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Paying It Forward


I can’t believe 13 years have passed since moving to the Lehigh Valley. It feels like only yesterday that I made the “very long” journey from New York. Yes, that was sarcasm! One of the best parts of the Lehigh Valley is its proximity to both New York City and Philadelphia. It’s only when your friends and family visit that they are finally convinced that this is not a different country, it’s a fantastic place to live, and a great place to vacation. Festivals, art, theater, sports, relaxation, shopping, restaurants…WE HAVE IT ALL!!

Moving to the Lehigh Valley ended up being an easy decision because my company was relocating. When they announced the move to PA my first reaction was, “I am never leaving New York” and that I needed to find a new job. This is because someone convinced me that nobody leaves the “Island” and that most people change their name to Gilligan.

When the company was transitioning, I spent my time traveling back and forth to PA while interviewing with other companies in New York. Only after receiving other job offers, it was apparent that there was no company or job that I was going to like better. That was also the beginning of my love affair with Bethlehem. The decision was made and I have no regrets.

As a single person moving to the Lehigh Valley, I learned quickly that “no” to any invitation was never the right answer. I was the newbie and I had to find my place even if it was out of my comfort zone. Through this decision, I was very lucky to meet an incredible group of people that invited me to events, restaurants, concerts, festivals, golf and to see all that the Lehigh Valley had to offer. I accepted all invitations even if it sounded like something that I would not be interested in or even with people I may not have common interests. It’s better to find this out the hard way than not at all. My new group of friends were relentless with helping me find my way, and my true circle grew. Now, I can’t keep up with my own social life.

I am proud to call the Lehigh Valley my home and many would think that I have lived here my whole life. For the past few years, I have now been “Paying it Forward”. It’s time to give back to a place that is so welcoming. Being part of LINC as an Ambassador and a member of the Ambassador Council is part of that mission. This organization embraces the culture of the Lehigh Valley and helps people like me help to build the community. Being an Ambassador through LINC allows me to help those people who may want to say “no” to say “yes” to meeting new people and making their new home in the Lehigh Valley. Along with LINC, I also engage in other philanthropic activities within the Lehigh Valley.

And you better believe it, I have recruited that original group of friends as Ambassadors for all of the wonderful experiences I have had with them over the last 13 years.


— Tara McBrearty