WILKES-BARRE — Beth Gilbert, the youngest member of Wilkes-Barre City Council at 22, sat on that body’s Junior Council when she was in high school.
Now a Wilkes University graduate who majored in political science, Gilbert remembers realizing all the benefits she could bring to the council and to the city as a young person.
On Sunday, she addressed those gathered for an NAACP Youth Council luncheon as the Keynote Speaker, encouraging members to move forward with confidence and to realize they can make a difference.
“By being a member of this group, you are showing the community that you are not afraid to communicate or mobilize to stand up for what you believe in,” she said in concluding her speech. “Whether you go on to be teachers, lawyers, public servants, police officers, office managers, or yes, even a furniture salesperson, I promise you, you will substantiate change.”
Youth Council President Emily Laurore, of Shavertown, said the council provides opportunity for young people of all races, genders and sexual orientation to come together, provide a benefit to the community and move toward future success.
“We just received our charter last year,” said Laurore, a senior at Wyoming Seminary. “This is our first major event.”
Laurore said the chapter of over 70 members from throughout Luzerne County includes students from several area high schools, including Meyers, GAR and Coughlin, as well as Luzerne County Community College.
Sabrina Robertson, a student at LCCC who serves as the council first vice president, said the organization and its members are fueling her dreams for the future.
Robertson, now studying business, hopes to complete her education at the Fashion Institute of Technology and dreams of a career in the fashion industry.
It’s a dream that she believes will come true.
“Studying business now, will be useful upon entering the field of fashion,” she said.
She said of the council, “It’s a great program. The organization provides a new perspective for its members and brings the community together.”
The organization is guided by the motto “Our voices matter, our lives matter, we matter.”
Gilbert believes she and other community leaders can help young people to find their voice and their value.
Wilkes-Barre Councilman Tony Brooks, who also attended the event to show support for Gilbert as well as the young members of the organization, said he looks forward to young people assuming leadership roles in government and in other organizations throughout the community.
Speaking about diversity, both Robertson and Laurore said they’re aware of tremendous progress that has been made in the last 30 years, but they believe work must continue to “advance the economic, educational, social and political status,” of racial and ethnic minorities and to encourage cooperation among all people.