Recent Posts

Archive

Tags


Years ago, while they were both growing up in Bucks County, Dr. Kelley Vandergrift and Dr. Stephen Vanni had a lot in common, they just didn’t know it yet. In high school, they lived within a mile of each other and even had mutual friends, but they did not meet until years later. “We attended different schools, and after high school, Steve went to Penn State main for pre-med, and I went to Rider in Lawrenceville,” Kelley explains.


Kelley received her bachelor’s degree from Rider University in NJ, majoring in Biochemistry with a minor in Spanish. Stephen obtained his bachelor’s at Penn State University in State College, PA with a major in Pre-Medical Sciences. “We both were accepted into medical school, and that’s where our paths finally collided,” says Kelley. Both Stephen and Kelley attended PCOM (Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine) for medical school where they earned their degree of D.O. (Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine).

“Many of our classes were organized alphabetically,” says Stephen. “With the last names ‘Vanni’ and ‘Vandergrift’ we were smack dab next to each other all the time,” laughs Kelley. “Since we were always next to each other, we became good friends at school.” They were both focused on their studies. “We considered each other friends and study partners, and even began to commute to class together every day,” says Kelley. “I’m not sure why it took so long for us to see each other differently—maybe because the first two years of medical school are so stressful. But it changed pretty quickly!”


The couple’s love story began as their first two years at PCOM came to a close. “After the first two years of med school, students take a 9-hour long exam, the first of our medical board exams,” says Stephen. “The exam is known to make or break your future as a doctor.” Kelley also recalls it clearly, “I was cooped up in my room for a month straight after classes ended, studying day and night for that exam.” Without classes to go to, Kelley and Stephen had not seen each other in a month. “This was the longest we’d gone without seeing each other in two years,” Kelley remembers.


“Once that exam was over, I felt an enormous sense of relief and freedom,” says Kelley. “But I noticed an odd feeling I hadn’t felt before, I actually missed Steve!” Kelley tells us she asked him to join her so they could celebrate with some friends. “After not seeing each other for a month, when we did see each other, suddenly I didn’t look at him as just a study partner anymore,” says Kelley. “I think we both felt a change in our dynamic. Our first kiss was that night, and we’ve been together ever since!”


After graduation, Stephen completed his residency in Internal Medicine at Lankenau Medical Center, and Kelley performed her Family Medicine residency at Abington Hospital. Once their three years of residency was complete, it was time for the couple to look for permanent jobs. “We both knew we wanted to see patients in an office, and we wanted to work together,” says Kelley. “We also really wanted to come back to Bucks County to practice and create a home and life here where we grew up.”


As good fortune would have it, at the same time, Capital Health was beginning an expansion into Pennsylvania and looking to grow in Bucks County. “They were already beginning plans for Capital’s Newtown office location,” says Kelley, “and they offered us both a position — the rest is history!” Stephen tells us, “We have been working together at Capital Health Primary Care Newtown for nearly 3 years now. It is our hope that we bring a sense of family and community to the practice, and to our patients.”


When they aren’t hard at work at Capital Health, the couple enjoys spending time with their two Pomeranian fur-babies, Dutchess (13) and Bella (1½). “They keep us very busy,” says Kelley. “They each have their own personalities, yet both like lots of attention and follow us around everywhere we go!” In 2018, Stephen and Kelley tied the knot at one of their favorite places on earth. “Disney World in Orlando has always been a very special place for us!” says Kelley. “It was our first trip together, and it was so special to us that we chose to get married there a few years later! We go back for an annual trip each year.”


Stephen and Kelley enjoy DIY projects, which they’ve had a chance to do in their LMT home purchased towards the end of 2019. “We always wanted to return to this area, and shortly after starting our permanent career with Capital Health, we bought a home in Yardley and couldn’t be happier.” In their spare time, they also enjoy movies and traveling. “Steve is also an avid fan of the 76ers and the Eagles,” says Kelley.


The doctors enjoy an active lifestyle and being close to a town with so much to offer. “We absolutely love living in Yardley,” Kelley says. “Being able to walk or cycle into town is something we always wanted.” Stephen explains, “We love the canal path for cycling, walking, or running, and being so close to that is amazing.” They also appreciate their community. “Our neighbors are so friendly,” Kelley tells us. “We hope to have more community events and be able to entertain once it is safer to get together!”

As the couple looks to the future, they tell us that the community and their work are both very important to them. “We are so happy to be part of this community and look forward to the year ahead,” says Kelley. When asked if they had a special message for their neighbors, they told us, “We wish everyone health and happiness, and would like to say what an honor it is to serve as primary care doctors in this wonderful community.”


_______________________________


To connect with Dr. Kelley Vandergrift of Dr, Stephen Vanni, contact the Capital Health Newtown Campus to arrange an appointment. Call 215-504-1761 or visit www.capitalhealth.org/primarycarenewtown.





Prior to the pandemic, most people wouldn’t think twice about going to the grocery store or to dinner with a loved one. But for the parent or sibling of someone with autism, these simple activities can seem nearly impossible. Imagine a child who runs away in public places, who tantrums when overwhelmed in a social setting, or who can’t communicate if they get separated from their caregiver. This is the reality families with an autistic loved one may experience every day. Our family knows this story well.


I met the team at Potential in 2017 and was asked to help with community events as a volunteer. I had been curious about the organization because our son is autistic and nonverbal, so I was happy to lend a hand.


As a volunteer, I have been impressed by their team. “When we were founded nearly 15 years ago,” says Kristine Quinby, the Founder, CEO, and President of Potential, “it was with the goal of helping every child and adult with autism reach their full educational, social, and emotional potential.”


“Normal daily activities are anything but normal for many of the families with whom we work at Potential,” says Kristine. “The good news is that there is a way to make a difference in their lives. Research, and our own experience, shows that skill-based outings can help children and adults with autism adjust to new environments.” Community outings require both staffing and transportation, and a vehicle with adequate space will make these activities more consistent. “Until now, we have taken skill-based outings on a limited basis with some of our clients using our own personal vehicles or a rented van,”



Kristine explains. “A proper bus would open a whole new world of possibility by allowing even more of our clients to take part in these experiences. But we need help to make this dream a reality.” To date, Potential has raised more than 80% of the $50k needed for their “Buy the Bus” campaign, an impressive accomplishment given the challenges faced by nonprofits in 2020.


Sadly, Potential’s beloved Car Show was canceled in 2020 due to Covid-19. Then, their Gala needed to be rescheduled and ultimately was held virtually. Still, the community rallied to support the initiative. “We are getting so close to making this a reality,” says Hillary Sawyer, the Donor Relationship Manager at Potential. “By supporting this initiative, donors are investing in the future of our clients and our community.

“When speaking with community members that want to help,” says Hillary, “I ask them to put themselves in the shoes of these families and think about what it would mean to finally be able to go out to a restaurant to celebrate a special occasion together. Or to take part in a grandparent’s birthday party. Or to even have their child help with simple errands.”


Johnny’s mom, Kristen, concurs, “I always wanted Johnny to be exposed to social settings, but I was so scared of what others would think.” “This is a chance to make a truly life-changing difference,” says Hillary. “Every dollar donated gets us a step closer to making life easier for our families and clients. We can empower our clients with the skills they need to participate in activities of daily living.”


The community has always played a critical role in helping Potential fulfill the mission to support individuals with autism, and they are grateful for the assistance. “It will take all of us working together to make a difference in the lives of our clients and their families,” says Hillary. “If anyone would like to learn more about this initiative, please visit our website at www.potentialinc.org or https://tinyurl.com/ buythebus. Your support means the world to us and to those whom we serve.


Evan’s Story: “The first thing that strikes you about Evan is his smile. The second is his remarkable memory— particularly when it comes to movies. A Disney/ Pixar aficionado, Evan is quick to tell you a character’s name, a favorite quote, or distinguishing feature. But socializing hasn’t always come easily for him. Since coming to Potential, Evan’s teachers have been working to provide opportunities for him to interact with others. Outings provide a great setting for this.


Last year, during a school trip to Six Flags, Evan made great strides in this area—just by spending time with his peers. He gravitated toward two other Potential students on the trip and spent the day with them, learning how to wait in line and behave on rides. Evan even took his first roller coaster ride – an experience that he calls both his favorite and his scariest.”


Johnny’s Story: Johnny's mom, Kristin, echoes the sentiment of other Potential families. "I always wanted him to be exposed to social settings." She explains that before coming to Potential, Johnny would run away in uncomfortable settings. "Now we can go to the mall and walk around together. He even stops and waits for me if he walks too far ahead. If I had the money, I would buy the bus for Potential myself. These children and adults need these outings!"


Jimmy & Eileen’s Story: This year, the winner of Potential’s Annual ACE Award (chosen from dozens of nominations of local individuals that have made a difference within the local autism community) was Eileen McHugh.


As a Mobile Therapist and BSC (Behavioral Specialist Consultant), Eileen was nominated for her work with Jimmy.


While this work was not done through Potential, it was recognized by the award committee for the life-changing impact on Jimmy and his family. The family is eternally grateful for the support she provided.


Christina’s Story: Christina's older sister, Amber, knows her sister has come a long way. "Last year, she joined us for my birthday dinner," Amber says. "I'm so proud of how far she has come. I know she can be better. I think with more exposure (to social settings), she'll be able to go anywhere with no problems."


Do you know a neighbor doing great things in our Yardley or Newtown communities?

E-mail to hdiprato@bestversionmedia.com and tell us about it, we may be able to share the story in an upcoming issue.


Story by Heather DiPrato. Photos by Cindy Fatsis.


In a different year, the Mohan family (Ram, Rupa, and their daughters Jia and Arya) would be looking forward to their annual winter getaway to Providenciales in Turks and Caicos. “The past year has obviously been a little different,” laughs Rupa. She explains that travel has always been a big part of their lives, “With a family spread around the world (London, South Africa, India), our kids got passports as soon as they were born and had clocked over 20,000 miles in their first couple years of life! Our kids are very used to planes, trains, buses, and exploring new places.” Her husband Ram has traveled extensively for business for decades and found the break in travel somewhat refreshing. “I’d travel up to 300,000 miles each year for business,” he shares. “But with the pandemic, I’ve been home to see my girls more. That’s irreplaceable.”


In 2005, Rupa and Ram were introduced to one another virtually by their families. At the time, Rupa was working in London, and Ram lived in the US and traveled internationally quite often, so their courtship began with a series of long phone calls and e-mails. After 2 months, they knew they wanted to meet face to face. “Ram and I had a memorable first date,” remembers Rupa. “He was flying into London from Brussels on July 7, 2005. I was on the Tube (subway) headed to work when a colleague called to say, ‘bombs are going off across London.’ Rupa was able to retreat to the suburbs that morning but did not want to miss their long-awaited date later that day!



“I got a cab out to Heathrow Airport where we met for the first time,” Rupa explains, “and I was struck by how calm and cool Ram was given all the craziness, not even knowing if his flight out would be canceled due to the attacks in the city.” The couple enjoyed a pleasant lunch getting to know each other amidst the chaos nearby, punctuated by calls from family and friends checking to see if Rupa had been caught up in the attacks. “The rest of our dates were spread across beautiful cities in Europe; London, Geneva, and Paris where we got engaged,” she remembers fondly. “But those were nowhere near as dramatic as that first date!”


Rupa was raised in England and earned a Master’s in English from The University of London. “Eventually, I got fed up of reading books and became fascinated with technology, so switched my career.” Rupa worked in the Square Mile in London for 15 years, “I worked for several big-city firms in project management,” Rupa explains. “Since moving to Bucks County, I worked for Comcast as a Project Director.” More recently, she says, new opportunities have come her way. “I’m working on a few new projects in varied areas including e-commerce, website development, a café launch, and real estate, all of which are enormous fun!”



Ram was raised in India and earned his BS from MIT-India, his MBA from BIM-India, and an MS from Drexel. He interrupted his MS to work for the first Internet startup in the Philadelphia region, a company called Infonautics, which later went public. Ram spent the following two decades working for Internet companies which were successfully sold, most recently, a company he co-founded called Afilias. “Ram is a serial entrepreneur at heart,” says Rupa. “He is already exploring possibilities for his next fun venture.”


The couple married in India in 2006 surrounded by friends and family. Many of their guests flew in from around the world to be a part of what Rupa describes as a “big, vibrant Indian wedding.” For the uninitiated, weddings in India are often multi-day festivities. “Our wedding lasted for two and a half days,” Ram remembers with a smile. “When all was said and done, we had more than 800 guests. It was quite a celebration.” After they wed, Rupa relocated to the United States into Ram’s home in Mill Road Estates. “Her first night here,” Ram tells us, “Rupa couldn’t sleep. She said it was far too quiet!” Rupa laughs at the memory. “It WAS too quiet,” she chuckles. “I still can’t get over how silent LMT was compared to London. And I had also never seen deer at such close quarters wandering in the woods behind our house!”



Rupa and Ram have loved raising their daughters in our community. When she first arrived in Lower Makefield, Rupa admits it was a bit of a culture shock compared to London. “I was impressed with the friendliness and big hearts of the locals. Our girls were born here and attended local Montessori schools where we made many friends who we still see to this day.” The Mohans enjoyed the community aspect of LMT, “LMT won our hearts. The library, community pool, fireworks, walking trails were all wonderful,” says Rupa. “We also built a strong network of friends and professional contacts, and were known for our big, fun Diwali parties and summer picnics at Core Creek park!”


“In 2016, with so much division in the country, I wanted to channel my energies into making a positive difference in our local community,” says Rupa. “And to show our young kids that it is possible for each individual to make a difference regardless of what is happening in the world.” Neighbor in Need, led by Elizabeth Kearney, was an obvious organization for Rupa to partner with. “I was very impressed at the speed and efficiency with which these ladies would hear of a need, and how quickly they would rally the community to respond,” Rupa explains. “Their energy and drive were relentless and energizing – simply amazing! I also loved that they were super-flexible in how I could help – monetary donations, buying goods, or giving time.”


“We also decided that our young children should learn about all of the cultural influences in their lives. With immediate family spread across the UK, India, South Africa, and the US, we were keen to expose them to these varied cultures,” says Ram. “We joined the Chinmaya Madhuvan Center in Yardley to enable our children to understand their Indian heritage.” The Chinmaya organization is a worldwide, Hindu spiritual organization, and the Yardley center provides Sunday school classes for children from K-12 with teachings on religion and culture. The religious leader, Swami Siddhananda, inspires adults and children within the community to live aligned with noble ideals, and there is a strong emphasis on Seva, a Sanskrit word that means “selfless service.”



“With the pandemic sweeping through the nation in 2020,” says Rupa, “I was heartened to see that both of these organizations close to our heart were reaching out to make a real difference to local families in need from running food pantry drives, creating blessings bags, grocery drop-offs to essential workers and collecting toys for children whose parents had lost their jobs,” Rupa explains that her girls got involved in making cards for local healthcare professionals during the first lockdown. The Chinmaya Center volunteers sprang into action initiating a variety of projects, distributing masks to USPS workers, food, and personal care item drives to benefit TASK, FSABC, and Ivins Outreach Center. “They also helped by providing summer activity items for children unable to attend summer camp, writing letters to essential workers through a local congresswoman, and providing hot meals every weekend to Ivins Outreach Center since March 2020.”



With such aligned goals, Rupa felt it would make sense to propose that both organizations could come together and work on specific projects to benefit the community, and to build bridges between people of different cultures. “In August of 2020, I led a Back-to-School drive where Chinmaya families donated money to purchase 125 backpacks for children in need,” says Rupa. “Chinmaya community leaders Vishwajit Pillai and Asha Ramachandran coordinated donations, and young Shakti Ramnath led a special Instagram campaign to raise more funds. Youth volunteers who worked on the drive then proudly delivered the backpacks to Neighbor in Need before the start of the school year.


In Sept 2020, Rupa arranged a meet and greet, and a tour of the Center for the Neighbor in Need crew and the Chinmaya Madhuvan crew. “We all shared updates on the good work being done, and the enthusiasm to work on more joint projects together,” Rupa explains. “Swami Siddhananda then presented Neighbor in Need with a $500 check to go towards future Neighbor in Need projects. The plan is to work on more joint programs in 2021 and beyond.”



This summer, the Mohan family also realized a longtime dream. “We finally built a house together from scratch, just a few minutes away in Newtown,” says Rupa. “Moving during the pandemic was bizarre, but we’re glad we did it. It is fun to have a fresh start with new faces, and our littles playing with our neighbors’ littles.” The Mohans’ new home captures the global influences of their families and showcases the work of some talented designers and artisans from Bucks County. “One important criterion for the family moving,” says Rupa, “we still wanted to be near our friends in Yardley and Lower Makefield. Our friendships and community are a cornerstone in our lives.”


The pandemic made regular neighborhood activities a little more difficult than usual, but the Mohans still looked for ways to give back and bring joy to their community. “We recently invited neighbors to join us for a socially-distanced fireworks display for Diwali, which was great fun,” Rupa shares. “And in August, Ram finished the GVRAT run, a 1,000km (636 mi) virtual run with 19,000 other runners that raised over a million dollars for charity.”


As they look to the year ahead, the Mohans look forward to meeting neighbors and staying connected with their friends in Yardley. They love great food, whether they are cooking at home, or exploring and supporting our wonderful local restaurants. “We have been known to travel long distances or wait in insanely long queues for the right dish,” says Rupa. “But we are fortunate that Yardley, LMT, and Newtown all have a variety of good eats, and we don’t necessarily have to go to Philly or NYC for a great meal!”


As difficult as the pandemic has been, Ram and Rupa have learned to, “Look at what is possible, not what we miss about how life used to be.” The Mohans have used their time at home to reflect on the things that matter most. “A year ago, while on vacation, big sister Jia was super alert and helped save her younger sister, Arya from nearly drowning in a hotel pool,” Ram explains. “It was a great lesson on how precious life is, and how important it is to love, and hug, and care.”


When asked if their family had a special motto they live by, Rupa said, “Own your difference.” We love this sentiment! Each family is unique, and embracing those differences is a wonderful thing. We are grateful to Elizabeth Kearney of Neighbor in Need for introducing us to the Mohan family, and to Rupa and Ram for sharing their family story.


Do you know a neighbor doing great things in our Yardley or Newtown communities? E-mail to hdiprato@bestversionmedia.com and tell us about it, we may be able to share it in an upcoming issue.


Story by Heather DiPrato. Photos by Cindy Fatsis.

1/6
  • Facebook

215-208-3602 

Yardley, PA. 19067

©2016 - 2020  Enjoy Yardley