The Elect Emily 4 PA Youth Team has an exciting new project: a campaign newsletter! The Youth Team is a group of incredible high school and college students who are dedicated to electing Emily to the Pennsylvania State House. During this stressful time of social distancing, we want to innovate new ways to bring you informative, fun, community-based content. We are excited for you to get to know us through this newsletter!

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Campaign Update

Our first Day of Action

We had a fantastic Kick-Off Day of Action yesterday with close to 40 ElectEmily4PA volunteers! It felt so amazing to launch our general election efforts! Being together at North Park inspired such a sense of community among everyone who participated in the first literature drop of the general election. Despite the threat of rainy weather, everyone was in high spirits! Campaign staff and volunteers all wore masks and stayed 6 feet apart, happy to maintain distance while getting motivated to go out and cover McCandless in Skopov literature and spread the word about Emily’s campaign message. 

While our lit drop volunteers were out distributing literature, another set of volunteers made calls from their homes, strengthening our contact with voters. Altogether, our volunteers reached over 1,300 voters in one afternoon! 

Thank you to everyone who made our Day of Action such a success! Each week we will have a literature drop and virtual phone bank events to make sure we reach every voter in the 28th District before November. Help us to continue this momentum and sign up to volunteer!

Join the ElectEmily4PA team to volunteer!

Local Business Highlight
Art Imagined talks business during the coronavirus

I recently sat down with Heather Rusiski, the owner of Art Imagined, to interview her about her business. Art Imagined is the culmination of Heather’s lifelong dream– she has always sought to open her own art studio. Having earned an education degree and a minor in art studio, Heather is clearly in the right profession. After its opening in September 2018, Art Imagined quickly became a community hotspot for fun birthday parties, informative art classes, and overall creativity. Opening and running the studio almost entirely by herself, Heather quite literally built her business from the ground up. Now, less than two years later, her business, just like many others, has been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

As lockdowns began in Pennsylvania earlier this year, Art Imagined was forced to close. This was very hard for Heather, as she had to put her passion on hold for a while. The financial aspect of closing her studio was one thing, but not being able to see her students regularly was another struggle entirely. Some of Heather’s students are young and need the creative outlet that Art Imagined provides. Luckily, a solution was quickly found. Heather introduced Art Boxes- boxes of art supplies with themes including painting, drawing, and clay sculpting. They can be ordered from her website for pick-up or delivery, and they helped more of her students continue their creativity from home. Luckily, Heather was able to reopen Art Imagined recently when Allegheny County moved into the Green phase of Governor Wolf’s coronavirus response plan. She is currently only offering one-on-one art classes to best comply with social distancing recommendations. Even as the community begins to return to normal, however, Art Imagined needs support as much as ever.

Regardless of anyone’s financial situation, there are many ways to support Art Imagined! Private art classes can be scheduled on their website, and they include acrylic painting, acrylic pouring, oil painting, drawing, and many more. Ongoing works are displayed on Art Imagined’s Facebook and its Instagram page. Liking and sharing their posts goes a long way! Any action in support of this local business is beneficial, especially during tough times like these. Overall, thankfully, Heather seemed optimistic about the future of her art studio. With more events and classes scheduled for the coming weeks, Art Imagined should hopefully pick up right where it left off in March.

Community Unsung Heroes
Thanking nurses in our community for their hard work throughout the pandemic

Throughout the coronavirus pandemic, nurses and healthcare professionals have been some of the most overlooked jobs. As part of being essential workers, nurses have been working tirelessly to ensure the safety of their patients. Dr. Aparna Gupta is the current president of the Gerontological Advanced Practice Nurses Association (GAPNA) and a nurse practitioner by profession. She shared the current situation from the nurses’ perspectives.

As COVID-19 progresses, responsibilities and challenges for medical professionals are constantly changing. Dr. Gupta noted that it is now important that nurses not only are tending to the needs of their patients but also that they are addressing the needs of patients’ families. Due to the limited capacity of visitors in care centers, nurses have become increasingly creative with the ways they connect patients with their families.

Another one of the biggest challenges for nurses is the lack of information on the pandemic that is currently available. Professionals are only just beginning to understand the way the virus travels through the body and how it affects people. With new research constantly emerging, nurses are expected to treat patients to the best of their abilities. Because of the variability and constant changes, Dr. Gupta explains, managing and individualizing care for patients is becoming increasingly difficult.

Although many methods of care for patients have not changed drastically, safety precautions are being put in place in order to ensure the healthiest environment for everyone. In hospitals, clinics, and nursing homes, there are varying CDC guidelines that are being followed to the necessary protocol, such as utilizing Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and different kinds of masks. Additionally, more diverse ways of delivering care, like telemedicine, are being established. Many patients are now being seen through telephonic or video visits to limit contact and maintain proper social distancing. Through the many safety precautions and creative barriers nurses are crossing, we are able to see consistent care for the members of our community.

Nurses and healthcare professionals continue to work for the communities, hoping to keep our residents healthy. They have adapted to different methods of delivering care and follow CDC guidelines to care for patients to the best of their abilities in these trying times. Remember to thank the nurses and other medical workers in the community for their contribution!

Local Organization Highlight
NA for Change

“A white boy called me ni***r. There were more than twenty people on the bus that were privy to what happened. And no one defended me,” said Madison Morrissey, a North Allegheny alumni, speaking on one of many incidents of racism she experienced while a student. She, along with several other current and former students, spoke last Wednesday at a school board meeting to address systemic racism in NA’s schools. Among them were members of a fast-growing activist group, NA for Change, spearheading anti-racism efforts in the NA community. 

NA for Change was established when Jaime Martinez, a member of the NA Class of 2020, along with other students and alumni connected over their own projects, all inspired by the national uproar in response to the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis last month and racial injustice as a whole. “From there, we brainstormed a few things and brought in some more people, and then over time this really took on a life of its own,” Martinez said, emphasizing that the need to do better as a community was urgent and motivates them to go further. So far, NA for Change has over 150 volunteers signed up to organize in the community and a petition that has over 1,800 signatures. “The whole thing just kind of exploded,” Martinez said.

Martinez also maintains that for change to be instituted effectively within the school district and then the community by extension, the school board has to decide what path they want to take. “The school board sets the tone for a school district, and they set the tone for the type of behavior that’s accepted and allowed,” Martinez said. At this past Wednesday night meeting, School Board President Richard McClure gave closing remarks following student testimony of personal experiences with racism. Prefacing his remarks emphasizing, “the importance of assimilating all students and embracing diversity,” Mr. McClure mentioned, seemingly in defense of the status quo and in disagreement with NA for Change, that the student body was electing, “an interesting mix” of Student and Class Council organization officers, saying that it, “creates a little bit of a different picture than what we’re hearing.” He finally added on to his remarks that “the efforts of the school can only supplement the efforts at the home,” creating an implication that the district has less responsibility in the social development of its students than parents do at home. 

Despite disappointing them with his closing remarks, NA for Change believes momentum is on their side, and say they have the volunteers and signatures to show for it. “We believe it is the job of the school to challenge those beliefs and contextualize those beliefs to give students a broader world view of society,” Martinez said. NA for Change is proposing, among several other reforms to the district’s administration, establishing a Diversity Committee with greater autonomy and funding, reforming the school district’s disciplinary policy, and instituting anti-racism instruction, especially in the sense of providing students with a comprehensive history that presents history as a current societal force. In these ways, NA for Change hopes to make strides in much-needed progress not just for our area, but our state and the entire country.

Community Update
Virtual graduations for local high schoolers


Packed football stadiums and crowded stages of graduation ceremonies were swapped out for virtual celebrations this year. The schools in our area adapted typical graduation ceremonies to the social distancing protocols to put together a safe celebration of the class of 2020. Pine-Richland and North Allegheny held virtual ceremonies in early June to support seniors and honor their accomplishments.

 Joe Frank is a beloved 7th grade Math teacher at Pine-Richland Middle School. He has taught for twenty years, the last seventeen at Pine-Richland school district.

 Reflecting on the virtual schooling of the last couple of months, Mr. Frank said, “It was a struggle at first, but the district was very well prepared, putting the district ahead of the curve. It progressively got better. The more comfortable we got with the technology, the students found their groove.”

 Pine-Richland and North Allegheny were quick to put a plan in place for virtual learning, yet sensitive to the struggles their faculty and students faced. Mr. Frank noted that at first, it was difficult for students to manage the same amount of course work at home that they would be learning in the classroom. The teachers quickly adapted, “to make sure the kids were not avalanched by the workload.”

 As for the virtual commencement, Mr. Frank explained, “It is not how anyone wanted the year to end, but Pine-Richland did a great job. It was as good as they could have had it.” The virtual celebrations recognized the senior class’ accomplishments in a safe manner that provided students with closure.

The coronavirus is challenging our community, but leaders such as teacher Joe Frank have stepped up to ensure their students continue to learn through the uncertainty of the pandemic.

Volunteer MVP of the Week

Our volunteer MVP of this week is Maria Graziano! Maria recently joined the team to help with social media and other marketing efforts for Emily’s campaign. She will be assisting in a new initiative, the Skopov Social Squad — a volunteer opportunity we recently launched. A native of district 28, Maria is excited to jump into the campaign and put her marketing background to use!

“Emily is different than a lot of political candidates you see nowadays. Her main priority is listening to the needs and wants of her constituents. I am thrilled to be volunteering for a strong woman who will bring the change we need!” – Maria 

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