Meet Our 2021 Community Celebration Award Recipients!
Our 2021 Community Celebration Awards honor nonprofit organizations that are being recognized for a milestone anniversary in the Greater Wyoming Valley region. This year's recipients include: Family Service Association of Northeastern Pennsylvania, celebrating 125 years; Greater Pittston Chamber, celebrating 100 years; United Way of Wyoming Valley, celebrating 100 years; Maternal and Family Health Services, Inc., celebrating 50 years; Leadership Wilkes-Barre, celebrating 40 years; Diamond City Partnership, celebrating 20 years; and Dress For Success Luzerne County, celebrating 10 years. Read more about these amazing organizations, which have served our community for a combined 445 years, below!
Family Service Association of Northeastern Pennsylvania
So much has been accomplished by Family Service Association of Northeastern Pennsylvania (FSA) over the past 125 years, but there remains so much to do to further FSA’s mission of empowering individuals, families, seniors and families to reach their full potential to build healthier relationships and, ultimately, stronger communities.
FSA has come so very far since a group of volunteers began serving the community in 1895. These forward-thinking founders are credited with starting a non-profit that resulted in various local non-profits “being born” from its mission—Luzerne County Humane Society, Children’s Service Center, and United Way of Wyoming Valley.
Today, FSA provides the following services directly to its clients: counseling, Parent Child+, guardianship, PA 211 NE/ Help Line, and the Children’s Center of Susquehanna, and Wyoming Counties. In collaboration with Luzerne County Children and Youth Services, Luzerne County Juvenile and Adult Probation, and/or Luzerne County Courts, it provides the following additional service: Intensive Family Reunification, Family Group Decision-Making, Family Finding, High Risk Youth Re-entry, Outreach Prevention, Batterer’s Intervention, Anger Management, Turning Points and Specialized Adolescent Assessment Unit.
Just in FSA’s PA 211 NE/ Help Line service, in Fiscal Year 2020, it handled over 82,000 contacts in 17 counties by providing referrals to essential human services like food, housing, utility assistance, emergency shelters, crisis management, drug and alcohol detoxification and rehabilitation, physical health care, mental health care, and so much more. In this time of COVID-19, PA 211 NE/Help Line saw an unprecedented increase in needs of its PA 211 NE/ Help Line services.
FSA continues to grow and adapt to the needs of its clients and stakeholders. The COVID-19 pandemic tested FSA’s resiliency like never before. As an “essential “business, in very short order, FSA had to shift its work force to being partially virtual and “thinking outside of the box” to develop techniques to serve clients but keep them safe along with staff. And FSA once again rose to the challenge. FSA meaningfully and humbly serves this region because of its dedicated staff, leadership, volunteers, Trustees and Board of Directors.
Greater Pittston Chamber of Commerce
The “Center of Activity” for the Greater Pittston Business Community since 1920, The Greater Pittston Chamber of Commerce, located in the heart of the City of Pittston, is a driving force behind the economic development and business growth of the community. Their 400+ members benefit from their commitment to support small local businesses, recruit new companies to our area, develop a topnotch workforce and advocate for support via legislative and educational forums. The gentlemen who created the Greater Pittston Chamber of Commerce state, defined its original purpose as the desire for businesses to work together to advance the financial, industrial, and professional interests of the City of Pittston and its surrounding communities, by promoting integrity and good faith; just and equitable principles; and to discover and correct abuses. In essence, if we work together, treat each other well, and hold each other accountable, we can all succeed. With the passing of 100 years, as they look forward to 100 more, the current staff and leadership can all agree these gentlemen were on to something.
As the next century of service approaches, the Chamber will focus on member services, small business, workforce development, and the Pittston Chamber Women’s Network. Members can expect to see more tangible member benefits like education and advocacy events, member discounts, and a greater focus on member-to-member referrals. Workforce development continues to be a topic of conversation for all businesses; new and old; big and small alike. They will continue to encourage dialog between employers and the workforce, supporting educational programming, and developing training programs for both our current and future employees.
United Way of Wyoming Valley
On October 11th, 1921, the (then known as) Wilkes-Barre Chamber of Commerce adopted a resolution that created an entity called the Community Welfare Federation. The Community Welfare Federation was designed as a fundraising vehicle to more effectively address the growing human service needs in the Wyoming Valley and the entire community was encouraged to support this annual fundraising effort. Today, 100 years later, that fundraising vehicle is well known as the United Way of Wyoming Valley and is needed now as much as it was a century ago.
Since the community’s first campaign in 1922, more than $210 million has been raised to help the most vulnerable citizens of the Wyoming Valley. The Great Depression, wars, natural disasters, and the current pandemic have not stopped our community from caring about those in need.
Although much has changed in the past 100 years, what hasn’t changed is the United Way’s deep commitment to the community we call home. In addition to funding partner agencies, the organization has created a number of signature initiatives to address the complex issues of childhood poverty, one of the root causes of ever-increasing social service need. Last year, United Way funding reached more than 17,000 children in the Wyoming Valley. As the organization begins its second century of service, the United Way’s promise to serve the community is stronger than ever. They remind us that is no obstacle our community cannot overcome when we LIVE UNITED.
Maternal Family and Health Services, Inc.
Maternal Family and Health Services, Inc. (MFHS) is a private non-profit health and human services organization that works to meet the health and nutrition needs of Northeastern Pennsylvania’s women, children and families with information, education, and quality care. Founded in 1971, MFHS oversees and supports a network of health and nutrition centers in 16 Pennsylvania counties, serving over 90,000 women, men, and children annually.
MFHS provides accessible healthcare services through six core programs: the Reproductive Health Family Planning Program; the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC); the Healthy Beginnings Plus Prenatal and Maternity Care Program; the Nurse-Family Partnership home visitation program; Behavioral Health Integration and substance abuse screenings; and the SafeTeens reproductive health initiative.
As a non-profit healthcare agency, their main goal is to help the community thrive. Their major programs provide nutrition, healthcare, and education to anyone in need in Northeast PA. MFHS is committed to breaking down barriers to care by working closely with other non-profits and healthcare organizations, even co-locating MFHS offices with theirs.
The mission of Leadership Wilkes-Barre (LWB) is to develop informed and committed leaders from all segments of the community who will serve, strengthen, and improve Northeastern Pennsylvania. Hundreds of people connect with LWB every year through their six Leadership programs, community impact project initiatives, and active alumni network. There are multiple entry points into the organization offering varying degrees of opportunity to explore your potential, widen your sphere of influence, engage in authentic relationships with other leaders, and ultimately impact the quality of life in our region.
Leadership Wilkes-Barre’s diverse portfolio of leadership development programs engage various levels of developing professionals, from high school juniors to senior executives. These leadership programs provide established and aspiring leaders with comprehensive leadership training and unparalleled access to key people and resources necessary for inspiring and producing positive regional change. Participants learn about the assets and challenges of Northeastern Pennsylvania as well as how they can contribute to its progress.
More than 3,000 participants have graduated from Leadership Wilkes-Barre programs, and their alumni have been inspired to launch new nonprofit agencies, start businesses, and run for political offices. They serve on hundreds of boards and provide thousands of hours of volunteer service. LWB alumni are leaders who make a difference.
Diamond City Partnership
The Diamond City Partnership (DCP) is Wilkes-Barre’s non-profit downtown management organization: the custodian of our community’s vision for Downtown Wilkes-Barre. DCP’s work plan is intended to improve the economic vitality and livability of Wilkes-Barre’s central business district. To accomplish that goal, DCP manages the Downtown Wilkes-Barre Business Improvement District, which provides a range of supplementary services to downtown’s property and business owners; and oversees Downtown Wilkes-Barre’s designation as a Keystone Communities Main Street.
DCP was founded in 2001, when almost a thousand people came together to shape a new vision for our center city. Twenty years later, DCP continues to work every day to bring that vision to life. Now, DCP has developed its “Downtown Rebound” initiative: a multi-year plan to overcome the impact of the pandemic and make downtown the destination that we all know it can be. The condition of Wilkes-Barre’s central city, good or bad, sends a message to visitors, investors, prospective students, and anyone else who is being introduced to the Wyoming Valley. Downtown is the first impression people get of our home - and first impressions count.
Today, people with choices seek out distinctive places with a high quality of life. If we want to ensure that the Wyoming Valley can compete, downtown’s historic riverfront neighborhood – a walkable live-work place anchored by two college campuses – can be one of our strongest assets. And, if we work together to make it so, it will happen. So, as DCP celebrates its 20th anniversary, our stakeholders, board, and team look forward to a bright future for Downtown Wilkes-Barre.
Dress For Success Luzerne County
The idea of Dress for Success Luzerne County was born during the Great Recession of 2008 when Founder, Linda Armstrong-Loop saw the need to help women who struggled to get back into the workforce so that they could provide for their families. Linda was a Volunteer at the first Dress for Success in NYC and believed the model had a place in Wilkes-Barre. After a lot of paperwork and effort, Dress for Success Luzerne County finally served its first client – a woman named Rachel who came to the agency on December 14, 2010 via referral from United Rehabilitation Services. Seeing the pride that Rachel showed on her face told the organization that their mission was a much-needed service for the women of our community.
In June 2013, Dress for Success Luzerne County expanded to the current location at 38 W. Market Street in Wilkes-Barre and added their workforce development program called "Set for Success!" to the services they offer. During the pandemic, workshops were immediately moved to a virtual platform and continued to reach local women in need of support.
In the years since serving Rachel, Dress for Success Luzerne County has reached over 1500 women by providing career appropriate attire or by helping them acquire the skills they need to gain and sustain employment. Dress for Success Luzerne County proudly proclaims that they don’t just provide clothing – they help to change lives!
Join us for an EPIC night on June 8th to safely celebrate these organizations and all of our incredible honorees! This year's event, which is presented by Fidelity Bank, will take place at the Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza, which has 17,000 square feet of socially distant space for attendees to safely enjoy an exciting program, featuring live entertainment during the awards from a variety of local talent. After the program, join us outdoors for even more live entertainment, from Bret Alexander & Friends, refreshments, and activities at our after-party. Limited tickets are available, so reserve your spot today! We also have a virtual ticket option for those who would like to tune into the fun from the comfort of their homes or offices. Click here to register and get more information!