A Time For Thanks, Hope, and Vigilance

New letter on 11/24 from Tom Baldrige, President & CEO of the Lancaster Chamber

Thanks.  Hope.  And Vigilance.

This is a time to give thanks.  A time to reflect and a time to appreciate all the good that is around us.  Even in 2020!

This year the “thanks” run deeper than ever as person after person, business after business has stepped-up, pitched-in and helped-out during these unprecedented times.  We’ve been inspired by countless acts of kindness; we’ve been moved by the immense dedication of the Lancaster County workforce;  and, we’ve seen the best in innovation, perseverance and, frankly, all-out grit. 

We have experienced the incredible dedication of our frontline workers, including medical teams, teachers, farmers, service providers, manufacturers, and all other hardworking Lancastrians who have kept our County moving forward.  Thank you.

Truth be told, I’ve never been more proud to be part of the Lancaster business community.  And I thank you for the honor.

Along with this time of thanks, also comes a time for hope.

As we come to the end of this most-challenging year, new COVID-19 treatments and multiple vaccine options are getting ready to be deployed.  From the start we knew that the vaccine would be the game-changer and we can now have hopeful options as plans are underway to begin the process for front-line workers to receive it as early as December 11.

Yet, people are tired of this current reality. Many businesses are on the brink of making some very difficult decisions. And the short-term outlook is grim.

That’s where vigilance needs to kick in.

Lancaster County’s COVID numbers are not good.  Cases are up, hospitalizations are up, deaths are up.  And the ripple effects are impacting our entire community.

Yet, we know –let me repeat, WE REALLY DO KNOW!– that with personal responsibility we can all do our part to help. Help you. Help your neighbor. Help your community.

Now is the time to be extra-vigilant in your own behavior, in your workplace, and in your engagement with the broader community.

Wear a mask, practice social distancing, wash your hands, get a flu shot and DO NOT participate in any gatherings that are not following the most careful of protocols. 

None of us enjoy being told what to do and, in particular, none of us want government to “shut-us-down,” yet none of those actions will be necessary if we are vigilant with our own behavior, vigilant in creating a safe work environment, and vigilant in protecting others.

Be vigilant for your own health; be vigilant for the health of your families, friends and co-workers; be vigilant for our schools and colleges; be vigilant for our local economy. Following those health guidelines is simple and it really does have a huge, positive ripple effect impact – from keeping businesses operational to ensuring the safety and livelihoods of loved ones to providing the best opportunities for our students to learn.

I am also compelled to add one more ask for your vigilance:  Think Local, in fact, Think Hyper-Local!  As you prioritize your health and the health of those around you (physical and mental), please prioritize local business survival as well.  During these next few months, I am asking you to be hyper-local in all your purchases and in the services you source. Think creatively about how that might make for a better, more meaningful holiday season for you, your family, and our local businesses who truly need our help now more than ever.

Lancaster County’s giving capacity was on full display last week when the Lancaster County Community Foundation’s Extraordinary Give resulted in more than $13 million being donated to local non-profits.  It was a stunning, record-breaking display of community philanthropy that will go a long way in helping many of our non-profits survive these tough times.

I am now asking for that same mind-set to be turned to our local businesses.  Not as a charity, mind you, but as a friend-in-need that has historically supported your charities with gift certificates, sponsored your little league teams, and added that extra dessert to your take-out order.  It is now your turn to demonstrate your thanks to them with your buying power. 

Please do your part with your personal purchases, your business purchases and in sharing the message to others of the critical need to purchase locally this holiday season. It is not an understatement to say, now more than every it is critical that we all Think Local! And I do mean absolutely critical. 

This year, I intend to give thanks this Thanksgiving, perhaps more meaningfully than ever before, but it will not be around a table surrounded by family members. It will be on the hike we take in the morning; it will be with the side dishes we share among my children’s families on a socially-distant patio; it will be on Zoom calls with family outside the area; and, ultimately, it will be at the dinner table with my wife as we reflect on all the good in our lives.

Rest assured, Lancaster County is on that list as a significant part of “all the good in our lives.”  Thank you. 

Tom Baldrige, President & CEO of the Lancaster Chamber