Penn State Wilkes-Barre supports, thanks local health care workers

Lion with stethoscope

The Penn State Wilkes-Barre Alumni Society purchased lunch for employees at the Geisinger Dallas clinic.

Credit: Penn State

DALLAS, Pa. — The Penn State Wilkes-Barre Alumni Society provided lunch for local, hard-working medical professionals as a way to thank them for their efforts during the ongoing coronavirus outbreak and working to keep local residents safe.

The idea for the initiative came to Jonathan Sinclair, a 2003 Penn State graduate and president of the alumni society, as a suggestion from Karen Brace-Hodle, alumni relations and stewardship officer, and was supported by the society’s executive board.

“In these unprecedented times, we need to support the people on the front lines who are fighting the good fight,” Sinclair said. “Too often we only think about those folks we see on the news or television screen as being the heroes of a notable disaster. This is really the first pandemic in my lifetime that has really brought the people behind the scenes to the forefront of our thoughts. Being a family of hundreds of thousands of Penn State alumni, each and every one of us likely has personal connections to someone in the medical field right now.”

On Thursday, all employees at the Geisinger Dallas clinic received lunch compliments of the society, which paid for the food and had it delivered by Pizza Bella in Dallas, a local favorite. About 40 employees work at the clinic, including doctors, physician assistants, nurses, pharmacists, phlebotomists, medical technicians, and other staff.

“The Geisinger Dallas Clinic serves the Back Mountain area where Penn State Wilkes-Barre is located, Sinclair said. “The clinic is really a local first line of defense that is dealing with the pandemic in the same ways other larger communities are by acting as a screening site and making available proper treatment for those who need it. I know from personal experience that we have faculty, staff and students who use the services provided at the clinic.”

The society lined up a mix of hot and cold lunch items, choosing items that could be served individually rather than in a large single quantity to help keep in line with good distancing practice.

“When the area started to become affected by the pandemic, the owner of Pizza Bella, Patrick Cunningham, put out a note on Facebook that Pizza Bella would provide free lunches to local school children who needed them. That sense of community really stuck with me and when this idea came up, I felt it was a great pairing to source the food from them,” Sinclair said.

The society also supports other campus and community initiatives. It recently contributed $1,000 to the emergency fund at Penn State Wilkes-Barre to help support the ongoing needs of the students who were displaced or in financial hardship due to the pandemic. Additionally, it provided scholarships for underprivileged students to attend educational summer camps at Penn State Wilkes-Barre and supported THON and the Four Diamonds Fund at the Hershey Medical Center.

The Penn State Wilkes-Barre Alumni Society connects all Penn State University alumni to each other and the University in the Wilkes-Barre area. For more information on the society, contact Karen Brace-Hodle at 570-675-9228 or [email protected].