Dunmorean of the Month: Kate Jones

By Steve Svetovich

Kate Jones is a very proud lifelong resident of the Dunmore borough.

But the 1978 Dunmore High School graduate is just as proud of the work done at Goodwill Industries of Northeast PA (NEPA). nmoAnd she should be. 

She is the chief executive officer (CEO) of Goodwill Industries of NEPA. 

The Bloomsburg University sociology graduate has been married for 35 years to Jerry Jones. The couple has three sons: Jerry, 32, Tucker, 29, and Cory, 27. Jerry is married to the former Patti Kotchik of Dunmore and works in finance for Benco Dental. Tucker is an architect in Philadelphia. Cory is with the Single Corp stationed with the U.S. Army in Honolulu. 

Jones is proud of her four grandchildren: Patrick, Aidan, Adeline and newborn Emilia, only two months old. Patrick, 12, and Aiden, 10, are students at Dunmore Elementary School. 

Jones has been the CEO of Goodwill Industries of NEPA for the past five years.

Following her graduation from Bloomsburg, Jones started her working career as a mental health worker for The Friendship House, Scranton. She then went to work for a grant-funded program, the Private Providers Project, at Keystone College, Factoryville. 

She continued to work at Keystone College in a variety of capacities, mostly development and educational, for 33 years before taking on the position of CEO at Goodwill Industries. Her last title at Keystone was director of special events.

As the CEO of Goodwill Industries, she covers 11 counties in Northeast Pennsylvania. “There is a tendency for it to be more expensive to do retail in rural counties,” she said. 

“Goodwill also does behavioral support services as part of high school student transition plans. Our retail programs operate 12 group homes in Lackawanna and Luzerne counties. We also work with intellectual and developmental disabilities of autistic adults,” Kate explains. “We also participate in a drug treatment force and re-entry program to help clients get job ready.”

Jones, hard-working and community-oriented, pointed out that Goodwill provides many services the public is not aware of.  “As the CEO, all the departments report to me. It is not a huge non-profit, so I am involved with many of the day-to-day operations.”

Jones said Goodwill Industries received a grant from the Department of Labor and Industry to help individuals re-enter the community after an arrest or incarceration. “We work with these individuals on career readiness, resume writing, digital skills and what is needed for them to re enter the community in a positive manner.”

Jones said Wayne County recently appointed Goodwill Industries to do a pilot program. The Employment Services Program is a small workforce development program to help individuals overcome barriers and become employed. “That really is the reason we have our retail programs,” she said. “Buying donated goods through Goodwill translates into services. People don’t always make the connection there. Their donations help us to expand programs. We are in the business of helping people. Spreading the word of what Goodwill is all about helps us do that.”

Jones said Goodwill also owns and operates the Gerald T. Langan Residence and Senior Housing Facility which was originally North Scranton Junior High School. The facility provides lower income-based housing for senior citizens and was 22 years in the making, Jones said.

 It is also the location of The Theatre at North, an 800-seat, state-of-the-art facility which provides musical entertainment, concerts, and other programs for the public. The facility was originally the site of the North Scranton Junior High School auditorium.

Jones said Goodwill Industries also has an E Commerce Division which is ShopGoodwill.com. “The public can shop online.” The main warehouse for Goodwill Industries of NEPA is located in Throop.

Goodwill Industries also has pre-vocational and small group employment programs. Eligible individuals are assigned to do work-related tasks in stores as part of these programs, said Jones.

Jones succeeded Gerald Langan as Goodwill Industries CEO of NEPA.

Dunmorean of the Month: Betsy McGrath Ardizoni

By Steve Svetovich

Some individuals like to give back to the community.

Betsy McGrath Ardizoni wanted to do something to honor her late dad, Atty. Harry McGrath.

So she decided to run a golf tournament to honor him and also support programs for children at the YMCA in Dunmore.

She chaired the golf tournament, named after her late dad, this past May 21, to support programs at the local YMCA.

“My dad was just a huge part of the YMCA, so that is why I chose to help the programs there,” Betsy said.

The second annual Harry P. McGrath Memorial Golf Tournament and Celebration was held Friday, May 21, at Glen Oak Country Club. 

Proceeds went to benefit the Greater YMCA Summer Learning Loss Prevention Program through literacy instruction, enrichment activities and positive youth development opportunities. 

Harry P. McGrath

Betsy, 32, who lives her her husband Guy in Dunmore, is also development director at the Scranton Cultural Center. 

Her dad died in September of 2018. Her mom’s name is Joell. Betsy has three brothers: Harry, Bob and Joe.

“We held the golf tournament in his memory, but because of my dad’s connection throughout the years with the YMCA in Dunmore we decided to raise funds to help children get back on track in school. 

“The YMCA runs a six-week summer program that helps grade school children who have fallen behind get back on track for their next grade level.

“My dad was a lifetime member of the YMCA. As an attorney, he specialized in education law. He was a big supporter of children and education. He was a good man, with great values who led a good life. He also held the YMCA in high regard and was a big supporter of the programs there.”

Betsy said 144 people attended the golf event and over $45,000 was raised to support the YMCA summer program for the school age children.

“This money raised will help kids in school while also honoring my father’s legacy.”

Betsy said over 150 school age children have been served since the start of the program. 

The program currently serves incoming first, second and third graders in the Dunmore and Mid Valley School Districts.

“Our goal is to expand even more and offer the program to more school districts,” she said. 

“The goal regarding the program is to get a child’s reading level on track for the next grade level.”

Betsy graduated from Scranton High School in 2007 and Penn State in 2011 where she earned a bachelor of science degree in Labor and Employment Relations. 

She worked in marketing at the Wright Center for three and one-half years before taking the position as development director for the Scranton Cultural Center in January 2020. “I love my job there,” she said.

This McGrath family photo includes, from left: Michele McGrath, Bob McGrath, Joe McGrath, Harry McGrath Jr., Stephanie McGrath holding Ella, Betsy McGrath Ardizoni holding Maeve, Guy Ardizoni, and Joell McGrath holding Harry P. McGrath.

Her husband is a 2000 Dunmore graduate. The couple has a baby on the way, with Betsy expected to deliver this August. “We are so happy and can’t  wait for the baby to come,” she said.

Betsy, who was a cheerleader and played basketball in high school, said she is thrilled money raised from the golf tournament will help younger school age children. “My dad would have liked that since he was such a strong supporter of children and education. It is something he would fight for in his law practice. So in my dad’s name, we feel privileged to help out with this great YMCA program.”

Betsy is on the Board of Directors at the YMCA in Dunmore.

Committee members for the golf tournament included Betsy, Harry McGrath, Jr.; Bill McGrath, Janet Brier, Jeanie McGrath, Lorraine Perry, Matt Haggerty, Kelly Hadley, Chad Vinansky, Brian Loughney, YMCA Board President Bill Dempsey, CEO of the Greater YMCA Trish Fisher, YMCA staff member Robert Dubila and YMCA staff member Meghan Carnevale. 

The late Atty. Harry McGrath was a proud member of the Greater YMCA who specialized in education law, advocating for the rights of students, particularly those with special needs. It became his passion to improve the quality of education in Northeast PA.

The Greater Scranton YMCA is honored to host this annual event in his memory.

Dumoreans of the Month: Sherry’s Royalettes

Sherry’s Royalettes will conduct their spring recital on Friday, May 21. Group members include, first row from left: Mia Irving, graduating senior, and Miss Buck, Isabella Zeller. Second row, same order: Haylie Keating, Kylie Jezorwski, Danielle Decker and Julia Temperino.

By Steve Svetovich

Sherry’s Royalettes will celebrate “40 wonderful years” with its spring recital scheduled Friday, May 21, at Sherwood Park in Dunmore. 

“This year’s recital will be held outdoors,” said Sherry Rubino Nicolais, founder and director of Sherry’s Royalettes, Dunmore.

“It has certainly been a trying year and to remain safe and within CDC guidelines the park is the perfect setting for the recital.”

Nicolais is assisted by Nicole Pizzola. 

There are 35 members of Sherry’s Royalettes ranging from age three to 18. Senior members include Isabella Zeller, a graduating senior who is currently Miss Buck; Mia Irving, Haylie Keating, Kylie Jezorwski, Danielle Decker and Julia Temperino. 

This is actually the 41st year of the organization, but last year’s 40th celebration was curtailed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“By holding this outdoors,” said Nicolais, ” we will still be following CDC guidelines but members can invite parents and grandparents. Seating will be six feet apart, of course.

“The girls can showcase their twirling skills outside. There will even be fire baton twirlers.”

Nicolais said it was a tough year due to COVID. Sherry’s Royalettes went virtual for a time before meeting in person again. “Doing it virtually is not an easy thing,” said Nicolais. “It is just like being in school. Being in class with a teacher is much easier for learning.”

Initially at the onset of COVID, Sherry’s Royalettes went virtual with some classes, started back up last September and were shut down this past December due to the pandemic. The group started meeting in person again this past February. 

“We planned a big party and celebration last year, but it was cancelled due to COVID,” said Nicolais.

“We did have a short drive by with trophies last June outside of the Dunmore Community Center. We had cupcakes and balloons. That is about all we could do due to COVID. We followed the guidelines.” 

The group had always met at the Dunmore Community Center. However, the group was forced to stop meeting there due to the pandemic. “We were able to secure the Church of Good Shepherd on North Washington Avenue in Green Ridge,” said Nicolais. “We will stay and meet there as long as we have to. 

“We are very happy to celebrate 40 years. I actually started this 41 years ago. Many of our members have become Miss Buck. Some have gone on to become national champions. Many of our students have gone on to be very successful. One of my former male students, Derrek Lederer, is a men’s national champion and currently featured twirler at East Stroudsburg University.”

Nicolais was twirling instructor at Dunmore High School for 34 years, but resigned after the last twirling season to spend time with her two grandchildren, one a female toddler and the other a three-month-old baby girl, at State College. Her daughter Meredith Freeman, 28, resides at State College. She was once a twirler at Penn State.

Another daughter, Brittany Semion, 32, who twirled at Penn State, is an emergency room doctor in New York City and has been a front line health care worker throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Her youngest daughter Kayleigh Semion, 24, recently received her master’s degree from Penn State where she played on the varsity basketball team. She is a former Dunmore basketball All State and All Regional player. 

All three of her daughters were a part of Sherry’s Royalettes.

“We will follow strict CDC guidelines at our spring recital. We will all wear masks, be six feet apart and there will be temperature checks. But it will be a nice celebration with 40 wonderful years as the theme. And our members can have their parents and grandparents there.

“It has been so nice to see the many successes of our students over the past 40 years.”