Many area residents may remember Don Creamer as the former president and CEO of Susquehanna Health System.
What they may not know is Creamer also helped launch Leadership Lycoming, a program that provides the skills needed to turn out new leaders who give back to the community.
Creamer returned to Lycoming County on Thursday to speak at the organization's 25th anniversary luncheon at the Williamsport Country Club.
Donna Bastian received Leadership Lycoming’s first Community Service Award, which also was named in her honor. Awards were given Thursday during the organization’s 25th anniversary celebration at the Williamsport Country Club.
He shared with Leadership Lycoming graduates and others attending the event what the program has meant.
"I can't imagine what this community would be like without this program," said Creamer, a Leadership Lycoming Board director who now makes his home in Hilton Head, S.C.
When Leadership Lycoming was started a quarter of century ago, Creamer and other community leaders felt it should include several important components.
It was decided that it would stress leadership development, make use of local resources to support it, expose members to the community and turn over to graduates oversight of the program.
So far, some 650 people have graduated from Leadership Lycoming.
"Keep things in perspective and keep up the good work," he said.
Trey Phillips, co-chairman of the event and president of Phillips Supply House in Williamsport, recalled being reluctant to apply for inclusion in a Leadership Lycoming class after returning to the area in 1990 to work in the family business.
It was his mother, Ann Marie Phillips, who convinced him otherwise.
Many years later, he feels the program helped him.
"I don't think I would have been as involved in the community if not for this program," he said.
He said the program is about sacrifice and helping to make the community a better place in which to live.
State Sen. E. Eugene Yaw, R-Loyalsock Township, was on hand to acknowledge the program for its 25 years of existence. He called Leadership Lycoming a specialized training program that recognizes the needs of the community and develops leaders.
Williamsport/Lycoming Chamber of Commerce President Vince Matteo honored the organization with a proclamation, declaring June 21 as Leadership Lycoming Day.
Kevin Hodrick, of Prudential Hodrick Realty and a member of this year's graduating class, called leadership the ability to lead but also to persevere when the going gets tough.
Donna Bastian, co-chairwoman of the luncheon, received special recognition for her work with Leadership Lycoming, which has included much volunteer time.
She received the Leadership Lycoming Community & Service Award, the first time the award has been given. The award also was named in Bastian's honor.
The program, she said, has been "close to my heart from the beginning."
Members of this year's graduating class also were recognized and honored during the luncheon.