HAZLETON, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — Changes are coming to the city of Hazleton in hopes of revitalizing the downtown.

“When we came here, for several years we didn’t know where to go,” says Walter Duran, coordinator of the Downtown Hazleton Alliance for Progress.

Duran moved to Hazleton from the Dominican Republic. He says for years, his family didn’t know where to go.

“We always thought about bringing the community together, starting some type of project where we can get involved. I really feel like a lot of people just don’t know what is happening around the town, so we thought we would be the perfect people to make sure everyone feels involved and included,” says Duran.

Inclusion is one of the primary goals of the Downtown Hazleton Alliance for Progress, a nonprofit that just selected its new executive director, Yosara “Yoshie” Gonzalez.

“Our goal is to help our downtown grow. To bring people in. To have culture and be the dominant force to help people get to know each other,” says Gonzalez.

One of the ways they are doing that are “First Friday” events, which start back up this week.

“We’re going to have a lot of fun events for the kids. There’s going to be a bouncy house, Zumba classes, yoga, across the street we have the pine eateries café. We’re even going to have showcases from some of our dance studios from around town in the park. It’s going to be fun for the whole family,” says Gonzalez

The alliance also aims to create an inclusive environment in the downtown which embraces different cultures.

“It’s very important. We incorporate culture. We are a melting pot. A lot of different cultures live here, mixing together. It’s not just Dominicans. We have people from different parts of the world. That’s what makes us unique. That’s what makes us different,” says Robert Collado, coordinator for the Alliance.

Creating a better downtown Hazleton, one day at a time.