Team Approach


The team of people at Thrive is part of what makes the organization special.  We have both native & non-native speaking teachers/volunteers as well as people with teaching backgrounds and people with extensive language learning backgrounds collaborating together.  Our team enjoys being together and reaching out to benefit others.  Because of our interactions & experiences, we know how critical it can be to communicate in multiple languages and be able to welcome others.  Many of our staff members fill dual roles at Thrive like being a student in one class and contributing as a teacher/volunteer in a different language class.

Volunteer Opportunities


Thrive is blessed by the help of many skilled volunteers. If you are interested in volunteering, please contact Jody at 570-337-2898 or and complete a volunteer application.

Volunteers who may have contact with youth are required to have or obtain the following per PA state law:

  • PA State Police Background Check (can be done online; free for volunteers)
  • Child Abuse Clearances (can be done by paper form or online.  If you use the online option, start with “Create Individual Account.” Free for volunteers)
  • Mandatory Reporter Training (the link is for one free training option; other recognized programs are also acceptable)
  • FBI background checks (only required if you have not lived in PA for the last 10 years and/or you will be paid; costs $22.60 for volunteers and $23.85 for employees.  Be sure to use code 1KG6ZJ for volunteers and code 1KG756 for employees.  Enter your location.  Select “Schedule Appointment”, and then select “Digital Fingerprinting.)

We have the following volunteer opportunities:

  • Spanish/English interpreters/translators–Flexible schedule; ideally 2-4 hours per month (fluency in Spanish & English is required)
  • ESL class assistants/tutors–flexible schedule depending on student availability and class times
  • Comfort Food Around the World takeout meal assistants–3rd Wednesday of each month
  • Adult/High School Spanish class assistants–Thursday evenings from 7:15-9:00pm September through May (fluent ability to use Spanish is required)
  • Youth Spanish + Gym class assistants–Thursday evenings from 6:15-7:15pm January through March (fluent Spanish encouraged but not necessary)
  • Language Cafe designated volunteers–September through May; schedule pending

Additionally, we are looking for volunteers with skills in graphic design and accounting who would be interested in helping as their schedules permit.  We also occasionally need volunteers to help with set-up/tear down of classes or similar tasks.

Staff & Volunteers


Jody Lantz–Executive Director & Intermediate ESL Instructor; DOJ Accredited Representative

Jody has been with Thrive and its predecessor since February 2011.  She has taught ESL since 1994 in different contexts including in community and college programs in the U.S. and Thailand.  She earned her B.S.W. from Eastern University and her M.A. TESOL from Biola University.  Her professional passions are empowering ESL students to integrate with and positively impact their communities and helping new professionals develop teaching skills.  After long witnessing the need for low-cost accessible immigration legal services in the area, she also became a DOJ accredited representative.  Her favorite hobbies are reading, biking, and hiking.
Ivonne Acevedo – Vice President and ESL Instructor
She has been helping Thrive as a volunteer since 2018, began as an ESL Class Coach in summer 2019, and started as our ESL instructor in January 2020. She earned her bachelors in engineering from La Universidad del Zulia in Venezuela. She enjoys encouraging people, sharing in a multicultural environment, and helping people to integrate to the community. Ivonne also enjoys cooking, reading, listening music, dancing, and spending quality time with her family. 

Grace Watts–Director of Immigration Legal Services

Grace is very excited about the work at Thrive!  She grew up in Williamsport, and after graduating from university, she spent over 4 years teaching abroad, living in both Korea and Ghana.  While living abroad, she became fascinated by globalization and foreign cultures.  She plans to invest her life in building multicultural community and intercultural cooperation.  She became a DOJ accredited representative in 2017.

Jenn Holdren – Language Cafe Facilitator

Jenn has been with Thrive since January 2017. She has a BA in Psychology and Spanish and spent time studying abroad in Spain. She enjoys working with individuals from various backgrounds and enjoys learning about their home country and culture. Jenn enjoys reading, hiking, running, fishing and cooking.

Teacher Resources & Training


Board Members


Jerry Frear

Jody Lantz

Lauren Hammack

Laura Lopez-Arce

Mark Rice

Jamie Sanders

Melissa Mahler

Ivonne Acevedo Atencio

Tess Neidig