Pocono Television Network host Jim Hamill visits businesses in Wayne and Pike counties making a difference in the Pocono Mountains.
Whether it is supporting the broader community financially or through raising awareness, tourism-driven companies are making a major difference throughout the Pocono Mountains and the world.
Wallenpaupack Brewing Company along Route 6 in Hawley is celebrating five years in business and gives back the best way Becky Ryman and her crew know how.
“We found a variety of ways to give back. One is through beer, which is a lot of fun because we get to make a beer sometimes for a cause and feature that on the draft and then give a portion of the proceeds back to the cause that we're trying to support,” said Ryman.
These past years have shown even greater needs in the community including for a place to stay. The Lodge at Keen Lake in Waymart gives back by providing those in need with a sense of home.
“I have so many people, like during COVID that sent their families here to stay because they needed a safety zone for them to come and they landed here and then would go visit with their parents,” said Joyce DeBastiani. “So many different things kind of come their way. And people like staying here because it gives them a home.”
The owners of the Lodge at Keen Lake open their doors to the community in times of need so there’s an affordable place to stay.
“I also have families that come here because they may have a big flooding issue at their home or fire, or during COVID an EMT that needed a safe place to land so that they didn't bring COVID to their house, to their home and kept their family safe.”
Wayne County, like the rest of the Pocono Mountains, has an immense network of nonprofit organizations that answer the call for help daily. Back in Honesdale, Black & Brass Coffee Roasting Company is committed to helping numerous causes.
“We contribute to many charities in the form of checks and cash, in the form of gift baskets and donations,” said owner Travis Rivera. “But what we're most proud of is the custom blends that we create for the nonprofits. The newest one that's coming out is for the library, the Wayne county library.>
The coffee company worked with the library to create “Possibility Perk,” and a percentage of the sales goes directly to the nonprofit.
“You can find us supporting multiple organizations that we value and respect. VIP, heroin prevention task force, animal shelters, Dessin Animal shelter, of course, the Wayne County Library. And , NEPA NAMI mental health awareness. So many good nonprofits in this area. We want to continue contributing to them. And what we do is just a small part drop in the bucket for what they do for our community,” added Rivera.
The list of community support from Camp Umpy’s is long. Cheryl Batcher is happy to help with both donations and in-kind donations for all sorts of causes.
“You're always doing the school always asks for stuff. The kids that work here, if they're in anything, tennis, soccer, in the plays, we've done money. And in kind donations. We do a lot of in kind donations becauseI feel like those are the best,” said Batcher.
Lake Wallenpaupack has been a destination in its own right for nearly a century. Generations of families have given back to this area including at Gresham’s Landing. Steve Gelderman and his family know the value of giving back.
“If we're not being a part of our community, then everything else fails. The community to support everything, you have to give back, you have to help, you have to do your part,” said Gelderman.
So when the grassroots litter cleanup crew, Keep Hawley-Honesdale Beautiful, asked for help the Gelderman family did what came naturally.
“When he was early on in the stages, they were having issues. They're standing right alongside route Six picking up trash and cars are flying by. So he had seen we had some slowdown signs and he reached out to me. So we were like, no problem, we'll get them, we got a vendor, we ordered him some signs and it just kind of spiraled from that point, you know, whatever he needs, we're there for.”
“Knowing that we have the community support keeps us going, that we have the money behind us to buy supplies, safety equipment, get people shirts that are tie dye, shirts, it makes us feel like a team. It makes us feel cohesive.It brings us together. So having the support of East Shore Lodging and Woodloch and homes, do loft, this is huge,” said KHHB organizer Michael Coppola.
Speaking of Woodloch Resort, the family-run business has always done a lot for the community whether it is helping hundreds of employees during the height of the pandemic with food and other items or through charities including Hope Cures, near and dear to Bob Kiesendahl.
“I happen to be a cancer survivor myself. I'm 23 years out. Very fortunate, very lucky. As I was going through my battle and realized I was going to get out of this, I started focusing on what am I going to do after I beat cancer?And I realized I had a fortune to be in the family I'm in and all the resources to work with. And it created three different events that happen annually,” said Kiesendahl. “A 5k a golf tournament, a tricky tray event and formed hope cures. It's the name of the foundation. And to date, we've given back over a million and a half dollars to Cancer Research and Patient care.”
Woodloch also supports Folds of Honor, a national organization helping those who have lost military loved ones in the line of duty.
“They always choose a family during that event of someone in the local area, which is really powerful,” he added.
This is also known as a “Green Lodging Partner,” Woodloch and Settlers properties give guests the option of contributing dollars at the end of their stays to the Delaware Highlands Conservancy which in turn helps protect land in the Poconos for the future.
“Over $300,000 that Woodloch alone has contributed back,” said Kiesendahl, “Well, really our guests have contributed back because it's such a special place for them that they invest as well to help preserve.”
“That small donation, when it goes across tens of thousands of hotel room nights a year, ends up being real money. And that green lodging program supports the preservation of our lands and the natural resources that we depend on,” said Justin Genzlinger of Settlers Hospitality.
Justin Genzlinger with Settlers Inn, Ledges Hotel, Hawley Silk Mill and Silver Birches to name a few is always finding ways to help support the community.
“We donate to over 500 different nonprofit events a year through a combination of funds, but also event spaces, hotel rooms, gift certificates,” said Genzlinger.
Three Hammers Winery’s owners and staff saw a need too and developed “Pour it Forward,” collected items for the local food pantries and even held a car show to increase awareness for that need in the community.
“We asked some of our guests that come to the winery to bring some non perishable food items for some discounts on our wines. And we hosted our first car show and we tied that all in the summer. And we received a lot of great donations. And we wanted to thank all of our customers for providing that for us,” said Rob Kobrzynski of Three Hammers Winery.
“This donation is going to make a significant impact for many of our community members. All the donations that come here support us, and it's always very much appreciated that we have others within the community helping to raise food and resources for our pantry system,” said Clarissa Wimmer with the Wayne County Food Pantry
Community and charity, going hand in hand. There are still many more instances where tourism gives back to the Poconos whether it is in big or small ways, it is the sum of the parts that matters keeping this Poconos region strong and resilient now and in the future.