Supporting learning and life skills programs for kids

FORTY FORT, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — Not all Christmas presents come wrapped in a box with a bow on top.

A NEPA non-profit group experienced that Wednesday when it received a very big gift. Eyewitness News Reporter Mark Hiller was there for the gift giving disguised as a book reading event.

“When will it ever snow?,” read United Way of Wyoming Valley Annual Campaign Co-Chair Tom Makowski. The book was called “Splat the Cat: Blow, Snow, Blow”. Fellow co-chair Alana Roberts read, “Splat and his family stayed cozy.”

The pair took turns reading to preschoolers at Wyoming Valley Children’s Association. The book was a hit for the kids who got to take home their own copy. But there’s an even better story here.

Many of the enrolled children — more than 70 percent — are getting early intervention services to help overcome developmental delays. Wyoming Valley Children’s Association Director of Development & Marketing Christine Meluskey said, “And it really helps them to build those foundational skills that will help them for the rest of their lives.”

It’s why United Way of Wyoming Valley presented the non-profit organization a really big check — one for $100,000 — that helps address the ABC’s, 1,2,3’s and so much more.

United Way of Wyoming Valley Vice President of Community Impact Jennifer Deemer said, “From the social and emotional perspective and how to be prepared for when the teacher gives them instructions. High-quality early learning takes care of all of that.”

More than 120 students are enrolled at Wyoming Valley Children’s Association but not all of them are preschoolers. Some are part of the new kindergarten program which WVCA started this year in response to a growing need in the community. Programs including individualized learning plans teach valuable skills in an inclusive environment to better prepare kids both in and out of the classroom.

“Grants from the United Way and other sources really make this whole mission of the school a reality,” said Ms. Meluskey.

Wyoming Valley Children’s Association services include occupational, physical, and speech/hearing therapy. It also runs a Childhood Autism Team Check Clinic to evaluate kids from Luzerne and Wyoming Counties.