WILKES-BARRE – Hundreds of people drive by it every day — thousands over a week.
The McGlynn Learning Center, tucked in among the units that comprise the Boulevard Townhomes — formerly O'Karma Terrace — has been an after-school and summer home to children for 24 years. Now, its first and only director is moving on.
Sister Miriam Stadulis, 76, was 52 when she walked into the office of the city Housing Authority and asked for a house for a program to help children in the low-income housing development. She got the house and after one year of operation went back and asked for another unit because one was just too small. The authority agreed.
Thousands of kids later, Stadulis has decided to leave her post to volunteer wherever she feels could use her help the most. It's a bittersweet decision for Stadulis, but one she felt it was time to make.
I've felt more like Mother Miriam than Sister Miriam, she said. It fills me with a sense of gratitude that I've been blessed to be able to make a difference and change kids' lives for the better.
The McGlynn Center is a family-enrichment center operated by the Sisters of Mercy PROJECT REMAIN since 1988. It provides numerous educational, recreational and social outreach programs and services for children and families. The staff is comprised mainly of caring community volunteers from King's College, Wilkes University, College Misericordia, Penn State, Luzerne County Community College and local high schools and organizations.
The center receives on-site support from local social service agencies and strong support from the Wilkes-Barre Housing Authority, along with generous donations from private and corporate sources and community donations from individuals and groups.
Stadulis, a Nanticoke native, said she hadn't really thought about the impact her 24 years have had on the lives of so many, but with a tear in her eye, she talked about the center's mission.
Day in and day out it doesn't hit you, she said. But when you stop and think about it, you go ‘oh wow'. What I've done and this center and the Sisters of Mercy have done over 24 years is something we are all very proud of and it will continue long after I'm gone. I love it here — I love the children. I feel I've become a part of all of their families.
Monsignor Joseph Kelly, executive director of Catholic Social Services, called Stadulis an absolutely extraordinary woman who has done immeasurable good for the community.
She's been able to do so much with so little for so many, Kelly said. Her resignation is a great loss to the community. So many families have relied on her tremendously to find the courage to get their lives back on track.
Kelly said he has already recruited Stadulis to help on a food drive for the Christmas holiday.
Stadulis likes to talk about her kids. She has hundreds of stories. She brags about their accomplishments and how appreciative they are. She's most proud of them when they return to the center to volunteer.
There are so many wonderful successes, she said.
About 40-50 children come to the McGlynn Center daily — there are more than 80 registered in the program.
Stadulis says education is the key to children's futures.
It's forever, she said. Education makes a difference in their lives.
The McGlynn Center has another site at Mineral Springs where Sister Elizabeth Brody serves as director. Sister Eleace King, 66, will replace Stadulis at the Boulevard Townhomes site.
I'm her successor, not her replacement, King said. It's a great honor to have been entrusted with this mission and it is also very overwhelming.
Brody said the McGlynn programs provide children with what they need.
Sister Miriam is a visionary and she had a great deal of courage to start this program, Brody said. She started it on a shoestring and look what it's become.
King and Brody said Stadulis made all the right contacts who became long term friends to the center.
It has grown to much more than even she ever envisioned, King said. God's hand is in this mission.
Programs offered at the McGlynn Centers include: after school homework and tutoring; pre-school; drug prevention/education; literacy; adult education/G.E.D.; multi-cultural programs; parenting programs; family health and recreational Programs; Girl Scouts and summer programs. The center also sponsors many field trips to destinations like the Franklin Institute and Lackawanna County Coal Mine.
The only requirement to participate in the center's programs is to live in the Boulevard Townhomes. All programs are free.
The Greater Wilkes-Barre Family YMCA will honor Sister Miriam Francis Stadulis, R.S.M., Durelle T. Scott, M.D., and Gold Star Wide Format at the organization's 2012 Leadership Dinner on Oct. 24. The event will be held at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs. Cocktails will begin at 6 p.m. followed by dinner at 7 p.m.
• Stadulis will be presented the Frank M. Henry Layperson of the Year Award. The award recognizes an unsung hero at the YMCA, one who contributes their time and services for the betterment of the organization and the local community. She has been a member of the YMCA Board of Directors since 2003.
• Stadulis is well known for her work since 1988 in the McGlynn Center of the Boulevard Townhomes. The Center, in its 24th year, provides children with after-school and summer programs. Through the year, hundreds of low-income children have been recipients of scholarships to attend YMCA programs and summer camps at Frances Slocum State Park and the YMCA's Camp Kresge.
• A native of Nanticoke and member of St. Faustina's Parish, Stadulis graduated from St. Vincent's High School, Misericordia University and the University of Scranton, and in 2009 received an honorary doctorate from King's College.
• She has been a Sister of Mercy since 1954, and taught at the elementary, secondary and college level and has served at Catherine McAuley Center for homeless women and children, Mother Theresa's Haven for homeless men, St. Vincent de Paul Soup Kitchen, among others.
• She has served on several boards though Luzerne County and has been recognized for outstanding service to children. Her many awards for community service include, but are not limited to, the Luzerne County Pathfinder Award, Children Service Center Award for outstanding commitment to children, Interfaith Action Award, Woman of the Year Award from Women's Club of Wyoming Valley, NAACP Diversity Leadership Award and City of Wilkes-Barre Distinguished Service Award.
Stadulis is retiring at the end of the month. A Liturgy of Thanksgiving and reception were held in her honor at Mercy Center at Misericordia.