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Reach" Problems

Reach" Problems - Thursday, October 16, 2008 at 8:09PM EST

Thursday, Oct 16, 2008 @ 08:09pm EST

Wilkes-Barre, Luzerne Co.

The agency is called "Reach". It has been a major force for good for some 25 years in center city Wilkes-Barre . But now some say, "Reach" is too blame for numerous problems, including drug dealing.

"Reach" is located in the basement of St. Stephen’s church. It provides a day shelter for the homeless and is a place for those facing challenges to get help. But in recent weeks it has been the focus of concern.

Many people who live and work in the downtown say they are seeing an increase of drug dealing, prostitution and crime. They point the finger of blame at “Reach".

A letter written by a downtown businessman is circulating which highlights his concerns. They include vandalism, panhandling, hypodermic needles on his property and his back doors were also smashed by a “Reach” client.

Stefanie Wolownik, executive director of “Reach” says, “This is not isolated to downtown Wilkes-Barre . It's happening all over the place. As the economy gets worse many people get desperate."

Wolownik says she works with police to head off problems. Her clients are told that if there is any trouble they are out. She says drug dealers will flock to places they can make a sale. "Do I deny that there may be people that are out there near us on the street? We deal with vulnerable people, absolutely. I'm not denying that, but others meet here.”

“Reach” is working with Wilkes-Barre officials to head off future problems, but insist they have a good record in the downtown.


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