Emceeing Buffalo premiere of ‘Life, Animated’

I enjoyed Friday night’s Buffalo premiere and post film discussion of the Oscar-nominated ‘Life, Animated’ at the North Park Theatre. The Museum of disABILITY History and Autism Services, Inc. hosted this Oscar nominated documentary to shine a light on what it’s like to have autism. It moved me to tears!

Life, Animated tells the story of a young man named Owen Suskind who has autism. It hit so close to home because he is very similar to my 25-year-old brother Polyvios who also has autism.

Like my brother, Owen was not hitting milestones and speaking for years. But he had a passion for Disney movies, and eventually learned how to speak through them. (My brother also loves Disney movies and cartoon animation!)

I really related to Owen’s older brother Walter. In one part of the documentary, he talked about how he thinks about the future and how his parents will no longer be around someday. Who will take care of Owen? Walter said he will have to step in, because he will be the only family Owen will have. As my brother’s oldest sibling, I also think about the future too. I’d like to think that’s still far away and I try not to think or worry about it too much just like Walter. But it’s a reality that siblings face.

It is funny how much I have in common with Owen’s family. I believe they are also from Massachusetts, and Owen’s father Ron is also a journalist, like I am.

I highly recommend watching Life, Animated. Check out the documentary trailer here: http://www.lifeanimateddoc.com

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Jamaica

Last week I went to Runaway Bay, Jamaica with a couple of friends. The picture above was my view! Can’t ask for more besides beautiful sunny weather, clear blue waters and tropical paradise! We also snorkeled in Ocho Rios and climbed up Dunn’s River Falls. (It was fun but also a little terrifying, I almost slipped twice!) I try to go somewhere new at least 1-2 times a year. Happy to cross another place off my list! 🙂

Witnessing the opiate epidemic firsthand

I’m sharing something I posted on my Facebook news page last weekend. I just finished working a 10-day stretch so I didn’t have much time to post to my blog this week. But wow – what I saw is something I will never forget! This happened last Saturday the 8th outside of the CVS at the corner of Elmwood Ave and Amherst in Buffalo:

As many of you are aware, the opioid epidemic is a huge problem in WNY and across the country. As a member of the media I am quite familiar with how large the problem is, given it is mentioned in our newscasts on what feels like a daily basis. But today I witnessed it firsthand. As I was walking into CVS on Elwmood earlier this afternoon, two men ran towards me with a man in their arms. They frantically yelled “Call 9-1-1, we think he overdosed on heroin.” I called 9-1-1 and told the dispatcher the address, and the man’s condition. He was in rough shape. He was barely breathing, his eyes were rolled back, and he was starting to turn blue. It was terrifying. He looked young too, I’d guess he’s in his 20’s or early 30’s. Police made it there within minutes, but it felt like an eternity. I was scared for this man’s life. Death seemed closer with every passing second. The officer gave him narcan, and within a minute he started to gain consciousness. I saw someone nearly die and come back to life. He was able to walk and get himself onto the stretcher. I was so relieved to see he survived, and grateful for the first responders who made it there in time to save his life. I was shaking for quite a bit after I saw that happen today. It’s a reminder that life is precious and this epidemic needs to be taken very seriously. That man who nearly died today is someone’s son. If you know someone who has a problem, do what you can to get them help. I’ll never forget what I saw today. Major credit is due to first responders who see this all too often and save lives every day.

LipSense

I’m often asked what kind of makeup/clothing I wear on TV. So wanted to share a recent discovery called LipSense.

I put on makeup first thing in the morning, but throughout the course of the work day it fades. (On really busy days there’s barely time to reapply makeup sometimes!) So when I heard about ‘LipSense’ I was interested. You put on the color first, and then seal it with a clear gloss. This stuff DOESN’T come off! (The color I’m wearing in the picture above is called Fly Girl.) I easily wore it for 10+ hours and it didn’t fade!

Missing cat travels 2600+ miles, reunites with owner 4 years later

This story goes down as one of my favorite in my career so far! And anyone who is close to me knows I love cats 🙂

They say cats have 9 lives but this cat named ‘Boo Boo’ might just have more! Boo Boo is from California. She went missing 4 years ago and somehow turned up in Ontario last month! Since her owner doesn’t have a passport, an animal protection officer drove Boo Boo to Buffalo, and her owner flew there for less than 24 hours to reunite with her long lost feline. What are the odds? Talk about an epic reunion!

 

Speaking to students at Buffalo State

 

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On Monday morning I spoke to students at Buffalo State with my colleague Jenn about working in the TV News business. It’s part of the Peer 2 Peer Speakers tour  through the Buffalo Broadcasters Association. We talked about our careers, how we got into the business, and some tips. We went over things like live shot 101, tips for making live shots interactive, common field reporting mistakes, how to build contacts and find story ideas, and how to tease a story from the field.

This is only the tip of the ice berg of our whole presentation, but here are a few bullet points we discussed:

•Network, network, network & give out business cards everywhere you go to build contacts and find story ideas.
•Push people to follow you on social media, Facebook & Twitter.
•Read local newspapers
•Use things like Twitter and the Daily Skimm to keep up with national and international news on a daily basis
•Keep track of stories you cover, and when you could do a follow up
•When teasing from the field, make a specific promise to the viewer.

Broadcast Journalism is a wonderful field to work in, but it’s not one that doesn’t come without sacrifice. That’s why having a true passion for the job is so important. Since I graduated college in 2012, I’ve lived in 3 different states. I’ve picked up and moved away from my family more than once to pursue my career and jump markets. Not easy, but it has definitely been worth it.

 

One year anniversary at News 4

Today marks my one year anniversary at News 4 WIVB-TV! This month also marks two years in Buffalo, and 4 years in the business. Time sure flies! It feels like I was packing my bags to head North to my first full-time on air gig in Presque Isle, Maine just yesterday.

Four years and three stations later, it’s been a journey! I’ve lived in three different states, and too many different apartments to keep track of! lol

I have grown as a reporter. Story pitches, live shots, sweeps stories. But it goes beyond that. Moving away from home has given me a deeper appreciation for my family and a sense of community. It has also made me a stronger person.

Telling stories for a living has also made me a more worldly person. And I love that everyday is different. From crime to health stories to features, everyday I’m always learning something new through my reporting. I love telling personal stories that pull on your heart strings, and having the responsibility of informing the public about what’s happening in the community whether it be a serious news story or a soft one. Best job on the planet. Here’s to another 4 years and beyond!

People Inc. Recruitment Event

Yesterday I was a VIP Media Guest at the KeyBank Center, where People Inc. teamed up with the Buffalo Sabres to host a Recruitment Rally. People Inc. has various employment opportunities to help people with developmental disabilities and special needs move closer to their life goals and dreams.

Attendees had a chance to learn about People Inc. and interview on-the-spot with a recruiter, plus meet Sabres alumni and enter to win prizes, including signed items and game tickets.

People Inc. is actively recruiting for people to work within their group homes, as well as for behavior technicians, community based instructors, licensed practical nurses and registered nurses. It’s so important to fill these positions, because these people provide relief for the families of those with developmental disabilities who need to the support. There’s a need for direct support staff in several human support agencies across Western New York. (The growing need is related to the #BeFairtoDirectCare initiative, which I will continue to cover and plan to post more about here in a future blog post.)

I killed two birds with one stone at the People Inc, and also shot a piece for the 4 pm newscast. Here’s the clip:

Working with Kyle

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Meet Kyle Tilley! He’s a happy go lucky 20-year-old from Lake View NY. Kyle has down syndrome, and his twin Justin has autism. Both boys are very sweet, but his twin Justin struggles with severe behavioral issues. I have done a story before on the challenges the Tilley family faces with Justin: http://wivb.com/2016/12/29/lakeview-family-struggling-to-get-services-to-care-for-son-with-severe-autism-behaviors/

I met the Tilley family back in September, and started working with Kyle at the beginning of this year. At least twice a month on weekends, I take him out for 6 hours. (Official title for this position is a Self Determination Assistant.) I give his family a break and take Kyle to fun places like the Museum of Science, the Buffalo Zoo, movies, etc. Kyle is very easy to work with, and hardly makes it feel like work. He is very sweet natured, almost never says no to anything, and absolutely LOVES science. He also loves local news (I might know a thing or two about that 😉 ), and is a local celebrity himself! It’s hard not to love this kid, he’s so sweet!

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(Kyle loved getting a tour of the studio at Channel 4. He’s 4 Buffalo! 😉 )

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(Kyle loves movies science fiction/fantasy movies. Here we are at the Dipson Theatres at McKinley Mall, waiting for Dr. Strange to start.)

Sometimes Kyle packs a lunch, and sometimes we go out to eat. He follows a special gluten free diet and also does not eat anything with food coloring or artificial preservatives. For this position as a Self Determination Assistant I also had to take a CPR, First Aid, and AED training so I’m prepared to handle an emergency situation God forbid something were to happen.

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(Here we are at the Museum of Science in Buffalo.)

There’s a growing need for more people to work similar positions, and in group homes. That’s a big part of why People Inc. is holding a recruitment rally at KeyBank Center on Monday. Although I work with Kyle through a different agency, People Inc. also has similar positions. No two people are alike, so the experience will depend on the individual you are working with.

Working with Kyle has truly been a joy, and he makes it easy for me. Working with an individual who has a disability does require a level of patience and compassion. It comes easier to me, because I grew up very closely with my autistic brother Polyvios. But I can say from experience, that anyone who has the space in their heart to make time for someone like Kyle won’t regret it. I’ve become close with him and his family, and I’m happy to give his family a hand even if it’s only for 6 hours.

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(Kyle LOVES to play with Snap Chat! But who doesn’t. 😉 )

Advocating for the developmentally disabled

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This Monday, I will be at the Lexus Club in the KeyBank Center for People Inc. Recruitment Rally with the Buffalo Sabres. You can learn more about working with people with developmental disabilities, and how it hits close to home for me.  There’s a great need for human services support staff. (I  actually work with a boy who has down syndrome on the weekends. I’ll write about him in a future blog post!)  I did a story about the need for these types of workers back in November: http://wivb.com/2016/10/27/growing-need-for-more-human-services-support-staff-in-group-homes/

I wrote a guest letter in a special edition newsletter for People Inc. about my brother Polyvios who is on the autism spectrum, and how human services support staff have made a difference for him and our family:

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