First Posted: 7/25/2013
One Leadership Wilkes-Barre class set their sights on Greater Pittston.
The class, calling itself Greater Pittston Tomorrow, invested considerable time and effort into three projects within the past year: refurbishing the Campbell-Bainbridge Park in West Pittston that was damaged by the 2011 flooding; helping the City of Pittston acquire and refurbish a bandshell; and providing a facelift the After School Program at the Greater Pittston YMCA.
The group raised cash and in-kind donations totaling $30,000 to complete the projects.
Team captain Rob Belza of the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins organization, said all members of the group either live or work in Greater Pittston.
“It’s their family and friends that their work will benefit,” Belza said. “They’re giving back to their community.”
In September of 2011, the Susquehanna River flooded its banks in West Pittston and forever the changed the Garden Village. Greater Pittston Tomorrow set its sights on the Campbell-Bainbridge Park on Montgomery Avenue.
The park sustained severe damage to its lighting system and playground equipment.
“We renovated a blighted park that wasn’t even on the radar of the borough because they had bigger flood issues to worry about,” Belza said.
He said the group helped repair and refurbish some playground equipment, but also purchased some additional items. The lighting system was fixed thanks to in-kind donations the group organized.
The group also helped pressure washed the jungle gym, removed a dying tree, pruned existing trees, painted the equipment and benches and spread over two tons of fresh playground mulch.
“West Pittston now has park to be proud of,” Belza said.
Donations from the class and Pittston Tomato Festival Committee allowed Pittston to purchase its own stage and bandshell to be used for city events like the Pittston Tomato Festival.
In the fall of 2012, during Hurricane Sandy, the City of Wilkes-Barre’s bandshell was severely damaged and would no longer be an option to rent for any event. Pittston City decided to obtain their own.
As part of the Greater Pittston Tomorrow’s fundraising efforts, they donated $2,500 towards the final paint job and had their logo attached. Before that, the group spent many hours scraping, sanding, taping and helping prep the bandshell.
The new aluminum stage is actually a 1976 model purchased from Bucks County at a competitive auction. The price tag: $12,500, significantly less than the cost of a new one, which runs $150,000.
When not scheduled for use for city events, the 44-foot-long “Shomobile” will be rented to other towns, churches or organizations in need.
“The great thing about his is the City of Pittston now has one to call its own,” Belza said. “And it will be used all over the Greater Pittston area. It really helped Pittston because there wasn’t money in the budget to buy one.”
The group also became aware the headquarters for the Greater Pittston YMCA’s After School Program was in need of a facelift.
The program provides vital before and after school care for children of working families. It emphasizes healthy living, homework assistance, and social interaction.
But an old rubber gym flooring lined the room, a dark gray paint coated the walls, incomplete board games, outdated books, toys and even furniture plagued the room.
The Leadership group stepped up and was able to revitalize the room by installing state of the art furniture and flooring, painting the walls and replenishing the shelves with new games, books, and toys.
“We created a fresh, new environment for the children of Greater Pittston,”he said. “We hope they become members of future Leadership classes.”
The group held a cocktail party fundraiser at Brews Brothers in Jenkins Township in January. “And we reached out to businesses and people we know,” Belza said.
Members of Greater Pittston Tomorrow were Rob Belza, Tom Campenni, Matt Carmody, Matt Carpentier, Jeff Distasio, Chris Hetro, Jon Martineau, Paul Migliorino, Rob Rolland, Amanda Yakus and Chris Glembloski. Jeremy Yakus was the project advisor and Lori Nocito is executive director of Leadership Wilkes-Barre.