– In February, 2020, Dr. Charlotte Casterline donated her former office building, located at 915 Wyoming Avenue, Forty Fort, to the Wilkes-Barre Family YMCA. The building, valued at more than $400,000, will be used as a second early childhood education center for the Wilkes-Barre Family YMCA, serving approximately 35-40 children in the Forty Fort and Kingston communities. The Wilkes-Barre Family YMCA plans on opening the center in September, 2020.

The property features a large attached parking area and a playground area. The location is within walking distance of the Forty Fort swimming pool and park, allowing for nearby options for outdoor play. The building is a grand, three-story, hundred-year-old home that has been remodeled several times. The first-floor has multiple classroom-sized areas. The second-floor features three bedrooms, a living and dining room and a newly remodeled fully-equipped kitchen. The third-floor is available for offices or a music space, as the building houses a white grand piano. There is a total of five bathrooms.

Historically, the building functioned as a boarding house for travelers during the early 1900s, a family practitioner’s office in the 1950s and an architect’s office in the 1960s. It was purchased by Dr. Casterline in 1984, after which she converted it into her medical office, which specializes in Allergy, Asthma and Immunology. After 35 years, Dr. Casterline relocated her office to the New Bridge Center in Kingston.

“I have long been familiar with the Wilkes-Barre YMCA and its day camps, overnight camps and community service,” said Dr. Casterline. “Both of my children attended these fine programs. My husband, Peter F. Casterline, M.D., and I established a scholarship fund in their honor, which is now in its 16th year. When the current Executive Director, Jim Thomas, learned of the availability of the Forty Fort property, he envisioned a new role for it as an early education child care center. Such a facility endorses the mission of the YMCA: To build a healthy spirit, mind and body for all.”

Dr. Casterline is a long-time proponent of early childhood education. In 1954, her Mother, Lena G. Lewis, an education graduate of Ohio State University, founded the first nursery school in Cleveland, Ohio. Her concept was that three and four-year-old children could acquire independence from family, plus self-confidence and new communication and socialization skills prior to entering kindergarten. She later founded and was named President of the Cleveland Association for Nursery Education. As a teenager, Dr. Casterline spent her spare time helping at her Mother’s school and especially enjoyed reading to the children, whose “minds were like sponges.”

“The donation of the building will allow the Y to expand its reach into the Forty Fort/Kingston area and Wyoming Valley West School District,” said Jennifer Brennan, Director of Education and Child Care Services, Wilkes-Barre Family YMCA. “We constantly receive calls about children who attend the Wyoming Valley West School District, where we don’t currently provide transportation. This center, being right on Wyoming Avenue, will provide the community with a quality child care setting. We are looking forward to bringing the Y’s values to that area and exploring more of the community’s needs, which the Y can support.”

“The Wilkes-Barre Family YMCA is beyond grateful to Dr. Charlotte Casterline and her husband, Dr. Peter Casterline, for their incredible generosity,” said Jim Thomas, Wilkes-Barre Family YMCA. “Because of Dr. Casterline’s support and her belief in the importance of early childhood education, families in the Forty Fort and Kingston communities will have another option for daycare and preschool services for their children. We believe this contribution will have a lasting, positive impact on our region for generations to come.”

For more information on early childhood education at the Wilkes-Barre Family YMCA, contact Jennifer Brennan at jennifer.brennan@wbymca.org or call (570) 970-5041. For more information on Drs. Charlotte and Peter Casterline’s scholarship fund in honor of their children, Corine C. Scheng and Major Peter L. Casterline, contact Jamie Dudick at jamie.dudick@wbymca.org or call (570) 970-5027.

“Learning at any age is magical,” said Dr. Casterline. “Learning in a safe, happy, structured environment is ideal. That is quite a legacy for any building.”