Recipe of the Month: Peppermint Popcorn

AnchorIngredients:
  • 1 pound white candy coating, coarsely chopped
  • 24 cups popped popcorn
  • 1/2 to 3/4 cup finely crushed peppermint candy (4 to 6 candy canes)
  • Red nonpareils, optional
DIRECTIONS:
In a microwave, melt candy coating; stir until smooth. In a large bowl, combine the popcorn and crushed candy. Pour candy coating over top; toss to coat. Pour onto a waxed paper-lined baking sheet. If desired, sprinkle with nonpareils. When hardened, break apart. Store in an airtight container.

December 2020 Staff Highlight

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This month, we would like to introduce you to Gwendolyn Msolomba. Gwen has a Bachelor of Science in Biology and Business from Carlow University and a Masters in Education from Ashford University. She is a supervisor for our AmeriHealth team and our Community Health Workers.

Gwen was born and raised in Johnstown, PA. Family means a lot to Gwen! She has three brothers and a loving mother, Jackie who is her biggest fan and supporter. She is also a fun and adventurous aunt and godmother to her three nephews, a great-niece, 3 goddaughters, and 4 godsons. Gwen is the glue that holds her family together. She also has a dog, Zack, and a turtle, Versace.

For hobbies, Gwen enjoys braiding hair and dancing! She teaches West African Dance at Saint Francis University and a free class at the Bottleworks in Johnstown, PA. One of her greatest passions is to see all children succeed. In fact, her biggest goal in life is to open a recreational center in Johnstown to create a safe place for youth to hang out and learn the skills they need to live on their own.

Gwen has been with AUCP for 5 and a half years.  She says she loves the team approach that we have transitioned to over the last few years. She enjoys the teams that she is a part of and the flexibility that this job offers. The most challenging part of her position is the process to match participants with the things that they need, sometimes it takes longer than we want it to. If Gwen did not work at AUCP, she would like to be a Behavioral Specialist Consultant.

All of us here at AUCP love working with Gwen! She has a great sense of outspoken humor and is able to maintain her cool in the toughest of situations. Gwen makes work fun and we are so glad that she’s part of our family.

End of Year Note 2020

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To our Participants, Supporters, and Staff (both old and new),

As the end of the year draws near we would like to take this opportunity to wish all of you a peace-filled holiday and to thank you for sticking with us throughout the year. We all know that 2020 was like no other. This year has been filled with a multitude of challenges and victories. Every year is different but this one has been filled with more change than normal, for all of us.

Over this past year, we have added many participants, staff, board members, and friends. We are grateful for the opportunity to serve you and work alongside you. Our passion for helping our participants receive the care that they need to live safe and healthy lives remains strong.
We know there will be many continued challenges ahead., but we are so excited about all that 2021 has in store for us – enthusiasm and anticipation are building around new opportunities for our agency. Stay tuned for more details in the new year.

Working together this past year has been a pleasure and we’re proud to have you all with us. Best wishes and happiness to you and your families over the festive season. We look forward to a successful 2021!

From everyone here at Alleghenies United Cerebral Palsy, Happy Holidays! 

November 2020 Staff Highlight

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This month for our Staff Highlight, we are featuring one of our new Community Health Workers, Christy Berzonski. Christy was the HUB spotlight for the 1889 Jefferson Center for Population Health. Below are some excerpts from her interview. You can read the full article on their website.

Tell us about yourself: I am a mother of three with a boy and two girls. I was a young mother at 21. I always wanted to be a mother but never knew what I wanted to do with my life. I was a nursing assistant for a year and then did retail for over 20 years. I went back to school in my 30’s and got a certificate in coding and billing. My real passion, though, all these years has been helping people. My husband had cancer when he was in his early 20’s, and I learned real fast what a great community I had living in Somerset County. Friends and strangers came together to raise money for my family since my husband couldn’t work. People we didn’t know were sending us gift cards and dropping off food. It was then that I decided Cancer was my main outreach. I wanted to give back to the community that helped me, that was also going through this terrible disease. So I started fundraising. I have helped kids with cancer and adults by organizing bike runs, basket parties, spaghetti dinners, Walmart Heart program, and painting parties. I enjoyed searching for resources and meeting new people and learning their stories. We all have a story or a purpose and I believe mine is to help others. I encourage my daughter, Analeigh, to do the same by taking her for volunteer opportunities with Johnstown Food Truck and Windber Community Kitchen. I also love to scrapbook because I feel they tell your family story and I love capturing memories.

What drew you to the CHW position in the first place? When I learned of this position, I was drawn to it. They wanted someone from the community for the community. It didn’t require a degree. They wanted someone who has walked similar walks and that could pull experiences and relate to the participant. I am a mother, so what better way to relate! I also had to use a lot of the same resources when I had my first two children and again when my husband got cancer. I am excited to make an impact and empower these women. I loved that we aren’t telling them what to do, but listening to them and putting them in charge of their own life plan. We are just there to give them the tools to accomplish the things they want.

What is the most challenging part of being a CHW so far? The hardest part of this job is hitting a roadblock: To find a gap in resources or have a safety concern and not be able to instantly protect them.

Foster Love Project Donation Drive

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Throughout the month of September, we held a donation drive for the Foster Love Project in Pittsburgh. The Foster Love Project is a donation center that doubles as a “store” for foster kids and parents. Since 2014, they have provided 12,000 placement bags that are used to ensuring that kids are able to take a bag of new belongings with them when they change homes. Additionally, they have had around 2,000 kids come through the center where they are able to shop for clothing, toiletries, toys, and other necessities!

AUCP staff participated in the donation drive by purchasing items off of an Amazon wishlist. The agency agreed to double their donations, plus $100. We ended up donating over $800 worth of items (shoes, toys, and toiletries, etc.)

On October 15th, we made the trip to their facility in Pittsburgh to drop off the donations. While there, they gave us a tour of their facility and allowed us to take a few videos to take all of you on a little virtual tour. We invite you to watch the video here on Facebook.

If you would like to learn more about the Foster Love Project, volunteer, or make a donation, visit their website. They are always looking for support in order to continue providing love in action to foster youth.

Staff Highlight – Lindsay Vogt

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We would like to introduce you to Lindsay Vogt, a Lead Service Coordinator on our Amerihealth team. She’s been a Service Coordinator for almost 5 years, first with UCP Central and then with us after the merger. Lindsay is from Lewistown, PA, and serves Mifflin and Juniata counties. She has a Human Development and Family Studies degree from Penn State.

Lindsay and her husband have been together for 15 years and married for 10 years. Together they have 2 children. Their daughter, Quinn (6) does gymnastics, ballet, tap dance, and recently started kindergarten. Their son, Quay (4) loves wrestling, WWE, hanging out with his daddy, and goes to preschool. As a family, they enjoy watching and hosting football parties, especially Notre Dame.

Lindsay says that her biggest goals in life have always been to have a job she loves that pays well and to be a good mom to her kids. If she didn’t work at AUCP, she’s not sure what she would do. When she graduated college she worked in a nursing home for 3 years, but it became more about money and less about quality. Lindsay says that she likes the flexibility and trust she receives from her Supervisors at AUCP. The most challenging part of her job is when she has relay hard news to participants and dealing with difficult people.

Lindsay is dedicated and passionate in ensuring her participants get what they need.  Her supervisor says that she has a huge heart and shares her compassion with her participants and staff. Always diligent to get her work done in a timely manner and is quick to assist other staff with work, offer training, and support.

Breast Cancer Awareness Month 2020

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Many of the symptoms of breast cancer are invisible and not noticeable without a professional screening like a mammogram or ultrasound. But some symptoms can be caught early just by looking out for certain changes in your breasts and being proactive about your breast health.

In honor of National Breast Cancer Month, we’d like to share the National Breast Cancer Foundation LLC’s Know the Symptoms guide. It provides a checklist of symptoms that will help you know what to look for in your breasts during a self-exam and take note of the important information to provide your doctor to guide them in their professional evaluation of your health. Know what to look for when checking your breasts by getting this free guide.

Reused and Exchanged Equipment Partnership Award 2020-2021

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We are excited to announce that we have been awarded a contract for the Reused and Exchanged Equipment Partnership (REEP) for 2020-2021 through TechOwl and Temple University. This grant allows us to run our ReUse It program that accepts and redistributes medical equipment and assistive technology to Pennsylvanians with disabilities and the elderly for free.

Between our efforts and the efforts of other Reuse partners, over 3,100 equipment exchanges have taken place across Pennsylvania in the last twelve months.

Due to Covid-19, our ReUse It efforts had to be put on hold for about 3 months in the 2019-2020 award year. However, we have been preparing to build the program and increase our donations in the years to come. If you have any questions about the ReUse It program or would like to see a list of available inventory, please visit our website.

Facts About the Flu

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How to Prevent the Flu? – Want to avoid spending the winter curled up with a pile of tissues and painkillers?  The single best way to prevent the flu is to get vaccinated each fall before the season begins in November.  While getting your annual flu shot can’t offer total protection, it will greatly reduce your chances of contracting this potentially deadly virus – or passing it on to someone else.

Who should get the shot? – The CDC recommends that everyone 6 months and older receive a flu shot.  The vaccine is especially important for people at higher risk of complications from the flu: pregnant women, people with certain medical conditions including asthma, diabetes, and chronic lung disease, people who live with or care for infants, adults age 65 and older, and children ages 5 and younger.

Some people should NOT receive a flu shot without first speaking with their health care provider, including those who:  Have had a bad reaction to the flu shot in the past, are allergic to chicken eggs, or have a fever on the day they are scheduled for a flu shot. If you believe you may be at increased risk for developing flu complications, talk with your doctor!

https://www.ucsfhealth.org/education/facts-about-the-flu

September 2020 Staff Highlight

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We are very excited to introduce you to our staff highlight this month, Ashley Malkin. Ashley has been with us for one year, first as an intern, and then hired on full-time as our Staff Accountant handling accounts receivable, accounts payable, and general ledger reconciliations for the agency. She has a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown and an Associate’s degree in Accounting from Penn Highlands.

She is from Cairnbrook, PA where she lives with her fiance, Shane, and their three dogs. Marsha, a senior dog, whom they adopted two years ago, and Yuna and Bellatrix, both 9 months old.

During her free time, she enjoys reading, cuddling with her dogs, and watching Netflix. If she weren’t an accountant, Ashley says she would like to be a librarian. Her favorite thing about working at AUCP is getting to work under Kelly, our Fiscal Manager. Ashley says she is a great supervisor and she has taught her so much over the last year.

We are all so thrilled to have Ashley as part of our family here at AUCP. Kelly says “she has quickly become a valuable team member… always willing to help out her coworkers and is a pleasure to work with.” Ask anyone that has gotten the chance to work with her and they would agree!