DMVA To Host Virtual Town Hall on Veteran Transportation Issues, Says Boback

The Pennsylvania Department of Military and Veterans Affairs (DMVA) will host the fourth in a five-part series of virtual town hall meetings for veterans on Wednesday, Sept. 14, from 6-7:30 p.m., according to Rep. Karen Boback (R-Lackawanna/Luzerne/Wyoming). The discussion will focus on resources to assist veterans facing transportation issues.

One of the presenters will be Brig. Gen. (PA) Maureen Weigl, DMVA deputy adjutant general for veterans affairs.

“Older veterans and those with a disability often face the challenge of access to health care because of not having proper transportation available to them,” said Weigl. “We want veterans to know that help is available. There are community organizations ready and able to provide veterans with transportation to and from the federal VA and other health care providers.”

Veterans can participate by using a Microsoft Teams link available on the DMVA’s website at They will have the opportunity to ask questions of the presenters live during the program through the chat feature.

The Greater Scranton YMCA Childhood Obesity Awareness

September is Childhood Obesity Awareness Month, and as children and families start their new school-year routines, it’s a perfect time to reflect and refresh your family’s healthy habits. Many families, though, need support changing their habits together in order to help children who are overweight or obese reach and maintain a healthy weight. That’s why the Greater Scranton YMCA — a leading community-based organization dedicated to improving health — wants to help families through improved eating habits and increased physical activity.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the prevalence of obesity affects about 14.7 million, or one in five U.S. children and adolescents. Obesity can increase risk for health problems such as type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and some cancers. Here in Pennsylvania, 15.1 % of all youth ages 0-17 have obesity, according to

“Experts are more aware than ever that families need support to change their eating and physical activity habits,” said Trish Fisher, President & CEO, Greater Scranton YMCA. “At the Y, we’re happy to partner with families and offer support as they work to incorporate changes to help kids grow up at a healthy weight.”

The Y also encourages families to talk with their health care providers about their children’s health. “You cannot determine whether a child is at a healthy weight simply by looking at them,” explains Fisher. “Working with a health care provider ensures that families receive the proper guidance when it comes to health and their children.”

The Greater Scranton YMCA is helping families improve their health and help youth grow up at a healthy weight through youth sports programs and incorporating daily physical activity into early childhood education programs, like before and after school care, summer camp, daycare and preschool.

While outside support is key, developing healthy habits begins at home. The following tips are some great ways to incorporate healthier eating habits and more physical activity and into your daily family routine:

• Eat & Drink Healthy: Make water the drink of choice and encourage everyone to fill half their plates with fruits and vegetables by offering two or three colorful options at every meal. As a family choose a new fruit and veggie every week to taste together. Place a full pitcher of water on the table during meals and allow children to pour their own water. Keep full water bottles available in the car and back packs.

• Play Every Day/Go Outside: Children should have at least an hour a day of unstructured play outside (when possible) and break a sweat at least three times a week by getting 20 minutes or more of vigorous physical activity. Join your children in games that get your hearts pumping and bodies moving.

• Get Together: Eat as a family as frequently as possible. Involve kids in meal planning, preparation and clean up. In addition, adults should take a break from electronics and spend one-to-one time each day with their kids, enjoying one another’s company.

• Reduce Recreational Screen Time: Time spent in front of a television, computer, tablet, cell phone or video games should be limited to two hours or less per day. Make a family plan to reduce screen time at home (i.e. turn off screens during meals, charge electronics/screens in the kitchen overnight, go for a walk after a meal, set a timer to remind you to power down the screen).

• Sleep Well: Kids and adults need to keep a regular sleep schedule; unwind together in the evenings by reading a book or listening to soft music to ensure the body is preparing for sleep. Kids are growing and need 10-12 hours of healthy sleep per night and seven to eight hours for adults.

To learn more about the Greater Scranton YMCA’s youth sports and healthy living programs, please contact Brandon Whipple, Wellness Director, at (570) 828-3116 or

The Scranton Cultural Center Announces “A Night of Comedy With Samantha Ruddy & Friends”

The Scranton Cultural Center at the Masonic Temple is pleased to announce “A Night of Comedy with Samantha Ruddy and Friends” on October 21 at 8 PM.  Fresh off her appearance on “The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon,” NEPA native Samantha Ruddy will headline the night.  She’ll be joined by Martin Urbano (“The Tonight Show”) and more friends along the way!  The show is set to take place in Shopland Hall.

Samantha Ruddy tells jokes, writes funny stuff, and weasels her way into your heart with her gay girl-next-door charm. She is currently a Digital Producer at “Full Frontal with Samantha Bee,” in addition to being a warmup comic back when crowds gathering was a thing. Samantha’s work at “Full Frontal” has included writing straight to camera monologues for Sam to deliver, managing the content on the show’s social media accounts, and contributing to web series including the Emmy and Webby Award nominated “Beeing At Home.”  In addition to her recent appearance on “The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon,” Samantha has performed on “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert,” headlined Carolines on Broadway, been heard on NPR, and appeared in videos for Comedy Central and Marvel. She has performed at comedy festivals like New York Comedy Festival, San Francisco Sketchfest, and Melbourne International Comedy Festival. Her debut comedy album, “Logging Out,” was named one of the best comedy albums of 2020 by NPR.

Brooklyn Magazine has called Samantha one of Brooklyn’s 50 Funniest People, BUST says she’s a comic “you should be obsessed with,” and Vulture featured her for “Follow Friday.” Samantha is a skilled joke writer and her comedy is clever, disarming, and sly. Her writing can be found on Collegehumor, The Cut, and Reductress. She’s been nominated for both Shorty and Queerty awards for her online presence. Follow her on Twitter @Samlymatters.

Samantha will be joined by Martin Urbano, an NYC-based comedian/satirist who has appeared on “Jimmy Kimmel Live,” The CW (Howie Mandel’s Comedy Gala), and Comedy Central.  He’s currently a writer and performer on “The Tonight Show.”

The show will take place in Shopland Hall on the fourth floor 8:00 p.m. with the doors opening at 7:00 p.m.  A cash bar will be available for patrons 21 and over and concessions will also be available for purchase.  Tickets $25.75 in advance and $30.75 day of show (includes fees).  They can be purchased at the Fidelity Bank Box Office at the SCC in person or by calling (570) 344-1111, or via Ticketmaster.  For additional information and a full schedule of events, visit

Marywood University New Faculty Members for 2022-2023 Academic Year Announced

Marywood University deans, Shelby W. Yeager, MEd, LAT, ATC, CSCS, interim dean for the College of Health and Human Services; Jeffrey Johnson, D.M.A., dean for the Insalaco College of Arts and Sciences; and James J. Sullivan, M.Arch, RA, AIA, dean for the Reap College of Professional Studies, recently announced nine new faculty members for the 2022-2023 academic year.

In the College of Health and Human Services:

Kaitlyn A. Clarke, M.S., CCC-SLP/L., assistant professor of communication sciences and disorders, earned her master of science in speech language pathology from Misericordia University, Dallas, Pa., where she also earned her undergraduate degree, a bachelor of science in health science. Additionally, she holds a post-graduate certification in criminal justice with specialization in applied behavior analysis from St. Joseph’s University, Philadelphia, Pa. Ms. Clarke is a current doctoral candidate University in the communication sciences and disorders at the Pennsylvania State department. She works primarily with individuals diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder and those with complex communication needs. She has a passion for alternative and augmentative communication systems and is interested in the integration of multiple modes of sensory input in individuals with autism. She served as a Clinical Research Speech Pathologist at Geisinger’s Autism and Developmental Medicine Institute and participated in research in the areas of genetics, ASD, and developmental delays. Additionally, Ms. Clarke has done research in voice disorders and treatment, as well as in treatment for stuttering.

Jessica R. Eberle, MPAS, PAC, assistant professor of practice in physician assistant studies, holds her master of science in physician assistant studies from Marywood University, where she also received her bachelor of science degree in pre-physician assistant studies. She has served as a suturing lab instructor and exam proctor at Marywood, where she guest lectured on the topic of abdominal pain in the emergency department. Additionally, Ms. Eberly presented a guest lecture on thyroid disorders at Misericordia University. Her clinical experience includes serving as lead advanced practice clinician at Lake Scranton Urgent Care, where she also is the clinical preceptor for PA students and an urgent care physician assistant. She served previously in these clinician and preceptor roles at ApolloMD, Moses Taylor Hospital ER, where she worked as an emergency medicine physician assistant.

Allison Fruehan, Ed.S., pro-rata instructor in psychology/counseling, earned her educational specialist degree and endorsement in autism spectrum disorders from Marywood University. She also holds a master of arts in psychology and a bachelor of science in general psychology from Marywood and is expected to earn her Ph.D. in curriculum and instruction – special education from Liberty University in August 2022. Ms. Fruehan serves as a school psychologist for the Pocono Mountain School District. She previously served as a school psychologist at the Arts Academy Elementary Charter School in Allentown, Pa., and did her school psychology internship in the Anchorage School District, Anchorage, Alaska. Ms. Fruehan’s graduate research focused on “Virtual Reality Social Skills and Job Interview Training,” and her graduate professional contribution was titled “Culturally Responsive Suicide Prevention and Intervention: A Guide for Secondary Educators and Administrators.” Additionally, her undergraduate honors thesis was “A Preliminary Examination of Stereotype Lift of Language Arts Skills in an Undergraduate Population of Women.”

In the Insalaco College of Arts and Sciences:
Conor J. Flynn, laboratory instructor of chemistry, holds a master of science in chemistry from Bucknell University. He has a bachelor of science in chemistry, as well as a bachelor of arts in music, liberal arts/euphonium from Bloomsburg University. Additionally, he holds an American Chemical Society Certification. Mr. Flynn has done doctoral level work at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where he studied physics, along with additional doctoral work at Brown University, where he studied chemistry. He has previously taught chemistry on the university level at Bucknell University, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and Wilkes University. Additionally, he has taught middle and high school classes at Lakeland Jr.-Sr. High School as a substitute teacher. Mr. Flynn’s research experience at Bloomsburg University includes the synthesis of silicone copolymers and development of analytical methods to measure effectiveness of flame-retardants in thermoplastic materials, as well as the study of catalytic properties of pentafluorophenylcyclopentadienyl cobalt dicarbonyl in the synthesis of heterocycles, and, at Bucknell University, he worked on the measurement of vibrational relaxation rate of collisionally coupled carbon dioxide molecules by transient laser absorption spectroscopy. While at Bucknell, he also presented “Carbon dioxide self-quenching rates measured by a quantum cascade laser” at the Summer 2015 American Chemical Society National Meeting.

Benjamin Hole, Ph.D., assistant professor of philosophy, earned his doctoral degree in philosophy from the University of Washington, Seattle, Wash., where he also earned his master of arts in philosophy. On the undergraduate level, he received a bachelor of arts degree in philosophy, with honors, along with minors in classical studies and English, from Lewis & Clark College, Portland, Ore. He has served as a visiting assistant professor at Pacific University, Forest Grove, Ore., and also has taught at Seattle University, Northeastern University (NU Global), Bellevue College, and the University of Washington. He has presented and published on topics such as animal activism, climate action, civic engagement, and sustainable development, among others, earning professional distinctions and awards for his work and teaching.

Anna Adams Petrin, Ph.D., assistant professor of religious studies, earned her doctoral degree in theology (liturgical studies) from the University of Notre Dame, where she also earned a master of theological studies degree. Additional, Dr. Petrin holds a master of divinity degree from Duke Divinity School, and two undergraduate degrees, a bachelor of arts in history and a bachelor of arts in religious studies, both from North Carolina State University. She received online/hybrid training from Wesley Theological Seminary. Dr. Petrin previous taught at Marywood as an adjunct faculty member. She also has taught at Wesley Theological Seminary and the University of Notre Dame. She has published and presented on various topics, ranging from Wesleyan theology and the sacraments to the Egyptian elements the liturgy of Jerusalem and pastoral education. Dr. Petrin’s research languages include Greek, Latin, French, German, and Italian.

In the Reap College of Professional Studies:

Kimberly Hagan, instructor of architecture, earned both her master of interior architecture and bachelor of architecture degrees from Marywood University. While an architecture student at Marywood, she also studied abroad at the International Studies Institute in Florence, Italy. Additionally, she holds a certificate in healthier materials and sustainable building. Ms. Hagan previously taught at Marywood as an architecture lecturer. She interned with Richard Pedranti Architect (RPA) and has international and national conference publication on topics such as sustainable solutions to hazardous materials, repurposing demolished building materials, and design-build leadership. Her conference presentations have focused on digital models, sustainable solutions to hazardous materials, community design build outreach, integrative design, and design-build leadership.

Arian Korkuti, Ph.D., assistant professor of architecture, earned his doctorate in architecture and design research from Virginia Tech, where he also received his master of science in architecture and master of architecture degrees. He holds a bachelor of fine arts in interior design from Virginia Commonwealth University. Dr. Korkuti has been a visiting assistant professor and instructor at Virginia Tech. Additionally, he has taught at the University of Arkansas. Dr. Korkuti’s dissertation was titled, “Ratiocinium in the Architectural Practice of Giuseppe Terragini and its role in the relationship between architecture and the city during the modern movements in Italy.” His peer-reviewed conference and lecture presentations have focused on building as service, the typology of the tower-house in the Albanian Alps, and architecture in times of crisis, among others.

Frances A. Loughney, M.S., instructor of education, earned a special education administration and supervision certification, a master of science degree in special education, an elementary education certification (K-6), and a bachelor of arts degree in special education, all from Marywood University. On the university level, she has taught at the University of Scranton, Wilkes University, and Marywood. Ms. Loughney held several special education positions in the Dunmore School District for many years prior to her retirement, initially serving as a learning support teacher and transition coordinator and eventually becoming the district’s special education director. Ms. Loughney also has served the director for transition for Northeast Center for Independent Living.

Marywood University Art Galleries Announce Exhibits

Two Marywood art galleries will feature new exhibits, beginning Sat., Sept. 10. The exhibits, opening receptions, and gallery talks are free and open to the public.

Mahady Gallery – Art Faculty Biennial 2022, Sat., Sept. 10 – Sat., Oct. 15

The Mahady Gallery, located on the first floor of the Shields Center for Visual Arts at Marywood University, is hosting Art Faculty Biennial 2022, an exhibition by Marywood Art Department faculty that showcases a diverse range of styles, mediums, and techniques. The opening reception is set for Sat., Sept. 10, from 3-5 p.m. A gallery talk is scheduled for Wed., Sept. 28, at 3 p.m.

Suraci Gallery – P.W. Costello: From Breaker Boy to Master Engrosser, Sat., Sept. 10 – Sat., Dec. 3

The Suraci Gallery, located on the second floor of the Shields Center for Visual Arts at Marywood University, is hosting P.W. Costello: From Breaker Boy to Master Engrosser. The opening reception is set for Sat., Sept. 10, from 3-5 p.m. A gallery talk is scheduled for Mon., Oct. 3, at 1 p.m.

P. W. Costello was a designer, engrosser, illuminator and illustrator. As a breaker boy, he sketched drawings on slabs of slate that he found near the mine. At home, during that same time, he diligently practiced his penmanship. With formal art training out of reach, he relied on his own motivation and creativity to develop foundational skills in design, lettering and illustration. For 45 years, he worked from a studio in downtown Scranton, engrossing elaborately-lettered and decorated documents for U.S. presidents, foreign heads of state, and Scranton’s leaders in industry, manufacturing, business, politics, education, religion and sports. In 2016, the City of Scranton celebrated its Sesquicentennial (1866-2016) by naming 150 people, including, P.W. Costello, “who made Scranton great.”

Fall 2022 hours for the Mahady and Suraci Galleries are: Mon., Noon-4 p.m.; Tue., 10 a.m.-4 p.m.; Wed., Noon-4 p.m.; Thurs., 9 a.m.-4 p.m.; Fri., 9 a.m.-4 p.m.; and Sat., 1-4 p.m. For more information on Marywood’s Art Galleries, visit

Waverly Community House Fall Programs

Floral Workshop
What: Fall centerpiece make & take! Join farmer-florists Jenny and Ashlee on Saturday October 1st @ 10AM to create a fun fall inspired floral pumpkin centerpiece!
What to expect: 
Meet and greet with your local flower farmers
 Light refreshments
 Design Demo
Hands on experience arranging your own centerpiece

You’ll get exclusive access to fresh Autumn flowers from our gardens to create your pumpkin centerpiece that will WOW all of your guests this Fall!

Where: Waverly Community House Scout Room, 1115 N. Abington Road, Waverly 
When: Saturday, October 1 at 10:00 am 
Fee: $75 
Reserve your spot today at

Destination Freedom Walking Tour
Tours begin at The Waverly Community House, 1115 N. Abington Road, Waverly. To register for a tour, guests can call the Comm at 570-586-8191 or email our Destination Freedom Tour Guide at

Stop by The Comm Library
Enjoy our lending library.
We have an updated assortment of adult and children’s books.

Visit “The Upstairs Thrift”!
Our upscale thrift shop featuring women’s, men’s, and children’s clothing and housewares.
Hours: Wednesday through Friday, 10am-4pm; Saturdays 10am-1pm

PennDOT Honors Star of Excellence Recipients

Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) Secretary Yassmin Gramian today recognized 29 PennDOT employees for their outstanding performance with the Star of Excellence Award, PennDOT’s highest recognition.  Twoemployeesfrom PennDOT’s District 4 whichrepresents Lackawanna, Luzerne, Pike, Susquehanna, Wayne and Wyomingcountieswere among the honorees.

“These employees represent the many incredible members of the PennDOT team,” Gramian said. “With a focus on innovation, customer service, mobility and community connections, they work tirelessly each day to provide safe and efficient transportation for Pennsylvania’s residents.”

Gramian and other department executives honored winners Summer Koziel and Robert McGavin during an event held at the Governor’s Residence.

“Both Summer and Robert have truly excelled in their service to the travelling public in northeast Pennsylvania.  They are both stars within our organization and work at a very high level everyday” said Richard Roman, District Executive for PennDOT Engineering District 4, based in Dunmore.

Summer is a Senior Project Manager in our Design Division’s Liaison Unit.  She manages Consultant Designers in preparing and coordinating design packages to be let by the Department. Summer is currently managing 30 projects, which include many complex interstate projects. 

Summer developed a OneNote “District 4-0 Liaison Project Manager Reference Manual”.  As Ms. Koziel was learning the process through her manager and other Liaison Project Managers, she noted how to handle various District processes and preferences that a Project Manager may not specifically find in any manual. 

Cost savings were realized through internal preparation of the Liaison Project Manager Reference Manual, rather through consultant documentation and subsequent employee training the District saw a one-time savings of $40,000. In addition, cost savings were realized by Ms. Koziel assisting in wetland delineations and providing documentation for permitting as needed, rather than consultant delivery saving $10,000 yearly.

Summer is recognized by her peers as a positive and hardworking employee who can take on any task.  Summer is respected by the numerous consultants she manages and District staff.

Robert “Bobby” McGavin’ s daily accomplishments regularly touch on many of the values and strategic themes of the Department.  As Sign Foreman in Wyoming County, Bobby and his crew always do their jobs with safety and quality in mind.

Over the past two years, Bobby has acted as a Highway Maintenance Coordinator in Wyoming County and has helped the County to achieve reductions in accident and injury rates.  As acting HMC, Bobby strives to provide a quality customer experience.

Bobby is regularly recognized by his peers for his work in improved productivity and customer service saving the District $11,261.25.  From completing a slide repair on SR 2013, to improving drainage on SR 1003 near Lake Carey, Bobby is noticed for his accomplishments, and that of his team.

Wayne Bank Ranks in Top 100 Performing Banks in U.S.

Wayne Bank, a subsidiary of Norwood Financial Corp (Nasdaq Global Market – NWFL), was recently ranked as one of the top 100 performing banks in the country by Bank Director magazine.

Coming in at number seventy-one, Wayne Bank was evaluated on its profitability, capital adequacy, asset quality, and total shareholder return within the $1 Billion to $5 Billion asset size level.

President and Chief Executive Officer of Wayne Bank, James O. Donnelly, commented, “It is an honor to be included in this prestigious list of financial institutions.  As a 150-year old community bank, Wayne Bank is committed to creating shareholder value by investing in our employees, customers, and communities, and we will continue to operate with that philosophy as we grow.”

Bank Director has analyzed the best in banking through its RankingBanking reports, since 2017.  For the 2022 study, they identified the best U.S. banks: those that balance growth and profitability, deliver long-term shareholder value, and execute their goals in a safe and sound manner.  They also examined factors that drive performance including growth, leadership, board oversight, and technological innovation.

New Blast Booth Expands Upon Tobyhanna’s Diverse Capabilities

As a part of Tobyhanna Army Depot’s (TYAD) continuous mission of providing top-of-the-line support and being the best value for the warfighter, a new blast booth was recently installed in the C4ISR Finishing Center to improve processes in the shop.

Artisans in the Systems Integration and Support Directorate previously used blasters that shot aluminum zirconium at the asset being worked on, however those that work in the new booth will use blasters that fire small pieces of plastic at the asset.

The use of this plastic media is an alternative to hand sanding sensitive assets, which is a very time intensive process. It also allows for more versatile capabilities when it comes to the removal of certain layers of an asset. Aluminum zirconium is an abrasive form of media, so much so that it goes as far as removing the plating off an asset when working with it. Conversely, the plastic media is much less abrasive and allows depot employees to just remove the coating, for example. Although the plastic media is very diverse in its capabilities, it doesn’t totally eliminate the need for aluminum zirconium as the latter substance is more effective when working with corroded assets and will still be heavily relied upon at the depot.

Supervisory Production Management Specialist Thomas Petroski said that this new capability is great not only for depot employees, but also for our customers and the warfighter.

“The use of plastic blasting media grants us with many advantages that were previously unavailable to us,” said Petroski. “It replaces a lot of sanding that is done by hand, it reduces the repair cycle time which saves our customers time and money and it also allows us to process some work faster than before so we can get these assets out on the battlefield quicker.”

Like the C4ISR Refinishing Center itself, the new blast booth is also Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED) certified, which allows TYAD to play a significant part in being good stewards of the environment. The 25 by 40 foot blast bay has a reclamation system all across its floor. As the plastic media falls through the grates on the floor, the reclamation system separates it from the other coating residue that comes off an asset and cycles it back through to be blasted once again. The plastic media can be cycled about 10 times before it becomes so fine that is no longer useable.

This new blast booth provides Tobyhanna with expanded capabilities and is directly aligned with Tobyhanna’s long-range strategic plan, TOBY2028-2035, which has four focus areas: Investing in Our People, C5ISR Readiness, Shape the Future and Strategic Communications. TOBY2028 aims to posture the depot for success in the coming years as the Department of Defense’s premier worldwide C5ISR readiness provider.

The Wright Center for Community Health Project PROGRESS

The Wright Center for Community Health, along Luzerne County Community College, The Institute, the Northeast Pennsylvania Area Health Education Center and the Wayne Pike Workforce Alliance have joined together to reduce the stigma associated with substance use disorder by connecting people in recovery with recovery-friendly employers in the new community-based, recovery-to-work program, Project PROGRESS.

            Project PROGRESS is an acronym for Providing Recovery Opportunities for Growth, Education and Sustainable Success, which serves Northeast Pennsylvania counties, including Lackawanna, Luzerne, Pike, Susquehanna, Wayne and Wyoming.

            Project PROGRESS is funded in part through a grant from the Appalachian Regional Commission along with financial support from the five partner organizations. “The goal of the project is to reduce the impact of stigma related to recovery on employees, employers and the region. Often people connect recovery and substance use, which is true, but think bigger. Recovery is about coming into healthy ways of being. The impact of being in recovery is incredible and demonstrates hard work. Whole communities benefit when people are in recovery,” said Meaghan Ruddy, Ph.D., senior vice president of Academic Affairs, Enterprise Assessment and Advancement, and Chief Research and Development Officer for The Wright Center for Community Health. 

            In November 2020, Gov. Tom Wolf renewed for the 12th time his declaration that the opioid epidemic has placed Pennsylvania in a state health emergency. From 2015 to 2018, 1,149 people are reported to have died from opioid overdoses in the project’s six-county service area, according to OverdoseFreePA.

            “A community’s capacity to create anything at the community level will in large part rely on the robustness of that community’s understanding of a need and commitment to creating solutions to meet that need. Leadership and innovative organizations in the six counties of focus for Project PROGRESS are painfully aware of the impact the opioid crisis is having on our friends and neighbors,” said Dr. Ruddy.

            Yet, according to Dr. Ruddy, many community members lack an understanding of addiction as a chronic illness. In addition, health care workers default to stigmatizing the language of addiction when treating patients and many employers refuse to hire people in recovery. “This is all part of a structural misunderstanding of the tragic complexity of individuals struggling with addiction, and a lack of knowledge of the fact that individuals in recovery create communities in recovery,” she said.

Olyphant resident and deejay makes recovery his business

Earning money came easily for Jason McConnell from the time he was a teen, pulling in hundreds of dollars per night at area hotspots as a popular deejay.

The Olyphant native’s prospects sank fast, however, as a substance use disorder that first surfaced in high school began destroying his business relationships, his credit rating and his life. The lucrative weekend gigs declined, until finally one night the college dropout found himself playing music at one of the few spots that would still agree to hire him: a strip club.

Humiliated and dejected, he quit, left the club and drove straight to a liquor store. Before his Saturday night ended, McConnell, then in his mid-20s, had been charged with a DUI offense.

“That was really the turning point,” says McConnell, now 30 and sober for nearly six years. “The day after that DUI, I remember sitting in a rocker at my parents’ house, beneath the deck, and I felt so empty inside. That’s when I was like, ‘Let’s do whatever we have to do. I can’t live like this anymore.’”

For people like McConnell who are intent on overcoming a substance use disorder and leading a healthier life, the challenge often goes beyond dealing with the physical and psychological addiction. They also face financial hurdles, often because social stigma and other barriers prevent them from vying for desirable jobs or even entering quality educational and training programs. Their road to recovery becomes blocked, potentially resulting in poor outcomes, even relapse.

The Wright Center for Community Health – a Scranton-based provider of primary care, medication-assisted treatment and recovery-related services in Northeast Pennsylvania – recognizes how difficult it can be to get and stay sober, especially if a person struggles to find and maintain well-paying employment. That’s why The Wright Center and multiple partners began a regional initiative called Project PROGRESS.

The project, which was publicly launched in September 2022, aims to expand opportunities for people living in recovery to find meaningful and family-sustaining employment, including careers in the health care field. Fueled by grant funding from the Appalachian Regional Commission, the project’s promoters will engage with business owners and leaders across multiple industries to reduce the unfair stigma associated with substance use disorders and remove obstacles that prohibit workplace participation.

In McConnell’s case, his ability to earn money immediately after treatment – and while living in the vulnerable stage of early recovery – was hobbled by the lack of a college degree. But he had an entrepreneurial drive. He managed to slowly revive his deejay operation while also launching a cellphone repair service. Then, during a checkup at The Wright Center for Community Health, another job prospect emerged.

Dr. Linda Thomas-Hemak, The Wright Center’s president and CEO, who also had been McConnell’s longtime physician, knew about the impressive strides he had made toward changing his life for the better. “She said that I would be great for a position as a certified recovery specialist,” he recalls.

McConnell suspended business at his cellphone shop for two weeks so that he could complete the required training, then began work as a certified recovery specialist – a person who has gone through the recovery process and can serve as a mentor, role model and motivator.

“When I meet a new patient, I try to explain to them that I’ve been where they’re at,” he says. “The job involves a lot of talking about your personal experience and giving suggestions.”

Through the Project PROGRESS program, training to become a certified recovery specialist has been provided by Luzerne County Community College to dozens of individuals. More trainees are expected to soon enter the pipeline. Similarly, the Northeast Pennsylvania Area Health Education Center offers preparation to become a community health worker.

Thanks to McConnell’s support network and his steady employment, he was able after completing treatment to put his life on a whole new trajectory. He gradually restored his credit rating. He even turned his once-tarnished deejay business into a thriving moonlighting enterprise.

“When I got sober, I realized it was a second chance at being happy, being everything that I ever wanted to be,” he says. “And with a clear mind, you can go a long way.”

Geisinger to Host Free, Virtual Lung Cancer Screening Information Session

Geisinger will host a free, virtual lung cancer screening information session from 2 to 3 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 27.

For at-risk patients, lung cancer screening is quick, easy and painless and just as important to the early detection and treatment of cancer as regular mammograms and colonoscopies.

Patients may be eligible for lung cancer screening if they are:

  • Between the ages of 50 and 80
  • Have a 20-pack-year smoking history
  • Currently smoke or quit within the last 15 years

The event will be hosted by Matthew Facktor, M.D., director of the lung cancer screening program and chair of Geisinger’s Department of Thoracic Surgery, and George Ruiz, M.D., chair of Geisinger’s Department of Cardiology.

The session will cover:

  • An overview of lung cancer screening
  • Who is a good candidate for regular screening
  • How to calculate pack-year history
  • A question-and-answer session

Anyone interested in learning about lung cancer screening can register for the information session by visiting During registration, participants can submit questions they’d like addressed during the session.