July Staff Highlight

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This month, we are excited to introduce you to Service Coordinator, Jennifer Myers. Jenny has been a Service Coordinator for a total of 13 years. 3 years at AUCP and 10 with South Central Service Coordination before we merged with their agency. In 2007 she moved to Shippensburg, PA from a small town in Maryland. She currently serves the South Central, PA area.

Jenny and her husband, Sam, have been married for 11 years. She has 3 step-children that are now all grown and are living in various states from California, Idaho, to Pennsylvania. Together Jenny and Sam have 2 dogs (pictured below) that are like children and keep them on their toes.

Jenny enjoys being outside doing things like camping, hiking, kayaking, gardening, and then resting by picking up a book and reading. Her biggest goal in life is to be happy with whatever road she takes in life and keep her family near.

If she wasn’t a Service Coordinator, Jenny would like to be a Marine Biologist working with whales, dolphins, seals, and the like. Her favorite part about working at AUCP is meeting the participants and building friendships with them. The most challenging part is when one of her participants passes away. She says it has been a great pleasure working at AUCP. Everyone shows great teamwork and stands by each other and supports each other.

Jenny has been a phenomenal addition to our company. She is able to connect with her participants in a very unique way. She always makes it a point to go above and beyond for the coworkers and team. We are so glad to have her as part of our work family.

Serving Our Community

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Here at AUCP we are passionate about making an impact on our community in big ways and in small. So, when an opportunity arises we are  honored to be able to volunteer to support our community in any way we can.

In May and June, staff from the Johnstown area volunteered with the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank distributing boxes of food to members of the community in the parking lot of the Galleria Mall. They were able to help distribute close to 2,000 boxes of food to community members in need. Both days were full of smiles and laughter had by all!

For more information on how the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank is helping their neighbors in receiving much needed food assistance, visit their website.

June Staff Highlight

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June’s Staff Highlight is Tom Lawson, a Programs Manager here at AUCP for the OLTL and Adult Autism Waiver programs. Originally from Western New York, Tom moved to New Jersey when he was 21, and last June he relocated to Ligonier, PA. For college, he attended State University of New York (York) majoring in Sociology with a concentration in Law, Justice, and Society.

Tom and his “saint” of a wife, Wendy, celebrated their 20th wedding anniversary last month. They have a 19 year-old son, Jared, who just completed his Freshman year at the University of Alabama. They also have a 4 year-old husky named Truman who keeps them active.

Tom would describe himself as a sports “junkie,” specifically of the Buffalo Sabres, Cleveland Indians and the Buffalo Bills. If he’s not watching sports on T.V. or live with his friends, he might be watching the Weather Channel or ALF. He is also a fan of music, both listening to and attending concerts. He saw Metallica twice last year in a three day span!

His biggest goal in life is to be the best father to Jared and husband to Wendy that he can be. He likes to make people smile and bring humor to as many aspects of life that he can. Tom also finds fulfillment in serving his community, whether it is serving meals on Thanksgiving, coaching youth hockey, or being active with a Bulldog Rescue.

His dream job would be  to work as the General Manager of a sports team and put together a group of players with a common goal of winning a championship. His favorite part of working at AUCP is being able to meet so many awesome people and to see great work done on a daily basis by our dedicated employees. Since relocating here from New Jersey, the biggest challenge has been getting to know all the nuances of the programs. Yet, he says he has great people to rely on for guidance!

Tom is a fun and energetic leader here at AUCP. He is always making us laugh and is willing to go out of his way to support staff and our participants. We are glad that he is part of our team and for his role in enhancing the quality and culture of our agency.

Ways to Connect While Staying at Home

As you know, staying at home and avoiding crowds is necessary to prevent the spread of coronavirus, but it can lead to difficult emotions. If you or a loved one is starting to feel the effects of being confined at home, try these suggestions for connecting with others during the outbreak.

  1. Schedule virtual visits with friends and family.
    • With apps like Zoom, Google Hangouts, and HouseParty you are able to live chat with the people that mean the most to you from anywhere in the world!
  2. Play your favorite games online.
    • Using sites like Arkadium.com or apps downloaded on your smartphone, you can play your favorite games.
  3. Attend virtual events.
    • Sites like Facebook, Youtube, and AllEvents.in offer the capability to hear about live streamed events from around the world that you can watch from the comfort of your own home.
  4. Communicate the old-fashioned way.
    • If you don’t have access to smartphones or computers, consider sending a hand-written letter or card to loved ones instead. If you like to volunteer, letter-writing can also be used to spread messages of hope. There are a number of different nonprofits that are accepting letters to send to people all over the world.

Finding ways to stay connected with others during the Coronavirus can be challenging. Try using these strategies to feel less isolated and to stay connected with loved ones and others around the world.

Sources: EraLiving.com | Gero.usc.edu

May Staff Highlight

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Our May Staff Highlight is Georgiana (Anna) Smith. Anna will be at AUCP for one year this month and has quickly worked herself into a Lead Staff position for our PA Health and Wellness team. Anna earned a degree in Psychology from Carlow University. She serves participants in Beaver County and parts of Pittsburgh.

Anna has been with her husband, Zach, for ten years and they will be celebrating their 5 year wedding anniversary this month! (Happy Anniversary!) Together they have 2 children, Sienna (4 years old on May 21st) and Roman (a little over a year old). Anna is usually found playing with her children or hanging poolside over the summer. When she has the time, she enjoys reading, gardening, decorating, and shopping.

Her biggest goal in life is to know that she has been able to help someone who needed it. She also hopes to raise her children to be kind, compassionate, generous and loving people who are accepting of individual differences no matter what.

If she did not work at AUCP, she’d like to try her hand at being an interior decorator or an adoption counselor. The way that we work as a team across the agency is what she likes the most about working at AUCP. She says that recently, the most challenging part of her position is being able to assist her team members that are still in training as all training needs to take place via video chat.

Her supervisor and coworkers describe her as hardworking and willing to go above and beyond to help her participants. Always quick to assist and help where she can, Anna has definitely become a reliable and trusted coworker on her team and across the agency. We can all agree that our agency has been positively impacted by having her on board and we look forward to what the future holds!

Virtually Together – A COVID-19 Update

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Since the Coronavirus outbreak, Alleghenies United Cerebral Palsy has quickly adapted to the changes that came along with it. We continue to follow guidelines set by our government and affiliate agencies to ensure the health and safety of our participants and employees.

As of May 1st, our staff continues to work from their homes with limited staff rotating office days, as needed. Our Service Coordinators were already working from home the majority of the time and were prepared to continue doing so. All other staff have been provided resources and equipment to work from home with little to no disruption in their day-to-day jobs.

As you may have noticed, we have increased our weekly phone calls in effort to ensure that each participant has a backup plan for emergencies and to ensure health and safety. To meet the Office of Long-Term Living (OLTL) and Managed Care Organizations (MCO) required calls, the agency hired a few temporary Intake Specialists to assist with completing calls.

Although our day-to-day may look different, our mission does not change; to assist our participants in meeting their basic needs, enhancing their quality of life, and promoting their independence. Our participants’ health and safety is our main focus and as an agency we take pride and seeing this happen. The MCO’s have provided positive feedback about the way we are handling the new guidelines set in place. We are very proud of the hard work our staff does at all times, but especially in our current circumstances.

As an agency we are prepared to face whatever the future holds. We continue to monitor incoming news, learn how to best respond, and implement changes that will best support our participants and employees. Should you have any questions or concerns, we encourage you reach out to your Service Coordinator or by call the main office at 1-844-819-4455 to speak to a Programs Coordinator.

For state updates regarding COVID-19, go to www.health.pa.gov.

April Staff Highlight

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Service Coordinator Tara Herwig is our Staff Highlight for April. Tara has been with our agency since August of 2019 when we took over  UCP Connections to Independence where she had been working for about 9 months. She attended Mount Aloysius College and received a B.A. in English.

Currently, Tara lives in Lewistown, PA with her husband Jeremy and their four children; Emma, Evelyn, Benjamin, and Lillian. They also have a dog named Mollie and a cat named Whiskers. Tara enjoys spending time with her family, cooking and trying new recipes, growing her own food, and traveling to new places .  Her family especially loves going to the beach!  She also loves to read and try new things, or find a good movie or Netflix series to watch.

She says that if she didn’t work at AUCP, she would like to write a blog or start her own business. Her biggest goals in life are to question everything in life and make her dreams come true.

Tara likes that she gets to work with like-minded individuals who are passionate about helping others here at AUCP. Also, the flexibility this job offers allows her to work and be at home with her kids. The most challenging part of the job for her was transitioning from an office to working remotely and then trying to outline boundaries at home.

In the short time Tara has been with the agency, we have learned that she is always willing to step up and assist her coworkers. And in everything she does, she does it well. We are so pleased that she is now part of our work family and we want to thank her for all the hard work she does!

National Sleep Week

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Sleep Awareness Week is March 1-7, 2020. This annual event, created by the National Sleep Foundation, seeks to promote better sleep as a way to increase overall health and well-being. NSF recommends 7-9 hours of sleep for adults aged 18-64 and 7-8 hours for older adults aged 65 and over.

 

To get a good night’s sleep, follow these simple and effective sleep tips:

  • Stick to a sleep schedule, even on weekends.
  • Practice a relaxing bedtime ritual.
  • Exercise daily.
  • Evaluate your bedroom to ensure ideal temperature, sound and light.
  • Sleep on a comfortable mattress and pillows.
  • Beware of hidden sleep stealers, like alcohol and caffeine.
  • Turn off electronics before bed.

Source:https://www.sleepfoundation.org/

National Nutrition Month

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National Nutrition Month® is an annual campaign created by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. During the month of March, they invite everyone to focus on the importance of making informed food choices, developing sound eating and physical activity habits.

Eating right doesn’t have to be complicated. Before a meal, think about what foods you are going to eat. Choose foods that provide the nutrients you need without too many calories. Build a healthy plate with foods such as vegetables, fruits, whole grains, low-fat dairy and lean protein foods.

Consider the following tips to help you get started on your way to eating right:

  • Make half your plate fruits and vegetables
  • Make at least half your grains whole
  • Switch to fat-free or low-fat milk, yogurt and cheese
  • Vary your protein choices
  • Limit sodium, solid fats and added sugars
  • Enjoy your food but be mindful of portion sizes
  • Be physically active your way
  • Consult a registered dietitian nutrition

Get more information and see how you can be involved: https://sm.eatright.org/NNMinfo

March Staff Highlight

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Our March Staff Highlight is Hollie Orris, a AmeriHealth Coordinator serving our nursing home participants in Cambria and Somerset counties. She has been with AUCP for 2 years working out of the Johnstown office. Hollie graduated from Mount Aloysius College with a bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice.

One thing you will quickly learn about Hollie is that she loves dogs, especially her own. Pictured to the right are her two rescue dogs: a German shepherd named Max (2) and a shepherd collie mix named Bowzer (9). Hollie enjoys reading, everything Harry Potter, spending time with her friends, and shopping and going on bus trips with her mom. She and her boyfriend like taking weekend trips, going to trivia, and trying new restaurants.

In her free-time, she manages fundraisers to help raise money for the St. Michael Fire Hall. Hollie is also on AUCP’s Fundraising committee where she attributes her time and talents to raising money for our Community Fund.

Her favorite things about working at AUCP are her coworkers and being able to assist our participants in living their best lives. The most challenging part of her position is that everyday is different. and sometimes you can’t provide an answer to the participants right away. If she weren’t a Service Coordinator, Hollie would like to work as a Vet Tech.

Hollie always works hard and goes out of her way to help others. We are thankful to have her as part of our team.