EDITORIAL: A big smile for a little horse

York Dispatch Editorial Board
Sandy C. Smith receiving her second dose of the Moderna COVID-19 shot, accompanied by her mini horse. April 6, 2021

Thumbs up to a little horse that brought big smiles to a medical office in Dallastown this week.

Folks who were getting their COVID-19 vaccines Tuesday at a Dallastown Medical Associates, 1010 Blymire Road, were treated to a sweet surprise when Sandy C. Smith took Dominique — a 33-inch-tall, 6-year-old male miniature Appaloosa therapy horse —  along to get her second dose of the Moderna COVID-19 shot. 

"I don't think anybody can look at him, including you, without smiling," Smith said. "And that's what it's about. It's about bringing love and smiles to people and put them in a better place, whether they only have a few tomorrows left or they have a lot."

More:Therapy horse can't go to hospitals, but it brings smiles at Dallastown vaccine site

Smith had Dominique trained and certified as a therapy horse and started a nonprofit, Dominique's Smile, with the mission of bringing "smiles and love" to sick and dying children and seniors.

But then the pandemic hit, and the miniature horse couldn't visit senior centers and children's hospitals as planned.

Smith was lamenting this with her doctor when she got her first vaccine shot, and he encouraged her to bring Dominique along when Smith received her second dose.

Staff and patients gathered around in the outdoor vaccination area to pet the horse and take photos.

"When you're giving people love and smiles, that kind of about sums it all up. It's what we all need to be doing, and we can all do that one way or the other," Smith said.

Thumbs up to the York Benevolent Association, a group that has been working to feed the hungry in York for 150 years and continues to expand its mission.

"There is such a need out there for food," board member Lee Hankey said. "It's just amazing that in this land of good and plenty, that there's people in need of food."

Since the pandemic began, the association has seen a rise in the number of people seeking help, with more than 1,300 families receiving aid through its programs in March, according to Executive Director Carlene Farabaugh. 

More:'There's a need': York Benevolent Association expands food service to second site

And while the program has always been centered in York City, more people out in the county have been reaching out for help, she said.

That's why the association has taken on a second distribution site, Faith United Methodist Church,126 E. Market St. in Hallam.

In addition to food distribution most Tuesdays at the York City site, the Benevolent Association now aids more than 50 families and individuals with a monthly food distribution in Hallam.

"The people coming through are so grateful," Farabaugh said. "That's how you know there's a need."

Thumbs down to a new bill proposed by state Rep. Dawn Keefer, R-Dillsburg, and four other Republican women in the House that would ban transgender girls from girls sports teams.

Pennsylvania is the 31st state where lawmakers have proposed bills related to transgender athletes, according to Freedom for All Americans, an LGBTQ activist group. The bills are a response to an executive order from President Joe Biden calling upon the federal government to revise existing regulations protecting individuals from discrimination to ensure that "sex" includes sexual orientation and gender identity, The Washington Post reported.

More:Keefer bill would ban trans girls, women from competing in sports based on gender identity

Keefer and her fellow sponsors say their bill upholds Title IX by requiring that only those who are biologically female be allowed to play on teams that are designated as being for girls or women. But what it's really doing is taking away an opportunity for transgender students to participate in a school activity.

Trans kids have a difficult enough time already. Especially given the small numbers of transgender people in the United States — an estimated 0.6% of adults, according to the Williams Institute at the UCLA School of Law — there's no need to codify another form of discrimination against transgender girls.