Leadership Wyoming team members (above, front, from left) Kelly Langan, Diana Petlock, Bonnie Nemergut, Michael Gomez, Alisa Shaffer, (back) Brad Georgetti, Kimberly DeLeo, Rick Hiduk, Justin Kostelansky, Matt Swartwood, and Ben Zeidner prepare to serve a meal at Seven Loaves Food Kitchen in Tunkhannock after performing some light tasks behind the scenes as part of Community & Human Services Day on March 21.
The monthly work day for Leadership Wyoming team members in March focused on community and human services, starting with presentations by leaders of numerous non-profit agencies and ending with serving and breaking bread with guests of the Seven Loaves Soup Kitchen in Tunkhannock. Participants were genuinely surprised at the plethora of resources available for those in need in Wyoming County and expressed admiration for the committed employees and volunteers helping to improve the lives of area residents.
“To me, it was the most personal day that we’d experienced,” said Bonnie Nemergut (below, left) of Penn East FCU. “More people than we realize use these services.”
Team members were particularly impressed by the range of services offered by the Victims Resource Center as described by VRC manager of community services Tammi Burke, and Interfaith of Wyoming County, as presented by executive director Mary Foley.
“I hadn’t realized that VRC offers assistance to victims of any crime, including robbery, fraud, identity theft, sexual assault and anything else that could victimize a person,” Camp Kelly director Kelly Langan (above, right) remarked.
“I could really feel the passion that they both have for the work that they do for our community. It was contagious,” noted Diana Petlock, human resources coordinator at Tyler Memorial Hospital.
As an employee of Southwestern Energy, team member Ben Zeidner was aware that his company was a supporter of the United Way of Wyoming County, “However, I never knew exactly where the proceeds were being used.” United Way executive director Kristen Huff helped him fill in the blanks. “It was a nice surprise to find out that the United Way of Wyoming County helps multiple community and human services centers of non-profit organizations, all of which help people in the community in various ways,” said Zeidner (below).
Field trips are a hallmark of each monthly Leadership Wyoming meeting, and team members were eager to visit Mehoopany Elementary School and learn from HANDS of Wyoming County executive director Cathy Franko how the agency intends to utilize space available to them in the building after the elementary staff and students move to the Tunkhannock Area Primary Center as part of a consolidation effort.
“I had some prior knowledge of the services HANDS provided, but seeing their location and hearing about their vision for the future was really exciting,” Petlock offered.
“I was glad to see the Mehoopany building will continue to be utilized for kids and how enthusiastic the HANDS staff were about their vision,” Nemergut concurred.
The highlight of the day for most of the Leadership teammates was the time spent at Seven Loaves, where they cleaned store-rooms and hallways, sorted and folded laundry, served meals, and got to know the clients as they sat down to eat dinner with them. Alisa Shaffer (above), an assistant to Atty. Jami Layaou Hearn, was especially proud to participate with her fellow Leadership associates, as Shaffer’s grandparents were the founders of the soup kitchen.
“It has always been a big part of my family,” she related. It was an “insightful experience,” Shaffer added, to see her Leadership friends working with and getting to know both the core volunteers and the guests.
“I will definitely volunteer there again,” Petlock (below) stated.
Additional presenters on Community & Human Services Day included Mike Hopkins of the Children’s Service Center and Robinson Counseling Center, and Donna Kletsko of the CEO People Helping People Food Bank.
“My biggest takeaway from the day was that there are so many services available to our community that we have never heard of,” Langan commented. “I was grateful for the opportunity to learn about them.”
“Community and Human Services Day is a key component of the leadership Wyoming Program, allowing class participants insight to non-profits that need leaders to join their board of directors, as well as volunteer for events,” said Gina Suydam, president of the Wyoming County Chamber of Commerce, which conducts the Leadership program. “I encourage our participants to stay in touch with these organizations and help as their time allows.”