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Nicole Hurchick of Leadership Wilkes-Barre -- Why NEPA? image
March 17, 2020
Nicole Hurchick of Leadership Wilkes-Barre -- Why NEPA?

“I needed to leave to know that I wanted to come back.”

At a young age, Leadership Wilkes-Barre’s Communications and Programs Coordinator, Nicole Hurchick heard that all-too-familiar call — “Run Away.” Little more inspired her than the thought of leaving behind her hometown, setting her sights on the blue horizon and striking out on her own.

Nicole plotted a journey from Pittston to Arcadia University to Carlisle, a borough just outside Harrisburg. Soon, however, she felt something pulling her back to NEPA. And it wasn’t the urge to run, or to seek “something more.” No, for this eager young professional, this rescuer of greyhounds, this lover of hot wing hoagies, it was, oddly enough, the aroma of homemade pasta sauce. She remembered her childhood and the air in Pittston’s Oregon Section — always thick with tomatoes, fresh herbs and garlic. It filled her heart with joy to think of her own children someday sharing that same experience. So, she came home (loving husband and adorable greyhound in tow).

We recently sat down at Abide Coffee House in Wilkes-Barre for a chat.


How long have you lived in NEPA?

Well, I grew up here and moved away for a couple years. So, altogether, I’d say about 25 years. I don’t think college should count though, right?

What did you miss most about NEPA?

The food. Central PA had good food, but they did not have, like, my food. No one knew what a hot wing hoagie was. They thought it was actual wings, and there were many questions about “what do you do with the bones?” Yeah, it just wasn’t our food. The pizza wasn’t good. I felt like there were a lot of chains near us. There were no Mom n Pop shops. So, all the great places in Pittston like Napoli’s, Demuro’s and Maroni’s in Scranton, or Roberto’s in Scranton (my favorite place to get a hot wing hoagie). All of those small, locally-owned places – that’s what I absolutely missed.

What brought you back to NEPA?

So, our friends and our family were still here. I definitely wanted to come back and see them and feel like I wasn’t missing out on things. But, you know, eventually I think we’d like to have kids, and, in Central PA, I just didn’t think I really wanted to raise kids there. I really did enjoy that area. I truly, truly did, but I just didn’t have my family there. Like I said earlier, I remember growing up here with a certain feeling of home and I never quite got that down in the Harrisburg area.

What’s your favorite thing to do in NEPA?

I do love going to the state parks. We have a greyhound. So, anywhere that he can find a bunny or a squirrel to chase – he is very happy. We enjoy doing that. But I really enjoy the fact that I don’t have to leave here to find something super unique to do, like the Kirby Center. We’ve gone to see comedians. We’ve gone to see musical acts. They get absolutely everything. You can go see an off-Broadway play up at the Scranton Cultural Center. Super big-name acts — Tim McGraw is coming to the arena. I find that absolutely ridiculous that we don’t have to go to Philly to see someone like that.

Anything like snowtubing at Montage – I’m a big fan. Winter sports are not my friend, but snowtubing requires zero skill. So, I can do that. And the little things, too. I enjoy just grabbing a coffee at all the little places in Scranton and Wilkes-Barre, like Northern Lights or Abide.

What’s next for you?

Professionally, I think, now that I’ve been at Leadership Wilkes-Barre for a year, I think I’m ready to start joining some more professional organizations. Maybe getting more involved with the Wilkes-Barre Chamber and their Young Professionals Council. I would possibly like to join some nonprofit boards in the near future. I’m definitely looking forward to finding my passion projects.

I’ve met so many people from so many different businesses through Leadership Wilkes-Barre that I never even knew were around here. There’s an exercise we have classes do at Leadership — everyone lists where they volunteer and what their passions are. And if you want to get involved, you know, there’s your contact. There’s your in. So, yeah, being exposed to so many things, I think I’d really like to get “on a roll” on that professional side of things.

And on the personal side of things, I’ve been exposed to the joys of home ownership. So, that is always a constant project, I’ve learned. But it’s a fun project.

Where do you see NEPA heading in the future?

I see it becoming a real destination. On the one hand, I love that. And, on the other hand, I want it to stay this kind of little secret gem. The other day, I heard somebody say that NEPA, in the next, you know, X-number of years is going to be the new New York or Philly. And, I truly do love that idea, and I love all the new businesses we’re bringing in, but, on the other hand, I lived in Philly, and I don’t want it to be like that. Personally, I want to just keep it all to myself.

I see people finding NEPA, and discovering what a true gem it is, but, for me, you don’t have to travel here. This is the destination for me. It’s great. You can go to New York. You can go to the beach. You can go to Philly. It’s all not that far away, but, for me there’s something here that I don’t need to go anywhere for.


For me, it’s truly the people. And, when I’ve said this to people, they kind of laugh and don’t believe me, but the people here, to me, are very welcoming. When I was in Central PA, people were welcoming, but there was not that sense of home.

Truly, I think the people here want the best for this area, but they also want the best for you. I really learned that through Leadership Wilkes-Barre. You can call anybody that has the same interests as you, and, if you want to get involved in that organization, they will work hard to help you. They will do that for you. Or, if they can’t help you directly, they’ll make five phone calls for you.

The people here just have your very best interests at heart. They want to see the area succeed, and they want you to succeed. I think that’s very unique to this area.

At DiscoverNEPA, we celebrate everything that makes Northeastern Pennsylvania a great place to live, work and play. Now, we’d like to share your story. You planted roots in NEPA. You’re doing business here, creating art here and living your best life here. Whether you spent your whole life in NEPA, came here from someplace else, or moved away and eventually made your way back, we’re curious –