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Thriving Forward

Author: Megan Lasaponara & Sarah Collins-McGowan

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Too often Rochester, NY is featured in the news for its problems. But this area is rich with community-based organizations striving to improve the lives of its residents. Join local pediatricians Megan Lasaponara and Sarah Collins-McGowan as they interview people who are involved in good works all over the region. We will learn about each organization and how our guests found their path to community-based work. If you are ready to hear good news and feel inspired by what Rochester has to offer, join us as we talk to the people making our community ever better.
52 Episodes
The Coffee Connection empowers women on their journey to sustainable recovery from addiction by providing training, jobs, and support, all while being one of Rochester's premiere coffee roasters.  In this episode Sarah talks with Joy Bergfalk, the Executive Director of The Coffee Connection and Project Empower.To learn more, visit:www.ourcoffeeconnection.orgTo contact Joy or The Coffee Connection, email:coffeeconnection681south@gmail.comjoybergfalk@gmail.comFind The Coffee Connection on Facebook or Instagram:@ourcoffeeconnectionSupport the show (
In this special episode, it’s all about the kids!  The Pfizer COVID vaccine just got approved for kids 5 and older and doctors and kids right here in Rochester helped make that happen.  Special guest host 10-year-old Lily interviews Dr. Jennifer Nayak, a Pediatric Infectious Disease specialist at the University of Rochester Medical Center, about running this study site and how the vaccine works.  Then we hear from some superhero kids who are participating in the study about their experience and what they want kids and their parents to know about the vaccine.For more info on the COVID-19 vaccine, check out these resources: the show (
The only program of its kind in New York State, the Crisis Nursery, a program of The Center For Youth, delivers no-cost, emergency childcare to families during crises.  In this episode Sarah interviews Monica Thomas, the Program Manager for Crisis Nursery, and Joanne Lathan, the Assistant Manager.The Crisis Nursery includes two facilities; one on the west side of the city of Rochester on Genesee Park Blvd, and a second location called Owen’s House, located in the northeast quadrant of Rochester on Rosewood Terrace. Both Crisis Nursery locations are open 24/7 365 days year and staffed by The Center for Youth and volunteers.24 hour Crisis Line: 585-271-7670Website: learn about volunteer opportunities contact Kathy Cummings at 585-473-2464.To reach Crisis Nursery directly, call 585-235-5750.To reach Owen’s House directly, call 585-482-2561.Support the show (
Christine Callanan is a Rochester native and a career civil servant in the District Attorney's offices in both Monroe and Wayne Counties. In this podcast episode she speaks to the role of the District Attorney's office for victims of crimes, their families, the perpetrators of those crimes and the greater community.Wayne County DA Office website: Support the show (
We welcomed GiGi's Playhouse Board Members Carrie and Katie this week. Carrie has Trisomy 21 and has benefited greatly from the support of her family and GiGi's playhouse both in Rochester and Syracuse.  Carrie has written two children's books about her experiences. GiGi's Playhouse: Tomato: Mall: the show (
SPCC has a long history of championing children's rights, from the time it was founded in the late 19th century, to its expansive programs and advocacy work today.  In this episode Sarah talks with Sarah Fitzgibbons, the Vice President of Programs & Practices at SPCC, as well as an Infant Health Mentor.  They discuss how SPCC works to support some of the most vulnerable children and families and exactly what the term "infant mental health" means.Learn more about SPCC here.Facebook:  The Society for The Protection and Care of Children Support the show (
When Rochester began talking about filling in the Inner Loop North, artist Shawn Dunwoody and activist Suzanne Mayer teamed up from the two neighborhoods opposite that part of the highway to form Hinge Neighbors.  Together they are working to involve, empower, and lift up the voices of the residents to create a cohesive neighborhood as plans to fill in the Inner Loop move forward.Listen in as Sarah talks with Shawn and Suzanne about how their unlikely friendship came about and the importance of listening and showing up when working in the community.To learn more about Hinge Neighbors, click or tap here.Instagram:  @hingeneighborsFacebook:  @hingeneighborsTo follow Shawn Dunwoody on Instagram:@shawndunwoody Support the show (
The Rochester area is full of beautiful outdoor spaces, but the reality is those spaces are not available to everyone.  In this episode Sarah talks with Lucienne Nicholson, the founder of Inclusive Woods & Us, a non-profit dedicated to making nature accessible to ALL people, especially traditionally marginalized communities.  To learn more about Inclusive Woods & Us, visit:  @WoodsandusIG:  @woodsandusSupport the show (
In this episode we meet Leah Hill, the Clinical Engagement Specialist for the Adolescent and Young Adult Program at Strong Recovery. She shares her passion for advocacy in the substance abuse recovery community locally. She also speaks to the array of services now available at Strong Recovery AYA. If you or someone you know is dealing with substance abuse and you are looking for support listen to this episode to learn more.Strong Recovery AYASupport the show (
In this episode we discuss the many hats that Dr. Murray wears in our community, the COVID delta variant, provider advocacy and so much more!Bivona Child Advocacy CenterREACH is a Referral and Evaluation service for Abused ChildrenAmerican Academy of Pediatrics & Healthychildren.orgSupport the show (
This week on the podcast we are excited to welcome Ed Popil, the entertainer behind local drag superstar, Mrs Kasha Davis. During this episode we discuss the inspiration behind Mrs Kasha Davis, her upcoming project with Blackfriars Theatre, and the things that keep her grounded.  This interview focuses on the man behind the woman and we hope you enjoy hearing it as much as we enjoyed recording it! the show (
Joseph Morelle, Jr. is a life-long resident of the Town of Irondequoit. He represents the Monroe County Legislature's 17th Legislative District, which comprises the southern half of Irondequoit. He serves on the Legislature's Ways & Means and Transportation Committees. Joseph is the VP of Student Housing Development for Wilmorite Management Group, LLC in Henrietta. A graduate of Eastridge High School, he holds a degree in business from SUNY Geneseo. On this week's episode of the podcast, Megan and Joe discuss his passion for local politics, work in the county legislature that he is proud of, and the political divide as it currently stands.Website: Support the show (
Meet Kilolo Moyo-White, passionate advocate for parents, antiracist educator, and champion for Rochester's youth.  Sarah sits down with her in this interview to discuss her work with ROC the Future, The Antiracism Academy, and why it's so important to empower parent and youth voice.To learn more about ROC the Future, go to:  https://rocthefuture.orgFind ROC the Future and PECAN on Facebook To learn more about The Anti-Racism Academy, go to: the show (
Have you ever thought about how violence is steeped into so many aspects of our culture?  It appears in the expressions we use, the movies we watch, the news stories we read, and the video games we play.  In this episode Sarah interviews Kit Miller, the Director of the M.K. Gandhi Institute for Non-Violence.  At the Gandhi Institute their mission is to help individuals and communities develop the inner resources and practical skills needed to achieve a nonviolent, sustainable, and just world.To learn more about the M.K. Gandhi Institute for Non-Violence, go to: can find them on Facebook or Instagram: @rocnonviolenceOther resources mentioned in this interview:Harvard Implicit Bias Test - news - Support the show (
Amy Albanese is the Community Relations Manager for Person Centered Services. Amy has a Bachelor's Degree from Notre Dame College in Arts and Education with a concentration in mild to moderate intervention specialization for K-12 students. Before taking her current job, Amy spent three years as a teacher for children with autism in Ohio. She was the Director of Community Connections for Adaptive Recreation Services, now known as Abilities movement. She was the Community Resource Specialist at the Arc of Monroe for two years. She spent one year as an intake specialist at Person Centered Services before beginning her current role over two years ago. the show (
This episode is a special broadcast of the Anne E. Dyson Memorial Grand Rounds & Community Advocacy Forum, in which Megan and Sarah co-hosted discussions with two different groups of medical-community partners.The Hoekelman Center's 21st Anne E. Dyson Memorial Grand Rounds & Community Advocacy ForumTopics Discussed: Puberty Education: Dr. Karina Vattana partnered with Atashia Walker from the Department of Recreation and Human Services and Jennifer Quick from Metro Council for Teen Potential to increase access to age-appropriate, accurate puberty educationVaccine Hesitancy in the Plain Community: Dr. Tyler Stephen partnered with local Mennonites and Sara Christensen Deputy Director from the Yates Public Health Department to open a dialogue on vaccines in their community.About Dr. Anne E. DysonA pediatrician and philanthropist, Dr. Dyson was the driving force behind nationwide efforts to refocus our attention on children in the community, especially those who suffer from violence, poverty, hunger and other social ills.Under her leadership, the Dyson Foundation funded ten pediatric residency training programs, including the University of Rochester, to enhance training in community health and advocacy. The Anne E. Dyson Memorial Grand Rounds & Child Advocacy Forum celebrates her legacy and promotes the great work being done on behalf of children in the Rochester community and beyond.Hoekelman Center Website Support the show (
On this episode of the podcast Megan interviews Dr. Elizabeth "Lissa" McAnarney.  Dr. McAnarney is a Distinguished University Professor and Chair Emerita of the Department of Pediatrics. She received the M.D. Degree and holds two honorary doctoral degrees. She completed her pediatric residency at the State University of New York (Syracuse) followed by a two-year fellowship at the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry.  Dr. McAnarney was Director of Adolescent Medicine for 22 years prior to serving as Chair of Pediatrics and Pediatrician-in-Chief at the Golisano Children’s Hospital at Strong for 13 years. During her tenure as Chair, she oversaw the development of the Golisano Children’s Hospital and growth of the academic pediatric programs. She was Acting Dean of URSMD for nine months. the show (
In this episode Sarah interviews Karen Zandi, President and CEO of Mary Cariola Center.  Mary Cariola Center provides services and support to individuals with disabilities and their families.  To learn more about Mary Cariola Center, visit:www.marycariola.orgFacebook:  Mary Cariola CenterFacebook:  Mary Cariola Center “Proud Parents” groupVideo about Mary Cariola: the show (
In this episode Sarah interviews Tonia Burton, Children’s Services Consultant for Monroe County Library System.  They talk about the many programs the library system offers and the ways in which the library system has stepped up to meet community need during the COVID pandemic.To learn more, visit:www.roccitylibrary.orgwww.libraryweb.orgOr look on Facebook for:Central Library of Rochester & Monroe County NYCentral Library Kids Club Family StorytimeSupport the show (
In this episode Sarah talks with Dr. Steven Schulz, the pediatric medical director for Rochester Regional Health’s Monroe County region and a pediatrician at Finger Lakes Medical Associates in Geneva.  Dr. Schulz talks about his efforts in helping to coordinate the pediatric community's response to COVID including his work on the Finger Lakes Reopening Schools Safely Task Force.Links from Dr. Schulz's interview:Finger Lakes Reopening Schools Safely Task Force - Regional Health - for Geneva's Children - 2030 - the show (
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