Jada Nabry and Teammates

Seneca Valley senior Jada Nabry

Raise Funds for Cancer Bridges 

     Seneca Valley senior Jada Nabry “cheered up” SV’s athletic director by taking the lead on a very special project. As part of her Leadership class, Miss Nabry decided to create pink #SVALLIN T-shirts that she advertised and sold.  

      As cheerleading captain, she also enlisted the help of her squad to promote sales of the shirts. All money raised would go to Cancer Bridges in support of SV’s very own Athletic Director, Ms. Heather Lewis. In total, Miss Nabry, along with her fellow cheer and dance teammates and additional donations from Raider Crate and the SV Marching Band, was able to donate $6,105 to Cancer Bridges. The check was presented to Ms. Lewis on Nov. 16. 

     “I just wanted to help a community that many people don’t look out for,” stated Miss Nabry. “What I am most proud of is that the money we were able to raise will help so many people.” At the game on Oct. 29, SV Cheerleaders, the band and the student section, showed their support by donning Miss Nabry’s pink T-Shirts. 

     “I am so proud of Jada, the cheerleaders, dancers, the band and all of the teachers, friends and families that bought the shirt and donated,” said SV cheerleading coach, Laura Wise. “I know Heather never wanted to be in the spotlight or for any of this to be about her, but she is bringing a school together for something bigger. As Heather says to us coaches… ‘Be a leader, teacher and mentor.’ She is that to me and to so many.” 

        To learn more about Cancer Bridges, visit https://cancerbridges.org/

North Allegheny Students Raise Funds for 

Glimmer of Hope with their Pink Out Campaign 

 

On October 8, North Allegheny students shelved their usual black and gold school colors and sported pink for their Homecoming game. During that evening, the North Allegheny Student Section held a Pink Out campaign. The event was held to raise funds for Glimmer of Hope, a local foundation that provides services, programs, research, and technology in the fight against breast cancer. 

        This annual event has proven to be quite successful for NASH. According to NA’s Students Section, activities director, Sharon Volpe, “The student section leaders have been doing this fundraiser pretty steadily for seven years. I reached out to them only a month before the Pink Out game, and they pulled it together in just such a short time. The students in our Special Ed department work in a T-shirt shop to get work experience. They did quite a bit of the work making the Pink Out shirts. They did it under the direction of vocation teacher Melinda Beck and Tigers Shop coordinator, Shawn Connors.  

The special ed teens did a wonderful job and enjoyed seeing everyone wearing the shirts they made,” Melinda said. 

      “The students that coordinated this year’s Pink Out campaign were Maggie Bridges, Matt Miller, and Brady Quatman. Brady and Matt often worked after school to make the shirts. Maggie took the lead on sales. Thanks to the efforts of this year’s campaign, $7,000+ has been raised for Glimmer of Hope. Everything that these teens did was really impressive,” Ms. Volpe added. 

       The project had a positive effect on those who were involved. “I was the student head of this project, taking on the commutations, organization, and outreach for this fundraiser. The support Glimmer of Hope provides made me want to put my full effort into making this an impactful fundraiser. It was stressful initially, but what kept me going and continued perseverance was the fact that I could make an impact as a high school student. I stayed after school every day to hand-print the shirts, pulled late hours organizing orders and reaching out to the community to get involved,” Maggie remarked. 

     “I helped make the shirts every day after school for about a week. In addition, helped pass them out at lunch as it led up to the football game Friday night. I love how I got to be a part of something that is making a difference outside of NA, and I enjoyed the process of doing it,” Matt said. 

      The money raised for Glimmer of Hope is donated to Allegheny Health Network, Magee Women’s Research Institute, the Hillman Cancer Center, and Allegheny General Hospital. For more information on Glimmer of Hope, visit https://www.symbolofthecure.com/. 

By: Paula Green

 

101 Donations

Jim Vinski reaches a significant milestone

By Paula Green

 So many of us are familiar with the Disney movie 101 Dalmatians this month; instead of sharing a story of Dalmatian puppies with you, we focus on something else – specifically blood. A McCandless man has been donating blood for many years. On Saturday, October 2, Jim Vinski reached a significant milestone when he entered the doors of Vitalant; he made his 101st  blood donation.

Vinski is in his sixties and has been generously giving since he was in his 20s. Although as he notes, “I’ve been donating blood for years, and I’m happy that I’ve been able to do so, not everyone can.” At least Vinski has a sense of humor about it, “Every time I go there, I get needled,” he said.

When Vinski started donating blood over 40 years ago, the donation site was called Central Blood Bank. CBB opened its doors in the Pittsburgh area in 1951. In September 2018, due to a national rebranding effort with affiliated blood donation operations, Central Blood Bank changed its name to Vitalant. The conversion was an attempt to draw in younger donors.

On the day that Vinski made his historical contribution, he made sure that he sported his Croatian heritage shirt because there is a unique connection, as he notes. “My heritage is Croatian. Dalmatia is part of Croatia. It is located on the Adriatic Coast.  So there’s a tie-in with the dogs in the movie and their country of origin.”

The motivating force behind why Vinski gives his blood is to assist others in need. “I had heard that donations can help many people, and fortunately, I’ve been able to make those donations.

You’re doing good by giving yourself to help others. I give a few times a year,” Vinski said.

Finally, he wanted people to know that it’s not hard to do, as he remarked, “Donating blood is easy – it’s done on your schedule, it’s quick, and as many as three people can be helped by each pint. I am hopeful that this will encourage others to donate.”

Judy Masucci

Curve’s awards winner for philanthropic excellence 

Judy Masucci
Curve’s awards winner for philanthropic excellence

        A Pine Township business owner and resident was recently recognized for her community support. Judy Masucci, the owner of Levana Bratique, received top honors for philanthropic excellence at the Curve Awards. The national event was held in New York City in August. 

        Levana Bratique is a specialty store that sells bras and lingerie. Judy is committed to making sure that her clientele find the perfect fit.  

         Judy wants to support women in every way, and that is why it is called Levana. It is derived from the Latin word “levare,” which means to lift. “I started my first business, A Mother’s Boutique, after becoming a mother myself. I wanted to help other new mothers in their breastfeeding journeys. I had that business from 2007 to 2016. Around 2013, the only other bra store in Pittsburgh went out of business. People were coming into my store and begging me to carry regular bras (at the time, I only had nursing bras). I would end up fitting people into nursing bras because no other store carried their size. From this, the idea for Levana Bratique was born. I wanted to be able to provide bras for every  

person, not just nursing mothers.  So in 2016, I changed my business from a maternity/breastfeeding focus to a bra/lingerie focus,” said Judy. 

         In 2017, Judy discovered a unique organization called I Support the Girls. This group collects and distributes essential items, including bras, underwear, and feminine hygiene products, allowing women experiencing homelessness, impoverishment or distress to stand tall with dignity. “Through my team of volunteers, we have been able to reach many different women and girls in the Pittsburgh area. My store manager, Adrian, is my most active volunteer. She even volunteers for I Support the Girls on her days off. Before the pandemic, we did events where we did in-person bra fittings at a local shelter to help women in need. During the pandemic, we weren’t able to do that,” Judy said 

       “While the pandemic was ongoing, I partnered with the Pittsburgh Food Bank and a few other organizations to get bras and feminine hygiene products to families in need in Pittsburgh. We donated nearly 60,000 items during that time. “Since then, we created a new way to reach people in need through our “Free Bras for People in Need” appointments in store. This is a no-questions-asked,” Judy added. 

        Levana is no ordinary shop; they can accommodate women of all shapes and sizes. “We pride ourselves on fitting our clients into properly fitting bras. We carry just about every size imaginable (from 28-56 bands and A to W cups!), so we don’t have to compromise to get something to fit – we make sure it fits properly. In addition, my staff has spent months training before they are allowed to perform bra fittings on their own – so when you get someone to fit you here, you know that they have the experience and training to do it properly.” noted Judy. 

         Levana Bratique is located in Wexford on Rt. 19 (by Cenci’s). For more information on this specialty shop, visit https://levanabratique.com/

By Paula Green 

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.