Sara Pokorny

Leadership Wilkes-Barre’s ‘Read to Lead’ project and fundraiser at Bottlenecks benefits Osterhout Library

Leadership Wilkes-Barre’s ‘Read to Lead’ project and fundraiser at Bottlenecks benefits Osterhout Library
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Event on Saturday, Jan. 17 includes music by MiZ, food, drinks, and auction baskets

A book is so much more than ink and paper – it’s a portal to other worlds, a way to endlessly educate oneself. And, even more, a library is more than a building to house such things – it’s a place of community, comfort, and education. One group from the 2015 Leadership Wilkes-Barre class recognizes this and is hoping to make an impact on an area institution through hard work, and help from the community, beginning with a fundraiser at Bottlenecks in Wilkes-Barre this Saturday, Jan. 17.

Leadership Wilkes-Barre is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to develop informed and committed leaders from all segments of the community who will serve, strengthen, and improve Northeastern Pennsylvania. This year’s group is calling their effort “Readership Wilkes-Barre” and is partnering with the Osterhout Free Library in Wilkes-Barre for the “Read to Lead” project.

“Today a reader, tomorrow a leader,” team member Lindsay Mazzocco said of the theme of the project.

Mazzocco, who works for Nardone Consulting, is joined by team members Jackie Baldwin of Discount Dance LLC; Brandi Bartush of the Greater Pittston Chamber of Commerce; Jim Bonczek of Barry Isett & Associates; Kevin Donlin of The Citizen’s Voice; Sara Hogan of Wells Fargo Bank; Ned Moffat of P&G Paper Products; Janet Stochla of UGI Utilities, Inc.; and team mentor Jim Andruskiewicz.

The Read to Lead group not only notes the Osterhout’s historical significance – it opened Jan. 29, 1889 – but the resources it has brought to the surrounding community for years, calling it “an important and beneficial asset to our community, and especially to early education and access to books for our youth.”

“We want to create a more functional space on the third floor for the public,” Mazzocco said.

“We hope that in expanding the library, we can create more opportunities for it and for members of the community.”

Due to water damage, the third floor of the building is currently closed and used solely as a storage area. Read to Lead aims to spruce it up in order to provide space for visitors and conference rooms, allowing the area to be a productive one for the Osterhout.

Some of the proposed enhancements include plaster and wall repair, floor restoration, removal of old shelving units, and the creation of rooms for staff and meeting/study spaces.

Choosing to work with the library was an easy decision for the group.

“We feel the library is a key to a successful community,” Mazzocco said.

“It’s a hidden gem. It’s beautiful and a historical landmark. Unfortunately, it seems libraries are going away, and we really want to help the Osterhout stay, and enhance it.”

Read to Lead is working with Project Home Depot, who will come and donate labor or materials to help in the renovations. In its infancy, Read to Lead is still looking to tap local entities to aid the project – even an interior decorator to help out when it’s completed.

They begin their journey this Saturday with the “Books, Brews, Band and Booze” fundraiser, which will feature food, live music from local musician MiZ, favorite drinks of renowned authors, and auction baskets from the likes of Sky Zone, Melt Hot Yoga, Ruth’s Chris Steak House, Susquehanna Brewing Company, Montage Mountain, and more. Tickets are $20 in advance and $25 at the door.

Today’s readers, tomorrow’s leaders

Since the members of “Readership Wilkes-Barre” are so focused on lit, we couldn’t help but ask them: What book is your favorite, or has had a great impact on you?

Jackie Baldwin: “As a lifelong reader, I always find it difficult to narrow down my favorites to just a few or to single out one as having had the biggest impact on my life. But, if I had to, I would say ‘Atlas Shrugged’ by Ayn Rand. In most everyone’s life, each day brings a unique struggle or challenge. Whether large or small, earthshattering or mundane, we all have the choice to be passive or to take action. Ayn Rand has made the choice clear for me. If you hold something dear, fight for it. If you want change, take a stand. If you don’t agree, speak your mind. Determination, willpower, and hard work go a long way in shaping the outcomes of your goals and dreams.”

Kevin Donlin: “When I was a kid, the ‘Choose Your Own Adventure’ series in general – ‘Space and Beyond‘ in particular – had a huge impact on me. Those books showed me the future was whatever you make of it.”

Sara Hogan: “I would have to say that one of my favorite books is ‘The Last Lecture’ by Randy Pausch. There are so many great points in this book that stop and make you think about how we need to appreciate life. It is very inspirational and teaches you to live for the moment.”

Ned Moffat: “My favorite book growing up was ‘Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance.’ It spoke to me about the unique American experience that is the cross-country road trip, speaking both to the physical perseverance and internal self-reflection of the journey.”

Janet Stochla: “‘The Giver’ by Lois Lowry. To me, the book is a reminder that while making decisions can be difficult and have consequences, having the freedom to do so is irreplaceable!”

Jim Bonczek: “My book is ‘Brave New World’ by Aldous Huxley. To me, the book warns of the dangers of a population so distracted by everything around them that they really pay attention to nothing and are easily controlled by the powers that be.”

Brandi Bartush: “‘The Search for Significance’ by Robert S. McGee. This book has had an immeasurable impact on my life. From helping me see my true worth and the ways to achieve significance, the purpose, principles, and how to apply them in my work, family, and everyday life – to enjoy and find joy in all things that I do.”

Lindsay Mazzocco:Dale Carnegie, ‘How to Win Friends and Influence People.’ It has helped me become more successful in my business and professional life and has taught me how to deal with people and cultivate and maintain better relationships. I learned that names are the sweetest and most important sound in any language. I try my best to remember people’s names because of this.”

Photo courtesy of Leadership Wilkes-Barre. Back row, from left: Kevin Donlin, Jim Bonczekand Jim Andruskiewicz. Front row, from left: Jackie Baldwin, Janet Stochla, Lindsay Mazzocco, Brandi Bartush, Sara Hogan.

Books, Brews, Bands and Booze
fundraiser for Leadership Wilkes-Barre with MiZ, food, drinks, and auction baskets
Location: Bottlenecks (3 S. Main St., Wilkes-Barre)
Date: Saturday, Jan. 17
Time: 3 p.m.-7 p.m.
Cost: $20 in advance; $25 at the door
Visit or the group’s Facebook page for more info.