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Greater Wyoming Valley Area YMCA – Member Meet & Greet with the Greater Wyoming Valley Chamber

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The Greater Wyoming Valley Area YMCA – Wilkes-Barre, PA

Photos by The Greater Wyoming Valley Area YMCA

Over 150 years of dedication and service to the community.

The Greater Wyoming Valley Area (GWVA) YMCA’s purpose is to promote healthy lifestyles, strengthen the family unit, develop leadership in youth, and assist the community in developing. Through membership, programs, early childhood education, and special events, the Y serves more than 10,000 individuals annually.

The YMCA has had a presence in the Wilkes-Barre area since 1863, and has successfully managed to change and adapt to community needs over that time. “Partnerships have been key in sustaining the Y, most notably our partnership with Wilkes University. The upper floors of the Wilkes-Barre Family YMCA location were transformed into apartment-style living for Wilkes student housing in 2012, and the partnership has since helped to stabilize our historical building,” says Lindsay Landis, Development at the Greater Wyoming Valley Area YMCA.

Today, the Y remains a cause-driven nonprofit organization inclusive of men, women, and children joined together by a shared commitment to nurturing the potential of kids, promoting healthy living, and fostering a sense of social responsibility. The Y provides essential services for low and moderate-income individuals and families every day, as no one is turned away for an inability to pay. Most recently, the leadership at the YMCA has maintained a vision for the expansion of YMCA childcare. This initiative proved most helpful to families in need in the wake of the pandemic. In its most recently completed fiscal year, the GWVA YMCA awarded more than $790,000 in financial assistance to families using childcare alone.

We believe a strong community can only be achieved when we invest in our kids, our health, and our neighbors. We focus our work in three key areas, which are; nurturing the potential of kids, helping people live healthier, and supporting our neighbors, because they are the fundamentals to strengthening communities. For 150 years, our YMCA has remained relevant to individuals and communities as they change and evolve, while maintaining our core mission. With a mission to put Christian principles into practice through programs that build a healthy spirit, mind and body for all, our impact is felt when an individual makes a healthy choice, when a mentor inspires a child and when a community comes together for the common good.

Lindsay Landis, Financial Development, Greater Wyoming Valley Area YMCA

Photos by The Greater Wyoming Valley Area YMCA

The Road to Regionalization

In 2020, three YMCA sites decided to come together to form the new Greater Wyoming Valley Area YMCA. The organization embraced a regional approach to better connect these sites and their encompassing communities.

According to Landis, “The recent merger between the Greater Pittston YMCA, YMCA Camp Kresge, and the Wilkes-Barre Family YMCA strengthened each organization, providing organizational synergies, and cost reductions.” She continued, “It also enables the pursuit of new sites to increase revenue, which supports the mission-oriented work of the YMCA. We are now three branches, one Y.” The merger managed to create something new, something bigger and more efficient –The Greater Wyoming Valley Area YMCA. “Even the name keeps us open to continue bringing the region together in new and exciting ways. We will continue to take the good that each Y is doing, and offer it to others. With that in mind, the future is exciting for the YMCA in Northeastern PA!” says Landis.

Photos by The Greater Wyoming Valley Area YMCA

Community-Centered Programming

There are so many programs at all three of the GWVA YMCA branches that there really is something for everyone! The GWVA YMCA serves adults in chronic disease prevention, youth in Power Scholars Academy, children in early childhood education programs, families in aquatics and safety around water programs, and after-school and full-day elementary school students who were learning remotely while their schools were closed during the pandemic.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, health and wellness programming, family programming, youth and childcare, even aquatics and camp developed remote services to continue serving the community. They allowed people to come together, even when it was impossible to meet together in groups. Virtual options and system upgrades allowed for safer classes during infection mitigation efforts. It even led to greater reach outside of the immediate community for both programming and online fundraising efforts. Food programs have also expanded at the Y in response to COVID-19 and its community impacts. In addition to feeding children and youth (in house and at the Food’n Fun locations), the Y now offers free community food distributions twice monthly. They plan to continue that into the future.

Photos by The Greater Wyoming Valley Area YMCA

“The YMCA is also the top child care provider in the nation, which makes us unique,” says Landis. “We also care for people really well in all stages of life. There are very few organizations that can truly serve all ages, income levels, and abilities the way that YMCA programs do!” For Landis, “Strengthening people ultimately leads to a stronger, more caring community. By inspiring and involving people, we believe our holistic perspective ‘in spirit, mind and body’ is to be reflected in all we do.”

The Y is always looking to grow their YMCA family! As they say, “it takes a village.” And the Y needs volunteers, advocates, and support to continue serving our neighbors in this community. Give them a call at (570) 823-2191, or visit their website to get engaged with this amazing community organization!

And, don’t forget to check back here at DiscoverNEPA every month for The Greater Wyoming Valley Chamber’s Member Meet & Greet blog series. We’ll be sharing unique stories and introducing NEPA to the Chamber’s many amazing small business and nonprofit members.

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