Memorial Plaque Dedication and Launch Party

Cathy Welker Besser, MCDI President and her father Bob Welker dedicate the memorial plaque for her mother, Cathy Welker, the Mother of Oak Street Wednesday September 19, 2018 in Mount Carmel, PA.

(The article was published in The News-Item Thursday September 20, 2018)

‘Mother of Oak Street’ Honored as Mount Carmel Launches Website

MOUNT CARMEL — A crowd was drawn to Oak Street Wednesday to join Mount Carmel Downtown Inc. (MCDI) in honoring an important part of the borough’s past and to celebrate its future.      

Approximately 30 people gathered outside Academy Sports Center Inc. to remember Cathy Welker, “The Mother of Oak Street,” as her husband, Bob Welker, and daughter, Cathy Besser, unveiled a plaque in front of the family business.

Borough councilman and MCDI member Ed Fegley spoke about how Cathy Welker nurtured Oak Street like a mother.

Besser was overcome with emotion as she thanked those who came out to remember her mother, recognizing that family hasn’t been alone in missing her since she passed four years ago.

“Growing up with a mother like that, it’s kind of hard to replace. She was a wonderful woman,” Besser said. “ I’m hoping I have a little bit of her inside of me that I can keep things going.”

Besser wished her mother was around to see what’s next for the borough. She said she always had a way of bringing the best out in people and knowing their strengths.

“We have so many great people stepping up and working hard to move Mount Carmel onto the next adventure, to the next phase, and I just wish she were here because she would really be pushing all of us to do our best,” she added.

Website Launch

Following the plaque dedication, the crowd made its way to Shops on the Corner at Oak and Fourth streets for the official launch of the borough’s new website at

The website was created by students from Bucknell University in their partnership with the Mother Maria Kaupus Center and the borough to help address needs and concerns of residents. They created the website to help promote what the borough has to offer and keep residents up to date with scheduled meetings and events.

Jake Betz, director of the Kaupus Center, said, “It’s great to see this publicly presented because I know the students did a fantastic job with this and I think it’s going to bring Mount Carmel closer with being able to put information on it like a hub, so everybody knows what is all going on in the community. The management students that worked on the website and the student who worked on the logo did a fantastic job.”

The logo was created by Bucknell graduate Megan Cannella, who Besser said was recently offered a job at a company in Texas after presenting her Mount Carmel community initiative work during the interview process.

Bucknell art professor Eddy López spent a year working on graphic design with Cannella. The two met weekly to discuss how she could successfully execute the strategy of the marketing students for the community initiative.

The relationship between the university and borough is a “natural fit,” according to López, with the students doing service learning by responding to needs of the community.

His student’s branding is featured on tote bags, T-shirts and stickers that were available to guests at the event, who quickly snatched up their favorite pieces to take home.

‘A Healing Thing’

Judy Polites, of MCDI, said she was delighted with the turnout to both of the events held Wednesday night.

“The turnout to celebrate Cathy Welker is really a healing thing for the community, and to have our alliances with Bucknell and the Kaupus Center produce these successful initiatives are so welcomed by us, and we hope to keep those alliances strong. We have many long-reach plans to continue progressive movements to benefit the community,” she said.

Chris Berleth, relationship manager for the Greater Susquehanna Valley Chamber of Commerce, thought the presentation with the website was fantastic. He spoke of a chamber initiative called the Community Prosperity Alliance, which is a gathering of all downtown and community organizations.

He said, “We’re really pleased Mount Carmel Downtown Inc. is a part of that, and we’re here in support because they’re doing great work.”

Besser was excited to announce the website’s launch and said MCDI Vice President Ed Hirsch has worked hard to keep the website up to date since the students who created it have graduated from Bucknell.

Banners promoting the borough purchased by Bucknell through a grant were also shown to the crowd by Besser, who said they will be hung around the perimeter of Mount Carmel for people to see as they drive into the borough. Besser said she hopes people will visit the website after seeing the banners and see how “wonderful” and “friendly” the people of Mount Carmel are.

© The News-Item