Williamsport/Lycoming Chamber of Commerce - About us

Leadership Lycoming Doing Good Work in Our Community

Family Promise - Earn While You Learn Program

Through no fault of their own, families can find themselves without permanent shelter. In a survey conducted across the United States, on one single night in January 2016, approximately 550,000 people were experiencing homelessness. (U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, November 2016 Report) Family Promise of Lycoming County is a non-profit organization that provides shelter, meals, and intensive case management for families without homes by partnering with local churches, social service organizations, and hundreds of volunteers. Family Promise is affiliated with over 200 Family Promise networks nationwide.

Four members of the Leadership Lycoming Class of 2017, Heather Stafford, UPMC Susquehanna; Peter Swift, Camp Susque; Stephanie Tempesco, Malee Law Firm; and Melissa Rowse, Degenstein Community Library formalized an Earn While You Learn program, modeled after a similar program run successfully by Expectations Women's Center that enables participants of Family Promise of Lycoming County to earn points that can be used for household items.

The Leadership Lycoming group not only created an incentive base point system, but also wrote a formal policy and inventoried Family Promise’s current resources. Participants of Family Promise earn points based on specific activities such as saving money, attending a budgeting class, meeting with the case worker, and volunteering for other organizations. Upon graduation from Family Promise, participants receive a total number of points earned throughout their stay, which can then be utilized to shop for much needed household items and furniture from the donation room.

Family Promise is committed to helping families without homes get back on their feet and find secure housing. Family Promise is always seeking volunteers to help reduce homelessness and transform lives in the community. Volunteers are invaluable through answering phones, sorting donations, data entry, and reading to children. For more information, call Melissa Magargle at 570-567-7103 or email director@familypromiselycoming.org.


Hope Enterprises Dance the Night Away

A fundraiser for Hope Enterprises --“Dance the Night Away with Hope” -- took place on April 21st at the Genetti Hotel in which Lycoming “stars” danced with individuals enrolled in Hope programs in a friendly dance competition.

The Leadership Lycoming class was in charge of making this event, one that has never been done before, a success from start to finish. The members of the team consisted of Daniel Warner, Pennsylvania College of Technology; Austin White, McCormick Law Firm; Katie Coffey, North Central Sight Services; Justin Ross, Williamsport Area School District; Jaime Kuntz, Baker Tilly; Regan Yoder, Keystone Advertising Specialties; Eric Gaetano, The Hartman Group and Jared Kowalchick, Lonza. The advisors for this project were Tanya Weber, Hope Enterprises and Marc Schefsky, Genetti Hotel.

It was important for the team foremost to demonstrate the Abilities of those individuals from Hope and not their DisAbilities as well as raise funds for the organization that helps so many people in our community.

The team met on a monthly basis to bring this project to life. The meetings included deciding where to have the event, the date, the overall format, potential dancers, sponsors, dance instructors, attire for participants, food, advertising and decorations - just to name a few.

There were a few challenges when planning this event such as settling on a date, finding willing participants who would feel comfortable dancing in front of a crowd, and the fact that this type of event had never been done before. The few challenges and apprehensions the team encountered while planning the event were outweighed greatly by the success of the event. Originally hoping for an attendance of 100, there were well over 200 people at the show - a great problem to have, but which led to some last minute reorganizing to accommodate the crowd!

This event was a success because of the hard work put in by all involved; from Tanya Webe, who worked with the Leadership Lycoming group behind the scenes lining up dancers and sponsors for the event, to Marc Schefsky who served as emcee for the show. The group also had a big helper in Tony “Twinkle Toes” Thomke, who not only taught the couples to dance and provided some intermission dance lessons for the crowd, but who also served as the head judge for the night. Other judges included Diana DiCenso, "Dancing" Doris Myers, and Senator Gene Yaw.

This event would have not been as successful as it was though if it weren't for the talented and fearless participants that we had: Pedie McDonald and Donna Bastian; Reggie Smith and Peachie O'Connor; Roger Turner and Carolyn Strickland; Donald Wise and Leslie Whitehill; Cheridan Bump and Tony Mussare; Jen Dincher and Ralph Kaiser; Mary Brennan and Keith Kuzio; and Lillian Sims and James Campbell.

This experience was incredibly uplifting for everyone involved - the dancers, judges, and attendees all left this event with smiles on their faces.

This is just the beginning, with effort from participants and community involvement, this event can become an annual success for Hope Enterprises.

For more information, contact Tanya Weber at 570-322-5973.



On the evening of Wednesday, May 24, 2017, the Leadership Lycoming Class of 2017 presented their year-long projects to a full audience in the Mt. Laurel Room at Pennsylvania College of Technology.

The project group electing to work with the non-profit organization InCourage Financial Wellness, Inc. was Max Houseknecht, Dallas Miller, Michael Ochs, and Kim Wetherhold. InCourage is based out of Williamsport and was established five years ago to serve individuals and families residing in Lycoming and Clinton Counties. Their mission is to offer hope, empowerment, and tools to those struggling financially by providing coaching, educational resources, and accountability so that healthy financial habits can be established.

The project group was asked by the organization’s board of directors to develop a baseline training program for classroom and one-on-one instruction. These trainings were to be incorporated in a user-friendly manual with pull out modules so volunteer financial coaches could cater to the diverse financial needs of each of their clients. After the initial meeting with the board and the agency’s program director, challenges were presented to the project group that would need further development prior to the completion of the training manual or as part of the board’s overall strategic direction. The board, many of whom were new, was working diligently to restructure the organization and work through some of the challenges to better serve the needs of their clients.

Throughout the group’s work with the board, they provided initial consultation with regards to streamlining the services offered in the financial coaching program; identified areas in which the organization could develop referral partners; provided an outline of curriculum; updated an assessment/intake form to assist in obtaining measurable data; and training manuals, segmented by module, based on the curriculum that was selected by the board. Three manuals were presented by the project group: Core Curriculum, Advanced/Partnership Curriculum, and a sample Client Curriculum.

The project group felt that they had made a positive impact with InCourage in that they had provided them with the necessary tools to fulfill their mission in the community. Until now, the organization had not had structured training materials to be able to scale the organization by bringing in additional volunteers to coach clients. The coming months will be important for the organization as they work to build their volunteer coaching base and begin to take on new clients. InCourage will provide a much-needed service throughout the community and will certainly be able to partner with many other non-profits within the community to deliver services. InCourage is currently in the rebranding process, launching a new logo and website, symbolizing their fresh start in taking the organization to the next level in serving the community.

For more information, contact Pam Hicks, 570-321-5450.


Roads to Freedom

What would you do if you were suddenly and unexpectedly confined to a wheelchair? Would you have the monetary resources to equip your home with a ramp and other assistive devices? These are questions that few of us have ever thought about. But for the people at Roads to Freedom, it’s a situation that is quite common.

For a person using a wheelchair for the first time, those three or four steps up their front porch become a barrier to independence. The average cost of installing a wheelchair ramp is approximately $1600. Most people who are disabled have very limited or no resources for such a project. The Ramping Up Life Campaign provides people with funding to help offset the cost of installing a wheelchair ramp in their home. Since 2013, Roads to Freedom has held a Wheelchair Basketball Tournament to raise funds for their Ramping Up Life Campaign. This allows local businesses to sponsor a team of five players who will play a basketball game while in a wheelchair.

This year, Roads to Freedom partnered with a group of local professionals from the 2017 Leadership Lycoming Class to organize the event. Erin Blackwell from Hope Enterprises, Michele Boyles from CSR, Inc., Keith Boyer from UPMC Susquehanna, Tara Day-Ulrich from YWCA Northcentral PA, and Paula Yeckley from Community Services Group came together with representatives from Roads to Freedom with one common goal: To make the event more successful than ever.

Early on, the team identified that one of the concerns in previous years was finding a way to get people to stay for the whole event. “We had to find a way to get people to stay once their team was done playing”, Erin Blackwell said. The group came up with the idea of incorporating a craft/vendor fair with the basketball tournament. The group used social media to solicit local artisans and vendors to set up shop during the tournament at Lycoming College.

The group also sought a way to help offset costs and recruit more teams to participate. “We developed a flyer that went in the monthly Chamber of Commerce mailing, so we could reach a number of business people at one time”, said Michelle Boyles. In doing so, Roads to Freedom was able to get a total of 10 teams registered, which was a significant increase from previous years. The cost to enter a team into the event was $1000. “Several businesses contacted Roads to Freedom because they couldn’t afford to sponsor a team, but wanted to help in some other way”, reported Paula Yeckley. Through the advertising, the group was able to solicit donations for food and other supplies. “Susquehanna Oral & Facial Center donated the entire cost of the t-shirts, which was the largest cost in previous years”, stated Yeckley. American

Legion Post #104 donated wheelchairs to be used for the day’s events, and then surprisingly donated all of them to Roads to Freedom to be given to consumers in need.

The day of the event proved to be an overall success. “While the craft/vendor fair was not as well-attended as we had hoped, it still provided an opportunity for new people to learn about Roads to Freedom and the work they do”, said Tara Day-Ulrich. In all, Roads to Freedom reported that the event yielded $8973.58 almost double what was earned last year. Keith Boyer stated, “I’m incredibly happy that we were given the opportunity to help Roads to Freedom with this event. I’ve learned a lot about how difficult everyday things can be for someone with a disability. Without Roads to Freedom, these people would lose their independence and freedom.”

For more information, contact Misty Dion at 570-327-9070.


The Learning Center

Currently, in Lycoming County, 1 out of 5 adults do not have the literacy skills to function fully in society. That is an alarming statistic. The Learning Center, located in the James V. Brown Library is a state certified adult basic education provider, working to equip our county’s adults (16 years of age or older, not currently enrolled in public school) with the basic literacy skills they need to be better family members, workers, and community participants. All services offered by the organization are free and go on to include one on one tutoring, small group studies, math and writing assistance, a comprehensive computer lab, GED preparation, English as a second language classes, workplace skills programs, and more. However, both student and volunteer tutor participation has been shrinking. This was being linked to a simple lack of public awareness when it comes to the program and the services being offered. In addition, funding was and continues to be a constant concern, as the organization relies solely on money from the United Way, with minimal outside fundraising occurring.

Four members of the Leadership Lycoming Class of 2017, Jim Hicklin, Lycoming Clinton Joinder Board; Dana Naughton, Wascher’s Chiropractic Center; Thomas Robins, McNerney, Page, Vanderlin & Hall; and Justin Wenner, Larson Design Group worked with Linda Herr and Virginia Hoover from The Learning Center to coordinate and implement a multimedia campaign (print/radio) to heighten public awareness for future students, volunteer tutors, and potential donors. While coordination with local publications and radio stations is ongoing, the advertisements will consist of student success stories and volunteer testimony coupled with a message about the services the program offers and information on how to get involved as a student or tutor. To further spread the message, digital billboard space was donated by Lamar Advertising of Williamsport, which was aimed specifically at students. The group also helped organize and carry out a breakfast fundraiser at Franco’s, which will repeat in June and again in October this year. In addition, support was provided in completing a grant application which would provide free online GED practice exam vouchers to future students.

Throughout our volunteer experience, it has become obvious that The Learning Center addresses a uniquely important and specific community need. There is simply no other local organization that offers the range of services and flexibility of scheduling when it comes to adult education. The groups commitment to the organization does not end with our Leadership Lycoming experience. All participants are invested in helping, however we can, into the future. As mentioned, coordination is still ongoing for the print and radio components. In addition, we are all planning to participate in the fundraiser breakfasts at Franco’s in June and October. We will continue to search for ways to increase public awareness and funding for The Learning Center long after our program experience comes to an end.

If you or anyone you know would like to get involved in, or would benefit from the services offered by The Learning Center...or would simply like to make a donation to support the efforts of this great organization, please contact Linda Herr or Virginia Hoover at 570-326-0536 (ext. 160) or visit the website at www.lycolearns.org


About Leadership Lycoming

Leadership Lycoming is a training program designed to understand the needs of the communities it serves; then educate and motivate potential leaders to commit themselves to address those needs through a variety of community leadership roles.  Graduates of Leadership Lycoming are seen throughout the community as participants on boards, committees, forums and task forces.  Applications for the Leadership Lycoming Class of 2017 are now being accepted.  Please visit Williamsport.org for more information or contact Sharon Jones at 570-320-4202.