Oct. 7—MOOSIC — For the seventh year in a row, folks in attendance at PNC Field were reminded that Northeastern Pennsylvania's future is in very capable hands, as the Young Professionals Awards recognized those who go above and beyond — the leaders of tomorrow — who are in action today.
Hosted by Young Professionals Council Chair, Anthony Melf, and vice-chair, Rachel Stark, attendees enjoyed a happy hour up in the concourse before heading down to tables set up on the in-field, though some stayed in the concourse and some opted instead to sit in the stands. It wasn't long before Coal Creative (the evening's presenting sponsor) CEO, Holly K. Pilcavage, was invited to the stage.
Speaking of her business, Pilcavage said, "... our company is built by young creatives who are passionate about moving our community forward," and as she would later note, the evening would see many more talented individuals and businesses who share that same passion.
Afterwards, Melf introduced Vice President of Corporate Partnerships for the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders, Matt Hamilton. A Texas-transplant who moved to northeastern Pennsylvania last year, Hamilton explained that opportunity led him to The Valley. "I've learned in my last 12 months that community is paramount here," he said.
And with that, Melf and Stark jumped into the first award: Intern of the Year. For each award, a member from sponsoring entity would offer remarks before revealing the winners, though it should be noted that with such an impressive list of nominees, it really could've been anyone's ball game.
Of particular note was the presentation of the Hero of Year Award, in which all nominees were rightfully awarded, as co-owner of Perfect Storm Renovations, LLC, earlier winner, and Air Force Veteran Paul Williams presented.
Another special moment came when Cassandra Coleman, Executive Director of America250PA, was given the Women's Leadership Award. Unable to attend, Cassandra's young son, Jimmy, instead accepted on her behalf, with all the charisma and gusto of an even younger professional.
The night was not without its surprises either.
Greater Wyoming Valley Chamber of Commerce President & CEO, Lindsay Griffin-Boylan, to present a "very special award" to a person most deserving, Anthony Melf. Reflecting back on his beginnings with the organization through snow-tubing at Montage Mountain, Melf noted, "a simple invitation, extending a hand, or holding a door" is all it really takes to make a difference, though presenters noted his contributions go beyond just the simple.
And finally, Media Sponsor, The Times Leader Media Group Publisher, Kerry Miscavage, joined Griffin-Boylan for one final surprise award.
After a video played in which folks offered their thoughts on the man who would be named 2022 Young Professional Inspiration, Jimel Calliste, president of the local NAACP Chapter, was invited to the stage to accept his award.
Calliste kept it brief. "In this work, there's not many rewards," he said, "We do this out of passion." He also noted a Bible verse that reads: As iron sharpens iron, so does one man sharpen another.
And with that, he offered his thanks to his team, as well as the Young Professionals and all in attendance.
All in all, some tears were shed, applause and shouts of excited encouragement echoed through the field, laughs were had. Most importantly of all, well-earned recognition were shared as a strong community grew ever stronger under the lights.
The full list of winners for the 2022 Young Professionals Awards:
—Intern of the Year — Scott Stout, Associate Engineer at AZEK
—Educator of the Year — Chris Sedon, Computer Science Teacher at Abington Heights High School
—Trailblazer of the Year — Holly Yorkonis, Community Revitalization Coordinator for United Neighborhood Centers of NEPA
—Small Business Owner of the Year — Paul Williams & Jerome Sulkoski, Co-Owners of Perfect Storm Renovations, LLC
—STEAM Professional of the Year — Samantha Bucher, Content Director at Coal Creative
—Cultural Ambassador of the Year — Jess Meoni, Web and Graphics Designer at The Honesdale National Bank
—Voluntary Leader of the Year — Emily Courtois, Community Affairs Manager/Social Media Coordinator at Mericle Commercial Real Estate Services
—Hero of the Year — Lloyd Burton, 911 Telecommunicator for Wyoming County; Chris Hallock, Scranton PD Training Sergeant; Kyle Shumosic, City of Pittston Police Chief
—Women's Leadership Award — Cassandra Coleman, Executive Director of America250PA
—Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Champion of the Year — Erica Acosta, Director of Diversity Initiatives at Wilkes University
—Influencer of the Year — Shelby Monk, Marketing and Event Coordinator for the Diamond City Partnership
—Young Professional Development Award — ConfiDANCE Studios; Posture Interactive, LTD; Lewith & Freeman Real Estate, Inc.