The Lancaster Connection

Have you ever noticed how everyone in Lancaster County seems to either be related or connected in some way? Photographer Nick Gould set out to prove that even total strangers can forge some sort of connection.

Lyndsey Smoker (with Naomi), Brittany Schrott (with Preston and Stella) and Jayni Burkhart (with Bennett) have formed a mom’s group of sorts. Every Friday they meet at Lyndsey’s house in the West End and push their baby strollers to Central Market. Then they head for a park so the kids can play and enjoy the fresh air. The three met each other as a result of the friendship their husbands share. Lyndsey is originally from Boyertown, while Brittany is a Lancaster Mennonite alum, and Jayni is a graduate of Conestoga Valley. The kids were fascinated by the scaffolding on which Jeff Steinmetz was working, so Nick asked him to join the group picture. Employed by the Witmer Group for the past 35 years, Jeff and his crew are restoring the terra cotta on the facade of the Hager building.

Scott Haverstick was on his way to work at Puffer Morris Real Estate. As has been his routine for the past 30-plus years, Scott was making the commute from his home in Manor Township on his bicycle. By his calculations, he averages 12,000 miles per year, which means he’s racked up over 400,000 miles on his bike. He likes to think of biking as being the “linchpin of Lancaster,” noting a lot of people have forged life-long friendships through biking. Nick found him catching up with Officer Michael Whitaker, who rides a bicycle for a living, as he is employed by the Lancaster City Bureau of Police. His beat is downtown Lancaster, where he might spend 8-12 hours per shift patrolling on his Trek bike. The connection: It was the first time I met Scott in person. When the magazine’s office was located in the city, I encountered him nearly every morning as I waited for the traffic light to change at the corner of East King and North Charlotte streets. I’d see him coming up Manor Street and then making the turn onto King.

Jill Stoltzfoos (center) was enjoying a cup of coffee and working on her iPad at the Prince Street Café. The Lancaster Mennonite alum and her family moved home to Lancaster after living and working in Washington, DC, and Connecticut for the past 10 years. “Lancaster has really changed,” says Jill, who is involved with real estate investments through PI Capitol. Jill was sitting back-to-back with Liddy Abel (left), who was soon joined by her long-time friend, Sarah Hershey (right). Both homeschooled, the two met through attending church in Wrightsville. The connection? Through talking, we learned that Sarah is a distant cousin to Lancaster County magazine’s publisher, Jocelyn Engle. “Wait,” said Jill. “Is her mother a teacher at Lancaster Mennonite?” The answer would be yes.

Kenneth Mabic has become a well-known street performer around downtown Lancaster, where he sings and plays his guitar. Passersby express their appreciation by tossing coins and bills into his guitar case. He explains that he’s carrying on a tradition – technically, it’s called buskering – that is as old as the nation. According to Kenneth, Ben Franklin was a street performer of sorts – in his youth he recited poetry on street corners in Boston. And, Patrick Henry was known to play his fiddle on the streets of Richmond and Williamsburg. Across Market Alley, Joanne Underhill and Anthony Lascoskie were enjoying coffee, conversation and the music. Joanne is employed at F&M, while Anthony, a costume designer, is the costume shop supervisor at the Fulton. “I met Joanne through the Fulton,” Anthony says of their connection. Nick introduced them to Kenneth.

JeAnna Durnell and Shirley Ervin were each making her way past Central Market and toward King Street when Nick asked them to pose for a picture. JeAnna was on her way to work at Attollo, where she is the middle school director for the college-access organization that is part of the Children Deserve a Chance Foundation. Shirley was running errands with her 2-year-old grandson, Messiah. The connection: Both were born elsewhere, but now consider Lancaster to be their home. JeAnna’s family moved here when she was in the sixth grade. After graduating from Conestoga Valley, she enrolled at Albright College in Reading. She returned to Lancaster with a BA in psychology. “Lancaster’s a great place to be,” she says of the social and cultural opportunities that exist in the city. “And, I have my dream job,” she says with a huge smile. Shirley moved here from Ohio in order to help care for her five grandchildren, who range in age from 2 to 13. “I’m a stay-at-home grandma,” she reports. And, she loves being involved with her church, House of Bread Life Changing Ministries. “I believe this is where Jesus wanted me to be,” she professes.

Elizabeth Mong was enjoying a morning downtown with her daughter and grandchildren. The group was enjoying some breakfast treats on a bench outside of Central Market when Corey Shenk joined them. “What kind of flowers are those?” Corey asked Elizabeth. That set off a conversation about gardening and cooking. Corey then acknowledged Kenneth’s music and said, “I see him all over town.” Elizabeth moved to the city from the Ephrata area five years ago and loves being able to walk to shops, restaurants and market. Corey refers to himself as a “domestic coordinator” who is a stay-at-home dad to his three boys. Now that they’re all in school for all or part of the day, he has his mornings free to run errands and pop into Central Market for a cup of coffee. The connection: while Elizabeth operates Quessity Marketing & Design (a small Internet marketing company), she prefers social interaction to social media. “You can make friends with people by asking questions,” she says, pointing to the conversation she was enjoying with Corey. Corey also likes social interaction. He helped to launch Slow Ride Lancaster, a group bicycle ride that departs from Binns Park every fourth Friday at 7 p.m. (Check them out on Facebook.) “The route varies,” he says of the 7-8 mile ride. “We go in sun, rain or snow,” he adds. And, you don’t have to be a speed demon. “It’s all about being social,” he says of the camaraderie that has been forged among the ride’s regular participants.

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