What began as an idea for how to use an old school cafeteria evolved into Wilson's new LINCS Family Center.
LINCS – Linking Individual Needs to Community Services – is housed in the former Wilson Area Middle School, and includes a fitness and nutrition center, children’s activity room, family resource center and reference room and family thrift store.
Additional services will include medical screenings and awareness programs from Easton Hospital, computer literacy, adult literacy, help accessing supports and services, help navigating insurance issues, emergency and crisis planning, mentoring, support groups, counseling and more.
"This is wonderful for the community and especially for the elderly to have some place to go," Wilson Mayor David Perruso said. "It's going in the right direction and is something we really need. It's wonderful for the school, too, to be part of this and make it possible."
LINCS has been in the making for more than a year. With the completion of the new Wilson Area Intermediate School in the Spring of 2011, the former middle school was demolished except for the cafeteria area. The original idea was to create a family center. However, with the creativity and energy of the LINCS board of directors, it evolved into more.
Pam Vlasaty, Wilson's director of student services and LINCS board member, said the initial concept came out of discussions from the school district regarding the changing needs of families in the community.
"It turned into a dynamic possibility to provide services to all sorts of community members and to also offer the opportunity for those who have skills to provide help to fellow community members," Vlasaty said.
The LINCS board of directors includes members from a number of other service organizations, including Care Net, AARP, the Northampton County Juvenile Probation Center and Third Street Alliance. This varied representation is indicative of the spectrum of constituents the center hopes to serve.
"We're working toward building a list of qualified people willing to really help," said LINCS director Heidi Markow.
Markow is no stranger to building a service organization from the ground up. In 2005, when she lost her sister to domestic violence, she founded Beginning Over, a foundation devoted to sheltering and protecting families in crisis through long-term solutions.
Although Markow originally offered her expertise in domestic violence to the board and helped in the development of LINCS, she found that the timing was right to hand over control of the non-profit Beginning Over Foundation and submitted her resume for consideration shortly before the search for a director began.
"This is going to be a happy place, a place that serves all facets of the community. It will be a place for seniors to gather and meet new friends, it will include children’s program and so much more," Markow said.
Hours of operation for the LINCS Family Center -- at 2400 Firmstone St. -- will be Monday, Wednesday and Friday 9am-1pm, Tuesday and Thursday 5-8pm, and Saturday 9-11am. The center is closed Sunday. For more information, for assistance, or to volunteer services, call 484-373-6200.