THE PROBLEM: Today is Monday, the day we take a few moments to highlight the good news in Lancaster County and the surrounding area. Some of these are welcome developments on the economic front or for neighborhoods in the region. Others are local stories of success, perseverance, compassion and creativity that represent welcome points of light during another winter of this long and stressful pandemic. All of this uplifting news deserves greater attention.
An old-fashioned form of communication – handwritten letters sent through the mail – helps two disparate local groups connect and learn more about each other. Some Millersville University master’s candidates are in the middle of a year-long project in which they exchange letters with local people facing a combination of poverty and social isolation.
“I have the opportunity to interact with people who have a life experience different from mine,” Roberto Lopez-Adrian, who is pursuing his master’s degree in social work, told LNP | Ashley Stalnecker from LancasterOnline recently.
The corresponding project is called Stepping Stones, and Millersville has partnered with The Factory Ministries, YWCA Lancaster, and Tenfold, a nonprofit aimed at providing fair housing and financial security for all, to find local participants. .
The project began when Millersville assistant professor Jennifer Frank secured an $8,000 grant from the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education, which is primarily used to pay the salary of a graduate assistant who helps with the program, reported Stalnecker.
One of the aims of the project is to examine how feelings of isolation have been impacted and/or intensified by the COVID-19 pandemic. To gain more valuable insights, Millersville participants were instructed to treat their community correspondents as peers with whom they have a conversation, not as social workers dealing with clients.
“By writing back and forth as ordinary people, the power disparity that normally exists between a professional helper and a client is reduced and genuine connection can be fostered,” Stalnecker reported.
Millersville master’s candidates will be able to leverage the experience they gain in future careers in social work.
“Having this first-hand knowledge gives us better insights into how to act in the future,” Dawn Watson, one of the master’s candidates, told Stalnecker.
“We are incredibly lucky, quite lucky, to be able to watch these letters as students and follow their stories, to see what poverty means to them and what they are really going through,” added Rachel Preibisch, another Masters candidate. “When we go into practice, it will be to our advantage.”
Meanwhile, some of the community members involved in the project have benefited from a bridge that helps them “connect to the community,” said Anna Beasley, director of adult advocacy for The Factory Ministries.
Everything from stamped letters to mail.
“I think (the project) is a good thing,” community correspondent Constance Degrave told Stalnecker. “It’s like we have another friend at home.”
In other good things:
– Nanga Lin, a freshman at Millersville University who was born and raised in China, recently helped the choir at Holy Trinity Lutheran Church in Lancaster learn a new hymn in Chinese.
Robert Horton, organist and choirmaster at Holy Trinity, teaches Lin to play the harpsichord. So Horton asked her if she would teach her choir to sing the 1936 Chinese anthem “Golden Breaks the Dawn”, LNP | LancasterOnline correspondent Joan Kern reported last month.
The eight members of the choir learned this very quickly.
“It was just once, just 20 or 30 minutes,” Lin told Kern. “They learned incredibly quickly. I taught them how to pronounce the words and – bang – it went well. … I was fascinated by how they sang so naturally because they knew the melody. It sounded right. I enjoyed the teaching time.
Lin is majoring in music, with an emphasis on piano, in Millersville. She studies with Xun Pan, Assistant Professor of Keyboard Studies and Artistic Director of the Lancaster International Piano Festival.
With the motto “Breaking Barriers/Building Community”, Holy Trinity Lutheran Church also has several hymns for which the congregation is invited to sing in either English or Spanish. At the same time.
“It looks chaotic, but they’re having a great time doing it,” Horton said.
– Two senior student-athletes from Lancaster-Lebanon League schools have been chosen to compete in the Big 33 All-Star Football Game on May 30 at Rocco Ortenzio Stadium at Bishop McDevitt High School in Harrisburg.
Cocalico offensive lineman Ryan Brubaker and Manheim Township wide receiver Anthony Ivey picked up the honor.
“Brubaker had an outstanding senior season in the trenches for Cocalico, helping the Eagles advance to the District 3 playoffs, while also earning multiple star honors: First-team Section 2 star, a nod Eye to All PA Football News States, Plus a Spot on EasternPaFootball’s All-Star List, LNP | LancasterOnline editor Jeff Reinhart reported on March 1.
“Ivey, who caught 49 passes for 655 yards with eight touchdowns while helping Township reach the District 3 playoffs last fall, was named Section 1 wide receiver of the year, while earning status first-team all-star in Section 1, and spots on the PA Football Writers All-State Team, PA Football News All-State Team, and he was an all-star selection from the PA Football Writers. ‘EasternPaFootball,’ Reinhart continued.
Brubaker will attend the University of South Carolina, while Ivey will go to Penn State University.