THE ISSUE: It’s Monday, the day we take a few moments to highlight the good news in Lancaster County. Some of these items are welcome developments on the economic front or for neighborhoods across the county. Others are local stories of achievement, perseverance, compassion and creativity that represent welcome points of light in a still-difficult time. All of this news deserves a brighter spotlight.
We have a diverse collection of “Good Things” to tout this week, starting with a new Homes of Hope facility in Ephrata that will be used to temporarily house homeless families until they can find permanent residences. The project literally rose from the ashes.
“It took volunteers eight months to restore an Ephrata apartment building that had been all but destroyed by fire two years ago,” LNP | LancasterOnline’s Erik Yabor wrote in the April 25 Sunday LNP | LancasterOnline.
Homes of Hope, a local Christian organization, put $160,000 into the project, assisted by about $29,000 in donations from organizations and individuals. There were other contributions, too.
“All of the kitchen cabinetry and bathroom cabinetry was completely donated,” said Barry Kreider, Homes of Hope Ephrata chairperson.
Kreider hopes the renovated building can be fully occupied by mid-May. Then his group will seek local landlords who are willing to give participants permanent homes.
“We need landlords who understand the program, who are willing to work and willing to take that risk by taking them in,” Kreider told Yabor.
We applaud this compassionate effort and hope its next steps in helping vulnerable families go well.
In other “Good Things”:
— The past year has been incredibly difficult for so many businesses and their employees. So it’s always encouraging to read stories about perseverance, such as last week’s article by LNP | LancasterOnline’s Aniya Thomas about Julius Sturgis Pretzel Bakery in Lititz.
Thomas writes that “160 years after Julius Sturgis opened his namesake bakery in 1861 when he was 26, the Lititz business has rebounded and is focused on using lessons learned” during the COVID-19 pandemic to bolster its business.
In March, the bakery saw sales increase to levels not achieved since before the pandemic; they were essentially even with March 2019.
And the old company is learning new tricks, including the value of social media in advertising.
Tourists, day-trippers and buses are starting to return, which is very welcome news not just for Julius Sturgis Pretzel Bakery, but for the many county businesses that depend heavily upon out-of-towners.
“We never doubted that we were going to survive the pandemic,” Kurt Van Gilder, the bakery’s general manager, told Thomas. “We had comfort in knowing that we’re an iconic part of downtown Lititz. Losing us would be to lose some of the soul of Lititz.”
The good news from this pretzel bakery is one plot “twist” we’re happy to see.
— A new partnership between Elizabethtown Area High School and the Northwest EMS is providing students with hands-on learning, while also addressing a national need for more trained emergency management technicians, The Elizabethtown Advocate, a weekly newspaper that’s part of LNP Media Group, reported recently.
The innovative program — the only such partnership in Lancaster County — “allows students to attend school half a day and then receive classroom and hands-on training at the Northwest EMS building from EMS instructors,” the Advocate reported.
Most of the students taking part say they want to pursue a career in health care, so the hands-on work is invaluable.
“I want to make a difference,” said Nadia Guringo, a senior at Commonwealth Charter Academy who is taking part in the program alongside the Elizabethtown students.
As we move closer, hopefully, to the conclusion of a pandemic that’s been so stressful and exhausting for health care workers, it’s promising to read about young people who want to follow in their footsteps. They will be the next generation of heroes.
— There’s news to highlight from our lawmakers in Harrisburg. Legislation moved forward in the General Assembly that would create a tax credit program for qualifying donations to a Pennsylvania pediatric cancer research hospital.
The bill, sponsored by state Sen. Scott Martin, R-Martic Township, could generate up to $100 million in private donations for research over the next decade.
“As a father, I cannot imagine the pain and fear associated with a pediatric cancer diagnosis,” Martin stated in a news release. “These families deserve to know that we are fighting for them and taking every opportunity to improve treatments, both now and in the future.”
Martin also authored a 2018 law that allows Pennsylvanians to donate $5 to the Pediatric Cancer Research Fund when electronically renewing a driver’s license, photo identification card or vehicle registration. So this new legislation represents a continuing and admirable commitment on his part toward boosting cancer research.
Senate Bill 74 passed the Senate unanimously on April 28. It now goes to the House, where we hope it receives swift consideration and passage.
— We love reading about the contributions of local youth organizations. Last week, Danielle Peters, the director of the Columbia Food Bank, wrote a letter praising the “friendly and helpful” Scouts who stocked the nonprofit organization’s storage space.
“On Saturday, April 17, Boy Scout Troop 281 and Cub Scout Pack 181 from Ironville were not only friendly and helpful, but also kind, generous and decidedly enthusiastic as they and their leaders collected and delivered to the Columbia Food Bank almost 600 pounds of much-needed (and appreciated) food supplies,” Peters wrote. “That’s over a quarter-ton of food! They not only collected and delivered this vast amount of food, but then carried it all up to our second-floor storage area.”
Peters concluded with a great anecdote about how a young Scout handed her a huge box of cereal and said, “Here, help someone!”
The world will be in great hands with the young generations coming up behind us.