HONESDALE, PA — The sun had just emerged from behind a gray sky after a morning of clouds and rain. On the afternoon of Thursday, March 25, a small crowd of Wayne County residents and officials gathered at the Park Street Complex in Honesdale to memorialize those who lost their lives to COVID-19 over the past year. They congregated at the complex’s two bocce ball courts, which had been recently installed thanks to the efforts of a young woman named Megan Ashley Pitino. Pitino, 27, passed away from COVID-19 complications in December, and was the specific focus of the event.
In addition to being a drug and alcohol case manager; a photographer; “an educated woman; a perfect daughter, sister, fiancé and friend,” Pitino was a “huge supporter” of Area P Special Olympics, encompassing Wayne, Pike, Susquehanna, Lackawanna and Wyoming counties, Pitino served as the Area P fundraising coordinator and coached track and field—accompanying athletes to regional competitions—swim and basketball. From a hospital bed, just two days before her death, Pitino used FaceTime to draw the winners of a Special Olympics raffle, which she had organized, raising $3,500.
Kim Emmet worked with Pitino for Special Olympics and spoke on Thursday about the impact she had on her life and others.
“Everybody has a story and everybody could write a book about their story... I am sure each one of us could write a book just about our own personal relationship we had with Megan,” Emmet said. “I knew Megan for [more than] five years, and over all that time, I never heard a harsh word from her, never a judgment, never a criticism; she had a way of making you feel safe; she had a way of making you feel like the most loved person.”
A graduate of Wallenpaupack Area High School, Pitino earned a bachelor’s degree in public health from Keystone College and worked as an addiction case manager at the Dunmore Comprehensive Treatment Center.
In memory of Megan and the other residents who lost their lives to COVID-19, the community dedicated an ADA-accessible picnic table in the Park Street Complex park near the bocce ball courts. Pitino’s parents John and Kelli made a $2,500 donation to Special Olympics.
Closing the ceremony, Emmet’s daughter recited a poem titled “Epitaph” by Merrit Malloy:
“I want to leave you something, something better than words or sounds. Look for me in the people I’ve known or loved, and if you cannot give me away, at least let me live on in your eyes and not on your mind.”
Pitino’s friends and family laid down flowers in her bocce courts before leaving.
“Megan, I promise you we will continue to add chapters to your book,” Emmet said. “We will continue to write your story in the work that we do, in the love that we share to remember you and to love unconditionally the way you loved us.”