Welcome to the Greater Scranton YMCA’s blog! 
 
Here, you’ll find stories of impact from our members and staff, posts taking a deeper dive into our programs and services and more.
 
Every day, the Greater Scranton YMCA makes a lasting impact on the lives of those it serves. From child care to chronic disease prevention and management programming, the Greater Scranton YMCA strengthens the foundation of our community.   
 
WE WANT TO HEAR FROM YOU! Are you happy and healthier? Has your child learned a new skill? Do you have a new group of friends? Your experiences inspire us and what we do! To submit your Y story, or to suggest content for additional blog posts, contact Meghan Carnevale, Mission Advancement & Marketing Director, at (570) 828-3113 or mcarnevale@greaterscrantonymca.org.
Meet Leigh Miller -Posted: Jul 31 2020
We are so excited to introduce you to Leigh Miller, Education Director at the Greater Scranton YMCA!
 
Leigh has been with the Greater Scranton YMCA for just one week! Previous to her work at the Greater Scranton YMCA, Leigh served for more than four years as the Pre-K Counts Director at the Forks Education Center in the Easton/Phillipsburg Branch of the Greater Valley YMCA and previous to that, she spent more than five years at child care centers in Allentown and Nazareth and more than three years as an instructional aid in special education.
 
Being so new at the Greater Scranton YMCA, what excites Leigh most is the Early Learning Center’s potential. “I love the connections I get to make with not only the children here, but also the families,” she said. “We have a chance to make a difference in the lives of so many children in the Greater Scranton area and I look forward to that.”
 
The fall festivals at Leigh’s previous Y are some of her favorite Y memories. “Mostly that was because it gave me a chance to run around in my dinosaur costume,” she said. “I will do almost anything for the entertainment of the children.”

 

 
The children and families she serves in her position are what motivates Leigh most. “I want to see them all succeed and it brings me joy when it happens,” she said. “I am lucky enough to still have contact with some of my original toddlers and seeing them graduate high school makes me feel fantastic.”
 
Leigh has been residing in Northeastern Pennsylvania for the past 11 years and enjoys the state’s beautiful scenery. She is a die-hard New York Yankees fan and in her spare time, she enjoys either painting for her friends’ children or building and refinishing furniture. She has three cats all with food names, Peanut, Jelly and Kit-Kat. She cherishes every moment she gets to spend with her 98-year-old grandmother and is close with her brother, as well.
 

Welcome to the Greater Scranton YMCA, Leigh! 

 

Meet Robert Duliba -Posted: Jul 24 2020

 

We are so excited to introduce you to Robert Duliba, Senior Director of Membership Services at the Greater Scranton and Wilkes-Barre Family YMCAs!
 
Robert has been with the Greater Scranton YMCA for three and a half years and with the YMCA movement for seven and a half years. Previous to his work at the Greater Scranton YMCA, Robert served in numerous roles at the Greater Pittston YMCA.
 
In his current position, Robert most enjoys sharing the Y with everyone and letting them know the amazing things we do for our community. “My title is unique in the fact that I get to interact with everyone that enters through our doors,” he said.
 
Robert was born and raised in Northeastern Pennsylvania.

He went to high school at Wyoming Area and went on to graduate from the University of Scranton where he majored in Communications/Public Relations. In his spare time, Robert enjoys spending time with family and friends and likes keeping himself busy, working on projects and hobbies. He currently resides in NEPA with his wonderful partner Stephen and their amazing dog, Milo. “This area has everything,” he said. “It’s a loving community and so tight-knit where neighbors are truly neighbors and support one another.”

 
Ensuring the Y is accessible for all is Robert’s favorite Y memory. “Overseeing our financial assistance program has been one of the greatest joys of my job,” he said. “Hearing how the Y has helped families and individuals over the years reminds me of the importance of the Y’s mission in our community.”
 

As for what motivates Robert, it’s continuing to learn. “Just because you don’t know how to do something, doesn’t mean you can’t; always go out and make yourself better!” 

Meet Brandon Whipple -Posted: Jul 17 2020
We are so excited to introduce you to Brandon Whipple, Health & Wellness Director at the Greater Scranton YMCA!
 
Brandon has been with the Greater Scranton YMCA for three years and with the YMCA movement for ten years. Previous to his work at the Greater Scranton YMCA, Brandon worked at three YMCAs, one on the West Coast. During his professional career, Brandon took a short break from the Y and accepted a position as a regional fitness manager responsible for six clubs in Phoenix and Scottsdale, Arizona, before moving back to Pennsylvania to be closer to family. It didn’t take him long to find his way back to the Y, where he plans to finish his career.
 
In his current position, Brandon enjoys the daily interactions with the members most. “You really get to know the community and develop a sense of friendship with everyone who walks through those front doors,” he said.
 
Attending the YMCA General Assembly in Anaheim, California is one of Brandon’s favorite YMCA memories. “Seeing all the Y’s from around the country gather and meeting staff from other Ys was truly an awesome learning experience and a great reminder why we do what we do.”
 

Brandon resides in Exeter, Pennsylvania with his fiancé and their French Bulldog and Boston Terrier. He is an avid hunter and fisherman and enjoys hiking, working out and traveling. He tries to see at least one new country every year. What Brandon likes most about Northeastern Pennsylvania is how tight knit the local communities making up the region are. “The ‘mom and pop’ feel is very well and alive here. Oh, and the PIZZA,” he said.   

 

Meet Wayne Stump -Posted: Jul 10 2020

 

We are so excited to introduce you to Wayne Stump, Branch Executive Director at the Greater Scranton YMCA!
 
Wayne has been with the Greater Scranton YMCA for one year and four months. Previous to his work at the Greater Scranton YMCA, Wayne served as the Executive Director at the Sunbury YMCA and prior to that, the Chief Executive Officer at the Schuylkill YMCA. He has been working for the YMCA movement for more than 25 years. His Y work had him working in Clearfield County, PA; Bethlehem, PA; Virginia Beach, VA and the Catskills of NY.
 
Wayne was born and raised in Northeastern Pennsylvania. When he had the opportunity to come back home, he was thrilled. “I really enjoy the supportive communities that make up NEPA and its rich history of hard work and helping neighbors,” he said. “I enjoy the outdoors and there is no better place than Northeastern Pennsylvania.”
 
In his current role at the Greater Scranton YMCA, Wayne enjoys being involved in the day to day operations because it allows him to be a part of every aspect of the Y, from the facility to programming to our members.

 
As for his favorite Y memory, after 25 years with the organization, he has many. “My earliest one was when I had the opportunity to take a group of inner-city kids on an overnight camping trip to the Shenandoah National Park,” he said. “This was the first time any of them slept under the stars. My most recent memory was when I was able to take the Schuylkill County YMCA from a non-facility Y to a full facility after there had been no YMCA in the county for over 40 years.”
 
As for what motivates Wayne, it’s all about doing good. “Doing good things that make people feel good and in turn do good,” he said.
 

Wayne resides in Northeastern Pennsylvania with his wife, Rosemarie, and their dogs, Stewie and Archer. He is the proud stepfather to stepson, Robert. In his spare time, Wayne enjoys hunting, fishing, cooking, playing golf with his wife, spending time on his boat and any opportunity to be with friends and family. 

Meet Ken Brewster -Posted: Jul 03 2020
 
We are so excited to introduce you to Ken Brewster, Aquatics Director at the Greater Scranton YMCA!
 
Ken has been with the Greater Scranton YMCA for one year. Previous to his work at the Y, some roles Ken served in include an Operations Supervisor at Six Flags White Water, the Aquatics Training Manager with Great Wolf Lodge Resorts and the Special Facilities Manager at the Sailfish Splash Aquatic Centre.
 
Ken has worked in aquatics for more than 15 years and is a firm believer in a “water safety for all” approach. “No matter what your background is, there is a place for you at our pool,” he said.
 
Ken resides in Northeastern Pennsylvania with his with beautiful wife, Selina, and four children, Aidan, 12; Elle, 11; Ava, 7; and Kenrick, 2. What Ken likes most about NEPA is the sense of community and that there is always something to do for families. In his spare time, he enjoys reading, working out, kayaking and collecting watches.

  

 
In his current position, Ken loves his day to day interactions with Y members and serving in a role where he gets to help develop the children in our region. As for his favorite YMCA memory, he would have to say teaching swim lessons. “There's something about watching young kids develop into accomplished swimmers that never gets old,” he said.
 

Helping people of all ages reach their full potential is what motivates Ken. “Whether it is a young person's first job as a lifeguard or a senior just trying to stay active, being part of their journey is a privilege that I take so much joy in.” 

 

World's largest Swimming Lesson -Posted: Jun 25 2020

 

 

GREATER SCRANTON YMCA TO PARTICIPATE IN THE 11TH ANNUAL WORLD’S LARGEST SWIMMING LESSON 
 
On July 16th, 2020, the Greater Scranton YMCA will participate in the 11th Annual World’s Largest Swimming Lesson, an event designed to build awareness and generate local and national press attention about the vital importance of teaching kids to swim to help prevent drowning. 
 
Participation in formal swimming lessons can reduce the risk of drowning among children ages 1-4 by up to 88 percent. Learning to swim is a life-saving skill that every person should learn no matter their age. Through participating in the World’s Largest Swimming Lesson, the Greater Scranton YMCA hopes to do its part in putting an end to drowning, the leading cause of accidental death for kids ages 1-4 worldwide, by spreading the word Swimming Lessons Save Lives™.

 
The Greater Scranton YMCA will hold the event on July 16th from 4:30-5:00 p.m. at its facility located at 706 N. Blakely Street, Dunmore, PA 18512. To ensure for proper social distancing, the program is limited to the first 25 children who register. The program is free and open to Greater Scranton YMCA members and non-members ages 3-11. Registration will open on Wednesday, July 1st. To register, visit www.greaterscrantonymca.org.
 

For more information, contact Ken Brewster, Aquatics Director, Greater Scranton YMCA, at (570) 828-3112 or kbrewster@greaterscrantonymca.org

Combating the Achievement Gap -Posted: Jun 22 2020
Summer Learning Loss Prevention at the Greater Scranton YMCA
 
The Greater Scranton YMCA understands that perhaps now more than ever, continuing educational programs during the summer months is crucial in getting children ready for their next school year. For that reason, we are proud to still be able to offer the Summer Learning Loss Prevention Program this summer for elementary students in the Mid Valley and Dunmore School Districts, as well as the QUEST Program for participants in our summer day camp program.
 
QUEST - As staying mentally engaged during the three-month summer educational gap is crucial to the continued academic development of students, QUEST was created to help bridge the gap between the end of one school year and the beginning of the next. Certified teachers cover science, math, reading comprehension and more through hands-on projects and activities. The program is offered to Summer Day Camp participants in kindergarten through eighth grades and is integrated into their daily curriculum.

 
Summer Learning Loss Prevention, “Summer Scholars” - Summer Scholars, a YMCA of the USA Signature Achievement Gap Program, is a free research-based and proven six-week summer program offered to rising first, second and third graders at the Mid Valley & Dunmore School Districts. The program is a collaborative effort between the school districts and the Greater Scranton YMCA. Summer Scholars’ goal is to get participants on track to read at or above grade level by the start of their next school year. Participants’ days consist of 2.5 hours of literacy in the morning followed by lunch and enrichment in the afternoon. Breakfast, snack and lunch are provided.
 
Program Benefits:
·         Participants will have the opportunity to meet and, in some cases, exceed grade level expectations come the beginning of their next school year.
·         Programs are instructed by certified teachers.
·         Increased social engagement & academic opportunities.
·         Innovative curriculums
 
The Greater Scranton YMCA is an approved Educational Improvement Organization (EIO) for QUEST and Summer Scholars through the Educational Improvement Tax Credit (EITC) Program. This program allows businesses in Pennsylvania that make a donation to an approved Educational    Improvement Organization such as the Greater Scranton YMCA to receive tax credits. The EITC program allows the business community to get more involved in children’s education by redirecting their tax dollars to support local non-profit educational improvement organizations instead of sending those dollars to Harrisburg.
 

For more information on QUEST or Summer Scholars, visit www.greaterscrantonymca.org

GSY Camp Safety -Posted: Jun 14 2020
 

welcome to camp

 

 
Summer  Camps Are Open, But Are They Safe?  
Five  Questions to Ask  Before Drop-Off 

After a long spring cooped up indoors, kids across the country (and especially their parents and caregivers) have never been more excited for the start of camp season.
 
But, summer 2020 is unlike any we’ve experienced before. Many Y camps have shifted to virtual programming, while others are ready to re-open their facilities and outdoor spaces in accordance with local regulations. If you’re a parent, your desireto provide this critically important youth development opportunity is likely tempered by concern for your children’s health and safety.
 
The Greater Scranton YMCA fully understands your fears.
  
That’s why – at every location in every state – we have modified our camp plans to ensure a safe and still fun experience for every child.
 
Camp will look different this year. So, it’s important to make sure you and your children are well prepared to dive into summer 2020.
  
Here are five questions to ask your camp provider before dropping off your campers:


 

1. How are you preparing staff to properly maintain a safe environment?Knowing what goes into the making of a healthy and fun-filled summer will help answer a lot ofyour questions and provide some reassurance.
    
2. What are the cleaning protocols? How often will items and surfaces be sanitized and what methods will be used?Camp staffwill be hard at work maintaining cleaning standards and campers may be asked to pitch in, too. Help get kids on board by practicing hand washing and other safety measures at home.
  
3. How will activities be modified to follow CDC and local agency requirements?Letting campers know (before the camp fun begins!) that their group or class sizes and activity rules may look different this summer will help counselors keep important safety measures in place.  How many kids are in my child’s camp class?
 
4. What screening procedures are in place?Protocols such as temperature-checks or self-monitoring may be required at camp. Preparing for these new steps before camp starts will allow for an easy-breezy check-in process.
   
5. What is the policy surrounding campers or staff who show signs of illness or fever?Learning and following your camp’s procedures in response toa positive or suspected case will help prevent the additional spread of illnessthroughout the camp community and beyond.
   
The Greater Scranton YMCA has spent the last several weeks preparing to deliver a safe summer camp experiencebased on guidance from the CDC and the American Camping Association to ensure kids can be outside, safely connect with each other, and have a fun summer to remember. 
 
Learn more at www.greaterscrantonymca.org or contact Karen Clause at kclause@greaterscrantonymca.org.  
 

 

Early Childhood Education at the Greater Scranton YMCA -Posted: Jun 11 2020

 

The Greater Scranton YMCA offers amazing learning experiences in its Early Learning Center.
 
The center features a toddler program for children ages 1-2 and a full day preschool program for children ages 3-6, both of which are aligned with Pennsylvania Learning Standards. Children in our play-centered toddler program are guided through development in learning areas including speech and language development, social and emotional growth, physical and motor activities and creative expression.
 
Children begin preschool at three years of age. Our preschool program is child-centered using the Creative Curriculum with learning areas in creative arts, language and literacy, mathematics, social & emotional development, large motor activities (including swim lessons), science and social studies. Learning activities and group lessons are repeated to provide optimal experiences for all children including those that attend part time.
 
“Y the Y? It was an easy decision as to where we would send our daughter to preschool because

we were already familiar with what some of the other kids' programs the YMCA had to offer and were impressed with them. We wanted a preschool that was fun, interesting and diverse & the YMCA definitely provided all that and more. Our daughter is a happy, confident and very curious little 5-year-old that is more than ready for kindergarten because the Y reinforced the goals and values that we found important for our child - such as respect, honesty, responsibility and commitment. Of course, she learned the educational basics, but the cherry on top was learning how to swim with no bubble!” – Early Learning Center Parent

 
For more information on the Greater Scranton YMCA’s Early Learning Center, visit www.greaterscrantonymca.org or contact Janine Shaffer, Education Director, at (570) 346-5003 or jshaffer@greaterscrantonymca.org.

    

Greater Scranton YMCA participates in #NEPAGIVES -Posted: Jun 03 2020
 
The Greater Scranton YMCA is proud to join additional non-profits from across our region for NEPA Gives, a one-day online giving event that’s all about giving back to the community.
 
For 24-hours – from 12:00 a.m. to 11:59 p.m. – this Friday, June 5th, 2020, donors may make secure donations to their favorite nonprofit organizations, like the Greater Scranton YMCA, through the NEPA Gives online platform. Donations to participating nonprofits will be enhanced with bonus funds provided by NEPA Gives sponsors – making donor dollars stretch further (learn more here: https://www.nepagives.org/prizes)
 
 
 
The Scranton Area Community Foundation, The Luzerne Foundation, Greater Pike Community Foundation, Wayne County Community Foundation and the Northeastern Pennsylvania Nonprofit & Community Assistance Center (NCAC) have teamed up to host NEPA Gives.
 

“The Greater Scranton YMCA is so grateful to the NEPA Gives sponsors for organizing this giving day, which is all focused on giving back to our community” said Trish Fisher, President & CEO, Greater Scranton YMCA. “I am continually in awe of our region’s ability to come together, especially during times of need, to serve those organizations and members of our community who are most in need,”

 
The Greater Scranton YMCA is a non-profit, charitable organization turning no one away for an inability to pay. In our most recently completed fiscal year, we awarded $373,440 in financial assistance to children, adults and families from across our community who were in need. As we project the need for financial assistance to grow in the coming months, we are relying now more than ever on the support of our community.
 

To learn more and/or support the Greater Scranton YMCA’s NEPA Gives efforts, visit the Greater Scranton YMCA's Giving Page

 

"We Don’t Know What We’d Do if This Place Wasn't here" -Posted: May 28 2020

 

If you visit the Greater Scranton YMCA during any morning throughout the week, there is a very good chance you’ll run in to Rich Heim. Don’t know Rich? Well, he’ll be sure to introduce himself during your next run in. Rich is the one that always has a smile on his face; the guy so excited to greet his Y friends each morning with a “What’s up buddy?” and so eager to meet every new face he sees with a handshake and a welcoming remark.

 
And right next to Rich, who benefits from the services provided by St. Joseph’s Center, you’ll see Gretchen Kohut. Gretchen, Rich’s self-proclaimed sister, is Rich’s Independent Living Coach. The pair have been working together for years and are a package deal at the Greater Scranton YMCA. Rich’s life has changed tremendously since he was introduced to the services provided by the Y and that’s due in large part to Gretchen’s dedication to his continued success.

Healthy eating and a motivation to lose weight were the main reasons Rich first joined the Greater Scranton YMCA’s Road to Wellness Program three years ago. Since his completion in the program, he’s never looked back. Having completed a 5K race and countless numbers of spin classes over the past three years, Rich continues to amaze all those who are cheering for him. For Rich, though, it’s the social aspects of the Y that are just as important as the physical ones. If someone compliments Rich on his exercise, it makes his whole day.
 

There is “nothing Like the Y,” said Rich. “You guys are my big family. We don’t know what we’d do if the place wasn’t here.” 

Rich is eternally grateful to those who donate to the Greater Scranton YMCA’s Annual Support Campaign, for it’s through that funding that Rich is able to benefit from a membership to the Y. “Thank you for all those who sponsor me and others like me to allow me to benefit from the Y and get out in the community.”

 

"They Want the Kids to be Everything They Can Be" -Posted: May 24 2020

 

My son has been attending the Early Learning Center at the Greater Scranton YMCA for about two years. One thing that stands out about the Early Learning Center is how much the staff genuinely cares; they want the kids to be everything they can be and more, getting to know each child as an individual so they can work with them to help them grow and flourish in a way suiting their needs and learning style. This experience would not be possible without assistance from the United Way. With cost-of-living ever on the rise, it eases the mind to know programs like the United Way are there to help support working families to keep moving forward and focus on what matters.

 
My daughter has been attending the Early Learning Center for a few months now, and I have already seen the impact in how she interacts with peers and her family, and with how quickly she is picking up new words and concepts. I can’t wait to see how she grows through her time at the Greater Scranton YMCA’s Early Learning Center, and want to thank the United Way – we wouldn’t be able to do it without them!
- Early Learning Center Mom 

“He Runs into the Building Smiling” -Posted: May 04 2020

  

For the past year, our son has been a student in the Early Learning Center at the Greater Scranton YMCA. While enrolled in this program, I was amazed at the love and care he received and also by how much he grew (physically and emotionally) and how much he learned! The growing cost of everyday life has made it difficult for me to remain a stay at home mom, but the financial setback of daycare tuition made it an even tougher choice. Without the financial assistance the YMCA has offered, I would have never been able to return to work and my son would have missed out on this great opportunity. When I dropped my son off for his first day, it was really hard on both of us. Now he runs into the building smiling and loves his new routine.
- Early Learning Center Mom