West Scranton native Alison Boga is always willing to lend a helping hand and volunteer throughout her community. If you’re familiar with First Night Scranton, then you may have come across her friendly face helping others ring in the New Year in a family friendly and fun environment. What began as a small favor helping out with the festivities for one year has ended up being an annual routine for the Penn State graduate. She is a woman influenced by family and friends, constantly catering to others’ needs, and an inspiring volunteer helping to make peoples’ days a little sunnier. Meet First Night Scranton’s Alison Boga …
How long have you been involved with First Night Scranton?
It’s been 12 years. This will be the thirteenth year of First Night Scranton. Oh my god! (Laughs.) That is crazy! At the time, I was a volunteer worker for City Pride, an annual Scranton cleanup in May, and I was asked if I would be willing to do a favor. They needed a person to help manage the bingo program for the seniors. It was a one-shot deal and that was all. Twelve years later â¦ I guess I’m still doing that favor. I never stopped volunteering.
So you must have had some expertise in bingo?
No! As a matter of fact, people were yelling at me because I was calling out the wrong numbers. My first year involved in First Night Scranton was also my very first game of bingo. The following year I was a bingo professional. I asked a lot of questions.
What keeps you coming back?
I think it’s a wonderful organization and it’s a great event for the people of Scranton and surrounding areas. Some people are traveling from New York to visit family and this is what we are here for. It’s a family affair, and not just in the sense of mom, dad and kids. Family is whatever you consider family to be.
Describe First Night Scranton for someone who has never been to the event.
I think you would be in store for an evening of all types of fun. There are magicians, comedy acts, games, music and more entertainment. If you want to be romantic, there is a horse drawn carriage ride throughout the city. There is music for anyone, all generations. It’s a multi-generational event. It’s all about bringing people together. I have gotten older; I realized that it is all about making lasting memories.
You are primarily involved in the senior activities?
The bingo used to be specifically for seniors but the last few years it has changed. Now it is open to anyone. There are small children there with their moms and dads. I’ve always been involved in helping senior citizens whether through volunteering or working for several senior citizen organizations. I feel very comfortable doing this.
Tell me about your current work with the Girl Scouts of the USA.
I am the financial assistance administrator with the Girl Scouts. I review and approve applications for families that may not have the funds to send their daughters to Girl Scouts. We have seen a jump each year with families looking for assistance. It is very time consuming and keeps in the same scheme of my life, which is helping people. I guess you could say that’s my thing.
You are also a huge dog lover.
My dog was rescued from the local Humane Society. I saw this dog wandering around the streets of Scranton for a couple of days and I was debating on whether to pick her up or not. I thought to myself when I woke up the next day, “That’s it, I’m going to pick her up and take her.” I looked all over for that dog and couldn’t find her. I called the Humane Society and there she was. Birds, cats, dogs, I love them all.
What was the best thing that about 2011?
Professionally, 2011 was a very fulfilling year for me. I am very happy and I am still able to volunteer when I can. Personally, I have always tried to expand my mind and try new things. I recently attended my first yoga class and I’m going to continue to go back. I’m a very hyper and rather stressed out person, so I wasn’t sure how I was going to do in an hour of silence. That seemed crazy to me! Who does that? I have a hard time sitting still for an hour, but I really enjoyed it. I plan on doing more of that in the future and taking it to the next level. I’m really enjoying living life.
What are you looking forward to in 2012?
I plan on running in the next Steamtown Marathon, so my training is going to start in January. I participated in 1999, 2000 and 2001. I took a little sabbatical, so now I am going to get back on board again. I don’t properly stretch. I don’t like to run with buddies. I enjoy running by myself. I’m always aware of my surroundings and I enjoy having that personal time to train and reflect.
What do you like to do in your spare time?
I’m an avid reader. I enjoy taking my dog for a walk. I feel that’s my outlet. My friends have been pushing me for months to start yoga and now I really enjoy it. I really enjoy all winter sports like skiing and ice skating. I’m also currently renovating my house. I’m in charge of spackling and I’m also the painter.
I heard you are quite the baker. Is your holiday baking almost finished?
Nope. I didn’t even start yet. I’m well-known for my infamous butter cookies, snowballs, pepper cookies and pumpkin roll. I will do all of the baking the twenty-third and twenty-fourth. I’ll be up all night baking. I like it to really be fresh.
- tom graham
friendly New Year’s Eve Celebration is Dec. 31, 6 p.m. to midnight in downtown Scranton. Please visit www.scrantonfirstnight.com for more information.