HoW Focus Group Dates

Heart of Williamsport's upcoming dates for Focus Groups

Heart of Williamsport’s Next Step

Mark your calendars

Our Round Table discussion involved groups from the community brainstorming ideas for action corresponding with our value statement. Now, our next step is to consider our value statements in depth. The purpose is to draw attention to the areas that need improvement and recognize the Williamsport’s potential. Here are the upcoming dates of our Focus Groups.

  • Diverse Community: Monday, August 7th
    • 7:00-8:30 PM @ Firetree Place
  • Arts, Culture, & Heritage: Thursday August 10th 
    • 5:30-7:00 PM @ City Alliance Church sanctuary
  • Urban Amenities & Recreation: Tuesday, August 15th
    • 5:30-7:00 PM @ YMCA
  • Beautiful Natural Environment: Monday, August 28th
    • 5:30-7:00 PM @ Susquehanna State Park Pavilion
  • Small- Town Feel: Thursday, August 31st
    • 5:30-7:00 PM @ Sun Gazette
  • Educational Assets: Wednesday, September 6th
    • 5:30-7:00 PM @ Curtain School auditorium
  • Health, Safety, & Welfare: Tuesday, September 12th
    • 5:30-7:00 PM @ YWCA
  • Opportunities & Economic Growth: Monday, September 18th
    • 12:00-2:00 PM @ Trade & Transit 2. (3rd floor)

If you’d like to evaluate the value statements ahead of time, click here

See you there!

Value Statement No. 3

 

Diverse Community

Expression of self in a welcoming environment

We value the diversity of Williamsport within the quaint, small-town community that practices kindness, acceptance, and respect that empowers everyone.

The diversity of our community is embodied in our:

  • Art
  • Entertainment
  • Dining
  • Employment
  • Worship opportunities
  • People

What do you think about this value statement? Do you agree?

Value Statement No. 4

Educational; Assets, Activities, and Events

Participation in learning opportunities

We value the numerous and diverse educational opportunities and programs which promote a sense of community pride by offering mentoring and learning activities for everyone. 

Educational opportunities are provided by our:

  • Schools
  • Colleges
  • After-school programs
  • Libraries
  • Churches
  • Organizational collaborations

Value Statement No. 5

Health, Safety, Welfare

Community sense of well being

We appreciate our clean and friendly city for providing a safe and peaceful environment for raising families and making Williamsport our home.

Our city benefits greatly by having:

  • Responsive government
  • Extensive social services
  • Quality health care system
  • Generous philanthropists

Incredible Generosity

Tommy Grieco is an artist from Lock Haven who uses the Pajama Factory for his studio space to create his paintings and chalk pastel pieces. “It’s great to get together and share ideas and creativity,” he comments about the atmosphere at the Pajama Factory. Tommy says that he feels a sense of community within the Pajama Factory, but felt an even greater sense of it when people from across the Williamsport and Lock Haven area donated to his GoFundMe site for a new wheelchair.

Incredible Generosity

 

TommyGrieco_Still (1)Tommy had posted a photo on his Facebook account of a wheelchair that he would love to have, but couldn’t afford. is friends put together a GoFundMe site in order to gain donations. However, to everyone’s surprise, within 24 hours they had the amount for the $3,500 wheelchair. “I just couldn’t believe it,” Tommy says. Even after they reached that amount, people kept donating towards the fund even after the goal was reached. “It just show you that no matter what, a lot of people around here really do care,” he says.

Along with his close friends at the factory, Tommy has also found a community at The Center for Independent Living. He recently joined the board in order to do some arts and crafts program and maybe start a basketball league and other activities for the community to participate in. The center works towards making sure the disabled members of the community can easily move around the city and can interact with other people who understand their lifestyle. “I think that I would be lost without them,” he concludes.

 

 

Story by Sophie Herzing

Video by Christopher Cizek
Want to share your story with us? Take our survey: https://heartofwilliamsport.org/tell-us-story/ or contact us about setting up an interview by sending us an email here: https://heartofwilliamsport.org/contact/

Bloom Where You Are Planted

Jason Fitzgerald, president of Penn Strategies, a consulting company in Pennsylvania, is a great example of someone who is growing in the place in which he was born. He has lived in Williamsport his entire life and stayed because of his family. His  children are sixth-generation residents. “Some of the best and brightest in my class moved away, and if you can do good in the place you are from, you should,” Jason says, “I wanted to restore that.”

Bloom Where You Are Planted

 

JasonFitzgerald_StillHe says he feels especially close to City Hall and the building itself, representing his ideal aesthetic for a place of power and pride in the city. He says he has always been fascinated by city government because he could directly see the change they produced. He hopes that the region’s elected officials and members of Chamber of Commerce can address the concern of having family-sustaining jobs in the area so young people will be attracted to the area and want to remain. “I would love for my children to be able to stay here, but I would understand if they had to leave,” he says from a personal take on the issue. He expressed his hopes for this to change so that Williamsport can continue growing.

Jason also talked about how he believes in a balance between tradition and being more open-minded to change. He said he would like to see the motto of the city change from “The Will Is in Us,” to something more vibrant and engaging. “We need to do more to promote the concept of Williamsport as a city that is winning and one people want to be in,” he says.

Through his work, Jason has seen other cities and how they operate, but says he still feels the Williamsport is the place to be and that it has a lot to offer in terms of culture, nature, and history. Outside of his work, he also involves himself with the Susquehanna Greenway Partnership and serving on the Salvation Army board of directors. He says that he believes in the potential of Williamsport and feels a responsibility to work towards that, and to bring others in. “Maybe when people feel their mobility no longer stifled by old ideas and institutions, then we will start to get better,” he concludes. 

 

Story by Sophie Herzing

Video by Christopher Cizek
Want to share your story with us? Take our survey: https://heartofwilliamsport.org/tell-us-story/ or contact us about setting up an interview by sending us an email here: https://heartofwilliamsport.org/contact/

 

Becoming a River City

DallasMiller_StillDallas Miller is a volunteer for the Williamsport community who works as a registered architect, telecommuting on design projects in places such as Florida. He grew up and lives in Jersey Shore, but always considered Williamsport his downtown. He started work back in 1998 with the project Our Towns 2010, which worked to revitalize the downtown area as well as the surrounding neighborhoods by connecting natural aspects back to the city. “It’s kind of neat to walk along The River Walk and visualize the old saw mills and and see the mountains and shadows of the sun,” he comments. Dallas says that he feels connected to nature and loves having that as a focal point and attraction of the city.

Becoming a River City

Local artist, tinsmith, and musician Lena Yeagle also loves that access to natural beauty. She has become a part of the historical district and the downtown through her work and her relationships with those businesses in the community. “I think we could really be a river town,” she says, “we don’t really utilize the fact that we have this beautiful river running right through our town.” She would hope to see more available access points to the River Walk and to eventually see a culture start to surround that river lifestyle. Lena also likes to ride her bike up Sylvan Dell Road and explore the woods beyond Packer Street. That connection to nature is something she feels fuels her love for the city. “I feel like we are a cultural gem,” she says. In the city of Williamsport, Lena admires the unique setting of people who are working to better the community, and says that if you want to be a part of that, you easily can because everyone is welcoming and can be open-minded.

LenaYeagle_Still

With people like Dallas who have the creative mind to foresee and design such projects and architecture to better the city aesthetically, and Lena who uses that natural connection in her work and art, the river can truly become the heartbeat of the city. “I have a deep belief in optimism and the future of Williamsport,” Dallas says, “I think the only question is how far can it go.”

 

 

 

 

Story by Sophie Herzing

Video by Christopher Cizek
Want to share your story with us? Take our survey: https://heartofwilliamsport.org/tell-us-story/ or contact us about setting up an interview by sending us an email here: https://heartofwilliamsport.org/contact/

The Future is Female

 

 

AnnaFalat_StillAnna Falat, owner of Eagle Rock Winery located at the beginning of the Historic District, came back to Williamsport to be with her family, but then decided to enter the business world. She opened a winery and small art gallery where she features local artists. She says she believes strongly in the power of women and their ambitions to succeed. “I would like to see our financial institutions and businesses embrace the fact that there are other people besides males that can run a business,” she says. She values the diversity within Williamsport and would like to see that represented on major fronts. Being active in the Arts Council earlier in her life, she says she saw this movement happening, but it sort of collapsed. She would like to see this start back up again to improve the city’s community. A single woman living and working on her own, Anna also works to help her family succeed, as well.

The Future is Female

 

Anna has passed her same strength and independence onto her granddaughter, Miah Dunkleberger, who is pursuing her dreams at college. Miah, a graduate of Loyalsock Area High School, now attends MiahDunkleberger_StillDuquesne University in Pittsburgh. Having transitioned from a small town atmosphere to the metropolitan of Pittsburgh, she says she values the history and culture of Williamsport. She says if she could, she would tell anyone growing up in Williamsport, “don’t take it for granted, because when you leave, it won’t be the same and you will miss it.” From one generation to another, both Anna and Miah are proving that women are starting to move forward in business and education with confidence.

 

 

 

 

Story by Sophie Herzing

Video by Christopher Cizek
Want to share your story with us? Take our survey: https://heartofwilliamsport.org/tell-us-story/ or contact us about setting up an interview by sending us an email here: https://heartofwilliamsport.org/contact/

Acceptance

Todd Foresman, owner of Way Cool Beans coffee shop in the Pajama Factory, has been roasting coffee for close to five years, but opened the shop only about two years ago because he felt so connected with the community. He says the atmosphere here is open-minded and welcoming. He loves interacting with the people who come into his shop because the conversations and possibilities for connections is amazing to witness.

Acceptance

 

ToddForesman_Still The people in the Pajama Factory are receptive and kind, which Todd wishes could branch out into other areas of Williamsport. “Everybody that I have met here just wants to help everybody else: if I do better, you do better,” he says. There is a woman who brings food into the coffee shop on Thursdays just because she wants to, and if you know she’s coming you can just come, sit, and eat with her. That kind of energy is contagious in that neighborhood. “The best way to describe it is ‘way cool.’ Everyone here is way cool,” he states. This is something that I noticed while sitting in the courtyard of the Pajama Factory conducting interviews. There were people surrounding the area working on their individual projects and no one was bothered by the work we were doing or felt like we were intruding upon their space. This kind of unconditional acceptance of a diverse group of people is something that Todd admires and notices in his community, and wishes could be prevalent in the rest of the city. “I would really like to see the powers of Williamsport change,” he says.

Another resident, Chuck Black, said he feels that same kind of acceptance in Williamsport, but wishes that there could be more of it. “There are people in Williamsport that are, of course, homophobic, but I feel that being here I am a lot more accepted,” he says. Chuck is a social worker and teacher who is involved in the community Odyssey of the Mind and is an activist in the Lycoming County Democrats. By being involved in these groups, he feels a sense of acceptance, but also hopes that diversity is more appreciated in the future by bringing people together in an open-minded way. He would love to see the media talk more about the positives than the negatives. He thinks that Williamsport’s reputation is falsely perceived because people don’t publish or read the positives. “I really wish people could see that Williamsport is bigger than the negative headlines. We are not a city that is falling apart,” he states. ChuckBlack_Still

In order for this kind of acceptance to be felt in the entire community of Williamsport, there needs to be an open-minded mentality among all groups of people, like the kind Todd finds in the Pajama Factory, or how Chuck felt growing up in the community theater downtown. In order to bring in a younger generation of individuals, those positives need to be highlighted and showcased so that people understand Williamsport to be a welcoming place to live.

 

 

 

Story by Sophie Herzing

Video by Christopher Cizek
Want to share your story with us? Take our survey: https://heartofwilliamsport.org/tell-us-story/ or contact us about setting up an interview by sending us an email here: https://heartofwilliamsport.org/contact/

 

Artistic Revival

JohnYogodzinski_StillOne of the things that we are finding is that people in the community of Williamsport value the art culture downtown and the First Friday gatherings. One of the people who contributes to that facet is Converge Gallery owner and Graphic Hive Director John Yogodzinski, who returned to Williamsport and opened the gallery about five years ago. One of the things he noticed was how much Williamsport has matured and grown. “I’m trying to do something, going against the grain, trying to elevate the culture of what’s available here,” he says. When he first opened the gallery, he brought in work by artist Daniel Dallmann, which included some of his nudist pieces. The show was not well-received; however, John knew that he had to push this kind of progressive contemporary art on the residents if he was ever going to change their artistic perceptions. Recently, he’s shown some more work showcasing nudity and it was generally accepted by the community. This is the kind of growth he had foreseen  when he first arrived — that Williamsport has the potential to sustain. “Art is a luxury item. People are not coming here looking for a specific thing,” he states. John also has a great deal of respect for the other innovative thinkers in the area who are becoming a part of that growth and maturity, such as those downtown at The Brickyard or Stonehouse. John also helps other independent businesses with good design and the work he does with The Graphic Hive, a creative marketing firm.

Artistic Revival

 
Another original thinker who came to town looking to revive the art community is Mark Winkelman. He arrived nine years ago and fell in love with the old Pajama Factory building. He became devoted to bringing MarkWinkelman_Stillnew life to that building, a giant complex of eight buildings around a courtyard.  He’s created a unique setting for people, as well as tenants and artists in residence, to gather and collaborate. They have a community dark room and a community wood shop for people to use. “I hope to change the neighborhood. I hope we can bring it up,” Mark comments about the area surrounding the Pajama Factory, which is separate from the downtown. What he loves about Williamsport is the accessibility of the industries and businesses. He says that it’s like New York City, where he resides most of the year, but more accessible and functional. Not only did Mark fall in love with the building, but he also has come to love the people in this smaller art community he has built. Owner of the coffee shop in the area, Todd Foresman, recognizes that “it’s a building full of characters,” to which Mark agrees. “The neighborhood around the Pajama Factory is what I hopefully like to someday call a ‘Makers’ District,’ which is the idea that you can live and work in your home,” he says.

The kind of innovation and development that these two men have brought, and continue to bring to Williamsport, is a huge part of that beloved art culture. They are catalysts for the movement of an elevated community as well as collaboration with other businesses and entrepreneurs.

 

 

 

Story by Sophie Herzing

Video by Christopher Cizek
Want to share your story with us? Take our survey: https://heartofwilliamsport.org/tell-us-story/ or contact us about setting up an interview by sending us an email here: https://heartofwilliamsport.org/contact/