This has been a summer like none other. As we have in past months, we highlight here some of the good things happening in Lancaster County and elsewhere, as we continue to deal with COVID-19, its challenges and its uncertainties.
If you had told us 25 years ago that one of the biggest TV hits of the summer of 2020 would be a musical about the Founding Father who created this nation’s financial system, we would have said, “Sure, as if” — because we were younger then, and that’s how we spoke.
But also because the notion would have seemed ludicrous. We’d be singing along to lyrics about Aaron Burr and George Washington? Rapping about the Marquis de Lafayette and other Revolutionary War heroes? And a Lancaster County native would triumph as a hilarious King George III?
History, we would have insisted, was to be read and pondered — not to be danced to or sung.
Lin-Manuel Miranda’s “Hamilton,” which debuted on Broadway in 2015, now is being shown on Disney+ — a gift to the many of us who are staying close to home during the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s a joy to watch and one of the few bright spots of this summer.
Penn Medicine Lancaster General Health maintenance housekeeper Stanley Gantz was declared a “health care hero” and a “sanitizing superstar” on the “Jimmy Kimmel Live” show Thursday night.
Gantz, who has worked at Lancaster General Hospital for the past 10 years, is known by co-workers as “Soul Man,” because he sings Smokey Robinson tunes in the hospital halls.
He was crooning “My Girl” on the late-night show when, as LNP | LancasterOnline’s Mary Ellen Wright wrote, he was surprised to be joined on the video call — and in song — by Smokey Robinson.
The iconic Motown singer told Gantz he was sending him an autographed copy of the 1963 album “Time Out with Smokey Robinson and the Miracles.” And comedian and actor Sebastian Maniscalo, who was filling in for Kimmel, told Gantz that the Green Goo company is sending him $10,000 (because of this, we’ll forgive Maniscalo for mispronouncing Lancaster).
“God bless you for what you do, man,” Robinson said to Gantz. “God bless you and everybody at the hospital — all the workers, and people who take care of all the people there, especially with the virus going around like it is.”
We second that emotion.
Here’s another story we loved: As LNP | LancasterOnline’s Heather Stauffer reported earlier this week, “A nonprofit that sprang from community efforts to sew and donate masks is pledging $50,000 to help support Lancaster County school districts' efforts to keep students and staff safe during the COVID-19 pandemic.”
That nonprofit, Lancaster Masks, will give each of the 16 districts a $3,125 check to use as it sees fit toward reopening schools, plus a case of hand sanitizer donated by KO Industries, executive director Phil Lapp announced Wednesday.
“Finding increased funds to pay for the required safety interventions will be even more difficult in the current school economy,” Lancaster-Lebanon Intermediate Unit 13 executive director Brian Barnhart told LNP | LancasterOnline in an email.
He called the gift “truly a blessing and indicative of the supportive community in Lancaster County.”
Here’s another bright spot: As LNP | LancasterOnline’s Jenelle Janci reported, four photographers will offer free professional head shots to unemployed individuals at Park City Center on Wednesday, as part of the nationwide project 10,000 Headshots.
“Headshot photography is a specialty, because people really want to look polished and refined and have the appropriate expression. … The expression tells everything,” Richard Waine, one of those photographers, said.
As Janci wrote, “A photo can help potential employers and clients connect with an individual. A person, after all, is more than bullet points of experience and references.”
The effort won’t change the fact that so many Lancaster County residents are unemployed because of the pandemic. But it is an act of kindness that undoubtedly will mean a great deal to those who benefit from it.
And here’s yet another inspiring story: A GoFundMe page to help Lampeter-Strasburg graduate Karin Hostetter obtain a medical alert service dog is more than a third toward its $30,000 goal.
As LNP | LancasterOnline’s John Walk reported, Hostetter — a former three-sport student-athlete at L-S — was diagnosed with children’s interstitial lung disease in June 2017. “The disease took away her athletic career and ability to attend classes in person. It also made completing classwork challenging, as the lack of oxygen can sometimes result in what she describes as ‘fog brain,’ ” Walk wrote.
A medical alert service dog could be trained to alert her when her oxygen level drops. And LNP | LancasterOnline readers are among those who are helping Hostetter to get a much-needed dog.
Once again, we are reminded of the essential kindness of Lancaster County residents.
In “Hamilton,” Alexander Hamilton’s wife, Eliza, sings to her husband, “Look around, look around, at how lucky we are to be alive right now.” It’s sung at a point in the musical when the Revolutionary War has not yet been won, and Hamilton is frustrated because Gen. Washington hasn’t yet granted him a field command.
It’s difficult to feel lucky during a pandemic. But look around. There are things for which to be grateful.