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A Strategy To Empower People

As many of you know, when I was growing up in Southside, I lived on Kane Street. I spent a lot of time at my grandmother, Josephine Webb’s, and at my aunt Mary Jo’s. Both lived in what my Father referred to as the Dutch Hill section. I had a blast in that neighborhood, whether I was at my cousin Kevin’s, my grandmother’s, or at the Plankenhorn’s house, which was just above Uncle Jim’s and Aunt Mary Jo’s. They always treated me like their own, and I loved playing whiffle ball in the big open field next to their house. It was one of the first places I was allowed to ride my bike too, which was a big deal back then — down Kane Street, across Mountain Avenue, and down Beech.

The other place I loved going was over to my grandparents, Nanny and Pappy Maietta. They lived right on 4th Street across from the Handy Market. My grandfather had the Newberry Plaza and on down Race Street still owned the warehouse and garage where he had Lycoming Sales and Leasing Company. My Uncle Ron and Aunt Anna lived right on the corner of the parking lot. Pappy parked some of his older trucks there, and we often played in an adjacent open field. My cousin Ronnie and I would throw stones, play kickball, smear the person with the ball, get inside the trucks and act like we were driving with the neighborhood kids, which included the Kiesslings. Great childhood memories from Dutch Hill and Newberry.

This week we wanted to feature STEP, Inc. and all the good they do in Lycoming and Clinton counties. I am amazed at the programs, help, and assistance they offer folks at the beginning of their lives, right on thru until many are homebound. Unfortunately, and fortunately, the only person an elderly or homebound individual may see is somebody from STEP.

James D. Plankenhorn, President & CEO of STEP, will always just be Jimmy to me. I’ve known him my whole life, and I still think of him as my childhood friend that I’m gonna jump on my Huffy bike and go play whiffle ball with. And then maybe spend the night at my Nanny Webb’s or Aunt Mary Jo’s and do it all over the next day. We would play for hours.

They don’t come any better than Jimmy; he is retired Air Force, loves his community, and is a great person to oversee things on a daily basis at STEP. And yes, he would often get the best of me at whiffle ball, he was a little bit older, or at least that’s my story.

Then there is STEP’s Chief Financial Officer, Patricia J. Kiessling. She will always be Patti to me. She has been very successful in the finance world and worked her way to being a CFO. We have pretty much known each other during our entire journey through life and spent many years working together first at McCormick Lines for my Father. Patti continued on with my Dad to Webb Communications, and long story short, she is like an older sister to me. She has overseen Webb Weekly’s financials since the beginning. I’m proud to report she never beat me at whiffle ball. Thank you, Patti, for putting up with me because I’m sure I wasn’t an easy younger brother.

STEP stands for Success Through Engagement and Partnership. I just recently found that out from my Editor, Steph. It is present with their logo often in small print, but many ask what it stands for, including me. Since Patti began working there eight years ago, Jimmy and I have gotten to talk on a more regular basis. This has allowed me to learn just how important STEP is within our community. See, previously, I knew of the organization, but never really took the time to learn about the organization.

To me, STEP is simply people that love and care about the people within our communities. They help in the widest variety of ways. They employ close to 300 folks between their Lycoming and Clinton County offices. We all know about their Head Start program, the transportation they provide, and the Meals on Wheels they deliver. However, that’s just the beginning of what they do. They truly provide education, services, and positivity for about every need a person or family could have.

STEP’s Text Savvy Senior Sessions are an example of how the organization never stops with its educating mission. And this is so important to so many of our more seasoned citizens. Everything STEP does is in a manner to provide a positive community platform not only for services but for education.

Hopefully, this edition provides awareness about STEP. There is way too much ground to cover in just one issue. I encourage you, whether it’s for yourself or a family member, if you need help or a helping hand in any manner, give them a call. STEP Williamsport — 1-800-346-3020 or 570-326-0587. STEP Lock Haven — 1-800-346-3020 or 570-858-5800.

I want to give a shout-out to Rachelle Abbot, Chief Operations and Planning Officer, Jeannie Sullivan, Office of the Aging Director, and Lori Boos, who is the AmeriCorps Program Manager, for the outstanding jobs they do and being great to work with. Editor Steph also wanted me to give a shout-out to Jamey Williams, Executive Assistant, for making sure everything runs smoothly.

I felt it was very important to identify a few of the local folks that are the faces behind STEP. I wish I could picture all within our pages. STEP is truly a team effort.

God Bless America.

Jim Webb