My Corner, Your Corner: Let’s keep the tradition of community service alive in Greater Pittston

My Corner, Your Corner - Tony Callaio | March 11th, 2016 9:31 pm

I had the opportunity to cover the Greater Pittston Chamber of Commerce Women’s Network’s St. Patrick’s Day celebration Tuesday evening at Fox Hill Country Club. I’ve covered this event before and it’s a lot of fun. Well, any time the Women’s Network convenes for something, it’s fun. Maybe that’s why there are over 500 members in the organization.

It was a sea of green and the banquet hall was filled to capacity and everyone looked lovely as always. The appletini fountain was flowing green during the reception to everyone’s delight. Cheryl Devers, Fox Hill banquet manager, told me she mixed the beverage herself and it’s always a favorite.

Brandi Bartush and Michelle Mikitish from the chamber did an excellent job of coordinating the event. Cheryl’s team at Fox Hill were outstanding as usual and I’m told the food was perfectly prepared.

Because I’ve covered so many Women’s Network events in the past, Brandi and former chamber executive director, Rosemary Dessoye, always told me I was an honorary member of the network. Usually I’m the only male in a room full of ladies. A difficult job, but someone has to do it.

This year, the network chose Edythe Kepics and Ellen Mondlak as the recipients of the Distinguished Woman Award. These two ladies exemplify the true meaning of volunteerism.

Maria Capolarella-Montante introduced the two honorees listing all of their accomplishments while putting on her own personal spin with her relationships with both women only as Maria can do.

Edythe has volunteered for such organizations as the West Pittston Cemetery Association, Friends of the West Pittston Library, the Red Hats organization, West Pittston Women’s Club, Wilkes-Barre General Hospital Auxiliary, and the Women’s Network.

During the flood of 2011, Edythe was found volunteering at mealtime for flood victims and workers at both the First United Methodist and Immaculate Conception Churches.

Ellen was involved with the Jenkins Township Zoning Board, the Jenkins Township Crime Watch and the Luzerne County Crime Watch, the Pittston Ambulance Board, and her first love, the Pittston Memorial Library Board. Ellen even dabbled a bit in the political world.

As I looked around the room that evening of all 214 in attendance, I realized that a great majority of the women volunteer in some capacity in their towns and boroughs.

Then another realization hit me — is volunteering a lost art? Are the young men and women in high school and college today going to fill the shoes of the women at the event at Fox Hill? Will another Edythe or Ellen come around to take over where they leave off?

I’d like to think so, but I wonder if technology will affect hands-on efforts. Only time will tell.

My daughter Tiffany is heavily involved in Kiwanis, which is a world-wide organization through which members volunteer more than 18.5 million hours of service annually, according to their website. Man, that’s a lot of hours. The website also says Kiwanis members provide more than $426 million of impact through service.

Locally, the Kiwanis Club of Wyoming Area was chartered in 1994 with a membership of 52. They are always looking for members. Recently, Julianna Stella, a 2014 graduate of Wyoming Area, became a member. It’s refreshing to see someone as young as Julianna join. She was a member of Key Club in high school.

I never realized that Key Club was a part of the Kiwanis International umbrella. There are several divisions, K-Kids (elementary school kids), Builders Club (middle school students), Key Club (high school), Circle K (college) and lastly, Kiwanis.

Wyoming Area Kiwanis duties include hosting movie night, assisting Key Club, cleaning parks, cooking meals for Ronald McDonald House bi-monthly, highway cleanup, Breakfast with Santa, the U.S. flag replacement program, reading to kids at the CDC Daycare Center in West Pittston, and providing scholarships to Wyoming Area graduates.

Three members of the Wyoming Area Kiwanis hold statewide positions. Tiffany is the Builders Club district administrator, Bob Orlando is the Key Club district administrator, Kelly Shaup, Circle K administrator, and Mike Coolbaugh is a trustee, one of seven in Pennsylvania. That’s pretty impressive considering how many Kiwanis Clubs are in the state.

This August, Kiwanis Club of Wyoming Area is hosting the state convention in Scranton.

Quote of the week

“Sit down to write what you have thought, and not to think about what you shall write.” – William Cobbett, English journalist.

Thought of the week

“Cats are connoisseurs of comfort.” – James Harriot, Scottish veterinarian.

Bumper sticker

“None, but people of strong passion are capable of rising to greatness.” – Comte de Mirabeau, French writer.

My Corner, Your Corner

Tony Callaio

Tony Callaio’s column My Corner, Your Corner runs weekly in the Sunday Dispatch. He can be reached at