PITTSTON — For the second time in its history, the Greater Pittston Chamber of Commerce Women’s Network will honor two women from the Greater Pittston area in conjunction with Women’s History Month, which is in March.
The two women being honored are Ellen Mondlak, 74, and Edythe Kepics, 89.
The Distinguished Woman Award is presented in memory of Mary Boylan, the first female vice president executive director of the Greater Pittston Chamber of Commerce who was instrumental in organizing the Women’s Network.
Michelle Mikitish, executive vice president of the Greater Pittston Chamber of Commerce, said both women were chosen for their contributions and dedication to the community.
“It’s less about their accomplishments, but it’s the day-to-day of making a difference within the community,” she said. “Raising their kids, working in the businesses, pulling it altogether; that’s what we want to see in the women we honor and its what we see in the two women we’re honoring today.”
Mikitish said women do not have to be members of the Women’s Network to receive the award.
Kepics was born and raised in West Pittston and graduated from West Pittston High School in 1944.
As one of seven children, Kepics said her family could not afford to send her to college, so she entered the working world immediately after after high school working as a stenographer, or a person who transcribes spoken or recorded speech into written form.
Kepics also worked at Blue Ribbon Dairy on nights and weekends to help out her brother Ernie who had just opened the ice cream and dairy store in 1945.
“I started out when they first started out in business,” Kepics said. “My husband and I both worked there free of charge until they got on their feet.”
After she gave birth to her daughter, Kepics worked at Blue Ribbon Dairy in West Pittston full-time, serving customers and doing book keeping until she retired in 2000.
One of the things Kepics said that has kept the shop successful for many years is its consistency.
“The product is very, very much the same,” she said. “My brother, who started it, used nothing but the best.”
The business is owned today by Kepics’ niece Ann Sorek, Ernie’s daughter.
Since retiring, Kepics is a member of numerous organizations including The West Pittston Cemetery Association, Friends of the West Pittston Library, the Red Hat Organization, the West Pittston Women’s Club, the Greater Pittston Chamber of Commerce Women’s Network, the Wilkes-Barre General Hospital Auxiliary and does volunteer work for numerous churches.
She also played an instrumental part in helping the 2011 flood victims.
“I went to the United Methodist Church for nine weeks at lunch time (to help serve food),” she said. “Then I went home and freshened up, then I went to the Immaculate Conception (now Corpus Christi Parish) where we prepared dinners for 11 weeks,” she said.
On top of being part of numerous organizations and volunteer groups, Kepics enjoys her retirement by spending time with her daughter, Mary Louise Harris; as well as her two granddaughters and two great-grandsons.
Kepics is the widow of John Kepics and had a son, John Frederick Kepics, who passed away from leukemia in 2008 at the age of 40.
Mondlak was born and raised in Wilkes-Barre where she graduated high school from the now-defunct St. Mary’s Catholic School in 1959. She earned her degree in elementary education from Misericordia University in 1965.
She taught for a few years in Wilkes-Barre and Ashley before marrying her husband, Jerry, in 1966 and moving to Pittston in 1968.
Mondlak began working at Mondlak Printery, an invitation printing business which was started by her father-in-law.
She owns the business today with her husband.
“We do anything on paper,” Mondlak said of the business. “Envelopes, bill heads, invoices, tickets and stuff like that.”
Advances in technology have changed the way Mondlak has had to conduct business.
“First, I worked with the customer taking orders, but when the computers came in I had to sit and type the orders,” she said. “The computers have done a big job on our business, but we still have a lot of steady customers that we have to service.”
Mondlak is a member of numerous organizations such as the Friends of the Pittston Memorial Library, the Jenkins Township Zoning Board, the Jenkins Township Crime Watch, the Women’s Network, the Pittston Township Ambulance Board, the Luzerne County Crime Watch, and she was also a member of the Pittston Memorial Library Board of Directors.
While she keeps busy running Mondlak Printery and working with multiple organizations, Mondlak always has time for family.
She has one son, one daughter and seven grandchildren.
Like Kepics, Mondlak also lost a son in 2008 at the age of 40.
Both Mondlak and Kepics were humbled and grateful to receive the Distinguished Woman Award.
Kepics said she was in disbelief when reading the letter saying she would be receiving the award.
“My first reaction when I stood there with that letter was I was honored, but I felt very humbled,” said Kepics. “I thought there are so members in that organization more deserving, but I appreciate it.”
Mondlak said there were so many corporate leaders in the Greater Pittston area that she was also surprised to receive the award.
“There are so many CEOs and so many that have done so much more for the community,” she said.
Both women will be honored at the Greater Pittston Chamber of Commerce Women’s Network St. Patrick’s Dinner at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, March 8 at Fox Hill Country Club in Exeter.
Mikitish said invites to Women’s Network members for the dinner have been sent out.
Reach Jimmy Fisher at 570-704-3972 or on Twitter @SD_JimmyFisher