SOCIETY | Monroe County Historic Photo Album

When there’s a need, there’s a person or a group in Monroe County who can fill it, it seems.

High schools many years ago listed as a priority “the worthy use of leisure time.” For many, that translates into membership in a myriad of social and civic organizations that have assisted the needy, changed politics, built medical facilities and churches, bettered our schools, preserved our history, helped our children, entertained us with music and arts and generally improved our communities.

Their purposes often overlapped. During World War II, for instance, Red Cross and the Stroudsburg Women’s Club worked together to present nutritional programs at the YMCA. Volunteer emergency medical aides were trained at the Civil Liberties Union (C.L.U.) Club in East Stroudsburg. The Kiwanis salvaged rubber and scrap iron and promoted Victory Gardens to help with rationing efforts.

The Monroe County Hospital was started in 1906 by eight men in the George Heller home on Sarah Street in Stroudsburg. The General Hospital was started in 1915 on North Courtland Street in a location now occupied by the East Stroudsburg United Methodist Church. It moved to the present site of the Pocono Medical Center on East Brown Street and in 1930 merged with the Monroe County Hospital. Many of its facilities have been financed over the years through donations and charitable work.

Civic pride drew volunteers to fight fires or to dedicate careers to emergency services, police work or other vital services such as rounding up horse thieves. The Phoenix Fire Engine and Hose Company #2 of Stroudsburg was the first, formed on September 26, 1845. Likewise, the military appealed to the loyalties of Monroe County residents who have fought for their country since the Revolutionary War. They’ve helped in other ways, too: vaccines produced by Dr. Richard Slee in Swiftwater – at what is now Aventis Pasteur* – were shipped to Cuba in 1898 to assist soldiers who were stricken by disease in the Spanish American War.
* Update: The company, now named Sanofi Pasteur, still makes vaccines at a vastly expanded plant in Swiftwater.