Wilkes-Barre native and Meyers High School graduate Joseph Calore always knew he wanted to make a difference in his hometown.
“I’ve had friends and relatives I’ve grown up along with that migrated to bigger cities and, of course, that was the right decision for them,” Calore said. “I wanted to be one of the people to stay around, work my way into a leadership role and then become involved in various entities to help make the community a better place.”
Calore, 40, did exactly that. He’s a 2005 graduate of a local nonprofit community leadership program, Leadership Wilkes-Barre, and serves as a member of its alumni council and board of directors. He’s also on the advisory board for Catholic Social Services of the Diocese of Scranton’s Wyoming Valley branch, where he helps guide programs like Big Brothers Big Sisters. Those two endeavors are in addition to his nearly 17-year tenure at Commission on Economic Opportunity, where he serves as director of weatherization assistance programs.
Calore’s interest in serving the community through the commission was inherited from his father Robert, who worked for the nonprofit weatherizing homes. His first experience with the organization came as a college student studying resource management at King’s College. Calore volunteered to pass out food to local families for Thanksgiving — an event he continues to volunteer for to this day.
“I think until you’ve volunteered with that, you don’t know the extent of poverty or hunger in this area,” Calore said. “There’s several thousand families that will get help with food before the Thanksgiving holiday, so it’s a very eye-opening experience.”
After joining the commission as coordinator of emergency energy services in February of 2000, Calore moved on to direct welfare-to-work training programs until he accepted his current position in 2009. As director of weatherization assistance programs, Calore oversees a program that helps Wyoming Valley families stay warm without straying from their budgets.
“What we’ve found is low income families spend a disproportionate amount of their income on energy costs,” Calore said. “By working on their homes, making them more energy efficient, we’re not only saving them money on their energy bills, but then freeing up money that they could spend on other basic household necessities.”
Calore is making changes to his own household too — last month he, his wife, Jennife,r and 8-year-old stepson, Mark, welcomed a newborn baby boy named Dominic into their family. After adjusting to his newly expanded household, Calore plans to further his education.
“It’s a little challenging sometimes, fitting everything in,” Calore said. “But as long as you can arrive at a balance, it’s worth it.”
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Reach Gene Axton at 570-991-6121 or on Twitter @TLArts