it’s acceptable to be mean spirited if you’re only talking about yourself. Here’s the thing, as I said before laughter creates and carries strong and long lasting energy; attaching that kind of energy to dark or hurtful insecurities of yourself or someone else will feed those thoughts and ideas. Be mindful of what laughter is making stronger. What needs strength is hope, love, empowerment, enthusiasm, and joy. Dare to be brave enough to put the positive and wonderful things in the spotlight. Let the sweet qualities of laughter show the best of you.
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WHAT DREAMS MAY COME
I N AR T
Karen Tashkovski O
n a beautiful sunny summer day I went for a walk around green lakes with the artist and art teacher Karen Tashkovski. We walked and talked about art and what it’s like being in the world of artists. We both agreed that having the talent and passion for creating is a great gift and how we enjoy it is like nothing else under the heavens. We nodded hello to passersby as we walked and stopped to admire how the sun made the water glow the most brilliant blue green under it’s many logs along the banks of the lake. Of course, we shared art room experiences and ideas about teaching art along the way.
By: Audrey Levinson is possible. This is an excellent attitude to start any school year with as a teacher. She said “what people are looking for are creative thinkers. We have an important role in education.” Teaching art is not the only hat Karen wears. Her creativity continues at home in her studio. I found the process of how she creates to be very different from most artists I have spoken to in the past year. She has a very calculated way of creating. Many of her paintings are carefully thought out and
Karen has been teaching and painting for over twenty years. She attended Syracuse University obtaining a bachelor’s dual degree in Fashion Design and Studio Arts. This led her to her first art related position as Fashion Merchandising Chair for Bryant and Stratton. She taught classes in visual merchandising, history of costume, textiles, and color theory. Karen returned to SU to get her graduate degree in Art Education. She currently teaches for the Chittenango School District. Teaching Art is an art of it’s own. The most interesting and important part is to teach children to think creatively and to inspire them. Thinking outside of the box, we hope to teach creative problem solving skills. We also strive to do this through our individual artistic strengths, such as, designing projects that challenge students. The payoff for us is immersing ourselves in art everyday! This is a joy that Karen and I talked about as well as how important it is for us as teachers to inspire our students to think that anything
thumbnail sketches are drawn before she even touches the surface with paint. She creates a series of paintings using oil paints and collage. The work itself is an interesting collection of symbols that only she holds the code to. Her paintings are all about her life’s experiences. She partakes in the joys of
using materials she loves, like the buttery consistency of oil paint. She told me that she feels oils are an authentic medium for her. Karen’s paintings are a reflection of her life. She has a story to tell through her use of incorporating found objects, mostly from old games or puzzles that she collects from various places. This creates an avant garde type of mystery to her paintings. She hopes to connect to the child within us. Karen wants children to be able to relate to her work and adults to remember their childhood. When I asked her how she begins a series of work. She explained that it could be the object that she intends to collage. Sometimes, it is the layering process because she feels this represents the layers of life that every individual carries within themselves. She mentioned that it could be her conscious attempt to create meaning through her storytelling. Karen seemed to know herself and her intentions quite well. She is poised with her answers in a way that secured her confidence. She loves to work with watercolor paints as well. However, this process for her seems to be an oppositional release. Her watercolor paintings are very loose, full of blending colors, areas of soft edges, balanced by strokes that have hard edges and marks made with crayon and pencil. I felt like her joy and excitement spring from the pages of her many watercolors. Karen said that life for her is all about “happiness, joy, creativity, and laughing out loud all the time”. Karen Tashkovski’s playful cat paintings are currently on display at Natur-Tyme on Erie Blvd. and now through October 2 at the Syracuse Tech Gard WOUNY.COM • SEPTEMBER 2015
Natural Family Planning The unknown key to helping Infertile Women By Bethanie Ryan
nfertility affects millions of women across the United States. These women often spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to conceive and travel hundreds of miles to anywhere they think they can find help. But, did you know that the most effective tool in treating infertility was in your own body? Every menstrual cycle, your body is giving out a wealth of information about what is happening inside. All you need is the knowledge to listen and interpret what your body is saying. Natural Family Planning (NFP) has long had a bad rap as “Catholic birth control.” Over the years, however, it has developed into a very sophisticated tool that can be used not only to postpone pregnancy, but also to achieve and maintain it. All forms of NFP help the woman to translate what her body is saying, from fluctuations in her body temperature to the positioning of her cervix. The Creighton Model is one of the simplest, cheapest, and least invasive of the forms. All she needs is the knowledge and training to interpret the signs she sees daily during her regular hygiene routine. A female instructor will help her to recognize the changes in her body. Women who use this system say that they master the routine of checking these signs within a couple months of practice. It only adds a fraction of a second to your bathroom time. How does this help with infertility? Many women struggling with infertility have used numerous tools to figure out when they are fertile, how is this method any different? As a woman charts her cycle using the Creighton Model, she learns key information related to her overall health and fertility. Not only does she get a better idea of when her own body is fertile (because every
WOUNY.COM • SEPTEMBER 2015
woman and every cycle is different), but also may receive valuable clues as to what hormones she may be deficient in or what underlying problem may be present. “This way of approaching the management of your health is beautiful,” says Dr. Dalton. It puts the couple in the driver’s seat. They are in charge of everything without chemicals and artificial methods getting in the way. This approach helps doctors who are trained in this system, like Dr. Karen Dalton at the Gianna Center Syracuse, to pinpoint what may be wrong so she can order the correct blood tests and other exams saving you both time and money. One example of this is: Fertility doctors will often order a sonogram to be given when they feel that a woman is ovulating so they can see if she is releasing any eggs. An NFP chart would give a trained doctor a better idea of when exactly this particular patient would be ovulating rather than making a guess based on the “average woman”. Dr. Karen Dalton said that she learned more about the women’s body while training for the Creighton Model than she ever did in traditional medical school. NaPro Technology (the Creighton Model) has an almost 70% success rate after 2-3 years. Why 2-3 years? Because sometimes it takes that long for a woman’s hormones and cycle to become normal after being supplemented. Compare that to the 30% success rate per cycle of IVF and the more than $12,000 price tag. NFP charts and hormonal supplements cost a fraction of that amount. Some women who are seeking help for infertility also have moral qualms against IVF. A NaPro trained physician or surgeon will not pressure a woman into IVF or any other form of assisted reproductive technol-
ogy. If the underlying problem requires surgery, there are surgeons at nearby Gianna Center locations who are NaPro trained and will not compromise your reproductive system. Using NFP helps to determine the underlying cause of the infertility and works with the body, rather than alter the natural processes. Christina Reilly is one of many women who have been helped through this approach. She praises it, saying, “When I came to the Gianna Center, I experienced a different kind of care. I felt from the very beginning a deep passion and determination for finding the root cause of my infertility. That passion never faded throughout the past year and a half. From my very first visit, my NFP chart was looked at as a valuable medical document and used as a starting point and navigation device throughout my entire treatment.” Her previous traditionally-trained physician had told her she had no choice but IVF. She is now about to give birth to her first child after the removal of endometriosis and medication to treat some inflammation. The Creighton Model requires dedication from the woman in monitoring her physical signs and documenting them. In order for the NFP charting to help in diagnosing a problem, accuracy and consistency is encouraged. Dr. Dalton also encourages patients to keep themselves healthy through regular exercise and a healthy diet. Being in touch with your body is an invaluable gift. Even after achieving pregnancy, women should keep using this method as that information will help detect future reproductive and health related problems such as early signs of cancer. Instead of searching high and low for answers, women with infertility have another choice - listening to their own bodies. Learn more at www.giannasyracuse.com
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WOUNY.COM • SEPTEMBER 2015
Take shape for life By some estimates, Americans spend about $2.7 billion on weight-loss services a year. Many people have lost weight only to regain it. And research suggests that yo-yo dieting does more harm than good to our metabolism. So the question becomes
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Saving for Education I
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t’s that time of year again – summer is winding down, the Fair has come and gone (can I admit to trying the newest deep-fried delicacy?) and we’re starting to see the big yellow school buses out and about during our morning commute. For many of us, this will lead us to thoughts of children and college. Will they go to college, where will they go, and how will we ever be able to pay for it? There are many ways to save for a child’s future, whether that future includes a college education, learning a trade, or simply to give a financial “boost” after completion of high school. Many simply fund an account “earmarked” for future use by that individual, using birthday and holiday gifts and money from other occasions. Others may prefer to use one or a variety of college savings accounts, and there are several options available. Namely, there is the UGMA/UTMA (Uniform Gift to Minors Account/Uniform Transfer to Minors Account), a Coverdell Education Savings Account, or a 529 Plan account. Each of these has it’s own set of rules for how the funds are handled, and how and when they may be disbursed. UGMA/UTMA accounts may be set up at any time for a child. There is no income limitation for those who contribute, and no limitation on the amount of the contri
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bution(s). The beneficiary of the account gains control at the age of majority (18 or 21 in most states) and may use the funds in any way that they wish. Upon distribution, a portion of the account earnings may be income-tax-free, a portion taxed at the child’s tax rate, and the remainder taxed at the parents’ rate. It is always a good idea to consult your tax advisor when it is time to take distributions from an UGMA/ UTMA. A Coverdell Education Savings Account (ESA) can be used by the beneficiary for any qualified education expenses, grades K-12 and higher. There are income limits (for parents) at which the ability to contribute to a Coverdell ESA will be phased out, and the contribution per beneficiary is limited to $2,000 per year. The account grows tax-free, and as long as withdrawals are made for qualified educational expenses the earnings will be free from federal tax. As in the UTMA//UGMA account, the beneficiary gains control of the account at the age of majority. 529 Plans are often used to save for higher education expenses, and there are no income limitations for contributors to these accounts. Anyone may contribute, and the contribution limit for these accounts is much higher ($350,000 per beneficiary). The owner of the account maintains control of the assets, and may decide when
withdrawals may be made; the owner may also change the beneficiary of the account, should the named beneficiary decide not to continue their education, or not use the entire account. This is an attractive feature of the 529 Plans. There may be state tax advantages to the parents/owners of a 529 Plan depending upon which plan they choose. Earnings grow tax-free, and as long as the withdrawals are for higher education expenses they are free from federal tax. Both 529 Plan and Coverdell ESA withdrawals may be assessed tax and penalties if they are used for anything other than qualified educational expenses. Each of these accounts vary in their features and benefits, as well as tax treatment which is why I always encourage you to have a conversation with your tax advisor and financial advisor before establishing one, to make sure that it is the right fit for you and your beneficiary. Mary Ann Pierce, CLU / Owner of Marathon Financial Advisors, Inc. Securities and investment advice offered through CADARET, GRANT & CO., INC. Member FINRA/SIPC Marathon Financial Advisors, Inc. (formerly Susan Budrakey & Associates) and Cadaret, Grant & Co., Inc. are separate entities.
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The Love of Laughter!
Jessimae Peluso Story By Amari D.Pollard • Photography ©Rebecca Perry Followsthestars.com
ith her long blonde hair and small frame, Jessimae Peluso definitely has the classic “girl next door” vibe when you first see her. But then she opens her mouth, and you start to realize she doesn’t quite fit into that box. Don’t let her sweet smile fool you, the no bull comedian and Syracuse native is not afraid to speak her mind which often seems like it belongs to a man. “I’m like somebody’s fun uncle. I’m not afraid to cut through the bull. I’m a no s**t hillbilly that’s what I’m like. I’m like a hillbilly gangster. The hillbilly gangster of comedy,” said Jessimae. Most kids not all, but most growing up in a small town such as Syracuse view graduation as their ticket to freedom. It’s their first real opportunity to go some place where they have more than 26 square miles to explore, and can go grocery shopping in old baggy sweats without having to worry about running into 10 people they know. So, when given the choice to stay or leave like all the other high school graduates before her, Jessimae rode her ticket to freedom straight to Boston. “I got the heck out. I was like, ‘Bye, love everybody.’” Finally on her own and away from home, Jessimae began her comedy career. For
three years in Bean Town she did standup while bartending to support herself before moving onto a bigger city, the city. New York proved to be just as hard as Boston: days spent auditioning, bartending and driving six hours to perform at awful gigs for sad looking paychecks that only read 50 dollars. For a while it felt as though the rejections would never stop. That was until Jessimae made her television debut as a panelist on the MTV comedy series Failosophy. And then there came Girl Code. What first began as a comedy show where a group of female comedians talk about their perspectives on the many struggles of girlhood, quickly gave way to one of MTV’s biggest hit series. During her time on the show Jessimae delivered sarcastic and witty advice to audiences, such as how to deal with men staring at your chest instead of your eyes when they speak to you (cross your eyes and talk to them in a southern accent until they look up) and what people really mean when they say you’re photogenic (that your face actually just looks worse in real life). “They just threw topics at me and I pulled the jokes out of myself,” explained Jessimae. “That was the one great thing about Girl Code; that I was able to speak my
mind keep it real and not be censored.” While Jessimae found her niche on the show, she never expected it to take off the way it did so she still kept her job bartending. She had been bartending for around seven years when a couple of girls came into the restaurant she was working at one night and recognized her from Girl Code. At that moment Jessimae looked over at her friend Charlie, who owned the restaurant, and said, “I think it’s time I leave.” Girl Code really helped to solidify Jessimae’s confidence as a comedian. After her gig with Failosophy proved she was moving in the right direction she put all her eggs in one basket, so Girl Code was definitely the indicator that let her know she could continue to move forward in her career. Her name and personality were finally getting recognition, and with that came people and networks that knew she would be able to deliver a good show. Jessimae’s decision to pursue a career in comedy came as a surprise to no one seeing that she was the family’s designated “wild child,” and never shied away from being different. Her dad had exposed her to comedy at a young age. She remembers sitting on the couch watching standup comedians like Richard Pryor, Joan Rivers, Robin Williams and George Carlin. WOUNY.COM • SEPTEMBER 2015
Photo: ÂŠRebecca Perry Followsthestars.com
With her dad’s love for comedy and goofy personality, and her mother’s dry and sarcastic sense of humor, Jessimae had all the makings to become a comedian herself. But she clarified that the path to comedy is not so obvious, or so black and white as people would think. “It’s an accumulation of experiences in your life; lot of hardships and tragedy that you experience. And either you get into a life of comedy or you get into a life of drugs. But comedy is a drug in a sense, so I guess I got lucky that I chose that path,” said Jessimae. Live performance, standup it’s the strongest addiction Jessimae has ever known but she’s not looking to go to rehab for it anytime soon. Comedy has not only forced her to look at herself from different perspectives, but it has helped her to question what is being said to her. She likes to call comedians insecure narcissists, because it’s the balance between vulnerability and complete cockiness that fuels comedians to get on the stage in the first place. So night after night she willingly stands under a magnifying spotlight and opens the floor to her own flaws and the flaws around her; and there is something very liberating about that. For that hour Jessimae is on stage, nothing else really exists but the laughter in the room. She says what makes comedy so special is its power to slow the world down. The phones are off, the technology is put away and people are reminded of what it’s like not to check their phones every ten seconds and relate to people. “I love it. Live performance is one of the oldest art forms when you really think about it. I just think being a part of that is something special because of the fact that it’s able to still be appreciated through all the technology and stuff,” said Jessimae. “I bet there were some cavemen back in the day drawing some cartoons on the wall or maybe doing a little act. I don’t know, like maybe the cavemen all got together and started making fun of their wives. There was probably a standup comedian caveman.” The past few years have been a blur of tours, shows and appearances for Jessimae.
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She’s currently on tour, writing a book, writing shows, taping shows. She is so busy she basically has to remind herself to breathe. But after years of putting everything into her career, the 32-year-old comedian refuses to slow down anytime soon. “I have to schedule free time. The moment you don’t have to do that, you’re not busy enough in my mind. I like to be busy. It keeps your juices flowing. You can’t get too comfortable, and there’s always something more you can do,” said Jessimae. She equates comedy to an instrument, her instrument. There’s always the fear that if she stops playing her muscles will get weaker. That’s why Jessimae chooses to
ies while performing and meeting her fans, but what she’s missing is always hiding out in the back of her mind. For months at a time Jessimae’s traveling by herself, and as a result she’s left missing her pitbull fox-ter mix named Carlin and hating the fact that she can’t see her friends and family as much as she’d like. Those are always hard factors she has to come to terms with. “I’m on an airplane and in a hotel more than I am in my own apartment. I’m probably on about 112 airplanes a month. It’s crazy; I should really date a pilot,” laughed Jessimae. “Can you imagine the vacations we’d get to take? We could go everywhere. We could go to Maldives, we could go to Fiji all those places that are really difficult to get to.” That’s why she’s so thankful her tour is bringing her back home to Syracuse for the Thanksgiving weekend. Jessimae says it’s the perfect way to kill two birds with one stone. She gets to perform at Funny Bone and sit at home in her pajamas while her mom makes her food. Besides spending time with her family, most of the things she intends on doing while back in town revolve around food: going to Spaghetti Warehouse, eating her mom’s cream of wheat, and chilling at Change of Pace with her dad. Jessimae may have fled Syracuse after high school but she never forgot her roots. In fact, she’s still so tied to her hometown that she absolutely refuses to call Carousel Mall, Destiny USA.
keep at it, which can often times be gruesome and tiring but it’s her addiction it’s all she knows. With her podcast “Sharp Tongue” airing Mondays on iTunes and Stitcher, and her comedy act hitting the road on her Jess America Tour (which she wanted to call the Miss America Tour but said Miss America and a bunch of rich old white guys came after her), Jessimae keeps popping up on stages and screens all across America. Right now Jessimae’s career is pretty demanding, and although touring is fun it can also be extremely hard. She loves getting the chance to experience different cit-
“I will sit in a cab and tell him I am going to Carousel Mall. And if he calls it Destiny USA I will sit in the cab, and have him drive around the whole damn city until he figures it out,” insisted Jessimae. “I am not calling it Destiny. How can you call a thing built next to a dirty ass lake Destiny? Who’s going to go into that thing? Tourists will come out with no skin.” Growing up in Syracuse wasn’t like growing up in some magical place, but it was and is still home to her. Jessimae remembers always spending time at the mall, the zoo, rollerblading or biking to get ice cream at Rosie’s with her dad. She says she was fortunate enough to experience a childhood where computers were the
“I always talk about where I am from” size of TVs and cellphones were shaped more like bricks, and because technology was nowhere near what it is today she was always outside doing something. It was never Jessimae’s plan to leave Syracuse and forget about the place that helped raised her. She has loved the city despite its flaws and its “13-month winters.”, Even in the wintertime it’s beautiful. Until it gets to that point where everyone’s homicidal. Wintertime homicide. That’s when people realize this s**t is real,” said Jessimae. What made growing up in Syracuse feel so special to her was the fact that she felt like she was part of a community. People know who you are, and they look out for you. That’s why it saddens her so much to see Syracuse still struggling. She remembers a time when the city was thriving with car industries and companies like Carrier; but once they all left, Syracuse just began to suffer. Jessimae always found Syracuse to be beautiful in its many forms, and she makes sure that love for her hometown shines through no matter what she’s working on. “I always talk about where I’m from whenever I do things. I have jokes about it in my sets, something to always have some hometown pride,” said Jessimae. “You got to have some hometown pride because, at
Photography ©Rebecca Perry
the end of the day if anything goes wrong in my life, I want to come home.” As many people in the entertainment industry know, a lot can go wrong. There’s the constant pressure to feel relevant, to reinvent yourself and although over time the rejections become less frequent they are still there. But Jessimae says the unwavering support of her parents, her sister and her entire family has been the constant factor helping her stay grounded in an industry that is so uncertain. While recognition and fame are badges Jessimae feels blessed she can wear, she says her proudest achievement is that her parents get to see her doing something she loves. “Very rarely do people get to embark on a career where it is also a passion. And to be one of those people, and then have my parents who both worked jobs and worked very hard their whole lives see that, gives me great pride,” said Jessimae. “Also that they know not all the sacrifices were in vain; me not being able to come home and being so far away. They know that it’s for something and it’s not just a hobby. To me, that’s the most import and most validating thing.” Sometimes it’s easy to look around Syr-
acuse and forget all the incredible people whose talent has been fostered within these 25.6 square miles: Grace Jones, Tom Cruise, Kelly Cutrone, Darin Morgan. The list goes on, and each day it continues to grow. It was never Jessimae’s end goal to gain a spot on that list, but she’s honored that her drive and talent have allowed her to represent Syracuse in such a positive light. She’s on tour, she has her podcast, she’s writing . . . the dreams that used to feel so far away are right in front of her now. Sometimes Jessimae still has to pinch herself and say, “Hey, this could be as good as it gets and you better be happy with it and you better appreciate it because nobody’s guaranteed anything.” So in this moment, Jessimae is loving the road ahead and loving the one that brought her to today. And while she’s happy with how far she’s come, she will never stop working to keep her star burning bright. “You can be your own worst enemy, and I’ve learned that about myself. So I have to challenge myself to do better and to strive for more, and to know that I am worth the end result. And it’s worth putting in the work because I know I want to achieve something.”
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Does an Apple a Day Really Keep the Doctor Away?
By Linda Quinn, MS, RDN
e are all familiar with the old saying, “an apple a day keeps the doctor away”. Two new research studies suggest we should update that to, “an apple a day is the healthy way”! Today it’s all about staying healthy and avoiding chronic disease. Two large studies are now contributing to the mounting evidence that daily apple eating may actually decrease obesity as well as prescription medication use. One of the studies literally looked at whether an apple a day keeps the doctor away, and found some important results; that study was published in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine in May 2015. Of the 8,728 people surveyed, daily apple eaters actually were less likely to require prescription medication. Although the actual number of doctors’ visits among apple eaters and non-apple eaters were the same, the benefits of eating apples go beyond the waiting room. The researchers noted that eating apples could, in fact, reduce health care costs. They even went so far as to estimate that if all Americans were apple eaters, we could reduce national prescription drug costs by $47.2 billion annually! How might eating apples reduce prescription drug use? Medications are often prescribed to treat obesity-related chronic diseases, such as heart disease and diabetes. Eating a diet rich in fruits and
vegetables, such as nutrient-dense apples, can help us to maintain a healthy weight and avoid diet-related chronic disease. The second study found significant health benefits among children who eat apples. Analyzing federal data on 13,000 children, researchers reported in the Nutrition Journal in May 2015 that regular apple eaters were more likely to be lean, had better diet quality and were less likely to be at risk for obesity. These findings are particularly notable in a country where more than one-third of children and adolescents were overweight or obese in 2012 . Taking these two studies together helps us to see that apple eaters may bolster their health in important ways, and avoid the expense and pain of chronic diseases. Bottom line,visit your physician regularly for wellness checks and preventive treatment and eat apples for healthier weight,disease risk reduction, and to bolster your health for a lifetime. “An apple a day is the healthy way!” For full details on the mentioned studies, visit:
www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4420713/ www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4443546/ www.cdc.gov/healthyyouth/obesity/facts.htm
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Tummy Tuck Improving Physical Appearance and Self Confidence!
re you frustrated with your midsection? Maybe you have just given birth to your precious child who left you with extra “baggage” that you can’t seem to get rid of ? Perhaps you’ve experienced weight loss that left your stomach a bit more saggy than you’d care to admit? Or, do you simply yearn for a flatter, tighter stomach? Most of us want to feel confident about our mid sections! Well, it is time to put the excuses aside and learn if a tummy tuck could solve one of your ongoing dilemmas. CNY Cosmetic & Reconstructive Surgery, LLC is a leader in Central New York in the area of abdominoplasty or, as most of us know it as a tummy tuck. Beth Phillips, RPAC has the knowledge and experience to provide expert care for patients of the Syracuse Plastic Surgery practice. Phillips began her career as a Physician Assistant at the Cortland Memorial Emergency Room. She further honed her surgical skills and education by working at St. Joseph’s Hospital as a Physician Assistant and the Coordinator of the Surgery PA department. She went into private surgical practice in 2000 for a widely respected general surgeon with a focus on breast and thyroid surgery. Working with Dr. Deboni, a respected plastic surgeon serving Syracuse, Phillips knowledge and experience with cosmetic and reconstructive procedures is extensive. Phillips tells us that abdominoplasty is a surgery which results in high satisfaction. Abdominal Rectus Plication is tightening of the muscles in that area. “So many men and women are very happy with the results of a tummy tuck,” Phillips stated, “by removing excess skin and fat while repairing stretched and separated abdominal muscles if necessary, results in more of the hourglass figure they used to have.”
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By: Kristen Penfield Phillips said, “Tummy tucks are a very safe surgery that leaves a scar that is easily concealed under a woman’s bikini line. A tummy tuck requires an incision that spans from hip to hip across the lower abdomen, just above the pubic bone and an incision around the bellybutton. Tummy tucks are common with moms who want the body they had prior to having their children,” Phillips added. If your worry is that your stomach will eventually return to its saggy shape, Phillips noted that when the stomach muscles are tightened, a short-term side effect is that it causes a person to eat less. However, there are fewer fat cells after a tummy tuck and recovery time is very manageable so that returning to a healthy lifestyle can be accomplished rapidly. Not all patients have separated abdominal muscles. If this is so and there is only minimal sagging and loose skin, a less invasive mini-abdominoplasty could be more suitable. This form involves a shorter incision and even quicker recovery than a fully tummy tuck. “We see a variety of ages, both men and women,” claimed Phillips, “patients in their twenties to those in their sixties,” she added. They are performed on men and women who have loose skin and fat that does not respond to diet and exercise. Patients who have loss of skin elasticity and excessive hanging skin due to weight fluctuation or childbirth can be corrected with abdominoplasty. Many patients get tummy tucks after losing a considerable amount of weight, whether they are unable to lose the lower abdominal fat or their skin will not tighten. While vanity plays a role in their decision-making, certainly, there are also health benefits to doing so. After going through the proce dure of a tummy tuck, it has been known
to motivate patients to keep their weight in check and maintaining a healthier lifestyle. Most patients are able to return to work within 7 to 14 days, begin mild to moderate exercise in 3-4 weeks, and can usually resume vigorous exercise after roughly 6 weeks. Your new shape will be everlasting, considering you do not gain excessive weight. Can we really put a price on selfconfidence and self-assurance? All of us would say no, but insurance companies may differ. We all know that when we are satisfied with our appearance, our self-confidence rises dramatically! Abdominoplasties are considered cosmetic and one would have to discuss with their insurance company as to whether or not it would be covered. Go ahead and make the appointment to speak to the professionals at CNY Cosmetic & Reconstructive Surgery. Discuss your options; feel better about yourself ! Of course, choosing a cosmetic surgery procedure is an important decision that should never be rushed. CNY Cosmetic & Reconstructive Surgery, LLC takes the time to get to know their patients and their reasons for wanting a tummy tuck during a consultation. They will discuss all implications and outcomes to ensure their patients are fully informed and prepared. All questions are welcomed and consultations are conducted in a private environment. For additional information on abdominoplasty or other procedures offered at CNY Cosmetic & Reconstructive Surgery visit www.plasticsurgeryofsyracuse.com
WOUNY.COM • SEPTEMBER 2015
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FRESH FACES Of Upstate New York By Amari D.Pollard
Jen Fabian I
By Amari D.Pollard
t’s hard to be anything but happy in the presence of Jen Fabian. With her effortless smile and kind nature, positive energy radiates from every part of her as she walks through the halls of her alma mater, Le Moyne College.
In college Jen was a star midfielder on the women’s soccer and lacrosse teams while majoring in psychology with a concentration in education. With her heart set on staying in Syracuse and being close to her family, Jen decided to get her masters degree in literacy at Le Moyne after graduating in 2013. Halfway through her grad program Jen accepted a job with the athletic department as its grad assistant; but she never expected her new position to change the course she had carefully laid out for herself. “I was doing a lot of marketing, advertising, graphic design and I realized that my passion truly lied in that and not teaching. So I made a little U-turn and began my MBA,” said Jen. Now, at only 24-years-old, she has landed her dream job as the Assistant Director of Athletics at Le Moyne. She’s young, vibrant, and accomplished. It would be easy to look at Jen and assume her life has been nothing but content. Then again, like she says, everyone has a story. The toughest goodbyes are the ones you least expected, especially when that means saying goodbye to your best friend. When Jen was a junior in high school her older sister unexpectedly passed away, and that loss has left Jen with a certain hollowness she faces daily. But with each passing day she allows that experience to help her live a life of love and understanding. “It really helped me shape my perspective on life. You don’t know what’s going on in everyone’s life, so I just keep that in the back of my mind as I make my daily interactions,” said Jen. “I love random acts of kindness holding the door for people,
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just smiling, saying hi to people I may not know, asking how their day is because you never know what is going on in their life, and that simple smile that you can provide might be the highlight of someone’s day.” When asked how she maintains her spirit, Jen’s answer was pretty simple: God. She’s able to maintain her firm belief system through all of life’s joy and unexpectedness by always carrying a grateful heart around with her. “Yes, we will face hard times when things seem to go terribly wrong but reflect upon and recognize all that is going right. Some people are praying for the very things that you have, that you take for granted,” said Jen. So instead of crumbling under the weight of her troubles, Jen chooses to accept what she has been given and find happiness in the little things. For her, that means spending time with her family, or getting lost in the motion of running, or the exhilaration of storm chasing. Even though Jen may encounter difficult days, she lives with the attitude of: “At least it is another day.” “You’re going to come across challenges in life that’s what life is about, but it’s how you respond to those challenges that matter. I’m not saying I’m perfect all the time,” said Jen. “In overcoming things, I definitely have my moments of weakness, but my philosophy is looking at an obstacle or looking at a challenge as something to overcome and better yourself. Use it to fuel your next greatest success.” When it comes to the future, Jen has no problem putting her trust in God and letting the road take her where she’s supposed to go. And although she’s travelling towards something unknown, she makes the best out of the present she has now; seeing everyday as an opportunity to learn, to grow in her faith and make memories. “I’m exactly where I want to be.”
Jesse Pardee W
ake up at six a.m., put name on list for audition, perform piece, go to work, come home, sleep, repeat. This is the set routine Jesse Pardee follows while gradually uncovering her path to Broadway. And while the scrappy concrete streets of New York may not be coated with the glamour captured on screen, Jesse can’t imagine herself being anywhere else. It was while watching the mesmerized Christine Daaé obey her Angel of Music in the Syracuse showing of The Phantom of the Opera that first drew Jesse to the stage when she was 10. After that, dreams of auditioning in the city coaxed her to bed at night and woke her up in the morning. 14 years later Jesse is trying to fulfill the life that little girl dreamt of for her. Jesse refers to the process of auditioning in New York as extremely frustrating, because each day she’s waking up before the sun has streaked the sky to put her name on a list of 200 people who want the same exact thing. When asked why she repeatedly puts herself through the frustration and scrutiny of Broadway Jesse said it’s because you never know what opportunity an audition might bring you. “You never know what day is the day, and you have to play the game
By Amari D.Pollard in order for it to pay off,” said Jesse. “It’s a double-edged sword because you don’t want to wake up and go, but in order to get what you want you have to keep going and going.” Coincidentally the concept of fixed perseverance is nothing new to the Camillus native. During her senior year of high school Jesse was diagnosed with Ewing’s Sarcoma, a type of bone cancer. At a time when anticipation for the future was supposed to be high, she was left sitting in a hospital bed for five days at a time questioning whether she’d even have one. “It’s a very overwhelming thing to take on the idea of dying especially when you’re seventeen and you think you’re supposed to be invincible. As I wrestled with that idea more and more, the fear just became not so much being afraid of dying but being afraid of having to say goodbye,” explained Jesse. The experience of trying to stay a normal teenager while going through chemotherapy often left Jesse tired and angry, but it also taught her a lot. Especially that, you’re stronger than you think you are when you really don’t have a choice. Six years later and cancer free Jesse is still bouncing back. But over the years she’s found that what helps her heal the most is
taking each day as it comes, and allowing herself the freedom to do what needs to be done in order to cope with her feelings. If she needs to scream, she screams; if the heavy feeling of sadness is weighing her down, she cries. “At the end of the day I’m getting dressed in the morning, I’m doing a job, and I’m in the city I want to live in. Whether or not I’m handling things the right way, I’m still on the path that I wanted to be on,” said Jesse. Life in the city never slows down, and Jesse still finds herself adjusting to the pace. She officially moved to New York last September and landed a gig doing the Bush Garden’s Christmas Season in Virginia, so the city is still a treasure to be uncovered. But in the meantime, Jesse will continue to chase her dreams while holding on to the person she has always been. Which means watching Netflix in her free time, attending Broadway Shows until she knows them by heart, and singing until she finds herself on one of their stages. “I may not have done what I want to do yet, but I’m where I want to be right now,” said Jesse. “So I must be coping okay, even if it’s a long process.”
WOUNY.COM • SEPTEMBER 2015
hen most college students see their bank accounts quickly approaching zero their first move is to reach for the phone and call the bank tellers, better known as mom and dad. But instead of asking for money and explaining her near bankruptcy to her parents, Courtnee Futch decided to whip up a quick batch of bacon-cheesecake brownies in a makeshift oven to sell on Facebook. For two dollars a piece Courtnee sold all of her cupcakes in less than an hour. With 86 dollars in her bank account there was no more need to tell her parents she spent all her money on Chipotle. After such a successful night Courtnee realized she could continue to make a profit off of her baking. “I thought about it for a little bit and said what am I going to name it, and ThunderCakes was the first thing that came to mind,” said Courtnee. “My nickname given to me by some guys on my floor was Chocolate Thunder and I wasn’t fond of the nickname at first but then it grew on me.” It all started her freshman year at Syracuse University with an idea and some ingredients. Now at only 21-years-old Courtnee is the CEO of her own business. In the beginning she started taking orders and selling cookies on Facebook, but when the orders kept rolling in Courtnee decided to make it into a full-fledged business. The ThunderCakes menu expanded from just cookies to brownies, cupcakes, rolls, and cheesecakes. Her creations include funky and creative combinations like maple bacon cinnamon roles and chocolate covered potato chip cupcakes. But even with such an extensive menu Courtnee’s favorite thing to bake is crème bulee. “Crème bulee is my absolute favorite thing, and not like regular crème bulee either.
By Amari D.Pollard
I’m really interested in flavor combinations,” said Courtnee. “I’ve done an orange almond, I’ve done a chocolate hazelnut I really enjoy that, that’s a lot of fun for me.”
ThunderCakes became so big it eventually outgrew SU’s campus. People all around Syracuse were hearing about the business and its young entrepreneur. It all came together so quickly that it seemed as if ThunderCakes had been planned from a long time ago, but Courtnee said it was all by chance and a bit of business acumen. With her mom working in marketing and her dad in engineering with a background in architecture, logistics and event planning she was able to pick up on a lot of things. “It was consistent good luck, and then it was good timing. It was just one of those things I kind of knew how to operate. Everything really just fell into place. Everybody I was meeting was introduced to me by someone else, and they were saying you have to meet this girl who has this great business,” said Courtnee. The young CEO started baking when she was around 8-years-old. After her mom stopped baking Courtnee often found herself in the kitchen, looking through her mom’s cookbooks to figure out which recipe she wanted to try next. But it wasn’t always as simple as picking a recipe and seeing what ingredients were around the house. Courtnee admits to being pretty terrible at first. “I was really bad at least until I turned 12. And then after that, I started having a lot more fun in the kitchen, and got creative,” said Courtnee. “I started figuring things out and how chemistry effects baking, and what ingredients help and compliment what.” Since baking started as a hobby for Courtnee, she felt a little odd at first when
people started calling her an entrepreneur for making a business out of something she loves. But when more and more people started using that term to describe her she thought it was time she adopted the title herself. When she finally accepted her entrepreneurship her investment in the business became more serious. She started taking classes in business management, accounting, legal and public policy anything that would help her business grow. Although when it really came down to running a company Courtnee said none of those classes actually helped, but she did learn how to better delegate. “Sometimes you’re not cut out for certain tasks and I wasn’t. I think entrepreneurship takes a certain amount of self-awareness. You have to know what your strengths are,” said Courtnee. Courtnee is now getting ready to pursue a master’s degree in entrepreneurship at Syracuse University. With school taking over her schedule ThunderCakes will have to take a backseat. But she hopes to do pop-up shops and occasional themed days, which can allow customers to pick up everything they’ve been waiting for in one day. ThunderCakes was a fluke born out of a pertinent need, but it has become so much more to Courtnee and the Syracuse area now. “It was a lot, it was incredibly stressful but hearing the good reviews and seeing people who were so excited to eat a cake they had been hearing about for so long. I think that was worth it to me,” said Courtnee. “I think I became a better student because I had ThunderCakes. I had a sense of purpose I knew why I was here.”
Julia Goodwin By Amari D.Pollard
he’s been called a prodigy, a wonderkid but Julia Goodwin says she’s just like anyone else following their dreams. Julia was first introduced to the world on the ninth season of America’s Got Talent [AGT], but she had been no secret to Syracuse for a long time. The sweet tone of her voice had garnished stages throughout the area for years before she decided to enter the national competition. “They had found me on YouTube and asked me if I wanted to come out and audition for the show,” explained Julia. “The opportunity just happened. So I wasn’t planning on auditioning at first but then I got the opportunity, and I was totally for it.” Julia credited her father for her love of music, remembering how she would always sing along as his finger softly caressed the music out of their piano. “He was the one who really inspired me to become a musician,” said Julia. Along with her dad, getting the lead in her elementary school’s production of Annie in the third grade helped to reinforce her love for music, and find a new interest in theater. For some who find themselves with a special kind of gift they say there’s a moment when you realize how talented you are, that you could actually make a career out of your passion. Julia said that moment never exactly happened for her it was just a matter of her singing whenever and wherever she could, and being fortunate enough to have people who liked listening.
Julia’s rendition of “New York State of Mind” got her a yes from all four judges on AGT, sending her to the “Kid Singer” category for Judgment Week. She was able to make it all the way to the quarterfinals but didn’t receive enough votes to push her through to the semifinals. Although her journey was cut short Julia said being a part of the show was surreal, and it was humbling to see the community come together in support of her. “That was crazy. The audition was probably one of my favorite days. It was awesome, being on the show. I had a great experience with it,” said Julia. “It definitely gave me a lot of exposure, and showed me how to be one TV and stuff like that. I also got to meet a lot of people, producers, and contestants who were extremely talented.” Before the talent competition Julia won Michael Feinstein’s 2013 Great American Songbook High School Vocal Competition. Winning the contest gave Julia the chance to open for and perform nationally with the five-time Grammy Nominee Michael Feinstein at places such as Carnegie Hall, Birdland in New York City, and The Palladium in Indiana, just to name a few. At only 17-years-old the singer/songwriter’s list of accomplishments is overwhelmingly extensive, and it continues to grow daily. Between performing, school, sports and her social life, Julia somehow manages to maintain her normalcy and feel ground ed in all the chaos. “I like to stay busy. I mean it’s definitely hard to fit everything
in it’s not an easy thing. But with school, I’ve had a lot of teachers and my guidance counselor Mrs. Foote and my principal Mr. Edwards he was one of the biggest supporters of my whole career who have made it a lot easier on me to go for what I wanted to do,” explained Julia. Many may wonder what could possibly be next for someone who has done so much at such a young age. Well, based on what Julia’s up to and what she has planned for the future, there’s a lot to be done. Over the summer she performed during the 93Q Summer Jam at Paper Mill Island in Baldwinsville along with artists like Andy Grammer, Jake Miller and Katy Tiz; and even traveled to Italy to perform at the Bvlgari designer’s daughter’s 18th birthday party. You know, just normal everyday kind of stiff no big deal. But before the mega talented singer fully dives into the industry she has one more thing to cross of her list: graduating. This fall Julia will be entering her senior year at C.W Baker High School and while the idea of leaving saddens her, she’s excited to venture out and see what the future brings. Which hopefully includes an album coming out soon. “I think my goal is to one day go on tour and have my own show. That would be really cool for me,” said Julia. “I’m just really grateful for all the different opportunities I’ve had. Not a lot people just get this handed to them.” WOUNY.COM • SEPTEMBER 2015
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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.
Champions Fitness Center Becomes the Premier Fitness Center for Women in CNY
hat caught my attention when taking a closer look at Champions Fitness Center in Cicero? The many changes they’ve recently made to secure their position as The Premier Fitness Center for women in Central New York. When I first walked into Champions, I immediately noticed how great the staff is with the members. They know each person by name and there is always a warm, friendly feel to the club. This is a place that truly cares about its members.
enjoys the classes in the pool. “I will eventually need a knee replacement and the low-impact pool classes allow me to exercise pain free.” Champions also has Cross-fit Transformation located right next door to their facility. This gym is run by coach Sarah Lipsy. Sarah has won most of the Cross-fit competitions in Central and Western New York; and is considered amongst the CrossFit community to be the best female Cross Fitter in the Syracuse area.
Champions has always catered to their female clientele, but they recently took things to a whole new level when they merged with Kelly Lyn North Fitness (The Premier Women’s Only Fitness Center in CNY for the past 43 years). The merger has more than doubled the amount of Women’s Only Group Fitness Classes, including Zumba, Aqua Zumba, Yoga Classes, Kickboxing, Total Sculpt, Inter velocity and Boot Camp. It has also more than doubled the size of the Women’s Only workout area which now includes Women’s Only cardio and strength rooms.
While almost finished with my visit at Champions, I bumped into Cross Fit Kids Coach and Personal Trainer Jess Wood who was with client Martha K Love. I asked Martha what it was like working with Jess and she said “I’ve worked with Jess for over 2 years! Her knowledge is very current and valuable. My sessions with her get me to the gym and hold me accountable. She pushes me to push myself and to try things I wouldn’t normally do on my own.” Long time Champions Fitness member Jocelyn Ditch sums it all up. “This place had brought me friendship, health, and a new way of thinking about fitness. The trainers go above and beyond to help provide the best guidance in your journey to better health. It really is a family here and it doesn’t take long to see that.”
While there, I was able to sit down with Kelly Sherwood for a few minutes. She has been programming and designing schedules for women’s fitness classes for more than 20 years. Kelly is an expert at fine-tuning classes, times and instructors to ensure that the female clientele at Champions have the best possible experience. “Champion’s classes have always been good, but now they are absolutely outstanding” said Diane Kesel, a long time Champions member. “Their instructors are all experienced and always keep things fun and fresh.” Member Coleen Balamut, said she really
WOUNY.COM • SEPTEMBER 2015
A final thought: If you’re looking for a hometown, full service fitness facility that’s not overcrowded or overpriced, stop Champions Fitness Center! Champion Fitness Center is a gym where your health matters and your money is well spent. Check them out, you won’t be disappointed.
Embracing Age Is There When You Can’t Be
ome is where we want to stay, and with quality support and planning it is possible for seniors to enjoy the comfort and independence of their own home. Home care organizations like Embracing Age in DeWitt are committed to ensuring that the twilight years are spent at home in a safe, healthy environment for as long as possible.
Very often, caregivers and seniors wait until a crisis occurs to arrange for support services in their home. Perhaps mom falls, or dad leaves the stove on all day. Those types of incidents tend to be eye-opening, and family members realize they need an agency like Embracing Age. “If we can get involved earlier, we can help caregivers and seniors avoid crisis and enhance quality of life,” says Susan Clancy-Magley, executive director of Embracing Age. “Early involvement allows seniors to enjoy the maximum amount of independence for the greatest amount of time.” In addition, members feel safer at home and enjoy less stressful lives. By being proactive and getting help from Embracing Age, long term care facilities such as nursing homes can often be postponed or prevented. That translates to cost savings.
Clancy-Magley notes that seniors are not the only people benefiting from early adoption of home care support services: “Managing the care of an aging loved one comes with decisions that can be overwhelming and stressful for caregivers,” she says. “Home care providers like Embracing Age provide support, education and communication to caregivers, ensuring they feel secure and confident in the knowledge that their loved one is receiving the comfort, care, and the access to services they need to remain in their residence.” These factors combined with a significant increase in quality time together directly enhance quality of life for everyone involved.
Embracing Age provides services ranging from basic companionship and light household assistance to arranging for case management and medical needs. “We often hear ‘I wish I did this sooner’ from our members,” says Clancy-Magley. “We become part of the family when caregivers can’t be. We help with the day-to-day tasks that become overwhelming, such as laundry, meal preparation, errands and doctor appointments. We even coordinate social activities to keep engaged.” Through their Preferred Provider Network,
Embracing Age members have access to experts in fields ranging from landscaping and home repair to legal and medical needs allowing members to confidently arrange for quality services at fair prices. This network includes an affiliate relationship with St. Joseph’s Health and Franciscan Companies, providing access to high quality, streamlined medical care, from home health aides to professionals handling acute health concerns. Taking advantage of home care services sooner rather than later allows everyone involved to embrace aging. They become empowered to live a safe, healthy and happy life in their home – exactly where they want to be. “We look to build long-lasting relationships with our members. By working collaboratively with the family, the member and our partners from the outset, we remove obstacles and limit stressors to provide seniors with everything they need to remain comfortable at home and in their daily activities,” said Clancy-Magley. For more information about Embracing Age visit www.EmbracingAge.org or call (315) 877-3779.
Embracing Age Improve Lives
Embracing Age is affiliated with St. Joseph’s Health and Franciscan Companies
WOUNY.COM • SEPTEMBER 2015
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CORE Leadership with Sue Kowalski
ven in 2015, the image of a School Librarian and a school library program may conjure up traditional images. But at Pine Grove Middle School in the East Syracuse Minoa School District, something very special is happening and their Librarian Sue Kowalski is at its core. She has managed to integrate the library program into every curriculum area and it extends far beyond the walls of the physical library, now under new construction. Sue began her career as a reading teacher in the Syracuse City School District and entered the library field by chance. But since then has become a nationally recognized innovator in the library community, receiving a National School Library Program award of $10,000 from the Follett Library Resources corporation in 2011. Currently, the building is under construction, students and teachers are spread out among six different temporary locations. Sue continues to addresses the needs of the students & staff in each location working with teachers primarily in their classrooms, a very different, nontraditional model. This is but one example of Sue’s innovative approach to library services, that are integrated, mobile, flexible and project based.
WOUNY.COM • SEPTEMBER 2015
By: Christine Vickers, MLS,CAS Ms. Lindy
successful in their school community. “The
Sue’s creative thinking went into overdrive as she thought about how to address the mobility of the library program during the renovation and have a little fun in the process. Using her own funds, from the ‘I Love My Librarian Award’ she received a few years prior, (one of only 10 Librarians in the country to receive such an award) Sue and her husband purchased a 1989 RV that has become the famous Ms.Lindy. The original owner anointed Ms. Lindy with her name honoring the RV brand name and the many years of happy memories they had on adventures with her. Sue stocked her with books, added a Parrot mascot, RePeat(to encourage repeat visits to the Library) and Miss Lindy was ready to roll. Sue reports, “I come and park it at one of our locations and kids are able to come in and check out books; it is basically an extension of what we are doing in school.” Ms. Lindy also makes appearances at district events, has hosted make and take project evenings, photo booth nights and helped collect books for United Way in a Stuff the Bus event connected with a local Library Conference.
idea that a librarian waits for business to come to them is long gone, we need to be the person in our schools to take charge of making connections”, Sue enthusiastically explains. “I don’t think I have ever stopped transforming what I think a library can be.” Her colleague, 6th grade Social Studies & Science teacher Susanne Sobon agrees, “Working with Sue has totally opened up the Social Studies and Science curriculum that I teach. Sue is extremely creative in her ways of working around traditional and nontraditional challenges that can infiltrate the school environment.” Sue notes that many of her conversations with staff often take place virtually. “There may be less face time but there are lots of opportunities for rich collaboration. In the past I may have had a teacher put a written request in my box and now I’m texting teachers, using social media or maybe hopping on a Google drive and working on a document or project together that way.”
Powerful Partnerships Sue shares that her personal philosophy is that a Librarian needs to be a leader to be
On the Library web site, Sue has placed a collaboration request form that teachers and staff may fill out online and submit. Requests for assistance may include; a teaching partner, books, a special event or program, a grant idea or what Sue has deemed a libguide for a specific project or
unit of study. Libguides are essentially web based portals designed for simple point and click access and containing great resources that are age and content appropriate for students. “The libguides have really been game changers in the sense that all the resources are right there in one place and are based on the teachers learning goals for a specific project, “says Sue. Sue monitors how many hits a specific lib guide receives and is then able to make adjustments accordingly. “On our web site we have a listing for the top ten libguides for the year. The one on teen health received 1800 hits, the one I did for my principal disseminating important information he needed to get out to the public received 1700. Because this resource is web based, parents and the extended community are also able to access and use these resources.” Not only does Sue partner with teachers and staff, she initiated a formalized student leadership program, ISTAFF.
With this program she has trained to students to take responsibility for some high impact activities in the library where they are helping other students and their teachers as well. “This was a mindset shift that occurred for me as I was thinking about how to best utilize and integrate all our resources while getting kids involved; now it becomes our library.” Based on the world we live in, technology is certainly at the forefront of this library program. Yet books are still king in the library and Sue thoroughly enjoys providing that reading guidance to her students. “I might have a child who says, I need another book in that series or I hate to read and I have to do report, can you help me? I try to never say no we don’t have that or you can’t read that. I always try to seek out something that will work for them and that they will like.” When asked about what new resources she is looking forward to using with students this upcoming school year, Sue notes Google Apps for Education are at the top of her list. “With the free resource,
CS First kids are able to design their own online environment in the specific style that works for their brain. By doing so, they can really become more proficient in using Google and more invested in the learning process.” Sue said that she is most proud that her staff and school community know that she is up for anything and that she has done her part in shifting that old school stereotype. “I have been invited to take a leadership role and sit at some tables that librarians might not typically attend. My goal is to connect people to resources and strategies. The most exciting part of the job for me is when other people; administrators, teachers and staff feel empowered to use the available resources to make that powerful connection for students.” To learn more about Pine Grove Middle School’s Library Program visit: www.pinegrove.libguides.com Connect on Twitter: @spkowalski or @ mslindymobile
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