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. 

Passavant Memorial Homes Foundation Awards $10,000 Community Service Scholarship to Sydney Komoroski

L to R Zach Senft, Sydney Komorski, Lewis Minett

 

              Passavant Memorial Homes Foundation (PMHF) is proud to announce the recipient of its 2021 Community Service Scholarship. This scholarship was created to honor the memory of Jamie Ellenberger, an individual served by Passavant Memorial Homes Family of Services (PMHFOS) and who was an active member in the community. The principle of community is central to PMHFOS’s mission, including efforts to engage in community initiatives and to be involved in community improvements.  

            PMHF aimed to award this scholarship to a student in the region who brings that same understanding of the value of community service. Sydney Komoroski of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart High School (OLSH) in Allegheny County, was bestowed with this honor. Her lengthy and impressive resume of community service began in 2014 when she hosted her birthday party where, instead of gifts, she asked guests to bring Easter baskets for the children of North Hills Community Outreach.  

          In addition to hosting a party like that each year thereafter, Ms. Komoroski has volunteered for Saint Alexis, Aquinas Academy and the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. She has also completed various service projects for the Little Sisters of the Poor, Satchels of Caring, Light of Life Missions, Yellow Ribbon Girls and Vincentian Home. She is a member of LeadersNow International and the Girls Scouts of America, where she is working to earn her Gold Award.  

         Sydney hosted a five-week long Peanut Butter and Jelly Food Drive for North Hills Community Outreach, and she has helped at her high school with Open Houses, Galas, Freshman Foundation Day, and Transfer Student Welcome Day. She has baked cookies for the troops, served meals at soup kitchens, and built a Free Little Library for North Hills Community Outreach in their outdoor vegetable garden. In addition to many other examples of community service activities, Sydney has also helped rescue sea turtles, volunteered at her local library and made seatbelt pillows for cancer patients with ports. 

        In addition to her community involvement, Sydney has been involved in several extracurricular activities. She was a member of her high school bowling team, was in the OLSH concert choir, was an OLSH Ambassador, and was part of the OLSH theatre program where she participated in 17 productions. She is also a member of the OLSH Honor Roll. We are so proud of Sydney and all of the great work she has done in the community. Her involvement in service is done for all the right reasons, and she understands the importance of helping others. As a sponsored ministry of the Felician Sisters, our school shares the Felician Core Values, which include Respect for Human Dignity, Compassion, and Solidarity with the Poor, and Sydney stands out as a young woman who represents these values, and our school, remarkably well,” said OLSH principal Tim Plocinik. 

        Sydney will be attending Walsh University in North Canton, Ohio, in the fall where she will be studying nursing. 

 

Mary Maloney

Welcome Back! 

On Tuesday, April 6, 14-year-old eighth-grader Mary Maloney returned to her classroom at Blessed Francis Seelos Academy in Wexford. Her classmates and teachers were so thrilled to have her back that they greeted her with a special celebration. 

Mary was paralyzed at the end of August in a trampoline accident. The paralysis left her unable to move from mid-chest through her toes. A few days after her injury, doctors discovered that Mary had suffered a rare spinal stroke. 

Before her fall, Mary felt a sharp pain in both of her shoulder blades. “The questions then arose:  Did Mary fall because she suffered the stroke in her back, or did the stroke cause her to fall?” said Mary’s mother, Pam Surano. 

“Following the spinal injury, Mary was hospitalized at UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh. She was eventually transported to Magee Rehabilitation Jefferson Health in Philadelphia, where she received further treatment. Following her care in Philly, Mary was sent for intensive treatment at Frazier Rehab and Neuroscience Center in Louisville, Kentucky. She was in an outpatient Ronald McDonald House, and although Mary had made tremendous progress, we knew it was time to come home. She needed to be with her two brothers, Jimmy and Michael, and she needed to see her dad and friends,” Pam added. 

Mary returned to her Butler County home in March, and after Easter, she was back into her classroom at Seelos. “Mary was stressed and experienced anxiety about her return to school, but it ended up being a wonderful experience for her. She could not have asked for a nicer reception. The people at BFSA are so warm and welcoming. Mary was delighted,” Pam said. 

“Our pastor, Reverend Will Wuenschel from our church, Saint Aidan Parish in Wexford, has been wonderful. He visited Mary while she was in Philadelphia and Kentucky. Bishop Zubik has reached out to her as well. The people of Pittsburgh have been so supportive too. We could never have gotten through this without all of the love and prayers for Mary,” Pam noted. 

Mary is currently attending therapy at UPMC Mercy and Adventures in Training with a Purpose in Wexford with former Steeler Jon Kolb. She attends Adventures three days a week, and on Saturdays, she goes to RAW gym. 

Pam noted that “Mary continues to work hard. I am confident that she will walk again. On two occasions, Mary has told me that God has spoken to her, and he told her he will heal her. I believe that with all my heart.” 

Retirees Launch Nonprofit to Build Beds for Kids in Need

By: Paula Green

At a time in life when most couples are enjoying some well-earned rest or spending lots of time with grandchildren, retirees Ed and Elaine Snyder of Mars, Penna., are spending their days sanding wood, pounding nails, organizing volunteer groups and soliciting donations. The couple recently started the Mars Chapter of the national nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization Sleep in Heavenly Peace (SHP) when they learned of an acute need for beds for children. They build beds for kids ages 3 through 17 who don’t have a bed to sleep in. They will service parts of western Butler, eastern Beaver, and northern Allegheny Counties. The couple solicited the assistance of their friend, Dave Nock, of Cranberry Twp, who co-chairs the Mars Chapter with them. They have a motto for the organization, “No Kids Sleeps on the Floor in Our Town.”

“It’s hard for us, who sleep comfortably every night and have the things we need and want, to imagine that there are kids sleeping on the floor,” said Mrs. Snyder. “But it happens every night and not that far from your home or ours. There are lots of poor and single parent families who are struggling. Before Children & Youth Services places a child with a relative or with foster parents, they must have a bed for that child to sleep in and that magnifies just how important a bed is to the well being and stability of a child. The beds, complete with mattress, sheets, blanket, comforter and pillow are free to any qualifying family.

The group recently held a ribbon-cutting ceremony at the warehouse that they are renting in Rochester, Penna. and had their first bed-building day. Once they put the word out that they were officially open for business, it took less than 24 hours to receive two requests for beds. They delivered their first beds to two families and got five kids off of the floor to sleep in heavenly peace.

For more information, to volunteer or to donate, visit http://www.shpbeds.org/chapter/pa-mars. The Snyders can be reached via email at elaine.snyder@shpbeds.org.

In Memoriam Patricia “Pat” Rooney

Pittsburgh Steelers / Karl Roser

January was a sad month for this area; on January 14, we said goodbye to Joanne Rogers, wife of the late Fred Rogers. Then, a few short weeks later, we lost another great lady. On Saturday, January 30, “Steelers Nation” mourned the loss of Patricia Rooney, the wife of the late Dan Rooney. Pat died peacefully at her home at the age of 88. She has often been referred to as the “First Lady” of the Pittsburgh Steelers. Pat and Dan were married for 65 years until his passing in April 2017. They raised nine children, including current Steelers team president Art Rooney II.

Pat was a hometown girl and was born on Pittsburgh’s North Side. She loved the community so much, that is where she spent her life. She graduated from the University of Pittsburgh, and she met Dan when she was working in the Steelers front office. They were married in 1952.

Throughout the years, Pat always supported her husband and the Steelers organization. On March 17, 2009, in a surprise St. Patrick’s Day announcement, President Barack Obama appointed Dan as Ambassador to Ireland. Pat followed her husband to his newly assigned position. Dan remained in the ambassadorship until December 14, 2012. After his resignation, Dan and Pat returned home to Pittsburgh.

Pat and Dan were renowned for their charitable endeavors, including a project to restore the fountain in Allegheny Commons. Pat also helped the Salvation Army. She gave her support to her community, the Steelers organization and the National Football League.

In August 2019, Pat was recognized for her football loyalty. She was highlighted in the NFL film, A Lifetime of Sundays. The documentary was produced by Jane Goodell, wife of NFL commissioner Roger Goodell. The program focused on the lives of the wives of football’s prominent figures. Pat was featured along with Virginia Halas McCaskey of the Chicago Bears, Norma Hunt of the Kansas City Chiefs and Martha Ford of the Detroit Lions.

In addition to their nine children, Pat and Dan had 18 grandchildren and six great-grandchildren. We thank Pat for her passion and dedication to the Pittsburgh community. May she rest in peace.