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Also In
March 2012:

From The Editor

By Mark Smith, Editor-in-Chief

March 6, 2012

Posted in: News

Go to Hershey and Spend Lots of Money

I’m a big hockey fan, and I’ve been enjoying shooting up I-83 to in recent years, since my beloved and most disappointing Washington Capitals reaffiliated with the beloved and rarely disappointing Hershey Bears.

Ideally, I’d have started doing so years ago. If I had, I wouldn’t be regretting never having seen the Bears, who now reside in the 10-year-old Giant Center, play in that revered coliseum of minor league hockey, the 75-year-old Hersheypark Arena.

While I never saw a game at “The Old Barn,” which now serves as the practice rink for the team (among other functions), I did attend a recent banquet at the arena that was presented by the Hershey-Derry Township Historical Society. Not only was that winter pilgrimmage good for my soul; I got to see the venue from the inside-out.

I also came away from the event the beneficiary of an insanely good lesson in customer service.

The event actually came off on the third attempt, having been pre-empted by last fall’s flood, then a minor snowstorm.

On the second try, I didn’t get the memo, and I cruised up the interstate. I saw that something was up when there were only three cars in the parking lot, but I walked inside anyway.

A good move, that was; when I left moments later, I had a free dinner and a room for the night at the Hershey Lodge.

I would have come up for that, anyway.

While I was eating at the lodge’s cozy, inviting Forebay restaurant, the event organizer, Sally McKinney (wife of Bruce McKinney, a former CEO of Hershey Entertainment & Resorts), heard that I was sitting at bar. She came over to say hello and, of all things, apologize for my “trouble.” I assured her that it wasn’t her fault that it snowed and that no apology was necessary.

But it sure was nice that she cared so much.

The next thing I knew, she was introducing me to that night’s keynote speaker, Mike “Doc” Emrick — who, in case you’re not a hockey nut, is a former Hershey resident and the finest play-by-play announcer of his generation, among other great things — and long-time Bears General Manager Doug Yingst.

Man, did I ever get a kick out of that. I was almost flying back to the bar. And I hadn’t even had any chocolate yet.

Then came the topper: When I told the folks at the society that I could return for the rescheduled event, my $75 ticket was comped. They ended up sitting me at a table with former Hershey Entertainment & Resorts President Ken Hatt. Not only was this graduate of the Milton Hershey School as down-to-earth as they come, he’s a bigger hockey fan than I am.

And in case you’re wondering, they didn’t know (or care) that I’m a writer/editor and that I might write something nice about their winning atttitudes in the newspaper. I was a customer and they’re just terrific folks.

As you can imagine, I’m a walking billboard these days for Chocolate Town. So send this editorial to all of your friends and family. Make sure that you go see that Bears game. Take your kids to Hersheypark, then Chocolate World, then go relax at the lodge or the Hotel Hershey. Peruse the Hershey Gardens before you do a little outlet shopping.

After you return, go to Costco and buy a vendor box of Hershey bars, for Heaven’s sake. Then eat the entire box in three days.

Then you, too, will feel those warm vibes that I felt. Together, we’ll share that in Hershey goodness.

Picking the Right Life Partners

Soul legend James Brown best summed up my feelings toward life when he uttered these memorable words during a press conference many years ago, upon his release from prison: “Live your life — and don’t die ’til you have to.”

Most people don’t want to die ’til they have to. That realization just heightens the focus on how they live, especially during their golden years, a time when fighting loneliness is crucial.

The matter of keeping the elders engaged has been on my mind for some time. One instance concerns a busy woman with a family and career who keeps an eye on a local senior who has no interested local family; the other involves a married couple that recently opted to move out of state, leaving behind the husband’s 84-year-old, homebound mother — who could use their help and their company.

To think, in some families younger members move back to their hometown to help their parents.

At any rate, such circumstances always lead me to a discussion about one of my favorite nonprofits, Partners in Care, which assists seniors with their odd jobs and transportation needs. For free. “Payment” by the client is based on a concept called time banking.

I’m glad to report that there’s big news at Partners’ new headquarters these days. Last fall, Partners was gifted by Hospice of the Chesapeake with a 3,000-square-foot office space in Severna Park, next to Hospice’s new digs, because Hospice wants to build a continuum of care campus with other nonprofits of similar missions.

However, the building had mold issues and needed repairs. So the deal was that Partners could use the building rent-free for two years — if it could complete the renovations.

Challenge accepted, deal done: Within a few months, a whopping 23 organizations from the local construction industry made it happen. By Christmas week, yet. Nice.

As uplifting as that story is, Partners’ problem is only half-solved. It has been struggling for the same reason that many other nonprofits have been. The recession resulted in a few layoffs, then furloughs for the rest of its remaining nine staffers.

You know where I’m heading. Partners needs … well, partners. Support. Dollars.

But now the organization and its compassionate crew are poised to move forward. It’s further ingratiating itself into the local business community via further involvement with entities like NSA and the BWI Business Partnership, among others.

I urge you to give this worthwhile organization a deeper look. What it really does for seniors is the little things that help fight loneliness and can make a senior’s day.

Pardon the cliché, but it’s those little things that really do mean a lot.

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