CARBONDALE – A little more than two years ago, an eclectic group of 14 local area business women convened over coffee on a Wednesday morning. While it was nothing new to meet friends for a day’s kick-starting cup java, this particular group of women met because they are part of today’s ever-evolving business world.

Learning, sharing, and growing, they continued to meet weekly to socialize and discuss the myriad topics and everyday matters encountered in their daily lives. From both personal and business perspectives, they overlook the contrary negative approaches to everyday things and regularly take positive steps to all they approach. And as such they continue to move forward, discussing and resolving issues in practical and thoughtful ways. They are business women. They are friends. And together they are thriving.

What might have initially been construed as a coffee klatch, their meetings have continued every Wednesday and have grown to include more than 60 members. “We’re a group of women who meet to thrive,” said Lisa Crisera, owner of L.C. Solutions, a local area marketing firm. As defined by the very name of their group, T.H.R.I.V.E., “we Teach, Reach, Invest, Value, and Encourage one another within our group and our community. We’re not just a business-to-business or networking group, although we definitely encourage everyone to talk about what they do. We truly support one another in everything we do throughout our lives. We’re also committed to giving back to our local community through year-round fundraisers, volunteer efforts, and service projects.”

This creative feminine mix comes from varying fields: real estate, elder and medical care, local government and restaurants, design artists and musicians, yoga instructors, retired teachers, and more. Together they continue to foster and encourage more connections that offer business support and ongoing education to whomever participates. And while the initial core group calls Carbondale home, T.H.R.I.V.E. knows no geographical boundaries.

“Our members come from in and around the area,” said Nellie Connolly, owner of PersoNELLized Cakes & Café and the home base of T.H.R.I.V.E.’s weekly meetings.

“Women from nearby Archbald and Eynon and from down the line as far as Scranton and Dallas hear about us and what we do for one another, and they want to become part of us. Everyone has a busy life and there’s no commitment to belong (to the group) so they don’t all come every week. But we’ll generally have six to sixteen or more on any given Wednesday. At last count, we have 159 likes and followers on Facebook. People definitely know we’re here!”

While the women concur that the high or low number of weekly attendees is of no consequence, what is important is “there’s always someone at our meetings,” Criscera added.

“Regardless of whatever is going on in our lives, some of us are always in attendance, and the loyalty of our members never fails to amaze me. Sometimes we’ll have the same core group of women, sometimes we have new-comers, and often we’ll have ladies we haven’t seen in a while.”

Regular attendance “doesn’t matter,” Criscera continued, “as the individual enthusiasm is genuine and unmatched by any other group I’ve been a part of. Our meetings never fall short.

Women don’t attend T.H.R.I.V.E. just to get something out of it for themselves … they show up to give, to listen, and to truly thrive. And along the way, someone was helped, someone was reached, and someone was supported.”

Retired art teacher Jeannie Dempsey noted that “the camaraderie is wonderful. And everybody brings something different to the table.”

“After an hour’s meeting, I walk away from here always feeling good,” said Michelle Bannon, Carbondale’s City Clerk.

“We share our experiences and learn so much through the total support and affirmation we have with one another. We’re like a sisterhood, learning from and inspiring one another. It’s contagious.”

Local designer Ruthanne expressed her feeling of the ladies of T.H.R.I.V.E. as likened to a “touchstone that sets the tone of things for the week.” And musician Doreen Hudak Coleman describes the group “as a dynamic blend of unique women sharing what they know best to uplift and encourage others to be the best they can be. I can hardly wait until it’s Wednesday morning!”

With no dues, fees, or commitments to join and participate in the weekly meetings and ongoing activities of T.H.R.I.V.E., “all are welcomed, and bring a friend,” Criscera invited. “Just show up when you can and help us accomplish great things!”

“Check us out … I guarantee you’ll come back,” Hudak Coleman added.