Home Truck Store Building a stronger Y | Times Leader

Building a stronger Y | Times Leader

The YMCA has infant care at the Wilkes-Barre location.

Bill O’Boyle | Times Leader

WILKES-BARRE — Jim Thomas, chief executive officer for the new Greater Wyoming Valley Area YMCA, said it best — the partnership will bring the best programming from each Y to both communities.

By the unanimous votes of the Boards of Directors and Trustees of the Wilkes-Barre YMCA and the Greater Pittston YMCA, the two organizations have been merged into one.

What will the impact be on members and the community? Leadership from both of the entities say there are no negatives — all positives.

“The Y again is adapting to the needs of the community,” Thomas said. “This past week both Ys continued to serve their children in daycare and nursery school, in addition to offering an Achieve Program for children that are going to school virtually or cyber school. Our Ys partnered to provide meals at both locations to keep the kids healthy with meals and snacks.”

Thomas said “the new Y” will have three facilities — the Pittston YMCA, Wilkes-Barre Family YMCA and Camp Kresge Outdoor Center.

Thomas said there are plans moving forward on adding child care sites in Forty Fort and at CenterPoint Industrial Park.

“The merger will allow us to keep our costs down, share our talented staff, and grow programming in the community at large,” Thomas said. “The Wyoming Valley Community will have better and more choices for programs for their children and families.”

The Pittston and Wilkes-Barre YMCAs have existed for more than 100 years. Thomas said the decision to merge the two entities was handled with careful consideration.

“Innovation and efficiency are critical for continuing to provide valued services to our communities,” Thomas said. “The rationale for joining together rests on pursuing new growth opportunities and on leveraging the talented staff and volunteers of each organization.”

Thomas said members of each YMCA will have access to both facilities and all the unique, rich programming offered at each.

“While we do not anticipate any changes to current membership structures through the end of the year, upon merger completion, we will be able to communicate enhanced membership opportunities,” Thomas said.

And by serving a larger geographic area, Thomas said the Y will be able to pursue more significant corporate partnerships and fundraising opportunities.

“And with their help and generosity, we will be able to deliver innovative programs to the most vulnerable segments of our population,” Thomas said.

Joint statement

John Morris, Wilkes-Barre Family YMCA Board President, and Kevin O’Boyle, Chairman of the Board of the Greater Pittston YMCA, said collaboration between the two YMCAs had been underway for the last 18 months and has already led to substantial improvements in child care, aquatics and summer camp programming.

Morris and O’Boyle said the merger will be finalized within the next 30 days.

“Our mission will not change,” Morris and O’Boyle said in a joint statement. “We will continue to put Christian principles into practice through programs that build healthy spirit, mind, and body for all. The success of this initiative will be measured by our future investment in our facilities, programming and staff.”

Pittston Mayor Mike Lombardo, a board member, said the merger represents a positive action toward a sustainable, growth centric future for this partnership.

“This decision will allow for greater economies of scale and ultimately programmatic and facilities growth in both locations,” Lombardo said. “I commend the members of both boards and both executive directors for their commitment and leadership toward the future. The YMCA model provides valuable experiences for so many in the Wyoming Valley.”

O’Boyle said what makes a YMCA unique and different is its wide array of programming offered.

“And that’s not possible without great people,” he said. “By becoming a larger organization, we can offer better, more consistent programming to our community.”

Combining resources

Janelle Drach, executive director at the Greater Pittston YMCA, 10 North Main St., Pittston, said there is plenty of exciting news about the merger.

Staff Resources: Able to pool staff resources together which will allow seasoned staff from each location to work and train with newer staff to create stronger staff at each location. Drach said knowledge sharing and training from staff is an important component to having well rounded staff and we believe our merger will provide staff more opportunities to learn and grow within the YMCA.

Expansion of program options for members: Can now offer members from either location a deeper set of options for aquatics, wellness and youth and family programming, along with other services as well. They will be able to have access to programs at either location and at no additional costs. Previously, only members had reduced pricing options at the specific association locations, now they will receive membership pricing at both locations, providing several more options for pool use, gym use, wellness programming and even family/youth programming.

Stronger operations: By combining overhead costs and being able to put those saved dollars back into serving the community in more meaningful ways. Consolidation of loans at lower interest rates and insurance coverage are two quick ways we will save on costs.

“It has been a thoughtful process over the past year and we are now excited to take the next steps to continue to provide more for our community by becoming one larger and more impactful YMCA,” Drach said.

About the YMCA

The Y is one of the nation’s leading nonprofits, strengthening communities through youth development, healthy living and social responsibility.

Across the U.S., 2,700 Ys engage 22 million men, women and children — regardless of age, income or background — to nurture the potential of children and teens, improve the nation’s health and well-being, and provide opportunities to give back and support neighbors.

Anchored in more than 10,000 communities, the Y has the long-standing relationships and physical presence not just to promise, but to deliver lasting personal and social change.

Reach Bill O’Boyle at 570-991-6118 or on Twitter @TLBillOBoyle.

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