Employee Spotlight: Jonathan Gregory

What is your role here at Babb, Inc.? 

I am an Account Manager for Property & Casualty department.

 Where did you go to school? (High School, trade school, college, etc.)

I went to Bethel Park High School and then attended The Pennsylvania State University – Behrend campus.

 What’s the last good book you read?

The last book I read was “On the Road” by Jack Keroac, a great novel about travel, adventure, discovery, and the Beatnik/counter culture of the 1950s.

 Tell us an interesting fact about yourself?

 A Pittsburgh food truck has a sandwich created in my honor.

What’s your favorite part of working at Babb, Inc.?

The best part about working at Babb is my coworkers’ dynamic personalities.

 What Hogwarts House would you be sorted into?

Hufflepuff – people need to value loyalty & kindness more!

What or who is your spirit animal and why?

Ron Swanson (from the TV show Parks & Rec) for his blunt honesty.

What was the first concert you went to?

My first concert was to see the ultimate 90s ska band, No Doubt.

What 3 fictional characters best describe you and why?

Ron Weasley – because of the red hair

Charlie Bucket – because of his selfless nature

Atticus Finch – because of his honor and his ability to personify what being a role model is

If you could be any animal what would it be and why?

A dolphin because they are social, swim all day, and turn off half of their brain when sleeping. Plus echolocation and the ability and intelligence to do cool tricks are just added bonuses.

National Give Something Away Day

Tomorrow, July 15, we will be celebrating a wonderful, unsung holiday, National Give Something Away Day.  It’s a day that reminds us to give back to our communities and those in need.

There are many ways in which you can give back.  Whether you decide to pay it forward and pay for someone else’s meal or groceries, donate unused items you no longer use, donate blood, or just buy someone some flowers.  This is a great day that reminds us that we don’t necessarily need to spend money, or exorbitant amounts of money, to be able to give back.  Take the time to clean out the rooms in your homes, garages, storage lockers, etc. and see what items you have that would benefit someone else more.

Once you decide what you want to donate, where should you go?  The following list are just a few places where you can donate all of your unused goods.

Goodwill Industries of Pittsburgh

There are Goodwill stores all over Pittsburgh and the surrounding area.  Donating your stuff is as easy as taking it to a drop-off center.  Not only do they accept clothing and home goods, but they will also accept books, computers, all types of automobiles, motorcycles, boats, etc.  All you have to do is ask if they will accept the item.

Vietnam Veterans of America

This organization makes the donation process extraordinarily easy.  They have trucks that will come and pick up your household items.  They will not pick up large furniture, however, smaller items like clothing, small appliances and furniture, etc., they will pick up.  All of your items go towards helping veterans of the Vietnam War.  Call to schedule a pick up and make sure your items are easily accessible.  You don’t even have to be home in order for them to pick up your goods.

Washington City Mission

Washington City Mission is passionate about providing clothing, shelter, and food to the homeless and those in need.  Located in Washington County, this mission is always happy to accept clothing, smaller home goods, furniture, and even automobiles.  The most in demand items however, are children’s clothing and winter coats.  There are several drop off locations to donate your stuff or you can call them to set up a home pick-up.

Free Ride!

Free Ride is committed to teaching people about bicycle repair and maintenance, and promoting bicycle use.  Located in the Point Breeze neighborhood of Pittsburgh, they accept all types of bikes, parts, and accessories.  By recycling your bikes, old parts, and accessories, you are helping to keep them from sitting in landfills.  You can donate in two ways.  When the shop is open, Free Ride accepts all donations.  However, when the shop is closed, Construction Junction (see below) will accept all donations on their behalf.

 Dress For Success

Dress For Success’ focus is to empower women to achieve success and independence by providing support networks, professional clothing, and developmental lessons.  Their vision is to create a world “where women do not live in poverty; are treated with dignity and respect; and are strengthening their families and shaping their communities.”  How can you get involved?  First, you can donate your gently- used clothing which helps boost women’s confidence and get them set up to achieve success at interviews and future jobs.  Second, you can donate your money, which is used to finance great developmental programs for women who are striving to become financially independence.  Third, volunteer your time working with these women, planning events, teaching, inventory, picking up donations, etc.

Hopeline Cell Phone Donation

Hopeline collects old cell phones, accessories, chargers, and batteries in all conditions and from any service providers.  These phones are for survivors of domestic violence.  Many survivors are unable to use their old phones and so your unused phone will go towards helping these survivors get back on their feet.  There are a few ways to help.  You can donate your own unused, old phones at any Verizon Wireless retail store.  Or, you could host a phone drive, collecting phones from everyone in your office, at your gym, from friends and friends, etc.

Construction Junction

Did you just clean out your garage or shed and find a bunch of unused building materials that are wasting away?  Well, now there is a place to take those unused items.  Also located in Point Breeze, (point of fact:  Free Ride is located within Construction Junction) Construction Junction is a retail store that is committed to providing affordable building materials for low-income families and help protect the environment.  If you have large materials, they also have a free pick up service, all you have to do is call and set up a time to have your items picked up.

Light of Life

Located right down the street from Allegheny General Hospital in the North Side, Light of Life is dedicated to providing a place for the hungry and homeless to be taken care of and learning how to turn their lives around.  They provide programs that are designed to equip those in need with the education, resources, and stability needed to gain employment and housing.  Light of Life provides a safe space for women and children escaping abuse and helps them get the counseling they need, and provides education and shelter.  They are also committed to helping people who are homeless because of mental illness.  They are always accepting clothing, food, and volunteers.

All of these organizations are committed to not only helping people in their times of greatest need, but also protecting the environment and education.  Don’t forget to celebrate National Give Something Away Day tomorrow, July 15!


Source:  https://www.tripsavvy.com/places-to-donate-items-in-pittsburgh-2707877

Crock Pot Low-Fat Beef Stew

It’s summertime but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a tasty beef stew on those rainy days that are a natural part of our Pittsburgh summer weather.  If you are looking for a healthier option than usual, check out this recipe from skinnyms.com.

Ingredients

  • 1 pound lean beef stew meat, cubed in about 1-inch pieces
  • 2 tablespoons flour for coating the beef
  • 1 cup red wine, (optional non-alcoholic wine or vegetable broth)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 medium potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 2 medium carrots, peeled and sliced
  • 2 celery stalks, coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 cup diced red peppers
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 6 sprigs of thyme, remove leaves from 4 sprigs
  • 2 cups beef broth, fat-free and low-sodium
  • 1 (14-ounce) can fire-roasted diced tomatoes

Directions

Coat the beef with the flour, then sprinkle ½ teaspoon of salt and ¼ teaspoon of black pepper.

In a saucepan over medium heat, brown the floured beef.  Once browned, pour in the wine.  Keep cooking until the sauce is slightly thickened and there is no more alcohol smell (typically about 5 minutes).  When this is done, you can transfer the beef and the sauce into the crock pot.

Start adding to the crock pot, with the sauce and beef, your minced garlic, onion, potatoes, carrots, celery, red pepper, thyme, bay leaves, broth, tomatoes, and the last ½ teaspoon of salt and pepper left.  Place the cover on top and cook on low heat for 8 hours or on high heat for 4-6 hours.

Serve with a thick, artisan bread to complete the meal, if you are so inclined.

Once done, enjoy!


Sources:  http://skinnyms.com/slow-cooker-low-fat-beef-stew-recipe/

Happy Social Media Day!

In honor of Social Media Day, we wanted to introduce to you our marketing team, the dynamic duo that creates all of the entertaining content for all of our marketing and social media outlets.

(from left to right)

Kaylee Kirsch is our fearless Marketing Manager.  A creative master, Kaylee designs all of our internal and external marketing materials and is devoted to elevating Babb’s brand recognition.  She has an M.S in Integrated Marketing Communications from West Virginia University and a B.S. in Communication, Public Relations from Slippery Rock.

Tip for social media: Things change so quickly that it’s important to stay current with trends. That being said, social media can become consuming. I always encourage people to step away from time to time.

Sami Melaragno is our Group Benefits and Marketing Assistant and Social Media Coordinator.  She works tirelessly to keep our social media accounts updated with important information and current events happening throughout the company and Pittsburgh area.  A graduate of the University of Pittsburgh with a B.S. in History and Political Science, the social media and marketing world is fairly new to her, only becoming an integral part of the team 2 years ago.

Tip for social media:  Be open, honest, and relatable.  People value authenticity and transparency from companies which are easily shown through posts that reflect what your company culture looks like, whether that’s a company picnic, an in house event, or just the day to day activities that make your company a great place to work.

#SMDay

L3 Leadership Breakfasts at Babb, Inc.

By:  Russell Livingston, President & CEO, Babb, Inc.

Once a month, on Saturday mornings, a group of aspiring and thoughtful young people get together in our ballroom here at Babb, Inc. to hear a presentation from a prominent Western Pennsylvanian leader.  The presentations have moved me to tears, made me laugh foolishly, stretched my views, and strengthened my beliefs.

Doug Smith, the founder of L3 Leadership, created this organization to create a community of like-minded individuals that want to grow and harness their leadership abilities.  For every new leader that Doug meets and talks with, he creates a podcast, interviewing them on their experiences, struggles, and what it takes to be a great and effective leader.  You can subscribe to this podcast on iTunes (L3 Leadership Podcast)

L3 Leadership has created a community of leaders through monthly breakfasts, leadership events, Master Mind groups, and service opportunities.  All of the activities can be found on their website, and on all of their social media pages.

If you haven’t experienced an L3 Leadership program or event yet, I would encourage you to give it a try.  The stories and the people are amazing.

To follow L3 Leadership

Facebook:  L3 Leadership
Twitter: @L3Leader
Instagram: @L3Leadership
LinkedIn:  L3 Leadership

Employee Spotlight: Lisa Polite

What is your role here at Babb, Inc.?

I am a Senior Account Manager in Babb’s Ft. Myers, FL office.

How did you get your start in the insurance industry?

I started as a Receptionist for a friend who owned a small Insurance Agency

What’s one of your hobbies?

When I have the time, I love to write.

What’s your favorite part of working at Babb, Inc.?  

My favorite part about working for Babb is the strong relationships I have created with the people I work with and for.

What or who is your spirit animal and why?

My spirit animal is definitely an Elephant, because of their strength & wisdom.

What was the first concert you went to? 

The very first concert I attended was The Boss aka Bruce Springsteen.

What is your favorite place in the world? 

This was a tough one, but I would have to say it is a tie between Venice, Italy and Plitvice Lakes, Croatia.  Both beautiful cities.

What is your favorite movie? TV show?  

At the moment, my favorite TV show is “This is Us” like the rest of America.  But, The Walking Dead is a very close second.  As for movies, my all-time favorite is “Goodfellas” and then “Unbroken”.

NASA Guide to Air-Filtering Houseplants

By:  Lynsey Bish

Surprisingly modern furnishings, synthetic building materials, and even your own carpet carry more chemicals than expected and can make up to 90 percent of indoor air pollution. NASA researchers Clean Air study found that plants can play a major role in effectively removing benzene, formaldehyde, trichloroethylene, ammonia, and xylene from the air. This list of chemicals have been linked to health effects like headaches and eye irritation.

So how do houseplants clean the air? Carbon dioxide and some particulates for the air are processed into oxygen though photosynthesis, but that’s not all! Microorganisms associated with the plants are present in potting soil, and responsible for much of the air purification. Beyond air purification indoor plants have shown to boost our mood. For example, patients who were placed in a recovery room after surgery with plants were more positive and had lower stress and blood pressure.[1]

For those of us who don’t really have a green thumb, I’ve selected five indoor houseplants that are almost impossible to kill.

Spider Plant

(Image from lovethegarden.com)

Spider plants are one of the easiest plants to take care of. So, if you forget about watering it for a few days, it’s okay! If you do notice that it is particularly dry, hang them in the bathroom while you’re in the shower. Spider Plants are non-toxic to pets and children. They love bright, indirect sunlight and can grow in any soil.

Pollutants removed: formaldehyde and xylene

Snake Plant/Mother-in-Law’s Tongue

This plant is one of the hardest houseplants to kill, just make sure that you water it occasionally. Although, this plant does prefer drier conditions and some sun.

Pollutants removed: formaldehyde, trichloroethylene, and benzene.

Aloe Vera

Aloe Vera is one of my personal favorite houseplants, in addition to being easy to care for; aloe has some hidden additional benefits. This plant is full of a clear liquid that is packed with vitamins, enzymes, and amino acids that have wound-healing, antibacterial, and anti-inflammatory properties.

Pollutant removed: formaldehyde

Peace Lily    

You may not think that a Peace Lily will really make a difference with air purification based on its size, but it packs a punch with some major air-cleaning abilities. They enjoy shady areas and a moist soil. Just be mindful that they do bloom throughout the summer which can contribute some pollen and floral scents.

Pollutants removed: ammonia, benzene, formaldehyde, and trichloroethylene

Garden Mum

The Garden Mum is the air-purifying champion! This plant is inexpensive and available at local garden stores. Mums love light and lots of water. They are simple to grow and to propagate. Mum’s bloom through the months when other plants are completely spent. Take advantage of this unique plant and spruce up your home or office with an array of colorful Mums.

Pollutants removed: ammonia, benzene, formaldehyde, and xylene

 


[1] Park, Seong-Hyun, and Richard H. Mattson. “Ornamental Indoor Plants in Hospital Rooms Enhanced Health Outcomes of Patients Recovering from Surgery.” The Journal of Alternativeand Complementary Medicine 15.9 (2009): 975-80. Web.