Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Park It--Summer Activities at State and National Parks

Whether you are six or 46 (or 23 like me!), I'm sure you have a soft spot for a good park. The merry go round, swings, and slides can make a child or an adult alike go weak at the knees!

Summer Park Activity
The girls swinging away at one the many parks we have been to!
During the summer when I was home from college, I would babysit two little girls who lived a town over.  The sun would always taunt us to come out and play, but there is only so much tag a girl can play!  I tried to brainstorm different ideas of where to take the girls without having to:
  1. Pack them up in the car, and;
  2. Spend a ton of money 
One day while towing them around town in their red wagon, I remembered there was a huge park down the road.  Oh, did I make a b-line for it!

Parks are awesome.  Whether you go to a community park, amusement park, state park or national park, they are fun places to go with little cost or no cost.  My motto is "If it's free, it's for me!"  I am also known to settle for almost free, too!

Typically community, town, and city parks are almost always free of cost and are extremely family-friendly.  Pack up a picnic basket full of goodies and maybe even some watermelon (check out some scrumptious watermelon recipes on our Pinterest)!  You can take advantage of the basketball and tennis courts most parks offer or even bring the bathing suits to go swimming in the pool.

If you want to put some amusement in your summer, many theme parks offer discounted rates for large groups.  They also offer season passes, one fixed price to visit as many times as you want during the season, which is great if your family goes often.  Also, keep an eye out for discount coupons.  Hershey Park, which is about an hour and a half drive from our corporate office, puts discount coupons on the back of Coke cans.  Once you're done drinking your Coke, take your can to the park and receive a discount on the price of your admission. (And they recycle the can for you!)


Parks - Know Where to Go

State parks are great because there are so many to choose from per state.  With so many choices, odds are there is one close enough to avoid the infamous, "ARE WE THERE YET" from the backseat.

park activities park recreation
Ohiopyle State Park in PA (iStock photos)
Niagara Falls State Park - I'm sure you've heard of Niagara Falls, but did you know that it's a state park, too?  Neither did I!  It's actually America's oldest state park. This park does have an admission fee for visitors, but it offers a Discovery Pass, which can help you save up to 35% on your visit.  There are many different activities at the park to give you a bang for your buck.  If you want an even bigger bang, beginning at 10 p.m. from late May to early September, every Friday, Sunday and on certain holidays the park puts on a spectacular fireworks show.

If you're not sure which of the many state parks to visit, you can visit America's State Parks and use the Find a Park Tool to find one that speaks to you.

National Parks 

With 397 national parks in the U.S. there are many gold mines of fun to uncover.  For money saving ideas - choose from one of the 264 that are FREE! The other 133 charge entrance fees.  Fun abounds with camping, hiking, canoeing, and more!

During spring, summer, and autumn at many of the parks, there are numerous programs offered for children which allow them to explore, discover, and learn about the park they are visiting.  If you think that's cool, kids between the ages of 5 -12 can become a junior ranger!  It's no wonder so many people visit American National Parks each year!  Two parks that stand out:

  • Great Smoky Mountains National Park - Named America's most visited national park, more than nine million visitors a year flock to this free park every year.  It extends from Tennessee to North Carolina with a diverse pallet of flora and fauna bustling in between.  Known for the blue haze that hangs over the mountains, this park is also known as the "wildflower" national park because plants bloom year-round. It also takes pride in the hundreds of miles of hiking and horse trails, as well as waterfalls that jut from almost every river and stream.
  • Wrangell- St. Elias National Park and Preserve - Grab your walking shoes! This free park in Alaska is the largest in the United States totaling 13.2 million acres which is bigger than Switzerland.  If you are thinking 13.2 million acres is a little much, start your visit off with a guided tour or a thrilling mountain bike ride on Alaska's wild terrain.

Want to visit a national park that's not free? Below is a list of dates when the admission fee is waived (2012):

  • January 14-16 - Martin Luther King, Jr. weekend
  • April 21-29 - National Park Week
  • June 9 - Get Outdoors Day
  • September 29 - National Public Lands Day
  • November 10-12 - Veterans Day

If you're not sure about which national park to go to, find a park by name, location, activity, or topic through the National Park Service.  Plan on going to any of these national parks or another cool park?  Take us with you!  We understand if you don't have room for ALL of us.  At the very least, you can comment or post a picture on our Facebook wall to let us know how fun it was! Or friend us on Foursquare and let us know where you are!

Krysta W.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

26 and Uninsured...Drastic Measures for Insurance Coverage

You know that saying, "drastic times call for drastic measures?" 

I never truly knew the murky meaning behind that saying until a few weeks ago. 

health insurance
Back then, we worried about
 what to dress to put on our barbies, not health insurance.
As much as it drives me crazy when she permanently borrows my clothes and uses all of my shampoo when she visits, putting sibling rivalry aside, my older sister Kathryn is pretty awesome. Plus, she got the cooking gene in the family and can make a mean jar of homemade pickles - mmmmm.

But two weeks ago at a family get-together, my sister said something not so awesome that almost made me choke on my turkey hoagie.  Something I never thought would trek through my ears--not for at least a couple more years.

You see, my sister's 26th birthday is tip-toeing nearer as we get closer to September - another year older (and usually wiser! Joke!)  But seriously, this is one birthday she is not looking forward to because as of September 30th, she will lose her health benefits.  Under the Affordable Care Act, she currently is able to get insurance coverage through our parents until she is 26.  According to a recent report published by Commonwealth Fund, she is one of the 6.6 million young adults that President Obama's health care law helped stay or be put back on their parent's health plan.  That's fantastic, but as of her 26th birthday, it's sayonara Kathryn- you are on your own!

I know the suspense is killing you.  Wondering what she said that didn't sit so well with me?

Hint - Health Care Insurance to the Extreme!


She shared that she is thinking about marrying her boyfriend of four years purely so she can be covered under his health insurance plan offered through his job.  WHAT!?  I had to put my fingers in my ears! 

I was expecting we're in love; I have his promise ring; or we've been together for four years.  I've always known he was the one for her and that they are going to get married eventually, but to marry because of her health insurance dilemma.  Is that OK?
26 uninsured
Can you tell which one of us will lose our  health insurance? 
Under different circumstances, I would be elated if she was getting married.  (Being her only sister, I would assume I would be a bridesmaid in her wedding.)  But how far should a person really go to have health insurance?  What is the cost of health care for people like my sister?  Is sacrificing her dream dress, wedding venue, and first dance for a quick exchange of vows at the courthouse the answer?  Will "Til I get insurance do we part" be their wedding vows?

If you're wondering how my sister got to this fork in the road,  Kathryn was only doing what most young adults are encouraged to do--go to college.  We live in a society where fostering minds with education is pivotal to success.  Time just ran out for her.  A switch in majors and schools set Kathryn back (FYI - not all junior college credits transfer to four year schools).

Even though we are almost three years apart, we ended up graduating hours apart on the same day last May. I received my bachelor's in four years at the age of 22 and she received hers in six years at the age of 25.  I have an ample amount of time until I hit 26, while Kathryn only had a year to find a full-time job which offered benefits.

Unable to obtain a full-time teaching job due to the combination of an abysmal job market and the amount of graduated teachers she has to compete with, she has filled in her time as a substitute teacher.  She recently started a part-time job as a science educator, but working part-time does not qualify her for benefits to help with prescription medications or doctor visits. 


health care options
A bird? A plane? Look Kathryn,
there are options for you other than marriage!
According to the same report, out of the more than 1,800 young adults surveyed nationwide, nearly 2 in 5 young adults ages 19 to 29 reported a gap in health insurance in 2011.  Those numbers are a little scary. What's a girl like my sister supposed to do? I told her we would figure it out together.  As long as she makes me her famous red velvet cupcakes!  That's fair, right?

What lengths would you go to for medical insurance?  Please share!! (No judgment here!)


Krysta W.

Monday, July 9, 2012

FamilyWize Receives Common Good Award for Savings on Prescription Discounts

The wonderful aspect of working at FamilyWize is being able to see first hand all the good this company is doing.  Even with the healthcare reform in progress—there are still millions who are struggling to get their prescription medications and receive proper healthcare.  But every day, FamilyWize and the United Ways are making a difference in people’s lives with free prescription medicine discount cards.

Not to toot our own horn, but to give you insight on what these cards are doing in towns just like yours, I want to share with you some FamilyWize and United Way news!  This is just one example of what is happening across the country.

Partnership Hits Close to Home in a BIG Way!


Dennis Carmen, President and CEO of the United Way of Greater Plymouth County (in MA), knows to the dollar how much impact the free FamilyWize prescription cards that their United Way distributes has had on the area.  As of June 26, this one United Way has saved individuals in this county over $875,000.  The impact is huge and growing daily. You can even watch the savings change by the second on the United Way of Plymouth County’s website.

familywize united way unitedway
Carol Brian, VP of Partner Support receiving
Common Good Award from CEO Dennis Carmen
Recently Carol Brian, our Vice President of Partner Support, journeyed up to Plymouth County Massachusetts on June 6th to attend the 90th Annual Meeting of the United Way of Greater Plymouth County.   FamilyWize was honored with the Common Good Award in the area of Health.   We were the only non-local company so honored. Carol accepted the award on behalf of FamilyWize.

Mr. Carmen stated, “For a community this size, the savings we provide on medicine for people is significant.” Carmen pointed out, “FamilyWize makes it possible for our neighbors who are struggling, many of them older folks; to buy both the medicine they need plus pay for necessities like food, utilities, clothing, etc. This is a phenomenal alliance with almost 1,000 local United Ways like ours, nationwide, but it is felt so strongly locally.”

Carmen went on to say, “It’s truly wonderful to be able to honor such a partnership that works so directly.  These free cards we distribute have been used about 55,000 times and give an average savings of over 30%.  For a person who might take $500 or $600 worth of medicine a month, think of how much they save.  We’ll soon have saved $1 million dollars with a simple free card we give out.”

United Ways like the one in Greater Plymouth County are amazing partners for this grassroots effort,” states Dan Barnes, co-founder and CEO of the FamilyWize Community Partnership.  “We need partners like them to reach all those people who don’t even know that this kind of assistance is available to them no matter what their age or income is.  These are savings negotiated on behalf of the 2 million people who used our discount drug card in 2011.  No one should hesitate to get a card and see how much they can save."

Isn’t that amazing!!!  Imagine saving your community $1 million dollars in prescription medicines.  As of April 2012, the free FamilyWize cards have helped more than 4 million people save over $345 million.  But as the saying goes, “It takes a village to a raise a child.”  But, we know it only takes one person to make a difference in another’s life.

Part of what Familywize does is help individuals like you to pay it forward!  It takes just a minute of your time to get a FamilyWize United Way free medication discount card and pass it out to your co-workers, friends, family, church; the potential is limitless.  You can go online to www.familywize.org and Get a Card or call us for a free Rx card at 800-222-2818.

An even easier option now to get a discount drug card is to text “Family” to 700700.  A text message will be sent to your phone that you can show to the pharmacist at one of the 65,000 participating pharmacies to receive your discount automatically.

Our cards are free, but we need your help in reaching the millions who need help with their brand name and generic medicines!

For more information about how you can help or to find out more about the FamilyWize company visit www.FamilyWize.org or Facebook.com/familywize.

Thank you for helping us to reach one more person!

Donna Cornelius
Online Marketing Manager

Friday, July 6, 2012

National Ice Cream Month - Sweet Treats in July

ice cream flavor
Ice Cream Deliciousness!
As the temperatures have soared to the upper 90's and 100's and storms across the country have knocked out electricity - many are doing anything possible to keep cool.  I have the perfect solution - ice cream!  July  is after all - National Ice Cream Month!

I didn't realize it was National Ice Cream Month until I received an email from Blue Bunny Ice Cream - a company for which I was a contributing writer for their online magazine.  Of course, since that email I have had ice cream on my brain all week!  So to support, celebrate, and provide a solution to the sweltering heat - let's scream for ice cream!

Fun Facts About Ice Cream:
  • In 1984, former President Ronald Reagan designated July the National Ice Cream Month.
  • The 3rd Sunday in July is National Ice Cream Day!
  • 1.53 billion gallons of ice cream and other frozen desserts were made in 2011 in the US (International Dairy Foods Association; source USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service)
  • 90% of American households eat ice cream (National Geographic article)
  • In 1919, the "I Scream Bar" was invented, later to be renamed Eskimo Pie in 1921 by Russell Stover (Source: The Facts of File Encyclopedia of Word and Phrase Origins, 1/1/2004)
  • The term "brain freeze" was trademarked by the retail chain "Seven-Eleven". Scientific name is sphenopalatine ganglioneuralgia - which happens when the extreme cold hits the roof of your mouth and causes an increase in blood flow in the anterior cerebral artery according to a study led by Dr. Jorge Serrador of Harvard Medical School. (Reported by American Physiological Society)
ice cream flavor
Sharing an ice cream cone is twice the fun!

Facts and fun aside; eating ice cream is not just an American past time.  This cool treat began in early Europe in the second century B.C. with snow ice (maybe that is where snow cones originated).  The frozen sweet treats of sweet milk, cream, butter and eggs (originally reserved for the elite in the 1800's) are now enjoyed by people of every culture.  In 1925 the Waring's Pennsylvanians even had a musical hit that we all know a version of called, "I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream."


From ice cream cones to ice cream sodas, to sorbets, sherbet, and frozen yogurt - the concept of cool treats has evolved through the years.  And although ice cream is not considered a food group - I am sure some would disagree.  Some of the more popular types and flavors of ice cream listed by the International Dairy Foods Association are:
  • Ice Cream - homemade ice cream, hard or soft ice cream
  • Frozen Custard or French Ice Cream
  • Sherbets
  • Gelato - Italian ice cream
  • Sorbet / Water Ices
  • Frozen Yogurt
  • Mochi - Japanese confection of sticky rice with an ice cream filling (I added this one.)
Nutritional information and value aside; tomorrow as the heat of summer hits 102 degrees in eastern Pennsylvania, you can be sure that my family and I will be taking in the coolness of a sweet ice cream cone or ice cream sundae or other ice treat at the local ice cream shop.  We will just have to decide whether that is at the local Cold Stone Creamery, Dairy Queen, Maggie Moos, Rita's or the mom and pop stand down the street - sooo many choices!

Join our ice cream poll and tell us what your favorite ice cream flavor is!

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Oh Boy - A Baby at FamilyWize! Pass the Baby Wipes Please

Oooh Baby - It's a Boy! 


having a baby
Team Leader Amber at Familywize.
But we knew that!  What we didn't know was when this little bundle of joy was going to join the FamilyWize family!  And we are very happy to announce that the FamilyWize family just got a little bit bigger!  

We shared the surprise party we threw for our team leader Amber (Amber's Shower), but now we want to send a big hug and congratulations to Amber and her husband on the new addition of their family on July 3rd!

Amber and husband welcomed their sweet baby boy on Tuesday and none too soon!  

The Fun Has Just Begun!
Having a baby is only the beginning!  There are sooo many things to think about.  Although Amber and her husband were well prepared with baby shower gifts and pre-baby shopping, a baby in the family brings a reality check to your life and your wallet.

From baby clothes to formula (if you are nursing) to diapers and baby wipes - it seems once you have a baby the money tree in the backyard can't grow fast enough.


baby wipes
Making your own baby wipes saves money.
So I shared a little secret with Amber on the day of her baby shower - homemade baby wipes!  

Making Your Own Baby Wipes

Having babies doesn't have to be expensive.  You can make your own food, make your own baby wipes; there are many ways to save money as you grow your family!  With three children of my own, saving money when adding babies to the family tree can sure come in handy!

As with everything FamilyWize, we believe in paying it forward!  So I am going to share a baby wipe recipe that was given to me after my first baby - AND I rarely bought baby wipes after that!

Recipe - Baby Wipes:
1 roll of paper towels (soft, cotton paper towels)
2 cups of hot water
2 Tbsp. of Baby Soap
1 Tbsp of Baby Oil or Olive Oil

Directions:  
  1. Lay the roll of paper towels on its side.  Cut the roll of paper towels in half with a sharp knife - setting aside one half.  
  2. Carefully remove the inside cardboard of the roll.  You will be pulling the wipes from the center.  Doing this step makes it easy to take one wipe at a time.
  3. Put one half of the roll in an empty diaper wipe container or other container large enough to hold the half roll of paper towels.
  4. Mix water, baby soap, and baby oil in a measuring cup or bowl.
  5. Pour the mixture over the towels in the container.
  6. Let it sit for about 15 minutes until all of the liquid is absorbed. 
You now have your own baby wipes that you can use immediately! 

Be sure to share with us how you save money having a baby in the family!  Also - please share this recipe with all your young mom friends!

Donna Cornelius
Online Marketing Manager


Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Watermelon Recipe Contest Winner Is!

Thank you to everyone who posted a recipe and for those of you who voted!

We now have a winner for the Watermelon Recipe Contest - Gwendolyn's "Watermelon Green Smoothie"!  The Watermelon Summer Cocktail was a close second, but the healthy green smoothie won 51% of the votes!  Congratulations Gwendolyn!

healthy recipe Familywize
Winning healthy green smoothie made with watermelon.
Here is the winning watermelon recipe:

Watermelon Green Smoothie:

Fill blender 3/4 full with seedless Watermelon (you can include the seeds if you have a powerful blender like a Vita-mix).
Fill the blender the rest of the way with greens (spinach, romaine, or green leaf work great!).
Add a 1/4 slice of Avocado,(this gives the smoothie a nice texture and adds nutrients at the same time:)

Blend till liquefied, and ENJOY! A life giving, energy enhancing, fabulous tasting Green Smoothie.

If you have not checked out the green smoothie recipe or our other watermelon recipes, be sure to read our "Fruit-tastic Watermelon News for Your Summer Health" blog.  There are nine delicious recipes for children and adults!  This sweet, cool tasty fruit is an easy way to incorporate the nutritional properties of watermelon into every-day meals or drinks!

A little about our winning smoothie recipe.  Green smoothies are a growing trend!  You can find them in most grocery and health food stores today!  But... I am here to tell you - you can easily make your own and save money if you have a blender.  There are many healthy green smoothie recipes online, but why not start with our contest winning "Watermelon Green Smoothie" - just scroll down to the comments to see this recipe. With this healthy recipe you can combine the watermelon's nutritional benefits and the health benefits of green smoothies to make a refreshing drink any time of the day!

Be sure to come back for more fun ways to improve your health!  Our goal at FamilyWize.org is to provide you with information you need about health, health care, medicine, money savings, and overall how to live a healthy, happy life!  

Here's to a healthy green smoothie drink that will cool you off this summer - courtesy of Gwendolyn and FamilyWize!

Donna Cornelius
Online Marketing Manager

Monday, July 2, 2012

4th of July Safety Tips - Word to the Wise

The 4th of July - the day we - as a country no matter our ethnicity, culture, or heritage - come together in one day or week (if you're lucky) to celebrate this country's unity and declared freedom.  Being of multicultural descent - my family, who has been here for several generations, celebrates in typical American style of barbecue, swimming, enjoying our friends and family and going to see the display of fireworks in town.

barbeque 4th of July
July fourth is the day we celebrate freedom and unity.
We also get to enjoy our Indo-Armenian neighbors who once a year have a blow-out bash with their friends and family.  Amazing sweet smelling cultural cuisine wafts through the air, the exotic, beautiful bells and music of their heritage plays as they dance through the night, ending with their own colorful fireworks display.

Now I realize I have a couple of days, but the July fourth holiday period actually is much longer than just one day or so the statistics show.

From traveling to swimming at the beach to boating and backyard bashes with friends and family, there are barbecues, an abundance of tasty treats, drinks of all flavors and fireworks!  However, what is supposed to be a day of celebration is often reflected as a day of many accidents and injuries.  Therefore I thought some insight, wisdom, and a few statistics might be a bit prudent.

Impaired Driving - Not a Wize Way to Spend Your Holiday

According to the National Highway Safety Transportation Administration (NHSTA), "Most Americans don't realize that July 4th is one of the deadliest holidays of the year due to alcohol-impaired driving crashes."  During 2010 Fourth of July celebrations (from 6:00 p.m. on July 2 - 5:59 am on July 6):
  • 392 people were killed in motor vehicle traffic crashes
  • 39% involved at least one driver or motorcycle operator with blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 or higher
  • 80% more alcohol-impaired driving fatalities took place at night
  • 50% of young drivers killed were alcohol impaired (BAC of .08 or higher)
If you do drink on the 4th, please DO NOT drive! 

Getting Fired Up - Not Just From Fireworks
Did you know that a Sparkler can burn at 2,000 degrees? This small fact from the US Consumer Product Safety Commission is just one reason NOT to let children light or play with Sparklers.  The CPSC also offers other safety tips for a safe and enjoyable 4th of July.  Some alarming burn and firework statistics for not following the tips in 2011 resulted in:
  • An average of 200 people visit the emergency room every day with fireworks related injuries
  • 65% of these injuries occurred within the 4th of July holiday period
  • Most injured body part is no surprise the hands and fingers - 46%
  • Most injuries by type of fireworks goes to the Sparklers - 17%
For more interesting statistics go to www.cpsc.gov.  Be sure to know some basic burn care as well - just in case.

Also - watch the barbecues, backyard fire pits and camp fires - statistics from the National Fire Data Center indicate that more than half of the 11,000 injuries related to these types of fires happen the first week of July.

Turning Up the Heat
Keeping to the hot topic of heating things up.  It is July and the temperatures across the nation have been hot and the weather unpredictable.  With temperatures soaring into the 90's in many states, drink your water!  Alcohol will actually cause you to get dehydrated, so drinks with electrolytes, juices, and water, water, water - will help prevent the many heat related illnesses like heat stroke, heat exhaustion, heat cramps, heat rash, and sunburn.  Even if you are in the water don't discount the power of the sun!   For tips on preventing heat related illnesses check out www2.redcross.org. One food with sweet water power and great nutritional benefits is watermelon - check out some amazing recipes from our "Fruit-tastic Watermelon News For Your Summer" blog!

Have fun, be safe, and if you find yourself packing this week for your holiday summer vacation check out Krysta's blog of things to remember on your summer vacation "Don't Forget FamilyWize this Summer!"

Happy 4th of July from FamilyWize!

Donna Cornelius
Online Marketing Manager