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A Note About Hardship, Hope & Help for the Week Ahead

Impact & Advocacy , Events & Programs , Local Stories , Chamber Updates
March 22 2020
As we prepare for another week of challenge, tough decisions, hardship and, potentially, chaos, I wanted to touch base with the business community, employers and employees alike, who are hurting, if not reeling.

Throughout my life, I have tended to be an optimist.  It has served me well personally and professionally and has helped me through some tough times in both aspects of my life.

But the events of the past week and the unknown of what’s ahead have tested that mindset more than ever.

This past week was spent hearing of the devastating impacts of companies closing. It was spent crying with friends who’ve lost their jobs. It was spent distancing myself from family and friends at a time when I could use them most. It was spent being heartbroken at the confusion expressed by my two-and-a-half year old granddaughter who can’t understand why she can’t have a play-date with her friends. And, it was spent, in partnership with the entire Chamber team, reacting to the needs of our members and the needs of our community as a whole.

Bluntly stated, it was a week from hell. Pure and simple. Absolutely nothing to find comfort in, or so I thought.

The weekend provided some (albeit little) time for reflection and future thinking and with that reflection I started to recognize the good that was happening all around us even in the midst of chaos and hardship.

We literally have heroes among us, old and new. While we should, now more than ever, always applaud and respect emergency responders, healthcare workers and all those that make our healthcare facilities shine; we should now be adding grocery store workers, pharmacists, delivery people, utility workers, and all those involved with life-essential businesses, including the down-stream manufacturers that continue to make the products we need, to the list. These people are literally on the front-line of a pandemic and their work is holding our society together. We cannot thank them enough. Please do your part to express your appreciation.

My hope is further fueled by stories of good deeds being brought to light, big and small. Stories like the Dutch Apple Dinner Theater and the Strasburg Railroad offering to redeploy their workforce to meet the need for urgent medical products; the many schools and volunteers who have continued to provide meals for students ensuring they have access to food; and hyper-local stories like the one of my neighbor, who purchased sticky buns from a local restaurant and placed them on our porches as a Sunday morning break from the tension (helping both the take-out restaurant and, to state the obvious, me and my family!). 

I’ve also been motivated by people’s resilience. Virtual meetings to continue important work; virtual worship sessions; virtual gatherings with friends and family; and volunteers stepping up to lend a hand, all while heeding the very important call for social distancing. 

I’ve also been inspired by the innovation that is helping even with the simplest aspects of life such as on-line work-outs, art lessons and museum tours. Innovation that has led Lancasteronline to offer free access regarding coronavirus informationFig Lancaster spotlighting restaurants offering takeout, and a group of entrepreneurs creating www.lanc.care to feature restaurants, gift cards and delivery options to help you and help our small businesses. I am encouraged to see the Workforce Development Board create a dedicated call number (1-844-744-8451) to help connect displaced workers to the pressing job needs of the moment. The creativity and adaptability of people consistently amazes me. 

These “green shoots” of good and these heroes are throughout our community, often working under the radar but spreading the good and the essential in ways we might never fully appreciate.  Please take a moment to keep an eye out for all the good going on in our community and make it a point to recognize it.

However, make no mistake about it, this coming week (and weeks) will be tough. Gut-wrenchingly tough. We are going to have to climb mountains and conquer barriers we haven’t faced yet.  And it will be hard for everyone. Yet, there are already some cracks in that chaos where people are stepping in, stepping up and becoming a force that can turn the tide in our favor.

Please try to retain some hope. Practice patience with everyone around you. Be generous where you can. And never doubt the power of the Lancaster County business community.

As for the Chamber?  We want to be here for you as best we can. A sampling of news/updates for the coming week includes:

  • Please check-in regularly on our website, www.lancasterchamber.com.  We are continually updating the site with new information and governmental action, loan information and other opportunities and tips for navigating this entire process.
  • Please let us know how we can help.  During the course of this week, and in partnership with the Economic Development Company of Lancaster County, we will be calling all our members.  We want to check-in with you and we want to secure your feedback so we can both provide relevant programming to your needs and advance the collective voice of the business community to our elected officials as they continue their work toward solutions.
  • The Small Business Administration is offering a webinar on their new emergency loan opportunities on Wednesday, March 25th from 10:30 – 11:30 a.m.  More information and registration is available here: https://pasbdc.ecenterdirect.com/events/26677
  • Please know that today (Monday, March 23 at 8:00 a.m.) the Governor intends to begin enforcement procedures against non-life essential companies that remain open.  You can check an updated list of those companies HERE.

Again, we are here to help. Let us know what you need. Let us know how we can serve.  Let us know how you’re doing.

As always, stay safe, practice social distancing, be an open ear for a friend or reach out to someone for support and, if you are able, find a way to support small businesses and non-profits that need your support now, more than ever.

With Hope,

-Tom Baldrige, President & CEO of the Lancaster Chamber

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