Episode 1: February 17th, 2021

by | Feb 18, 2021 | Lancaster Connects Episodes

On our premiere episode, Ben McClure and Jeff Giagnocavo talk to local business leaders and non-profit champions about what’s going on in the Lancaster area – and how you can help.

Ben and Jeff are joined by:

Plus, you’ll meet our “Pet Of The Week” – Willow – from Zoe’s House Rescue!

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Episode Transcript (Click Here To Open/Close)

Jeff Giagnocavo  00:01
How can you support the local Lancaster community?

Ben McClure  00:04
That’s what this show is all about.

Ben McClure  00:22
Coming to you live from the Dream Room at Gardner’s Mattress & More. Welcome to Lancaster Connects.

Jeff Giagnocavo  00:27
Hey, so we are very excited to produce this show, Lancaster Connects. The whole idea here is to gather local charities, local heroes, local businesses, to showcase the very best of what Lancaster has to offer. So, our local neighbors and friends can really thrive, be more productive, be happier and live generously. And this show brings together all those great people so, I have a little admission for you. We are very, very good at helping our customers wake up happy, wake up pain free with a new mattress and sleep system but dipping our toes into podcasting and video production podcasting, I can promise you this, we will have some mistakes. Alright, so this is our premiere episode of Lancaster Connects. So, we have worked really hard to bring you a wonderful new show and first episode. So coming up, we’ll be talking with Lena Hohenadel from Off The Streets a wonderful charity dedicated to helping people escape homelessness. We also have Chuck Sierk from eXp Realty and Matching Lancaster. But first, I want to welcome John Erisman from Doceo to the show. Welcome, John.

Ben McClure  01:37
What’s up, John?

John Erisman  01:38
How are you guys doing? Thank you for having me on the show.

Jeff Giagnocavo  01:42
We’re doing really good. Glad to have you here. John, we’ve known you for a number of years. Saw your great work at The Lancaster Barnstormers, you’ve since moved on to Doceo, had the opportunity to improve yourself and give in a different unique way to a new company. I was always amazed by the way you cared. I mean, you worked intentionally and as though you own the place. You are “Mr. Lancaster” as I like to call you, bringing, using the community, using the tools you had to really give people in our community a place to have fun and create some memories. So, that’s very awesome and that’s why you’re on this premiere episode. So why don’t you just do a quick little introduction of yourself and what you’re doing now with Doceo?

John Erisman  02:29
Well, thank you for that introduction. I’m definitely humbled and blessed to be able to work with the community through with, you know, through The Lancaster Barnstormers I was there for five years, a lot of great people, we changed a lot of lives. And, I got to give the Barnstormers a lot of credit for my next career move which was with, currently with Doceo. And so we are an IT company, we also, we market photocopiers. So all the connections that I had with The Lancaster Barnstormers has really helped me build relationships and continue those relationships and connect the dots with a lot of the local businesses. I actually moved downtown Lancaster, live right off of the main street here, King Street. And I’ve been definitely grateful for the for the time that I’ve been able to spend with you guys, working with the community when I was at Barnstormers. And, you know, that’s, that’s something that’s always been a part of who I am and my makeup is the fact that I’ve been working with a lot of nonprofits. We have our own faith division. And Doceo is a local company that has been around for 16 years, family owned. And there’s some numbers there that you can see on the screen.  We do make a difference. And that’s what it’s all about. I mean, we’re only on this earth for a very, very short time. And if we can make a positive impact on others, whether it’s through volunteer service, you know, just supporting the local businesses. And that’s what it’s all about. And, you know, especially with a time like this, we want to continue to shed some light on some of that darkness.

Jeff Giagnocavo  04:19
Yep, yep. John, real quick. We’ll circle back, but  I saw $107,000 number we’ll circle back to that. Don’t let me forget that. But when you share Doceo by the numbers  obviously you’re watching this, this is a podcast you can both listen to and watch, which is unique. But maybe you weren’t able to make that out. So John, we’ll circle back to that. Lena. I want to bring you in next. So Lena works with, hi Lena.

Lena Hohenadel  04:45
Hi there.

Jeff Giagnocavo  04:45
Lena works with Off The Streets. And Off The Streets is a charity that we’ve given back to, Ben, through what how have we we’ve helped Off The Streets with I know we’ve donated some product.

Ben McClure  04:58
Absolutely.

Lena Hohenadel  05:00
Absolutely, you have!

Ben McClure  05:01
A charity event…

John Erisman  05:04
Oh, that’s right.

Ben McClure  05:04
If you could tell us more about that. But yeah, they they contact us often for mattresses. And we love helping out. Yeah.

Lena Hohenadel  05:14
So yeah, we’re very, very grateful.

Jeff Giagnocavo  05:18
Oh, yeah, there we go, we’re. We’re grateful for what you do for the community, you know, I watched some of the material, we’ll get that up, then a little later in the show a better video, better than I could ever explain, what Off The Streets does. But when I’m watching it, you know, I’m really reminded of how, how good we have it. You know, and often the folks that you work with, you know, they’re, they’re finding themselves in a circumstance that really is truly at times beyond their control. And even if it might be in their control, there’s still things that have happened in everybody’s life that lead to those moments of, you know, toughness and hardship, and you guys are there to kind of give that net and that lift up, to help them set things right. So, why did you join Off The Streets? What compelled you to [Inaudible] give your time to the group?

Lena Hohenadel  06:11
Well, I joined Off The Streets after coming through stints,  many years stints of volunteering, and I had retired and felt that I wanted to serve that I didn’t want so much to lead anymore. But I wanted to serve and do something that made a difference. And so, I was used to being busy. I’m the mom of four kids, and 10 grandkids. And I, you know, I just keep busy and wanted to do this. So, a friend introduced me to Off The Streets. I went to a luncheon, and they asked me if I would help with a fundraiser that they were doing. I agreed to do that, because that was part of what I had done before. And I was hooked. Because I saw, you know how such a simple, what a simple formula it was that they operated with, that made a difference. And to give you an example, Off The Streets is only seven years old, started in the fall of 2013. And yet, we’ve been able to take 3000 men, women and children off the streets and out of shelters in that period of time. And we’ve done so without benefit of paid staff or an office.

Jeff Giagnocavo  07:44
Yeah, that’s so it’s 3000 people in seven years. I mean, doing the quick math, I mean, that’s 280. I mean, you’re looking at 400 people a year as an average. That’s more than one person a day. I mean that that’s…

Lena Hohenadel  07:59
Right.

Jeff Giagnocavo  08:00
Tremendous.

Ben McClure  08:00
Unbelievable.

Lena Hohenadel  08:01
Right, yeah.

Jeff Giagnocavo  08:01
You know, a lot of people struggle to get through a day, just living with gratitude and not being grumpy about all things going on in the world,  here’s Off The Streets getting an average of one person a day, and obviously there’s families right so you know…

Lena Hohenadel  08:15
Right…

Jeff Giagnocavo  08:15
You have a family of three a family of five. But just when you really think about it that way, that’s incredible. Lena we’re gonna we’re gonna put this conversation on pause and gonna bring Chuck in…

Lena Hohenadel  08:26
Okay.

Jeff Giagnocavo  08:26
And we’ll pick back up with more of the great work that Off The Streets is doing. Chuck. Welcome! Chuck Sierk.

Chuck Sierk  08:35
Thanks for having me guys.

Jeff Giagnocavo  08:37
Yeah, yeah from eXp Realty. So why don’t you share a little bit about what you’re doing with the eXp Realty and, and let everybody know what you’re doing there.

Chuck Sierk  08:48
Absolutely. So eXp Realty, my wife and I, we opened the first branch of… and eXp is a virtual brokerage. If you go into the stock market and you look at the the stock price through 2020, it’s grown tremendously due to, you know, it being a virtual brokerage  and was really able to grow tremendously during the the pandemic. So, one of the things that we really focus on is, you know, keeping our buyers and our sellers safe. And, back in 2017,  we actually started with virtual reality house matching. And we can talk about that a little bit more, so, you can actually shop for houses from the comfort of your couch. But I’m thrilled to be on Lancaster. I’m thrilled to be here on Lancaster Connects because, my wife and I, we also host Rockstar Connect Lancaster, which is a business networking event and starting in 2017, we’ve been doing that every single month. It’s been free to attend. Last one was on March 12th in 2020. Go figure. So, since we’ve met face to face, we do have an online Facebook group which has allowed us to be able to stay connected with business owners throughout South Central Pennsylvania, during the pandemic.

Jeff Giagnocavo  10:10
Yeah, that’s great. Yeah, I mean, I was aware of you through that Facebook group, Rockstar Connect and you know, got the opportunity to watch some of the videos you produce for Matching Lancaster, so, yeah, interesting stuff you’re doing there. And I think a lot of people would be very surprised to learn you can, easily and effectively contract a home sale virtually. So we’ll get back to that. We’re gonna kind of do the cliffhanger thing. I promised everybody that we’re dipping our toes into video podcasting. But I think if I can give myself a little gold star Ben, what do you think? That was a pretty good cliffhanger moment there right?

Ben McClure  10:45
You can give yourself a gold star, if you want. [Inaudible]

Chuck Sierk  10:48
I’ll give you one.

Jeff Giagnocavo  10:49
I think that was pretty good. All right, let’s John. And before we go too much further, I want to talk about what this is. This podcast, this videocast, this video podcast. You know, this is not just something that you know, that, you know, most businesses produce video, they might put it on their Facebook channel, their YouTube channel, this is going out to all the major podcasting networks, this is going out to all of the video hosting platforms that have podcasts that are that are video broadcast as well. And it’s also going to be on Amazon Prime TV, which is very cool.

Ben McClure  11:29
What’s Amazon.?

Jeff Giagnocavo  11:30
Yeah, what’s Amazon, right? But, but yeah, you’re gonna be able to find this in all different kinds of places. So, I think that’s very cool. So we’re gonna, you’ll be able to see where to get this show, you go to lancasterconnects.com. To get all of the various links that you can follow, we wanted to make this easy. So if you’d like to listen to podcasts, and you have a certain station you pull things from, you’ll be able to find it there. You’ll be able to watch it on TV on Amazon Prime, if you want to watch it on YouTube, watch it on our website, however you like. We’re going to make it real easy for for everybody and our guests, you can tell your your folks that they can catch all the great things you’re doing on those same stations. So, please like and share this video, like our page and subscribe to the channel or channels that you most like. And again, we’ll have all that information, all those links on lancasterconnects.com. So John, let’s kind of open it up for roundtable discussion here a little bit. Lena, you touched on this, John, I’m going to throw to you first. Volunteering, giving back…a lot of folks think that it involves money, right? Because that’s what you see. Right? Yeah, television, radio, in your mailbox, you’ll see a lot of capital campaigns, a lot of appeals to raise money for the charities. And obviously, that’s a that’s a big part of it. Right? They all, every endeavour needs to be financed. But, a lot of these folks, Off The Streets, one of them and Lena, you’ll speak to this, I’ll cue you up next, time is how you can be impactful. And I know you’ve been a big proponent of that. So, John, why don’t you talk a little bit about how you give back your time to the community and where you dedicate that time.

John Erisman  13:15
Well, I don’t think necessarily, it’s something that one person, that they do really makes a difference. So, I don’t want to really talk about me, I will talk about what the Barnstormers do and what they did. And they continue to do it. They’re a facility which is the hub of Lancaster. And they have become a community center for a lot of nonprofits. For people that are needy. They do the turkey giveaway.  They just had a Power Packs Project, huge food collection. And there was so many labor hours of volunteer service that went into that. And it definitely impacted the people that desperately needed it. Doceo is very similar. We’re a family owned company. The president and CEO John Lewis, you know, he intentionally gives back to the charities that are the underdogs. And so time is precious, and we definitely you know, what we do here with our time is so important. Spend it with your family, you know, work on your fitness, pick up a hobby. But the volunteer time that you do, it just makes an incredible impact in Lancaster. When you talk about Lancaster Connects. I love that name by the way. Lancaster is so incredible. If you think about all the nonprofits, I think there’s over 500 nonprofits that were part of the Extraordinary Give every fall.  That those nonprofits essentially are kind of like on their own island. They’re all trying to raise money and do good works in the community. I think Lancaster is an incredible place where we are all able to share success stories. And we’re all able to be heroes in Lancaster, that it’s going to make a difference in the long term. And I’m just blessed to be a part of it. I do my little part wherever I can, and lend a helping hand. Keeps me young!

Jeff Giagnocavo  15:27
Yeah, yeah.

Jeff Giagnocavo  15:30
Lena, so in the conversation of giving back. You know, again, this is not about an appeal for money, although if you of course are so inclined to donate to Off The Streets, then, we’ll have the links where they can people can do that while they’re watching the show. But, you know, it really does come down to time because what you do is very unique. And the fact that you take people, and truly get them off the streets, escape homelessness, but you put them into a home and you furnish it, and…

Lena Hohenadel  16:01
Correct.

Jeff Giagnocavo  16:01
And you need you need the pick things up, put things down kind of folks. And Ben can attest, I mean,  that’s how he started in Gardeners, right? Yeah, you have you were a delivery guy.

Ben McClure  16:13
On the delivery truck.

Jeff Giagnocavo  16:15
So it’s not easy to get a home, a home. So why don’t you talk about how people could help with their time with Off The Streets.

Lena Hohenadel  16:24
Okay.

Jeff Giagnocavo  16:24
And, in getting all the furniture and everything that you give to the people into the various homes that you get…

Lena Hohenadel  16:30
Yeah, well, I feel very privileged to be able to represent Off The Streets and share this information with you. But going back to what John said, Lancaster is truly, I think it’s a unique and most generous community. And we have businesses such as Gardeners that care so much. And Doceo for all that they’re doing. I know that Off The Streets has benefitted from businesses like Hartz Physical Therapy who sponsored a 5K for us for the past two years, where we raised monies to help secure homes for the homeless. And you should know that 95% of every dollar goes directly to [Inaudible] helping the homeless, and that’s because we have very little overhead. We have some warehouse space to store things. And we have a van that was donated by two businesses in Lancaster. And then, you know, back to what John said about the Extraordinary Give. I mean, how lucky are we to have not just generous people, but we have the Lancaster Community Foundation that harnesses all of us, to give to those 500 plus charities. And during a pandemic year, raised $3 million more than they raised last year. So this year, a total of over 13 million dollars was raised to help nonprofits in Lancaster. So yeah, that’s I think we’re all pretty blessed to live here.

Jeff Giagnocavo  18:07
Yeah, that’s a pretty incredible number, don’t you agree Ben?

Ben McClure  18:09
Absolutely!

Jeff Giagnocavo  18:10
It’s three million…

Lena Hohenadel  18:11
Yeah.

Jeff Giagnocavo  18:12
Three million and a pandemic over. And the…

Lena Hohenadel  18:14
Right.

Jeff Giagnocavo  18:14
Extraordinary Give, for folks. I mean, Ben, you’re familiar with Extraordinary Give, just wax on that for a minute about the app…

Ben McClure  18:21
Yeah.

Jeff Giagnocavo  18:21
and what happens and…

Ben McClure  18:22
I mean, it’s a 24 hour giving period. And, you know, there’s an online tracker that tracks all the donations, easy to donate, I donated some last year. I know there’s you know, thousands of people in Lancaster County that donate. And it’s unbelievable to see it, how it’s grown over the years. And that $13 million number is just fantastic. It really is.

Lena Hohenadel  18:45
It’s phenomenal, yeah.

Ben McClure  18:46
Yeah. So yeah.

Lena Hohenadel  18:48
So going….

Ben McClure  18:49
Yeah.

Lena Hohenadel  18:50
So going back to

Ben McClure  18:51
Go ahead Lena…

Lena Hohenadel  18:51
To the question, you asked me about Off The Streets and [Inaudible], you know, volunteers. When you think of it, volunteers do everything that normally a paid staff would do. So they’re the administrators, the controller, the, you know, the treasurer, the volunteer coordinator. So, in addition to that, we do two moves every Saturday. We move two families. And so we need lifters and people with pickups. We need people to sort donations that come in. So we need volunteers. And then we depend too on donors to provide the funds that we need to secure homes. We depend on people like you and I and John and everybody else who on this Lancaster Connects to give gently used furniture because we don’t give junk. We want to give things that honor and dignify a person. And then we depend on our incredible community of social services here in Lancaster, who address the issue of homelessness every day. But we depend on them to refer people to us. People who are often employed, more than half the people we serve are employed. But people who have the ways, the means to pay a rent, so that those we help have a good chance of succeeding at this fresh start. So as you can see, it takes a village.

Jeff Giagnocavo  20:30
Yep, that’s great. So, folks, for you listening, if you’re so inclined, and we’ll happily share this. If you’re so inclined to donate, you can go to www.lancaster.offthestreetsnow.com and that will take you to their page. Off The Streets Now, for what it’s worth, is not just found in Lancaster. It’s found all across the country. If you happen to catch this episode, and you’re looking to spearhead a philanthropic effort, I think Off The Streets in your local community is very worthy of an endeavour of your time. But locally,  lancaster.offthestreetsnow.com to donate, that would be much appreciated. Lena, I will tell you in my home, we are in a decluttering mode. I have an abundance of kitchen appliances, cookware, things like that, that we just do not need. And in prepping for this week’s show, I was reminded of that and so we’ll be getting that to you for sure, from our home to new homes.

Lena Hohenadel  21:32
Thank you. [Inaudible] Thank you.

Jeff Giagnocavo  21:33
Chuck, we’re gonna ask you about time. Yep, we’re gonna ask you about time here in a minute, but I got to pay the bills. I promised a mistake, and I’ve, Ben, you can, here take the gold star away. We were supposed to do this before. You might see this bowl right here. This is a bowl of gift cards from local restaurants. We, back in December, into the new year felt compelled to help local businesses that were impacted by the recent round of COVID closures in Pennsylvania, so we we endeavoured to buy, and we’re still buying, gift cards for local restaurants, impacted businesses. But folks, if you listen to the show go to lancasterconnects.com. Enter your name for the gift card giveaway, these gift cards that we got and we’re gonna draw winners from that list where you enter at lancasterconnects.com and you’ll be on the list and we’re going to draw the winner of the gift cards. We’ll pick two winners and we’ll draw those next week on episode two. All right?  So that’s that!

Jeff Giagnocavo  22:33
And then paying the bills. This book, “Sleep Better” is bringing you this episode right? This is our book, “Sleep Better” that we wrote for our customers to really truly wake up happy and help them. Education in the Gardener’s world has been paramount. It’s actually the first thing we did before we open the doors we had our very first mattress buying guide, “What’s Keeping You Up?” produced before we actually turned the open sign on? Right?

Ben McClure  23:00
It’s crazy to think that that’s 10 years ago now.

Jeff Giagnocavo  23:02
That’s 10 years ago. It was 10 years ago right about this time that it would have been done.

Ben McClure  23:05
Almost immediately.

Jeff Giagnocavo  23:05
It was done first. I think Ben was looking at me like this guy’s crazy, we need to sell mattresses.  But anyway,, “Sleep Better”, a very good educational book. Why you should read it? Here’s an example, we had we had a customer looking at Number Beds. Number Beds are like Sleep Number where, you know, you can adjust your firmness on either side. And, you know we always present great products here, you get a five star experience, five star products, without the five star pricing that you might expect. Alright, this customer was looking at Sleep Number versus our Number Bed and upon reading the book, decided to forego a couple of the features the Sleep Number had because he said, “Look, with your tips in the book, you saved me $4,000!” And he still got a very nice quality Number Bed from us. So, that’s what we do. And Ben the proof of that is in what’s in front of you right here.

Ben McClure  23:58
Yeah, you know the great thing about the book, especially the “Sleep Better” book is it’s not about mattresses. I mean there’s, yeah, there’s a couple chapters about how a mattress can impact your sleep. But that book is about how you can sleep better by doing other things. Your health, your well being, you know other things that you can do in the bedroom to impact your sleep. It’s not a book about selling mattresses. That’s not what that book is for. And you know, this, these binders here, I’ve got two binders of, you know, it says right there “Happy Customers”. We have hundreds of handwritten testimonials. Just kind of put one up here. Handwritten testimonials, I know you can’t see what they say. But, they reference the process that we go through at Gardeners to educate and be informative as possible. You know, for most mattress stores, it’s all about a half price sale. That’s not who we are Gardeners. That’s not what we’re all about. We have a heart of an educator to educate our customers about sleep about how our products can help them improve their health and well being through a new mattress. And these handwritten testimonials and Google reviews, Facebook reviews speak to that process of how we help. And really it you know, we’re connecting with our customers to help them get a better night’s sleep.

Jeff Giagnocavo  25:09
Yep, I mean, listen. We, you know, we’re not going to make this show about us any longer than the next 10 seconds. Everything we’ve just said 100% true, but honestly, we’d rather have our customers say it for us. So we show you the handwritten reviews because you can’t see them online, but you can on Google and Facebook. And another way that we do things a little unique here, we’re coming to you live from the Dream Room. The Dream Room is a try-before-you-buy room, and you’re able to test the mattress out in private. One, we’re not recording.  And, you get to relax and try it out. So you can see that on our site. You can find the Dream Room links on our website and learn more about that or just call and visit we’ll show you. Again folks, remember our gift card drawing. To stay up to date, get the latest and greatest, pick the channel you’ll want to watch the show. Go to lancasterconnects.com, enter to win the gift cards and we’ll do that. So, that was mistake number two, a little verbose, a little long in the promotion. Well, that was you. You were on. You were. I gave him the script, and that’s that. But anyway, I don’t think we did any harm. Chuck, we’re gonna come back to you. Question, if you recall, was about time, right? Volunteering and giving your time. So. what are your thoughts on that? Maybe share with people what your team does and how you view that in the community.

Chuck Sierk  26:27
Yeah, I think, you know, from one of the first steps, I mean, that was one of the premises behind starting Rockstar Connect. I mean, it’s not a paid, you know, business networking or business referral group. It’s literally an after business hours mix and mingle event that has been going for three years. It’s free to attend, and people are able to come together. And we’ve actually been able to build  a strong community of business folks that have been able to connect with each other. As far as what we’ve been doing my wife has, she’s been working to support events, like last year was American Cancer Society. She had worked with the team to put together the the ball, in the fall, which unfortunately, ended up being a virtual ball. And she’s working with the American Heart Association this year as well. So, pretty excited to see her, that’s one of her passions is helping those organisations be able to pull together really strong events and be able to get the word out and leveraging our network, which we’ve been able to grow tremendously. The Extraordinary Give, we featured that in some of our initial episodes for Matching Lancaster. Just bringing out that point that 13 and a half million dollars in 24 hours is just, is huge. And it’s, you know, 522 different organizations over 20,000 different donors for the Extraordinary Give. It’s just phenomenal the area that we live in, with such a giving heart and being downtown. We are branch offices located in the Candy Factory. I know that the Candy Factory community also has a number of different events, and they’re very focused on, you know, giving too. We’ve, you know, we’ve worked with, you know, discussions on homelessness. So it’s it’s great to, to be here, you know, and talk about Off The Streets. I think this is a, it’s a really good group that we’ve got here on on the first episode. So it’s giving up time, it’s, you know, a lot of it is being out there connecting, getting the word out to other folks as well as helping to put on these different events. That’s how we give our time.

Jeff Giagnocavo  28:46
Yep. So, panel…Lena, John, Chuck. We’re going to bring everybody on here in a minute. I want to introduce our next guest virtually. So this is, I promised we’d have some bumps, so Simon, if we could queue up one of the pictures of Willow. So our fourth guest, in the essence of volunteering time, couldn’t actually join us and we had to call an audible this morning. Our fourth guest was actually to be Sarah. Sarah is a volunteer big time volunteer coordinator with Zoe’s House Rescue, which while not based in Lancaster, is based in Sinking Spring, but does a tremendous amount of work in Lancaster and I’ll share why here in a second. So Sarah was going to join us today to bring you our pet of the week. I should have teased that a little sooner in the show. Every episode we’re going to have a pet of the week. On the screen now you’re looking at Willow. And Sarah couldn’t join us because unfortunately, a part of the group which Zoe’s House, I’m a part of, there’s been a lot of emergencies this week and a lot of need for transporting animals around. So, that’s why Sarah couldn’t join us. But I just had a little video on the screen of Willow, which maybe we’ll play that near when I wrap up, so people can get an idea of her personality, because we got some audio with that. But let me tell you a little bit about Willow. She’s a seven year old Connie Corso who came after getting dumped by her former mill owner and that’s really where Zoe’s House ties to Lancaster County. One unfortunate thing about Lancaster County is our reputation for puppy mills, and I know firsthand, because I see it on the inside, working directly with Zoe’s House. The amount of mill dogs that are rescued, is pretty astounding. So, that’s one place where, that’s how we connect Zoe’s House to Lancaster Connects even though they’re not based out of Lancaster. So anyway, the mill was shut down by a dog warden. Another breeder took her in and realized it wasn’t going to be a fit. So we called Zoe’s to find her the best home possible. She, Sarah says, she’s the sweetest most genuine soul you’ll ever meet. She wants to be with her friends, whether they’re two or four legged, she’s an amazing copilot, always able and ready to go for a walk, loves playing and roughhousing with her canine foster brothers. But she also has a good off switch and will snuggle on the couch for hours. She’s amazing with little humans, younger kids. And, other than the occasional wiggle-butt, I know all about wiggle-butt from  my two dogs that I’ve rescued. Wiggle-butt can be intense and can knock you over if you’re a little one. She’s good listener. She can get nervous around men, obviously with her history, that’s to be expected. But listen, in the right house, with the right family that will definitely come around. My family, we’ve taken some pretty rough cases in and it always happens. If you follow the time you follow the space, let the dog get comfortable. Dogs are just amazing creatures. She’s unsure of cats at the moment because she doesn’t want to get close enough to them. So, I can’t give you an accurate assessment there. But, I’m sure Willow would do just fine. So Simon, let’s play that about eight, nine seconds of video of Willow and then we’ll, get that up. Maybe we can get the links up for Zoe’s House at some point in the episode to donate there. Also, you can volunteer in Zoe’s House, and you can donate goods and goods that you might have, like food, [Inaudible] things like that. So there’s Willow playing around, you know, listen it might look like it’s roughhousing. But listen, this is how dogs play. And so you know, think about your eight, nine year old boy or girl how they might roughhouse in the sandbox and on the playground. That’s how dogs play. That’s how they communicate. And, I’m sure Willow would make a great addition to your home so you can learn more about her at Zoe’s House Rescue. We’ll get that website up here on the links for the show. Alright? So panel coming back to it. Let’s discuss as a group, what Lancaster needs. What does our community need? Where’s the most pressing need? How can folks listening to the show help? And give a hand to that? Anybody want to kick that off? [Inaudible]

John Erisman  33:04
I’ll be happy to start. I’ll be happy to start with that question. [Inaudible] I believe that Lancaster needs to continue to be educated before they, and this is individuals and businesses, before they react and come to a conclusion. I think it’s so important for us to learn so we can grow together. So [Inaudible] much of the world today has been divisive. And if Lancaster, which is, has such a rich history, if we’re to continue to grow and thrive and get past all this, not this, the whole COVID mess. I truly believe Lancaster is going to be the hub of the nation. I’ve been blessed to be able to travel a lot. I’ve been able to work in a lot of other different cities. And I can tell you that Lancaster, you know, when you’re a kid you think oh, I’m gonna grow up and be, you know, a pilot or an astronaut or a major league baseball player or, and you think well, I’m going to go away. And I’m going to go find myself. Well, I can tell you, firsthand that Lancaster is where you can continue to find yourself day after day. And if we can educate everybody around us, the diversity that we have in Lancaster’s incredible.

John Erisman  33:21
Yeah, I think if I would sum up your comments there, John, I would say grace and understanding. Let’s strive for that. That’s what our neighbors need. Chuck, what do you think? I’m just going well…

Chuck Sierk  34:32
It’s a [Inaudible]

Jeff Giagnocavo  34:40
So we’ll save the best for last.

Chuck Sierk  34:42
Yeah, that’s an excellent point. And I think you know, with Lancaster being ranked last year, we were number two in the in the country for quality of life. And this year, we’re number 13. We’re still trailing Santa Barbara, California by one place but that’s okay. I think the big thing that Lancaster needs is, what thing that Lancaster needs is to be able to continue to open up their hearts even more. I mean, yes, the giving is great, but there’s, you know, what people like Off The Streets are doing. Right now there is a challenge for low income housing here, in and around the city. I mean, yes, we see that the city has continued to develop. And there’s a lot of development projects and redeveloping residential properties to improve the situation. One of the challenges is to be able to find housing for our growing community in a city of 60,000 people. You know, to be able to find low income housing that is safe and, you know, in good condition for people to live. You know, rents continue to climb, housing prices have continued to climb, and it does continue to put pressure on low income individuals here in the city. So finding solutions for that is definitely paramount for our city community to be able to continue to support the varied and diverse culture that we have here.

Jeff Giagnocavo  36:16
Yeah. Lena, you probably have some direct insights as to…

Lena Hohenadel  36:20
[Inaudible]

Jeff Giagnocavo  36:20
Affordable housing.

Lena Hohenadel  36:20
Absolutely. I mean, I echo what Chuck said, and what John said. We’re so blessed. And I’ll tell you, I come, I came the long way to Lancaster County. I’m originally from Venezuela, South America. And came here to boarding school and then to college in Pennsylvania, met my husband and then he was from Lancaster County. So I ended up here. And I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else. Because of what we’ve already said, the quality of the people and the quality of life. But, even though we’re a small community, look at the arts and theatre that we have, and the great restaurants that are getting the attention of even New York City. So, we have much to contribute. And then  our children have the opportunity to get good education, great education. But we need everybody to be able to enjoy all of this. And affordable housing is definitely a major need in Lancaster County. I think I already mentioned that more than half of those that we assist are employed, but they can’t afford the the average rent for a home for a family is $834 in Lancaster. And that’s out of the reach if you’re making a minimum wage. So people have to work, you know, multiple jobs in order to be able to afford a home. If you are on disability, you know, you’re likely going to be in a boarding house. So, it’s affordable housing. It is a problem that [Inaudible] Lancaster recognises, and are working on. As I said, we have a great community of social services who address and try to address these problems every day. But we couldn’t go off this program without saying  that is the major need in Lancaster County. And it’s good to hear the two of you say that.

Jeff Giagnocavo  38:26
Yeah, so real quick. Hey, Simon, so, I’m going to have, Lena gave us a really great video that we’ll splay so Simon if you want to get that queued up a while…Simon is our producer at Get Super Cereal, he’s in the background, him and his team and Billy are helping to produce the show. So they do work to bring forth a very nice quality show that’s easy to listen to, and watch, because you can listen and watch the show. So, Ben I’m gonna have you chime in there last and but for our panels, as we come back to you out of the video, I want you to each to think of one thing that each of you can do can suggest that viewers and listeners can do to get involved and help the county and community. So one thing that everybody watching and listening can do to get involved help their community, help the county out, help their neighbors. Alright? So think of that. Ben, why don’t you add what, add on to the question there, your thoughts? Not this one, but the previous one that the three just discussed?

Ben McClure  39:23
Yeah. Well, actually, I think it kind of goes hand in hand. You know, I think oftentimes people look at giving of time or giving of money or donations and trying to make an impact. They think that something big needs to happen and that they’re not maybe able to make something big happen. And I don’t think that should be the the mindset that people have. You know, it’s easy to look at something like the Extraordinary Give, which is fantastic, and, you know, think well I don’t have that kind of money.  I can’t give the way that others can give. But I think if we use our eyes and ears every day, just in our normal walks of life, a difference can be made to somebody by just doing something small. You know, helping somebody across the street, maybe not, you know, making an impact, or might be just a silly example. But, I think if we just look for small things that we can do to make a difference in somebody’s life, and we look to do that often, we listen to each other and we use our eyes to see what small impact we can make. And those small impacts can make bigger impacts. And I think that’s, you know, not just something for Lancaster, but, you know, just in general, but I know there’s hundreds of opportunities that we all are faced with in a week’s time.

Jeff Giagnocavo  40:47
All right, so panel, think about that one thing, we’re going to play the video from Off The Streets. And then Simon in the background, if you could please make sure we get up everybody’s website. So for our listeners, I can read out ways to connect with everyone. That’d be great. All right, let’s cue the video when we got it.

Video Speaker 1  41:05
I never thought that I would find myself in a situation of homelessness. Off The Streets have been a really big piece to my life. And though I’ve gotten help through other resources to put the roof over my kid’s head, a home doesn’t always become home unless you have the things in it.

Video Speaker 2  41:25
Off The Streets is part of a puzzle to help the homeless one person at a time. Off The Streets provides a security deposit and all the furniture and other living needs for any homeless person or family that shows that they have a way to pay a monthly rent. That’s as simple as it gets.

Video Speaker 1  41:46
Firsthand, we see what it means when that family moves into that new housing. And Off The Streets shows up and they bring the couch and they bring the beds and their special stuff with the kids. They’re very alert and attentive to the needs of that specific family. It’s not a one size fits all, they actually ask questions, they care. Off The Streets provides a support circle that the family moving out, might have not known they had.

Video Speaker 2  42:13
I think everybody needs to, to look around themselves and say, How can I help? What can I do? And this is a great organization to do that. There’s a job for everybody.

Video Speaker 2  42:31
We know that this is a very, very good working solution that provides one piece of the puzzle on homelessness. It’s the simplest part of the solution. But it’s a vital part of the solution. And it can be done in any community in the United States.

Video Speaker 1  42:46
They don’t ask you how I got homeless, they don’t care. All they care about is what me and my kids needed. They gave me that hope that I needed to know that I was gonna be okay.

Jeff Giagnocavo  43:05
Well, hopefully that gave you some thought, some inspiration. Let’s hear from our panel on that one thing. John, I think we left you. You started. So let’s pick it up there. John`, what’s that one thing that people can do to help their community?

John Erisman  43:23
I think the one thing is, I just think one word means love. And it can be shown in many different ways. Whether it’s to encourage somebody to write a handwritten note, to say thank you to send a message. To post some, a good comment on like a small business that is struggling, you know, go on Google and comment. All those things are free, you know, and share your faith. You know, we live in a world that it strives on putting fear in your heart and if your faith is strong, and you can share that love. I think that’s I mean, that’s my answer is love.

Jeff Giagnocavo  44:15
Yep. I would say very good answer, Chuck…

Chuck Sierk  44:18
So, along those lines, seek first to understand and I think taking those steps to be able to connect with new people that may be you know, you don’t know and maybe look different, come from a different place than you do. Being, you know, a lot of people have grown up and lived in and around Lancaster, maybe all their life or they’ve grown up here, they’ve left and come back, like myself. I think, you know,  with the diversity that we have here, a lot of times that we as a community don’t necessarily have the understanding of all of our neighbours and you know, in that respect, is not to judge, seek first to understand, and definitely build more relationships with each other. So shows like this, Lancaster Connects, gives people more visibility and opportunity to be able to reach out and connect with their neighbors.

Jeff Giagnocavo  45:17
Yep. Very good, agree with that…[Inaudible]

Lena Hohenadel  45:20
And this show…

Jeff Giagnocavo  45:20
This guy right here…

Lena Hohenadel  45:21
And I…

Jeff Giagnocavo  45:21
…has taught me a lot of that last 10 years.

Lena Hohenadel  45:25
Yeah, I love the idea of the show, Jeff and Ben, and again, to echo what others have said, love the name Lancaster Connects. We’ve all said, you know, I can echo what John said and Chuck said, I agree with all of that. I think there’s a place for each of us to do something. You know, we’re all different. So we have different talents, skills, and different time possibilities. But there’s a place for each of us. And if we find a place that we think we fit, reach out, make that phone call or talk to somebody you know is connected. If you would like to help with Off The Streets, there is a place for you. We would welcome you. We also welcome businesses. We have various businesses that will volunteer, wear their t shirts with their logos, and come on a Saturday and help make a move. We did that, especially pre-pandemic, because during the pandemic, we’re not going into homes, we’re doing curbside deliveries, going into homes only when absolutely necessary. But, I think we should all remember, we’re all blessed. There is a lot of need out there. And I love the positivity comments. I think if we all approach our problems with a positive attitude, and a giving heart, we’ll get there.

Jeff Giagnocavo  46:56
Yep. And to kind of wrap that up, I mean, here here at the store. And I would urge everybody listening, it’s, you know, we had love from John, understand, seek to understand from Chuck. And Lena, really, I think if we sum up your comments, it’s start, right? And it doesn’t have to be get your wallet out. It’s just pick up the phone, find something you connect to…if it’s helping people escape homelessness, so be it.  If it’s animal rescue, so be it. If it’s working with youth, fine. Pick up the phone, go to the website, fill out the volunteer form, and say, “I’m willing to donate time, put me in the direction where you can use my time”. [Inaudible] Maybe you can’t lift, you have a bad back, but you have a pickup truck. There, I can tell you unequivocally, any volunteer organization will welcome your time, every single time. All right? So that said, just real quick with our listeners, because again, you know, I think third kind of little error here…you know, for our listeners, you haven’t been able to see on screen the website. So I want to just run down those real quick, on behalf of Sarah, and Willow, our pet of the week zoeshouserescue.com, all right? And, if you go there, you can navigate the site, you can donate directly to them. There’s other ways to donate, I want to touch on that real quick. Not just for Zoe’s House, but for any charity that you might be attached to as you’re listening to this. So, zoeshouserescue.com, you can go there, navigate the page for donations, volunteer time and fill out an application to adopt a pet, you can do that too. But if you’d like to get in touch with Chuck, you can do that through matchinglancaster.com. Alright, so that’s how you get ahold of Chuck and his team, matchinglancaster.com. And last, but certainly not least, John Erisman, you can go to mydoceo.com. That’s his website for Doceo where he works. You can also check him out on LinkedIn, and through Facebook, obviously, for all of these companies. So listening just real quick wanted to get that out there. Remember, we have a chance, as we wrap up here, we have a chance for you to win too. We’ll be giving away two, $25 gift cards. You just go to lancasterconnects.com, you’ll be able to get all the information on our guests on our wonderful premiere episode today. And also enter to win those gift cards.

Jeff Giagnocavo  49:24
I have a question, Jeff.

Jeff Giagnocavo  49:26
Ben’s got a question…

Ben McClure  49:27
If a listener wanted to be on our show.

Jeff Giagnocavo  49:31
Oh, yes.

Ben McClure  49:32
Or, I wanted to recommend somebody to be on our show. How can they do that?

Jeff Giagnocavo  49:36
Yeah, go to lancasterconnects.com, and we’ll get, there’ll be a box there where you can nominate a business to be on, a charity, a local hero. A local hero’d be somebody who’s giving their time. You know, just just finding a need in the community and they’re literally just starting and spearheading on their own. That would be my definition of a local hero. Ben, real quick as we wrap up, in like 15 seconds, can you do it? Shorter? Gardeners Gives Back, to show people what we’re talking about. Well, let’s start. What have we done there?

Ben McClure  50:08
Yeah, so Gardeners Gives Back is a charity drive, basically a perpetual food drive that we started. We’re in hundreds of homes monthly delivering mattresses. So we encourage our customers to participate, they can put together a small bag of non perishable food items, our delivery crew, after they deliver the mattress, [Inaudible] will bring back the donation. And we pile up those donations literally, pile them up in the showroom. And, once a month we’re giving to local food banks.

Jeff Giagnocavo  50:40
Yeah, we get that food to the food banks and we make monetary donations back into the community through various charities. So, folks that started with the thought I had one day of we’re in all these homes. What if we got one box, one can have food? What could we do? And to quantify it, I believe we’re in the thirteen, maybe fourteen thousand pound range by this point of collected food, which is a significant amount. And the charity give back financially along the way. So folks, real quick on heading out…Chuck, ways that people can get ahold of you, how you can help the folks that you serve, this is your opportunity to give you a little commercial here.

Chuck Sierk  51:20
Absolutely. So we’ve actually started an “edu-tainment” channel on YouTube called Matching Lancaster, so to educate people about the Lancaster area. And our mission is to be able to show people the possibility of living a better lifestyle and getting what they want here in Lancaster. Now, also you can connect with, I think we have over 2400 members in our Facebook group at Rockstar Connect Lancaster, if you’re self employed, if you’re a business owner, or if you’re a professional, or someone who’s success minded and looking to connect with other people. Even during times like this in a pandemic, you know, there are people that are connecting in the Facebook group. And we do have virtual events as well. As far as eXp Realty, you can reach us, reach out directly at 717-208-8195. We’re located at 342 North Queen Street in the Candy Factory, which is a co-working space. So, we do take things. You know, we don’t have a specific brick and mortar like a traditional real estate brokerage. And, you know, the way we work with our clients is, we actually do the heavy lifting and our house matching process actually saves people 85% of their time, because we go do those showings and we’ll literally give you a virtual reality walkthrough of the preview that we do on the house. And you can literally walk through that house from the comfort of your couch. So give us a call. If you’re interested in levelling up your situation, looking for that next house that’s going to fit your growing family. Or, if you’re looking to downsize and maybe relocate back to the city, give us a call, we’d love to be able to see how we may be able to help you or point you in the right direction.

Jeff Giagnocavo  53:18
Very good. John, how can people get a hold of you at Doceo?

John Erisman  53:24
You can find me on social media platforms. And we are actually opening up a brand new office March 1st, right off of Oregon Pike, right across from Primanti Brothers, very significant space over 2000 square feet. And, you know, I think just [Inaudible] to mention that [Inaudible]Chuck unexploited to see [Inaudible] we’re doing in the community. And you know, it’s not about any of us, but it’s about continually paying it forward and making a difference. Because I think when you bless others first, your business is going to be blessed. Lancaster Connects has the right approach and the right frame of mind to make this definitely, you know, not just in Lancaster, it’s going to to be seen nationally and in [Inaudible] .

Jeff Giagnocavo  54:20
Well, thanks John. Lena, so we’ve given some, given a decent time to Off The Streets but real quick, ways to connect for Off The Streets that you want to share with people?

Lena Hohenadel  54:28
[Inaudible] mattresses that you’ve given us from time to time when we’ve been in need, but for this time to share. To contact us, our phone number is 717-723-8084 It’s a Google phone, you leave a message and somebody will call you back. We are on Facebook at Off The Streets Now, Lancaster, PA, and you can leave a message for me there. And you can also go to our website, which I think it will show up below me, but it’s offthestreetsnow.com and you’ll see that video there.Iif you just want to look at our site, preface it with lancaster.offthestreetsnow.com and it will take you to a volunteer site. And you can also email otsvolunteers@gmail.com.

Jeff Giagnocavo  55:43
Well, there you go. There’s your one way you can start. John, you didn’t get to say a phone number. So real quick, how do people get ahold of you. Cause I’m a big pick up the phone and reach out kind of guy. So we can [Inaudible] John, go ahead.

John Erisman  55:56
You can get ahold of me directly at [phone number inaudible]. And if you just want to talk [inaudible] or make a connection or share [Inaudible] on how we can all volunteer our time. And, you know, make life in a better place than it already is.

Jeff Giagnocavo  56:18
Wonderful. And folks, like I said, reach out get started. I mean, we can do contact forms. You can do websites, Facebook, social, it’s all great. But I think the easiest way to get started, is to get started, pick up that phone, reach out to Off The Streets if you have some time to give, something that they could use for the people that get into homes. And if you can donate, you know we’ve given you plenty of ways to contact. If you see value on what john does with his IT services at Doceo please reach out to him. And, if you’re looking to level up in Lancaster and find fun things to do check out matchinglancaster.com. Alright? Thank you everybody for joining us on the first episode of Lancaster Connects. Remember go to lancasterconnects.com, fill in the link or fill in the form to be entered to win our gift card raffle. We’ll be giving away two of these on episode two next week. And you’ll also get all the details on our show guests and all the links on where to watch and listen to the premiere episode of Lancaster Connects. We’ll see you next week for episode number two.

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