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NEPA Youth Shelter in need of new building, Meals on Wheels relocating

A chalkboard sign welcomes visitors to the NEPA Youth Center, part of the NEPA Youth Shelter's programs.
Sarah Scinto
A chalkboard sign welcomes visitors to the NEPA Youth Center, part of the NEPA Youth Shelter's programs.

The NEPA Youth Shelter has until September to find a new location for its expansive teen center.

Maureen Maher-Gray said because Meals on Wheels Community Services of NEPA is relocating, the teen center, located in the same building, will have to move as well.

“Last Wednesday we were called into a meeting and they advised us…they wanted to put the building up for sale,” she said. “They wanted us to vacate by September 1. So, pretty straightforward.”

Meals on Wheels of NEPA did announce on their Facebook page that relocating is part of their new strategic plan. Executive Director Lindsey Skripka said upkeep on the 46,000 square foot, 100-year-old building at 541 Wyoming Avenue has become unmanageable for the nonprofit organization.

“We had to really consider if, in the long term, actually owning a property of this size was beneficial to the agency,” Skripka said. “Ultimately, we decided to refocus on our mission, and that is to support the older adults of Lackawanna County.”

Skripka said Meals on Wheels has found a new location and they are working to sell the building.

The NEPA Youth Shelter rents 6,000 square feet of the Wyoming Avenue building. The sprawling space includes a kitchen, art room, cafeteria, rooms of donated clothes and a recording studio.

The Teen Center offers an afterschool program for any Scranton students during the school year. They come for meals, snacks and classes, or just to spend time with friends.

Maher-Gray says the center has been in need of an expansion, so she is seeing this move as an opportunity to find a larger space. But it may take some time - she needs to find a building that is either near Scranton High School or between Scranton High and West Scranton High School.

She’s hoping for 8,000 to 10,000 square feet, and rent needs to be negotiable - they can only afford less than $3,000 per month.

They also need air conditioning. On Monday afternoon, Maher-Gray had set up after school snacks outside for teens stopping by and it was already too hot for them to spend time in the building comfortably.

As soon as Maher-Gray posted on Facebook about the search for a new building, followers started commenting with ideas and offers of help.

“I’m so thrilled, I knew that would happen. Every time I have something important, when I put it on Facebook, I get the greatest response,” she said. “We do have a realtor looking around for us, but it’s like, the Facebook world is wider than that.”

Anyone with ideas for a new location can contact Maher-Gray at 570-892-1414.

Sarah Scinto is the local host of Morning Edition on WVIA. She is a Connecticut native and graduate of King’s College in Wilkes-Barre, and has previously covered Northeastern Pennsylvania for The Scranton Times-Tribune, The Citizens’ Voice and Greater Pittston Progress.

You can email Sarah at sarahscinto@wvia.org