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Making a difference

An ophthalmic technician and angiographer devotes her time outside the office to serving her community.

I built my life in Fawn Township in Allegheny County, PA, which has been my home for more than 25 years. For me, being involved in a community is just as important as having a career or family, since your community becomes your extended family.

I started my career in ophthalmology 33 years ago. I had earned a business degree at The Community College of Allegheny County, but I knew I really wanted a career path that would allow me to better help others. Through an ophthalmic technology pilot program started by a group of optometrists and opticians at a local voc-tech facility, I became an ophthalmic technician. I have worked at several practices, including some 20 years at the department of ophthalmology at Allegheny General Hospital. For the last six years, I have been at Associates in Ophthalmology (AIO).

Transparency and purpose

Wanting to further help my community, I applied for a position on my local planning commission a few years ago, only to be told I would have to settle for being a board member of the Sewage Authority. Other than my father being a plumber, I had little experience with sewage. After spending some time on the authority, though, I developed a much greater appreciation for the entire concept of waste management. Soon after, a position became available for the Planning Commission, and I again jumped at the chance to be involved. Recently, I was appointed as chairwoman, ensuring plans and zoning for the township are met. All of my community work takes place on the weekends and evenings, when I’m not at the practice.

Fawn is a rural community and that’s one of the reasons I chose to live here — I want it to remain that way while allowing for controlled growth. I have run for township supervisor a few times because I want to bring more transparency to our local government. I came very close this last election in November, losing by only a few votes. I have been told one of my biggest attributes is my persistence, so I fully intend to run for township supervisor again.

Search and rescue

More than 11 years ago, I became involved with the National Association for Search and Rescue, to help find overdue, lost, injured, or stranded people. As part of this new adventure, a wonderful Black and Tan Coonhound named Guinness graced my life, and we both became certified for rescue work.

Being a K9 Handler takes a bond beyond words. Dogs are trained to recognize an individual scent of a person and trail it to its source. We often state that we are along for the ride and trusting our dogs.


All of these experiences helping my community have in some way affected what I do in my daily job as an ophthalmic technician and angiographer, and vice versa.

Being responsible for my patients has taught me humility — I just enjoy knowing that I helped someone. One patient, who I have become close friends with, calls me “her angel” after I got her medical attention when she started showing signs of a stroke. She still thanks me and hugs me when she comes in.

Each day that we take the time to listen to someone’s concerns and needs, whether they’re a patient or a citizen, we make a difference. That’s all we can do, regardless of our role in the community — be there and care for each other. OP