2019 Holiday Guide

Welcome to our 2019 Holiday Guide!  Happy Holidays from all of us at Northern Connection!

Read our entire holiday guide below!

Together Again

Casual conversation and an old photo have led to a remarkable discovery for two UPMC Senior Communities residents.  

Bob Adams and Wes Piros have a few things in common. They live down the hall from one another at Beatty Pointe Village, the UPMC Senior Communities independent living campus in Monroeville. They both celebrated their 96th birthdays in October, only three days apart. Both are full of vigor. Both served in the United States Army Air Forces during World War II.  

What they didn’t know until recently was that they were “neighbors” in different quarters 75 years ago as Air Force cadets. Shortly after each man enlisted, Bob and Wes spent time in Texas to qualify to be a pilot, bombardier or navigator in the military’s nascent branch, the Army Air Forces, which eventually became the U.S. Air Force. After Texas, each headed to Indiana for flight training at Butler University 

Bob has a photo of his fellow cadets at Hoosier Air FieldAt the time, Bob recalls, he simply handed his camera to someone close by, the cadets lined up in two rows and smiled, and the image was captured.  

Most of those 20 cadets of the Army Air Forces went their separate ways that day. Some fought and died in the war. Others stayed stateside in reserve, including Wes, who served until the end of the war on the West Coast working on bomber planes. Bob went on to serve on the European front as a radio operator in the infantry. The year was 1944 

One morning Bob brought that framed black and white photo down to breakfast at Beatty Pointe Village. Neither knew when Bob shared the photo with Wes the incredible coincidence would reveal itself.  

In the photo, Bob and Wes are pictured toward the center, with Bob in the top row looking down at Wes in the bottom row. “I didn’t recognize myself in the picture at first,” said Wes, “mostly because I couldn’t believe it!” 

 Both men agree that the service taught them organization, promptness, discipline, “and the ability to pull yourself up by your bootstraps” in the words of Bob’s grandfather.  

The gentlemen do not remember one another specifically from their earlier days together, but they do share recollections of their time in Indiana.  

“We slept in the field house in triple bunks,” Bob recalled. “Some nights we laid awake, unable to sleep, wondering what tomorrow would hold.” 

 Wes remembers how the women and students in the town would sew and press their uniforms so that they were form-fitting. “They made us look like officers,” he said with a smile. Bob added, “The little decisions and actions taken by strangers had such an impact on the course of our service and our lives.” This proved true countless times, whether it be a commanding officer or civilians encountered at home or overseas 

“We are all connected to one another, dependent on one another, and our actions have consequences for others,” said Bob. “This was an important thing to learn as a young man and to remember now that I am older.” 

 UPMC Senior Communities is home to hundreds of veterans across its many campuses. It is a privilege to share their stories, to honor them, and to express gratitude for their invaluable service.  

To learn more about UPMC Senior Communities, visit our website at UPMCSeniorCommunities.com or call 1-800-324-5523. 

The History of Halloween

Happy October, everybody! One of our favorite holidays is just around the corner. As such, I thought I would share with you the origins of Halloween, and why we celebrate it here in America today. [Read more…]

The World of Mae

Ada Mae Grashow, 10


Ada Mae Grashow, 10, has Phelan McDermid Syndrome (PMS).  This rare genetic condition is caused by the deletion/mutation in the Shank 3 gene.  PMS has only been diagnosed globally in 1,800 people, and it causes life-long severe intellectual and physical disabilities.  It is often misdiagnosed as an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) since it affects language, cognitive and gross motor skills.

At the age of four, Ada’s health and development began to regress.  Medical insurance would not cover all of her therapies, so the Grashow family started a foundation called The World of Mae (WOM).   It was established to help fund Ada’s needs and spread the word about Phelan-McDermid.         

According to Ada’s mother Kathryn (Katie), she receives specialized schooling.  “With World of Mae funds, we turned part of our home into a mini early learning center (Sweet Potato Academy).  It is specifically designed to be sensitive to her intellectual disabilities & medical needs, while also being a perfect setting for children between the ages of 2-5. We opened our doors in April 2018 and are grateful for the WOM community to allow us the ability to create this inclusive, respectful environment for Ada and her peers. As an early childhood educator and former kindergarten teacher and Ada’s mom, it is a dream come true to facilitate this discovery and play-based curriculum that fosters such joy in learning!  We really wanted to honor and celebrate the universal uniqueness in us all.” 

         Ada resides in Indiana Township, with her parents Katie & Jon, and two sisters, Wilhelmina, 8 and Oona, 3.   To help with Ada’s cause, the Grashow family is sponsoring a walk.  The World of Mae 5K & 1Mile FunRun will be held on October 5 at the Oregon Pavilion at North Park.  “We don’t call it a race because we truly celebrate people of all abilities and paces. Registration opens at 9:00 a.m., the 5k starts at 10:00 a.m. and the 1Mile FunRun starts at 11:00 a.m.  The courses are on the nature path so participants can enjoy the shade and beauty of the autumn foliage. We also have musicians playing every half-mile along our courses to maintain a strong sense of whimsy throughout the entire experience,” Katie said.

         For more information, on the World of Mae 5K & 1Mile Fun, visit https://runsignup.com/Race/PA/NorthPark/worldofmae.

By Paula Green

The Creation of America 

By Weston Waite 

 The month of July figures prominently in our nation’s history, but August does as well. Coincidentally, some of the most important written when conceiving our nation were all created in the month of August, amazing right? Do you remember these from your history class?  

 The Declaration of Independence (1776) 
Anyone who celebrates the Fourth of July, should know what the Declaration of Independence is. Written by Thomas Jefferson, this is our official “break up” letter with England, sent to King George III in 1776. It lists his many tyrannical abuses, and in it, we also reassert our rights to choose our own government. I like to think of this as the metaphorical birth certificate of our country. While formally presented to the General Assembly on July 4, it wasn’t actually signed by most of the 55 men until August 2. 

 The Articles of Confederation (1776-1777, 1781) 
This document was our first shot at creating our own government. It unites the 13 colonies, not as one country, but more as an alliance, or a “league of friendship. It then only consisted of a very weak National Congress. It was not oppressive, but it was too passive. The National Congress wasn’t given the power to tax the 13 states, and so, it could not provide basic things to the states, such as an organized military. No military means no protection, and The Articles proved to be a failure after Shay’s Rebellion wreaked havoc across the land. 

 The Constitution (1787) 
The Constitution was written by James Madison and is perhaps the most well balanced and most just form of government ever created, as it blends the three main types: Monarchy, Aristocracy, and Democracy. Checks and balances prevent any of the three branches (legislative, executive, and judicial), from becoming more powerful than the rest. Otherwise, the U.S. could become a dictatorship or fall into mob rule. The Articles define what each branch can and cannot do. In addition, the Bill of Rights, consisting of 27 amendments, outlines our rights as American citizens.  

 If you’re up to the challenge, try reading the full texts of these documents. It will make you more knowledgeable about what it means to be American!