Greater Pittston YMCA first opened its doors in 1883

By Tony Callaio - For Sunday Dispatch
Emily Azocar, left, membership director and Leslie Widdick, executive director of the Pittston YMCA. - Tony Callaio | For Sunday Dispatch
The swimming pool at the Greater Pittston YMCA is always a busy place. - Tony Callaio | For Sunday Dispatch
This is just one of the several Silver Sneakers programs offered at the YMCA. - Tony Callaio | For Sunday Dispatch
Head teacher Marta Anderson Jones, far left, sits in on a pre-school class with teaching aide Zosia Burke on the far right. - - Tony Callaio | For Sunday Dispatch
In addition to treadmills and rowing machines, the YMCA offers a weight facility. - - Tony Callaio | For Sunday Dispatch

PITTSTON — If you take a poll in the Greater Pittston area asking, “How long do you think the Greater Pittston YMCA has been in existence?” nobody would ever guess 135 years. But it’s true. The YMCA opened its doors in 1883.

In fact, many would think the YMCA has only been around since 1983 when the organization moved to its current location on Main Street.

The YMCA has been many things to many people over the last century, including offering housing to young men in the 1860s to teaching swimming from 1909 and taking part in the first Health Kids Day in 1992.

The building that housed the original YMCA was at the corner of Broad and Church Streets where St. John the Evangelist’s parking lot is how stands.

A longtime YMCA administrator, instructor and friend to all, the late Jack Evans once said he probably taught just about everyone in Pittston how to swim. Of course, he was being facetious but, if one had taken a head count, he just might have been right.

In addition to a swimming pool, the Broad Street building housed a basketball court with an overhead running track equipped with a fireman’s pole and a handball court.

When an arsonist’s hand touched the YMCA on Broad Street in the early 80s, a new location was sought and the Main Street site was chosen.

The current YMCA houses a pool, gym, fitness center, aerobics studio, sauna/steam rooms, daycare and playground.

Pittston Twp. native and resident Leslie Widdick has been the executive director for the past two years and is always looking for ways to improve programs and activities. One decision her administration made was making guest fees a flat rate of $5, lowering the rate in most cases. Guests are allowed to visit the facility as many times as they wish.

“We used to have daily rates for different people and most of our daily fees are from kids. That’s why we lowered the guest rate to $5 across the board,” said membership director Emily Azocar.

“There’s definitely been an increase in membership; we’re not where we want to be,” Widdick said. “Even if it’s only five new people in a month and the following month, 10 people are seeing what we have to offer.”

Widdick went on to say new members get to see what the YMCA has to offer. “We just don’t have aerobics classes; we are not just treadmills and weights.”

Daniel Luvender, chief volunteer officer, focuses on youth development, healthy living and social responsibility. Where the YMCA was a one-time male focused agency, its doors are now open to all.

You can find group exercise programs or personal training with Candy Lombardo, CPTA Lucas Jurchak and personal trainers. For questions about training, you can reach Candy at candy.lombardo@baml.com.

The “Y” offers American Red Cross Lifeguard courses and certification programs as well as swimming lessons.

Brandon Hampton, YMCA Family & Youth director, oversees the Child Care and Child Watch programs that includes pre-school and after-school programs. Daycare has been discontinued. You can reach Brandon at 570-655-2255, ext. 103 for information about those programs mentioned.

The Pittston YMCA offers five birthday party packages. Call the Member Services desk at 570-655-2255, ext. 107 for pricing and availability.

Emily Richters, MS RDN LDN, a Registered Dietician, is on hand to help anyone seeking a healthier lifestyle. Schedule an appointment at the Member Services desk or reach out to Emily at nutrition@thegreaterpittstonymca.org to schedule personal counseling with several packages to choose from.

The YMCA hosts many special programs for the community all-year round such as Mardi Gras Aqua Aerobics Party, Egg Dip for Easter, Halloween Party, Santa Swim, and the Jack-O-Lantern Jog, a three-mile job that utilizes trails in Pittston. You can follow the Pittston YMCA on Facebook at www.facebook.com/greaterpittstonymca/ or go to www.greaterpittstonymca.org.

Emily Azocar, left, membership director and Leslie Widdick, executive director of the Pittston YMCA.
https://www.psdispatch.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/web1_YMCA1.jpgEmily Azocar, left, membership director and Leslie Widdick, executive director of the Pittston YMCA. Tony Callaio | For Sunday Dispatch

The swimming pool at the Greater Pittston YMCA is always a busy place.
https://www.psdispatch.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/web1_YMCA2.jpgThe swimming pool at the Greater Pittston YMCA is always a busy place. Tony Callaio | For Sunday Dispatch

This is just one of the several Silver Sneakers programs offered at the YMCA.
https://www.psdispatch.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/web1_YMCA3.jpgThis is just one of the several Silver Sneakers programs offered at the YMCA. Tony Callaio | For Sunday Dispatch

Head teacher Marta Anderson Jones, far left, sits in on a pre-school class with teaching aide Zosia Burke on the far right.
https://www.psdispatch.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/web1_YMCA4.jpgHead teacher Marta Anderson Jones, far left, sits in on a pre-school class with teaching aide Zosia Burke on the far right. Tony Callaio | For Sunday Dispatch

In addition to treadmills and rowing machines, the YMCA offers a weight facility.
https://www.psdispatch.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/web1_YMCA5.jpgIn addition to treadmills and rowing machines, the YMCA offers a weight facility. Tony Callaio | For Sunday Dispatch

By Tony Callaio

For Sunday Dispatch

GREATER PITTSTON YMCA STAFF

Executive director

Leslie Widdick, lwiddick@greaterpittstonymca.org

Aquatic director

Susan Vosik Pekala, svpekala@greaterpittstonymca.org

Finance officer

Barbara Varaska, finance@greaterpittstonymca.org

Health & Wellness director

Michaelene Mecadon, mmecadon@greaterpittstonymca.org

Property manager

Scott Fisher, sfisher@greaterpittstonymca.org

Membership director

Emily Azocar, eazocar@greaterpittstonymca.org

Family & Youth director

Brandon Hampton, bhampton@greaterpittstonymca.org

Assistant Family & Youth director

Jennifer Borton, jborton@greaterpittstonymca.org

Reach the Sunday Dispatch newsroom at 570-655-1418 or by email at sd@psdispatch.com.

Reach the Sunday Dispatch newsroom at 570-655-1418 or by email at sd@psdispatch.com.