Stepping Up

(EDITORS NOTE: This is the third installment in a series about Leadership Lycoming projects in the community.)

Another organization in which Leadership Lycoming extended their hand is STEP Inc., an organization whose mission is to “engage diverse individuals, families and communities in the pursuit of social and economic success,” according to their website,

STEP seeked assistance with their annual STEP MLK Walk.

The first walk was held in January 2008 and is held each year to celebrate the teachings of Martin Luther King Jr. and to honor his birthday.

The last few walks have started at the beginning of MLK Blvd., and then proceeded on to the Lycoming College Recreation Center.

According to Daryl Kern, AmeriCorps program manager, the number of participants in the walk have ranged from 50 to 170 walkers.

The walk is a part of a series of events surrounding MLK.

“MLK Day of Service is a special initiative of AmeriCorps to transform Dr. King’s life and teachings into community service that helps empower and strengthen local communities,” Kern said.

“Our local STEP AmeriCorps members plan the walk and events each year and have partnered with various organizations such as the Campbell Street Community Center, Lycoming College, YWCA Northcentral PA, Pennsylvania College of Technology and the NAACP,” he said.

This year held different goals – bigger goals, that prompted STEP to reach out to Leadership Lycoming. STEP AmeriCorps and the recently-formed MLK Commemoration Committee (YWCA) joined together to tackle the bigger event, which included a major service project that started out with the MLK Walk.

“We realized that more help was needed so we submitted a request to Leadership Lycoming to take the event on as a project,” Kern said.

After much brainstorming and a few obstacles, the organizations worked together to figure out their focus.

They only had a short period of time between October and January to get everything completed.

“It was difficult at first to focus our enthusiasm to what we wanted and what was possible for this event to be. We had many different organizations involved with really great ideas but only had so much time to execute the plan in. So, it was difficult at first to reach a consensus on what the Day of Service should involve,” said Josh Rogers, of Rogers Uniforms, and Leadership Lycoming group member.

Other members of the Leadership group assigned to the STEP project were: Adrienne Wertz, Lycoming County United Way; Anne Tiberia, M&T Bank; Matt McLaughlin, Susquehanna Health; Jeannine Feigles, CRS Advanced Technology; and Adrian Temple.

Their objective was to put together “Family Fun Packs” for at-risk fifth and sixth grade students in the Williamsport Area School District.

“We did fundraising to raise money or supplies to be able to fill the Family Fun Packs with essentials for the children. We were able to get enough donations to fill 600 bags full of educational games, food, hygiene products, hats and gloves and much more,” Rogers said.

Additionally, they successfully implemented a marketing strategy that included flyers, a Facebook page and other useful materials.

Ultimately, through everyone working together, the event turned out fantastic; they even received thank you letters from members of the community.

“I thought the partnership was excellent and loved working with both STEP and AmeriCorp to create a successful event,” Rogers said.

“Leadership Lycoming was extremely helpful and instrumental in the success of the service project and the walk,” Kern said.

“Their work and contribution to the project was invaluable to the success of the day,” he added.

Kern currently is recruiting members for the next service year and also recruiting new partners to host AmeriCorps members.

Any organization, school or municipality interested may contact STEP. Likewise, anyone interested in becoming an AmeriCorps member should visit or contact them directly at 326-0587.