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Volunteers set up Leechburg Area Welcome Center, and they're just getting started

| Monday, June 5, 2017, 12:31 a.m.
Joyce Hanz | For the Tribune-Review
Leechburg Area Welcome Center committee and board members Patty Brady, Vicki Beuth, Dakota Kanas, Brian Scott, Kaysie Wasylink , Tony Roppolo and Tiffany Nix assemble outside of the newly opened Leechburg Area Welcome Center at 157 Market St. in Leechburg.

Leechburg is rolling out the welcome mat.

The newly formed Leechburg Area Welcome Center opened last week on Market Street.

Its mission is to promote the Leechburg area, attract visitors, new residents, and businesses and continue economic development.

All by offering and fostering a welcoming community.

The welcome center also will act as a tourist stop with information and souvenirs. It will serve as a local hub for nonprofits to sell their raffle tickets.

Volunteers will staff the downtown storefront on Saturdays, beginning June 17, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., with plans to expand hours later.

It's a nonprofit led by an all-volunteer force.

Vicki Beuth of Buffalo Township owned a business in Leechburg for 27 years and fell in love with the town.

She hatched the idea of a welcome center after conversations with Brian Scott, president of Leechburg's fireman's association. He referenced the 30 families that had moved into the borough recently.

“I thought this was the perfect opportunity to wrap our arms around the new folks and welcome them to the wonderful town of Leechburg,” Beuth said.

Beuth teamed with local business leaders, educators and volunteers, hosting an organizational meeting in January, which attracted 25 volunteers.

Welcome center president Kasie Wasylink, a lifelong Gilpin resident, is honored to volunteer.

“We decided to take action on making this an actual center versus an idea,” Wasylink said. “I am most excited about seeing the community come together as a whole for such a positive thing.”

The welcome center occupies the front office space of attorney Jim Antoniono's practice on Market Street. His practice is open with limited days, and the welcome center operates on days the practice is closed.

He offered the space free of charge, and Beuth credits his generosity for the welcome center's continued momentum.

Tony Roppolo, welcome center treasurer and former Leechburg mayor, was instantly hooked on the concept, and said there has been “considerable discussion” regarding fundraising.

Thus far, committee members have donated all startup supplies.

“Once we become a bit more stabilized and positioned, we will be doing some heavy fundraising,” Roppolo said.

The welcome center is currently stocking up on brochures and information from local businesses and organizations, with a goal of providing welcome packets for newcomers that will offer coupons and materials from the 400 businesses with a 15656 ZIP code.

Communities slated for representation are Leechburg, West Leechburg, Hyde Park and Gilpin, Parks and Allegheny townships.

A newcomers club for adults is currently in the works, with a similar club for school students to follow.

These clubs will be hosted by various local nonprofits. Leechburg Area School District Superintendent Tiffany Nix chairs the committee.

“Community relations is very important to me,” Nix said. “ I want to be a part of any organization that is promoting all of the amazing things that happen daily in this area.”

Leechburg Area High School students are required to log volunteer hours as a graduation requirement.

“We plan to have students volunteering in the center,” Wasylink said.

Goals this month include staffing the welcome center, community outreach at local festivals, and organizing a family welcome summer social.

Beuth is pleased with the progress, but there is more work to be done.

“We are in the infancy stage,” she said. “This is a new concept for our area, networking with the local nonprofits.”

Joyce Hanz is a freelance writer.

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