Recent Posts

Archive

Tags

Story by Heather DiPrato. Yardley Photos by Michele Freiling Photography

Back in college, Minesh Pathak would never have imagined he would be running the Lower Bucks Chamber of Commerce. “It is a large organization with an important mission. Our goal is to advance free enterprise,” Minesh explains. “Also, to provide leadership that enhances the economic climate of the local business community.” Minesh says he feels honored to have been entrusted with the position.


Minesh studied finance at Holy Family College and grew up in Philadelphia. His wife, Rupali, grew up in New Jersey and is now an elementary school teacher in the Pennsbury School District. “We actually met on an Indian dating site,” laughs Rupali. “We dated for a year and a half, and were married in July of 2013 at Rasoi III, an Indian Banquet Hall and catering facility based in South Brunswick, NJ.”

Family is the most important thing to Minesh and Rupali. “Family is not just an important thing, it is everything,” says Minesh. The couple has two adorable little girls, Shriya (5) and Aanya (3). Both girls are big fans of Frozen! “When Alexa is not playing the Frozen soundtrack on repeat, Shyra and Aanya love to explore books,” says Rupali. “They also like to sing and dance and have enjoyed taking dance classes at a nearby studio.” The Pathak children are quite artistic. “The girls are very much into arts and crafts and love to create new masterpieces daily,” Minesh tells us. “We are excited that Shriya will be attending kindergarten in the Fall. Aanya will continue to explore the world around her by attending a local childcare facility.”


When the weather is nice, the family goes for walks after dinner. During the pandemic, those walks helped them stay connected with their neighbors. “We live in a small subdivision of about 40 homes,” says Minesh. “Evening walks are such an important way for us to bond with our girls, and over the past year, to see our neighbors out walking added a sense of community and normalcy during a stressful time in the world. We are so excited to see the girls have impromptu play time with other families again,” he tells us.


The family enjoys cheering on their favorite sports teams. “I’ve been a sports fan since a young age and follow all the Philadelphia teams,” says Minesh, “Phillies, Eagles, Sixers and the Flyers are all favorites of mine. But Rupali, as a native of New Jersey, follows the New York sport teams, which can make for an interesting family dynamic,” he jokes. “Football season can get pretty exciting in our household!”

During the holiday season, the family has some favorite traditions. “The girls look forward to Christmas every year,” says Rupali. “At the start of the season, we put up the Christmas tree, watch Home Alone 1 or 2, and order pizza. It’s always a good time!”


The Pathaks have a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel named Rio who they love to spoil. “I wanted a dog since I was a child,” Minesh shares. “When Rupali and I purchased our home, we decided to get our pup. We can’t imagine our lives without Rio!”

Due to Rupali’s career as an educator, most of the Pathak family vacations take place in the summer. “We enjoy travelling to destinations where we can all relax with our feet in the sand,” Minesh explains. “Our two favorite trips so far have been to Hawaii for our honeymoon and St. Lucia. After Covid-19 ends, we plan to visit a new destination in the Caribbean and we hope this opportunity comes very soon!”


In his role as the Executive Director of the Lower Bucks Chamber, Minesh works to help local businesses make connections within the community, and with one another. “The Chamber consists of over 1,000 members representing small, medium, and large businesses in Lower Bucks and its surrounding communities,” he tells us. “There are more than 6,000 active individuals who represent those member businesses. It is a large group, and it is a great way for businesses to meet one another.”


As we emerge from the pandemic, businesses have an opportunity to set themselves apart and find new ways to engage within their communities. The Lower Bucks Chamber of Commerce is one important way businesses can connect with their peers, share ideas, and take advantage of the excellent resources provided by the Chamber. “Minesh leads by example,” says his colleague, Jude Martin-Cianfano. “He is someone you can look up to and be proud to follow. He guides his team by motivating and inspiring us to accomplish what we need to for our Chamber members.” Rebecca Kelly, Community Relations Manager for Capital Health concurs. “I’ve worked with Minesh as a member of LBCC’s Board, and he is supportive of all of the Chamber members. He is awesome!”


The Lower Bucks Chamber has recently focused on finding new ways to bring the community together with their members, and is excited to be hosting a safe and fun community event. “On Saturday, June 19, the LBCCC Home Show and Pet Expo will be held from 10 AM until 3 PM,” Minesh says. “It will be at the Oxford Valley Mall in Langhorne in the parking lot of the former Boscov’s. This promises to be a fun and family friendly expo with food trucks and plenty of parking. I hope to see our friends and neighbors from the community coming out to support local businesses!”


As hectic as the past year has been, the Pathak family is grateful to see things returning to a bit more normalcy, with schools reopening and businesses returning to pre-pandemic activity. As an important leader within the business community, Minesh values his colleagues and all of the LBCCC members. “The job is challenging at times,” Minesh shares, “but I have never regretted accepting the position.” He enjoys meeting new people and learning about their businesses. “I think it’s great being part of the business community. Being involved is its own reward!”


Do you know a neighbor who has a story to share? Nominate a neighbor to be featured in an upcoming issue! Contact: hdiprato@bestversionmedia.com


June 2021 Father's Day Issue. Story by Heather DiPrato. Photos by Michele Freiling Photography.

Michael “Mick” Petrucci is well-known and loved in the Newtown community. He grew up in Fallsington, the son of Sandy Petrucci and Hall of Fame bowler Mickey Petrucci. Mick’s dad came from a large family of six boys and three girls. “All of the brothers were bowlers and many of them were barbers. My dad was on the senior pro bowlers tour,” says Mick. “In his youth, he was an amazing baseball player and courted by the Pittsburgh Pirates baseball organization while playing AAA. My mother is also a well-known face in Newtown. She has worked at Sparkle Car Wash as a cashier on and off for over 30 years!”


Mick attended Council Rock Schools and had an interest in business at a young age. Before Mick had even graduated high school, he convinced his dad to help him purchase an ice cream business from his uncle. “I started Petrucci‘s Ice Cream Company when I was 17,” Mick explains. After high school, he attended Bucks County Community College for marketing and public relations, but his focus was always on business. “Within a few years, I began building franchises across the country in the frozen dessert industry,” he explains. “It grew quickly.” Mick was also a partner in a commercial construction company focused on interior buildouts for many national and regional chain stores.


In 1998, at just 25 years of age, Mick became the youngest recipient of the prestigious Entrepreneur of the Year Award sponsored by Ernst & Young, and was profiled on CNN, but kept a sense of humility and service. Mick co-founded the Shop with a Cop project to help underprivileged youth during the holidays. He is the former president of the Newtown Business Association and served on NBA’s board for more than 10 years.

Mick is very active in the Newtown Rotary, an Emcee at the Holiday Parade, a longstanding Judge at the talent show for the Grange fair, and helps with the homeless shelter and local food pantry. In the mid-2000s, Mick shifted his career focus to civic service. He attended the Temple Law Enforcement Academy to obtain his Act 44 Certification and becoming a Pennsylvania State Constable in 2008. Today he serves as an elected Judge in PA’s Magisterial District Court 07-2-07 which covers the Borough of Newtown, as well as the Townships of Newtown, Upper Makefield, and Wrightstown. When not presiding in court, Mick can be found volunteering, supporting local charitable organizations, and focused on helping make the community stronger.

Even with these impressive accomplishments, the thing that makes him the proudest is raising his two beautiful children, Anthony (22), and Angela (20) with his wife and best friend, Karen. “Mick has always been the best father,” says Karen. “No matter how much he worked or how busy he was, he was always there for all of their extracurricular activities. He has shown support to them in everything they did both growing up and now. His parenting style was always fair but firm, and he taught our children life lessons they carry with them today.”


Mick and Karen have been married for nearly 25 years and first met and started dating while in high school. “My friend was dating her older sister,” Mick reminisces. “He said he would introduce me to Karen, and as soon as we met, we became best friends almost instantly. Our first date was at the Burger King in Penndel, and when she ordered french fries, I knew she was a keeper!” The couple married on January 23, 1997, at the Monte Carlo Resort in Las Vegas.


The Petruccis raised their children to value and embrace “service above self” and encourage a spirit of volunteerism and community service. “Mick has been very involved in our community for as long as I can remember,” says Karen. “Both Anthony and Angela grew up watching Mick donating his time to our community and others who needed his help. He is a true believer in ‘service before self’ and has instilled those values in Anthony and Angela. He used to bring them to events so they could see the impact that could be made in the community!”

Karen Petrucci studied nursing and today works as the Assistant Director of Nursing at Crestview Center, a healthcare provider and senior living community in Langhorne, PA. “She works harder than just about anyone I know,” says Mick. “She absolutely loves her facility, patients, and staff, and gives 100% effort all day, every day. Nurses truly are special people!”


The duo are incredibly proud of their children, “My son Anthony has grown into one of the nicest human beings I’ve ever met,” says Mick. “He is a kind passionate soul and is currently attending barber school in West Chester Pennsylvania. He’s very excited and motivated to start his career. He attended Bucks County community college working toward his business administration degree. “Our daughter Angela is currently attending West Chester University obtaining her degree in early education,” says Karen. “She is a talented cheerleader and she and her team have won many championship awards. She is passionate about helping special-needs individuals and has the heart of gold!”

As they look back at nearly 25 years together, the couple recalls so many special times. “We have great memories,” says Karen. “I remember Mick used to have an Elmo costume that he would put on to surprise our children when they were growing up. They believed Elmo really visited them and it was priceless to see their faces! Mick would even wear it on Halloween night to spread the holiday spirit. All the children and their families loved trick-or-treating at our house knowing Elmo would be there.” Mick laughs, remembering that fuzzy red suit. “Beyond the amazing memories we’ve already made,” he says. “I’m excited about our future. We are still best friends.”

In their spare time, the Petruccis enjoy spending time with family and the beach. “We don’t travel much, but we do enjoy weekends in Brigantine New Jersey at our condo,” Mick shares. “The only annual trip we take is visiting in-laws in Florida, or family in Newport, Rhode Island.” When they are able, they like to unplug and enjoy nature. “We all work very hard at our jobs and community events,” says Mick. “So, when we do go away, we like to relax and listen to the waves of the ocean crash!”


Asked about hobbies, Mick says, “I’m a big fan of going crabbing down the shore, reading about real estate and investments, and of course watching the Eagles, Phillies, and the 76ers!” The family is happy in their Newtown Crossing neighborhood. “We love the location. We live on a cul-de-sac, so it’s pretty quiet, and our neighbors are fantastic,” says Mick. Everybody looks out for everyone else. We have our own neighborhood parades and events, and during the pandemic, we saw many drive-by celebrations, including for our son when he turned 21.

With their children pursuing education and working towards independence, the Petrucci’s expanded their family by adopting a puppy in November. “Her name is Luna, and she is a Chihuahua mix,” says Mick. “She was born on August 26, 2020, and rescued from Mississippi.” Luna is the perfect fit for their family. “We treat her like our third child,” laughs Karen. “She loves to snuggle, and we have yet to hear her bark!”


As we complete our interview, I ask Mick about the philosophies of the Newtown Rotary, and why it has meant so much to him. He explains, “Being humble means recognizing that we are not on earth to see how important we can become, but to see how much difference we can make in the lives of others.” From everything we can see, the Petrucci family has clearly made an impact in the Newtown community, and on the lives of others!





Updated: May 12

A Mother's Day Tribute by Heather DiPrato with Photos by Cindy Fatsis Photography

From the time I was a baby, I was surrounded by art. Oil paintings, sketches, canvasses awaiting greatness, and everything imaginable to CREATE; paints, pastels, colored pencils, specialty papers, beads, fabrics, yarns, trims – if it was an art or sewing supply, we had it.


With a talented artist as a mother, and a writer for a dad, I learned the importance and value of creativity early on. My mom, Betty Lou, describes me as a little girl who woke up early every morning and “made a beeline to the art table,” becoming immersed in craft projects, and ignoring mundane tasks like eating, using the restroom, or getting ready for school. For me, that table was a place of wonder. The top was a large, flat, smooth surface ready for any project we could dream up. Underneath, cabinets stored an abundance of art supplies. It was my happy place, and hers, too.

Betty Lou w/Freda, as Toddler, at Graduation.

My mom was born to Jim and Freda Entrikin in November of 1944, during the polio pandemic. Her dad was an aeronautical engineer for Boeing, and her mom grew up on a farm in Indiana, moving to PA in the early 1940’s to marry and raise a family. The Entrikins had three daughters, Janet, Betty Lou, and later, Peggy.


Yardley Living May 2021 Mother's Day Issue

In 1945, while traveling by train to Indiana to see family, my mom and her older sister contracted polio, which was a devastating disease that caused paralysis and death in many children before the vaccine was available in the 1950’s. Similar to Covid 19, many people didn’t know they carried polio, which helped it spread more easily. Some recovered quickly, but others endured serious health effects. My Aunt Janet got better within a few weeks, but my mom, just 8 months old at the time, suffered permanent damage to her right arm and leg. She spent nearly a year in the hospital, and much of her life using a wheelchair. To this day, things are more challenging. Adjustments must be made for the simple tasks most of us take for granted, yet she always adapts. Her attitude is purposeful and upbeat.


Back in her childhood home, Betty Lou emerged as a talented artist from a young age. She enjoyed drawing, painting, and sewing. Her parents were strong advocates for inclusion in school and social activities like Girl Scouts. Regardless of the physical differences brought on by polio, they fostered a spirit of independence and encouraged their daughter to pursue her many talents. In her teens, her dad designed a motorized scooter that helped her navigate the massive halls of Neshaminy High School and engineered a brace that allowed her to wear more stylish shoes. The brace wrapped around her hips and right leg providing greater mobility yet brought its own set of challenges.

Betty Lou paints by Lake Afton in Yardley
Betty Lou - Plein Air Painting by Lake Afton

Even with a loving and inclusive family, the impact of polio was never easy. Betty Lou remembers crawling around her small Penndel home, frustrated that visitors would track dirt in from the outside and it would get on her legs as she navigated the floors. She slept in a crib until she was 8 years old (to keep from falling out of bed) but was embarrassed when a neighbor saw the crib and asked her mom, “where’s the baby?”. At times she was bullied for her differences; teased for a noticeable limp and referred to as peg-leg by mean kids. Still, she held her head as high as her petite 4’ 10” frame allowed.


As she got older, she recalls, “People would look at me curiously and say, ‘what is WRONG with you!?’” Her mother, Freda, annoyed by this rude behavior, once whispered in her daughter’s ear, ‘Betty Lou, I will give you a dollar if you ask them, ‘what is wrong with YOU?!’” Sadly, Freda died when I was just 16 months old after a battle with breast cancer. From the stories I hear, she and I were a lot alike.


Artist Palette

In the late 1960’s, Betty Lou married my dad, Frank McDonald, who she met while working at a summer camp. The story (as he told it) was that he was trying to flirt but became so distracted by my mom’s beauty that he sat down on her painter’s palette, and neither his ego nor his white jeans ever fully recovered! A screenwriter at heart, he probably romanticized those details since my mom doesn’t share his recollection! In their early years, the couple worked together in Frank’s ad agency. Betty Lou’s creativity seemed to make each campaign more successful. A talented vocalist, he even hired her to sing the “jingle” for Herr’s Potato Chips, “Good things come from the country!” and cast her with my brother, an infant at the time, in the commercial. Herr’s must have been a great account - we were loyal to the brand throughout my childhood, and I felt like I heard that story every time a bag of chips was opened!

By the early 1970’s, Betty Lou was a mom of two, and took a job as the Art Teacher for Lower Bucks Christian Academy. She was dedicated and worked tirelessly, often late into the night. I had a blast, roller skating through the library while she finished the yearbook with her students, and following the janitor from room to room, annoying him with my awful piano playing. For her students, the lessons were so engaging, many remember them to this day. Betty Lou remains close with several of the “kids” she met during her decade of teaching, and Facebook allows them to stay connected and reminisce.

After my parents separated in 1982, mom left her full-time teaching position to join the “gig economy” as a freelancer. She designed the “set” for the legendary 1980’s Philly series Dancin’ on Air, became a make-up artist for TV and film, including a stint at NBC-10 News, and provided special effects make-up for shows like Rescue 911. Although they had divorced, my mom and dad had an amicable relationship and continued to work on projects until he moved to Los Angeles in the 1990s. As the years went on, my dad often asked about my mom, and clearly enjoyed ruminating on their many adventures. Even in his last year of life with Alzheimer’s, he spoke fondly of her.


In the 1980’s in her newfound role as a single parent, Betty Lou continued her artistic endeavors. When I was about 12, I awoke Easter morning to an incredible basket. Too old for toys, it was filled with Leggs pantyhose and make-up for a tween. Her surprises were always well-considered and beautifully presented. One autumn day, she went for a drive in the country, pulled off to the side of the road, climbed up through her sunroof, and painted a vista from atop her beloved green Cadillac Seville! She was fearless and bold, and I’ve always admired her confidence and sense of adventure.


Betty Lou remarried in 1987. She and my stepdad, Paul, had a wonderful life together, enjoying time in Cape May each summer. They collaborated on projects for Vacation Bible School, created murals for corporate and church events, and produced The American Spirit Shirt, which combined her art along with the couple’s shared passion for God and our country. Later, they joined forces to publish a book of Paul’s poetry called Seasons of Hope which featured her illustrations. My mom became a full-time caregiver for Paul during his battle with a rare form of cancer. He died in 2014.

Those who know Betty Lou understand that her physical challenges never held her back from anything she set her mind to. Her radiant smile, quick wit, and endless determination fueled her to achieve things in life many would never dare dream.


And having her as my mom offers a roadmap for navigating the challenges of parenting our son, Jimmy, who is nonverbal and autistic. Mom has always said, “believe in him, don’t set limitations based on what anyone says he CAN’T do, imagine that he CAN!” Our daughter, Willow, takes after her Grammy in many ways, including advocating for her big brother and her spunky “get it done” attitude.


Today, my mom is retired but still teaches art privately at her studio in Middletown Township, and occasionally accepts commissioned work. As a painter who appreciates the way natural light changes the look of landscapes and architecture, she is excited to participate in AOY’s Plein Air Event this month, taking place in Yardley Borough and across Bucks County. Her wonderful friend Bill (who she lovingly refers to as William) inspires and encourages her artistic endeavors, and the two have enjoyed exploring Yardley Borough, finding great places to eat as they scout the best locations to paint in the open air.

As a child watching my mom, it was hard to understand why my two hands couldn’t accomplish a fraction of what she could create so fluently with just one. “It takes time and practice, keep at it,” she’d tell me. Try as I may, I did not inherit her talent. But I have creative outlets, and producing this magazine is one! My mom continues to inspire me every day, and I deeply missed spending time with her over the past year. With vaccines in place, the month of May offers hope of quality time out in the Plein Air, recapturing our mother-daughter connection right here in Yardley.


Happy Mother’s Day! Wishing every mom reading this the kind of celebration you deserve after this crazy year. Would you like to nominate someone for a story? E-mail hdiprato@bestversionmedia.com.




1/8