Scranton Tomorrow was created in the 1990s as a grassroots effort. Motivated to inspire positive change in the City they loved, citizens and community leaders banded together, and mobilized to make a difference. Complacency took a backseat to courage, and over time, things started to improve.

This is Scranton.

And this is why, in the face of uncertain times, ultimately, we will make it. Since the onset of the pandemic in our region two months ago, we have witnessed remarkable fortitude, ingenuity, creativity, and generosity in the community. This tragedy has infused a collaborative spark among those who live and work in the Electric City; one that is truly reminiscent of the energy we felt in the early days of Scranton Tomorrow. Two prime examples: the Electric City Connection project, and the Meals for Medics program.

Developed by The University of Scranton, the Electric City Connection is brilliantly structured to offer two layers of support. It provides meals for Scranton families in need, and generates revenue for participating restaurants experiencing an economic downturn due to COVID-19. It all comes together through partnerships. Here’s how it works: members of the community are encouraged to donate $15 via Scranton Tomorrow’s website. Funds are used to purchase $15 gift cards to participating restaurants for take-out and delivery meal options. Friends of the Poor is the third, and critical, partner of the operation as their team distributes the gift cards.

This collaboration has far surpassed our expectations. To date, the program has raised more than $25,000, providing more than 1,600 meals to those in need. The logistics of implementing this program in a matter of days was daunting, but the partners saw a need, banded together and mobilized. With help from volunteers, members of the local media, countless “shares” on Facebook, and the generosity of the community, this grassroots effort has gained national attention, serving as a model program for other cities.

This is Scranton.

Meals for Medics is a similar program we are proud to support. When third year medical students at Geisinger Commonwealth School of Medicine identified a need for hot meals for overnight healthcare workers in Scranton hospitals, they immediately took action. This group of hospital staff members face some unique challenges because of their hours. In general, there are fewer people working third shift, which creates an increase in responsibility and patient load for those who are working. Many balance the need to sleep during the day with caring for their families, leaving little or no time to pack meals for themselves. With limited late-night take-out options, eating properly can be a challenge. Meals for Medics is designed to address that issue, for as many nights as funding allows.

Here’s how it works: members of the community to donate $15 via Scranton Tomorrow’s website. Funds are used to purchase individually-wrapped, hot meals from participating restaurants. A team of medical students deliver the meals to Scranton hospitals for distribution to all staff members in all departments. Students aspire to continue the program as long as funding is available. Within minutes of announcing Meals for Medics on social media, donations started to come in.

This is Scranton.

When challenges arise, we return to our roots. We dig deep, and we rise to the challenge.

We are grateful for every contribution, every social media shout out, and every kind word of support. Follow our progress on our website at scrantontomorrow.org, and on our Facebook page.

Leslie Collins is the executive director of Scranton Tomorrow, a non-partisan, non-proft economic development organizationin Scranton. Reach her at leslie@scrantontomorrow.org.

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