Northern Connection’s Fall Home Guide

Check out this year’s fall home guide in the September issue of Northern Connection Magazine.
CLICK HERE to read the entire guide.

Coming in October

The October issue of Northern Connection Magazine will highlight the area’s leading health care facilities, doctors & businesses that specialize in Women’s Health & Wellness.

If you would like to see your business, practice, Doctors and/or health care professionals featured in this issue, call (724)940-2444 or email

Pump Up Your Lungs

Get ready for the Cold and Flu Season…and COVID 

Since breathing just happens without thinking about it, we can take it for granted.  You may not realize the importance of lung health until you have experienced a hard time breathing or get conditions such as, asthma, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), or lung cancer.  Your lungs provide you oxygen as you breathe in, and, just as important, remove carbon dioxide from your body as you breathe out.  This is called gas exchange and is essential to life.  Genetics, disease and the environment can have a negative impact on your lung function, leading to respiratory conditions and a shorter lifespan. 

With the continuous threat of COVID, and the upcoming cold and flu season, now is a good time to get your lungs in good shape.  Below are some guidelines, exercises and foods that can help you on this journey toward lung health. 

Healthy lung guidelines: 

  • Remember to breathe deeply as much as you can 
  • Avoid exposure to pollutants, inside and outside 
  • Don’t smoke 
  • Move and stay active 
  • Pay attention to your posture 
  • Simply laugh 
  • Prevent infection  
  • Stay hydrated 
  • Get flu and COVID vaccine 

Exercising your lungs: 

As you walk up the stairs and get to the top, you will feel your breath becoming shallow and rapid. You have to either slow down or stop to catch your breath. Improving your lung function by better breathing increases oxygen to your muscles, including your muscles used for breathing.  

  1. Patterned breathing exercise can help you coordinate your inhales and exhales, for example, a 2-2 pattern: Breathe in, then step left, right; Breathe out, then step left, right; Breathe in.  
  1. Standing or sitting straight:  Breathe in, with palms facing out and up, raise your arms out and up, so that your palms are facing each other. Breathe out, then lower your arms back down to your sides. 

If you have trouble walking or losing your balance, there are exercises that you can do lying on your back. 

Nutrient-rich foods for your lungs: 

The right combinations of nutrients can help you breathe easier. Oxygen and the food you eat or drink become fuel for your body, producing energy, which we need and use, and carbon dioxide, which is a waste product that we exhale.  Carbohydrates produce the most carbon dioxide and fat produces the least. For some people with COPD, eating a diet with fewer carbohydrates and more fat helps them breathe easier. 

Nutritional Guidelines 

  • Choose complex carbohydrates and limit simple carbohydrates. 
  • Eat 20 to 30 grams of fiber each day 
  • Eat a good source of protein at least twice a day to help maintain strong respiratory muscles. 
  • Drink plenty of fluids.  

Studies have shown that foods rich in flavonoids, antioxidants, anti-inflammatory agents, certain vitamins and minerals, fiber, Omega 3, promote lung health. Below are some nutrient-rich foods that may support lung health: 

Vegetables. Beets, Peppers, Pumpkin, Red cabbage, Swiss chard 

Fruits. Apples, Pears, Tomato/Tomato-based products, Blueberries  

Others. Yogurt, Brazil nuts, Sardines, Barley, Lentils , Olive oil, Green tea, Turmeric, Dark Chocolate 

Keeping your lungs healthy is essential to feeling your best.  Be mindful of your exposure to environmental toxins and inflammatory foods. Studies have shown that a nutritious diet and lifestyle modification can have a positive impact on your lung health, even if you suffer from lung conditions, such as, asthma, COPD, and lung cancer. 

Let’s all breathe better, and make our lungs stronger to fight these viruses that are creeping into our neighborhoods. Yes, it’s time to get vaccinated against the flu and COVID. 

Now, take a deep breath, relax, and smile… 

Mallory Gurney

      For the second year in a row, a Blessed Francis Seelos Academy faculty member has been awarded the Golden Apple Award, the ultimate educator’s award in the Diocese of Pittsburgh. Mrs. Mallory Gurney is among this year’s recipients. She was honored with an inscribed golden apple, certificate and a monetary gift from Bishop David Zubik. Last year, the principal, Mr. Robert Reese, received the award. 

       School principals submit nominees for this award, from parents, students, and fellow teachers.  A selection committee consisting of members of the Diocesan Schools Office, the Education Department from Duquesne University and the Donahue Family Foundation. The winners are selected on several criteria, including an educator’s professional excellence, leadership, commitment to Catholic values and devotion to teaching in Catholic schools. The program is made possible by the generosity of the Donahue Family Foundation.  

       In 2020, shortly after the abrupt shutdown across the state due to the pandemic, Gurney recognized the change would be hard on her kindergarten students. So she decided to load her car with essential learning materials, as well fun surprises, and delivered them to every one of her students. She visited students from 12 area school districts, making for a long but rewarding afternoon. Families embraced this gesture by dressing up (she did, too) as Superheroes, making signs, and standing outside waiting to give a simple but memorable wave from a safe distance. Gurney drove over 100 miles to visit each of the 22 homes of her students. “This is a memory that these students and families will carry with them for a lifetime,” stated kindergarten parent Julie Byrne. “She has a special gift for teaching, specifically for reading and writing, and she shares her gift with each of her students daily. She cares about and celebrates their everyday successes – large and small –and spends her days building the foundation for a lifelong love of learning for students of all abilities.” 

        In 2019, Gurney joined the Seelos Academy faculty and made an impact by creating a nurturing and creative classroom culture. “Mrs. Gurney created and developed a ‘Poetry Cafe,’ where her students showcase their reading and oral presentation skills. In preparation for the Poetry Cafe, which is held around Mother’s Day each year, she creates an atmosphere to welcome and make a memorable experience for her students’ families. Using a microphone, Gurney’s students, one by one, read famous poems to their families in attendance. The students also read and perform together as a group. A great deal of effort goes into putting the Poetry Cafe together, and it is just one of the many ways Mrs. Gurney makes kindergarten memorable for her students and families,” stated Reese in his recommendation letter for the award. 

        Mallory is a graduate of Thiel College and holds a Master’s degree in Reading and Language Arts from Duquesne University. She and her husband, Jason, have two children, the oldest of which will be carpooling to school with Mallory to attend kindergarten. 

Focus on the Family 

Now that summer is nearing its end and the kids are back in school, it’s time to focus on the family. Service members greatly rely on the support that they receive from their loved ones. This month, we will take a look at a few resources available to military families. 

According to the Military Child Education Coalition, “Military children generally move six to nine times during their K-12 school years. Many make multiple moves during high school years alone, some even during their senior year.  

        MCEC tries to make tough transitions easier on these kids. This organization develops information to support the transitioning military student. They maintain an alliance of school districts for communication and networking. MCEC examines technologies (teleconferencing, internet, etc.) and develops procedures to support information sharing between militaryimpacted school districts. They also assess sources of funding to support the alliance. For information on Military Child Education Coalition, visit 

        Operation: Love Reunited is a veteran-focused organization that provides free professional photography sessions and photo gifts to military families dealing with a deployment. It was founded in August of 2006 by Colorado photographer Tonee Lawrence and was approved for its 501(c)3 status in February 2009. Its mission is to boost the morale of deployed service members through photography.  The good news is they have photographers located worldwide.   

        OpLove helps those long months go by a little faster by capturing the moments that you will remember and always treasure. It’s art. It’s love. It’s all made possible by artists wanting to give something back to those who make our country what it is and ask for nothing in return but for these brave men and women to come back home. Their profound motto is – “Giving back to those who want nothing more than to come home.”  In addition, they also offer the OpLove Scholarship Fund and the Sgt. Soto Memorial Fund (for those killed in action). For further details, visit 

        Yellow Ribbon Reintegration Program’s mission is to assist, collaborate and partner with services and agencies at the lowest level possible to provide for service members. Veterans and their family members benefit from informational events and activities, referrals, and proactive outreach services throughout the phases of deployment or mobilization. The program provides quality joint deployment support and reintegration services to all service members and their families effectively, efficiently and as close to their homes as possible, ensuring they are informed and self-sufficient, thus enabling them to sustain the rigors associated with deployment or mobilization. For more information, visit 

By: Paula Green