WILKES-BARRE – If you're not walking down the right road, you're not going to get to the right place," Frank Sindaco, a Wilkes-Barre-based community organizer, told a gathering on Saturday.
Sindaco hopes the involvement of his organization, NEPA Organizing Center, in Put People First Pennsylvania, a statewide campaign to organize individuals to accomplish shared social objectives, will ultimately help communities to resolve some of society's most challenging problems.
A diverse group of more than a dozen residents from the Wyoming Valley and the surrounding areas gathered at the NEPA Organizing Center's downtown Wilkes-Barre headquarters to share stories and concerns about a variety of topics such as homelessness, education, public transportation and environmentalism, among others.
In addition to sharing stories and concerns, the group also discussed ways to organize individuals on the basis of their feelings and values, as well as ways to identify and combat the causes of modern social challenges.
The Put People First campaign finds its roots in Vermont, where organizers in that state went from county to county to successfully establish a referendum that led to universal health care for the people of Vermont.
Put People First Pennsylvania is similarly dedicated to building a framework of organized individuals who will be able to develop new ways to positively influence the directions of their respective communities.
Sindaco feels it is imperative to do so in a thorough and responsible way. "Any organization or structure that seeks to influence the public, has to ultimately be accountable to the public," he said.
He also believes that the first step towards uniting individuals is the simple process of getting people together to share their stories and their feelings. "When we share our stories, we are building relationships," Sindaco said.
In the coming months, the NEPA Organizing Center will be looking to have local volunteers active within the community as a means to not only provide tangible help to those who need it, but to establish a momentum for the Put People First campaign.
The group also plans to have those volunteers meet regularly to refine their abilities to continually provide the kind of help that struggling people in the area need..