Community Classroom: Volunteers make The Gathering Place run

Community - Classroom - Emily Rancier

Like the proverbial wheels on the bus that go round and round, volunteers are the wheels that make The Gathering Place run. And run, and run. The list keeps getting longer and longer — we’re all volunteers who believe The Gathering Place in downtown Clarks Summit enhances life in the Abingtons by bringing continuing education classes, the arts and art exhibits, and a greater sense of community to our area.

Volunteers have helped at ice festivals, strawberry festivals and art openings. They have served on our board as treasurer, legal advisor, webmaster, event, marketing and programming chairs; they have written stories and taken pictures of events. Without each one, we would not be what we are today — a functioning non-profit with construction costs fully paid and programs going full-blast.

With regret, we accept the resignation of Jim Verano and wish him a grand retirement. We thank him profusely for all his help and guidance through these first six years. We have appreciated his calm, generous nature while we made our way through the ups and downs of this Gathering Place project. Godspeed and the very best to you, Jim. We will miss you.

As we say goodbye to some volunteers, we welcome others to our band. The newest cadre of volunteers are the Art Gallery sitters. This group makes it possible for The Gathering Place to be open from noon to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, and from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday. We welcome and appreciate these (mostly) new volunteers who have joined our merry crew. We are open now so groups of friends can come and play cards, scrabble, read, write or bring a lunch and “gather together.”

We encourage more walkers-by to come in and enjoy the TGP space and its new art show, “Land Sea and Sky,” in place until the end of August. From a woman who began her art career at 53 to a recent graduate of Keystone College, we have works of artists in oils, acrylics, pastels, woodblock prints, watercolors, and photography represented.

The fall class schedule is falling into place. As usual, Ballroom Dance with Jill and Gehred Wetzel will be one of the first classes in September. The first session introduces Intermediate Salsa and Beginner Hustle. The second session presents Advanced Nite Club 2-Step and Intermediate West Coast Swing. If you have ever wanted to learn new dance steps, there’s never a better time than now, and never a better team to teach you. Enjoy a Monday night with your date.

Ukulele classes will begin in September, also. This class is a lot of fun, and brings out an enthusiastic group of people who have always wanted to play an instrument and find that, with Steve Kurilla’s help, they can.

Classes in Italian and Spanish will both be offered this fall. Both are geared toward the beginner, and emphasize building vocabulary and ease with speaking the language.

As usual, we will have a full slate of art classes. Kristie McMahon will share her skills as jewelry artist, teaching students to make Boho Bangle bracelets and, in another class, an eclectic pair of earrings. Add to your artistic repertoire with these fun classes.

We will offer another beginner weaving class as well as one or two for the intermediate weaver, taught by Linda Mesavage. All classes are taught on the rigid heddle loom, an affordable option to a floor loom and very versatile for a wide range of weaving.

Polymer Clay with Ellen Beechko, Oil Painting with MaryLou Chibirka, Knitting and Crocheting with Kristina Laurito round out our art offerings, but there may be others on the schedule before September.

Investigating Sacred Chant with Rabbi Daniel Swartz, women’s health issues with Megan McClary, and New to Medicare with the folks from VAC (Voluntary Action Center), plus an enticing line-up of cooking classes will be part of the fall line-up. There will be additions as we get more into July. Brochures should be available in mid-August. Look for them in The Suburban, Dalton and Abington libraries, and of course, at The Gathering Place.

The last class of the summer happens at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 7. It’s called “Composting: Helping our Earth,” taught by Penn State Master Gardeners. The cost is $10, not a lot to pay to learn how to help our earth and be good stewards. We look forward to seeing you there.

And, as always, see you at The Gathering Place.



Emily Rancier

Reach the Abington Journal newsroom at 570-587-1148 or by email at

Reach the Abington Journal newsroom at 570-587-1148 or by email at