For 28 years, Sharon McCrone, founder of the Employment Opportunity and Training Center of Northeastern Pennsylvania, acted as executive director for the organization. Now, Linda Ciampi has stepped into the position in the wake of McCrone’s retirement, and the foundation is ready to introduce her to the public.
EOTC will hold a “Meet & Mingle” event from 5 to 7 p.m. Jan. 27 at The Vault Tap & Kitchen in Scranton. Tickets for the event are $20, are available at the door and entitle guests to beer, wine, soda, flatbreads and other appetizers. Funds raised at the event will benefit the family and work force development programs at EOTC.
Mary Coolican, development director at EOTC, said Ciampi will get to socialize with the many people who work with or benefit from the non-profit.
“It’s a way to introduce her to the people in the community, whether they be our partners or our funders or even our participants,” Coolican said.
Ciampi, of West Wyoming, said the event is part of an overlying attempt to build awareness about EOTC and take a lead from the community.
“For me, it’s not so much for people to meet me but for me to meet them and to listen and hear what they believe are some of the challenges and opportunities in our community where EOTC can help,” Ciampi said.
EOTC specializes in programming for young families. The agency staff educates parents to be teachers, teaches parenting skills and provides programs that help with job placement and work force skill development. The agency also has a group that works with people in prison while they are incarcerated and during their re-entry into society.
“We are a family center in Lackawanna County, and we have a myriad of programs that we run here,” Coolican said. “We are the only family center in Lackawanna County accredited by Standards for Excellence. To the general public, it might not mean a lot, but to the non-profit world, we’re really proud of that.”
A portion of the $20 entry fee to the Jan. 27 event, Coolican said, will go directly back to the agency, and basket raffles will raise additional funds.
“We get funding from grants and some federal and state money, so obviously with the budget impasse, we have really, really struggled to meet our bills, to meet our payroll and we have to supplement the holes in our budget with fundraising.”
Coolican said the Vault came to mind as a venue for the benefit because Steve Masterson, its owner, is receptive to charity work in Scranton and the surrounding area.
“He’s actually giving us 10 percent back on any food and drink sales,” Coolican said. “He’s very community minded and community oriented.”
For Masterson, community involvement is an important part of being a business owner.
“Since we opened about two years ago, we’ve always encouraged nonprofit organizations to have benefits at our place,” Masterson said. “We’ve kind of become known for it. It’s a chance to give back to the community a little bit and say thanks to our customers who continue to patronize our business.”
For this particular benefit, Masterson has a familiar attachment to the cause.
“My mom actually works at EOTC for almost 20 years now, so that’s kind of how this came about,” Masterson said. “She came to me on behalf of her company, and I, of course, said yes.”
As Ciampi prepares to introduce herself to her non-profit community, she reflected on moving forward after the tenure of a long-standing and respected predecessor.
“You can’t replace any person,” Ciampi said. “My feeling is you take up the charge of the mission that’s been handed to you and move it forward the best you can. Sharon had a unique style and was very connected to the community, and that’s been a gift to the organization. Her legacy will outlive anyone who’s in this role, but I want to continue to maintain the good work. The staff are what makes the organization, because they extend themselves to help families. They’re very welcoming, and that comes from a culture of acceptance.”
Reach Matt Mattei at 570-991-6651 or Twitter@TLArts