PITTSTON — Leslie (Starna) Widdick knows all about Greater Pittston.
Now the Pittston Township native is working to improve the community where she grew up.
Widdick was recently named the interim Chief Executive Officer of the Greater Pittston YMCA and officially took over the operations Saturday, July 2. She replaces West Pittston native Robert Duliba, who worked as the interim CEO since January. Widdick has worked for the YMCA since November 2015.
Widdick will have the interim tag for one year, until she completes training, she said. Prior to working for the YMCA, Widdick was employed at the Luzerne Intermediate Unit 18.
“I’m looking forward to dealing with the community,” she said. “I’m very involved with the Little League and I’m excited for the different things I can bring here. I have made some great connections here in Pittston and we need to see how we can help the city and how the city can help us.”
Starting as the YMCA’s Family and Youth Director in November, Widdick organized programs such as the recently-added flag football program and catered to the youth dynamic.
There’s a reason for that.
The CEO has two children with her husband, John — 8-year-old Beau and 5-year-old Milania. Widdick believes being a mom gives her insight into what members want.
“With myself being a mom, I see what parents are looking for,” Widdick said. “The more you listen and the more involved you get will get us into the community.”
When football was about to start for Beau, the Widdick family decided it wasn’t quite the right time to let him play the contact sport.
“Why not a program down at the Y?” she said. “That brought so many family memberships because the kids wanted to do it.”
There are talks of a flag football league in the coming months. The bring-your-own-team league would be designed for children ages 7 to 12.
The Y saw an increase in membership earlier this year, and Widdick said that momentum hasn’t slowed down. She said the number of family and individual memberships are on the rise. There is still a strong presence of senior membership at the YMCA as well.
Widdick said there are many new programs to the YMCA. Recently, the center was awarded a $2,500 grant from the UNICO Foundation to begin a swim program catered to area residents with Down syndrome. The grant offers free, private swim lessons, and will be held on a limited basis.
Participants will get four half-hour classes. The program has started, but spots are still available.
A grant from Highmark Insurance also spurred the creation of “Enhance Fitness,” which is catered to help those with arthritis exercise. The program is open to anyone, whether or not they have arthritis It’s a 16-week program and offers a free YMCA membership for those four months.
“We want to get the community more involved with the Y,” Widdick said. “We have so much to offer.”
Widdick is a 1999 graduate of Pittston Area, and later earned a degree in economics and political science from Bloomsburg University. She’s an active parent of the Pittston Township Little League, and her son, Beau, recently competed for the league’s 9-10 all-star team.
Reach Nick Wagner at 570-991-6406 or on Twitter @Dispatch_Nick