***CONTENT WARNING: This article contains graphic content and may be triggering for those with PTSD or victims of sexual violence.***
Two years ago, Leslie Holt had every reason to give up.
To curl up in a ball and blot out the world.
To stop caring.
She’d been fighting for her daughter for 15 years. And that all-consuming war – abruptly, devastatingly – had ended.
Leslie had lost. Lana was gone.
Assaulted in her early teens then tortured by Lyme Disease for half her life, Lana, 32, had recently turned to methadone to ease the pain. In November 2018, she’d opened her family’s Tredyffrin mailbox expecting to retrieve a fresh supply.
Instead, she picked up poison – 100% pure 3-methyl fentanyl, an opioid analog exponentially more deadly than fentanyl.
Today, still engulfed by the kind of grief only a parent who buries a child can know, Leslie says “it’s a slog to get up every day.”
But somehow, she does, toiling at her desk long into the night.
There are, after all, other Lanas out there to fight for.
Leslie Holt remembers her daughter’s early years on Malvern’s Wisteria Drive as happy.
“Lana was the sweetest person. I’d get notes from her teachers about how she would help everyone. Her friends would tell me how she’d stick up for them if they were bullied on the bus. You could rely on her as a fighter, a little protector and the most loyal friend. She made the honor roll at T/E Middle School and had really great friends. It was a good time in her life. And then it wasn’t.”
Leslie says the trajectory of her daughter’s life – and, by extension, her own – changed forever on July 1, 2002, when Lana was 14. A 22-year-old neighbor, a trusted family friend who lived on the same street, got her drunk and raped her. She’d fallen asleep in her bed and awoke to the man forcing himself on her, taking her virginity and ejaculating on the wall above her head.
The next morning, she scrubbed the wall and buried her secret.
If she told her parents she’d been drinking, she might get in trouble. Maybe she’d even be blamed. How could she tell them the boy they’d long welcomed into their home, even brought along on family vacations, had grown up to become a monster?
Leslie didn’t find out about the rape until four years later, when the therapist from Lana’s three-month stay at a Florida rehab finally told her.
By then, Lana’s life had begun to unravel. After the assault, she’d started smoking and drinking. Her grades slipped at Stoga; her personality changed. Her mother remembers her as “isolating … She was still sweet but a little scary.”
Within a year or so, Lana began begging off school, complaining about blinding headaches and stomachaches so severe she couldn’t stand up. Was she truly sick or just hung over? her parents wondered. Searching for answers they consulted Dr. Martin Mulders, an integrative physician in Wayne, who started treating Lana for chronic, debilitating Lyme Disease. Mulders believed it had been festering for months, if not years.
Lana and her parents would spend the next 18 years consulting a string of doctors and healers, hoping to find someone, anyone, who could free Lana from the excruciating Lyme flare-ups that sometimes felt like the flu, sometimes left her crawling to the bathroom.
During her junior year at Conestoga, Lana’s self-medicating with alcohol had become so concerning, her parents sent her to Caron Renaissance, a well-regarded rehab in Boca Raton. Her daughter’s downward spiral was typical, Leslie learned. Lana’s therapist at Caron told Leslie that 98 percent of young people she treated for substance abuse had experienced some form of sexual assault.
Forget nicotine or marijuana, “trauma is the real gateway drug,” Leslie says.
Back from Florida, Lana absorbed another shock when her close friend from middle school, Chelsea Campbell, died from a heroin overdose.
“During that era at Conestoga [2003-2006], it wasn’t ‘Oh my God, did you go to rehab?’ It was more, ‘Where did you go to rehab?’ because so many kids were going at that time,” Leslie recalls.
Despite on-and-off crippling pain, Lana managed to graduate from Upattinas, an alternative high school in Glenmoore, and later from Harcum College with a vet tech degree.
Lana took jobs at Penn’s veterinary hospital in West Philly and then at Hope Veterinary Specialists in Malvern but Lyme kept dragging her down.
“She was taking aspirin constantly. Sometimes she would push through it. Sometimes she called in sick, knowing she didn’t have the strength to lift dogs on and off [treatment] tables.”
In 2012, Lana suffered a third trauma when her best friend from Conestoga, Meghan McGuire, 25, died in a head-on car crash on Rte. 202.
Meanwhile, Leslie kept searching for doctors. After calling every day for two weeks, Leslie brought Lana to Long Island to see renowned internist Dr. Roger Mazlen, who diagnosed Lana with myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome and prescribed herbs and supplements.
The Holts also turned to Devon pain specialist Dr. Daniel Rubino, who had other patients with chronic Lyme and “knew the torture she was living through,” according to Leslie.
Over time, Lana became so sick she stopped working altogether and Leslie moved in to her Chesterbrook condo to care for her.
Around this time, Leslie discovered that Lana had seen a post on a Lyme message board touting methadone as a miracle cure. When Leslie and Lana talked about it, Lana never mentioned she’d already decided to try it.
She found a dealer, someone she knew from her Stoga circle, and started using what she thought was methadone but, according to Leslie, may not have been. Several months later, not long after she moved home, she contacted a new dealer from Philly and texted him to arrange for a methadone delivery to her Malvern mailbox.
At 7:30 a.m. on Nov. 2, 2018, Tim Holt found his daughter slumped over at the foot of her bed, unconscious. Neither Tim nor the EMTs could bring her back.
Police tracked Lana’s poisoner through text messages on her phone. Posing as Lana, Tredyffrin Detective Rob Bostick texted the dealer and asked for another delivery. On the appointed day, Bostick sent Leslie and Tim to wait at the Malvern Panera and camped out near the Holts’ mailbox. The stakeout ended when Ricky Lowe, 25, pulled up in a Jaguar.
Last June, a Chester County judge sentenced Lowe to 14 to 32 years – the longest jail term in county history – for delivering a fatal drug overdose to Alanna Beth Holt.
Tim calls the verdict “satisfying but it didn’t give us any closure … You buy a home in a place like Chester County, you raise your kids, you do the best you can and this happens. You realize there are no boundaries. Lowe was selling 3-methyl fentanyl so pure it would have killed a horse and somehow Lana found him. She was incredibly intelligent … I don’t know how she didn’t realize the risk.”
Leslie and Tim Holt are convinced Lana might be alive today if she had received quality, trauma-informed therapy in her early teens. If she had come forward after the rape, unafraid of stigma or shame, confident she’d be believed.
“She had untreated PTSD. It weakened her spirit, it weakened her body, and it affected her soul,” says Leslie.
“Mental pain causes physical pain,” adds Tim.
In the years before her daughter’s death, Leslie had already laid the groundwork for what has become her life’s work.
She’d started advocating for women who’d been raped and abused at the Crime Victims Center of Chester County. For years, she accompanied scared victims to court. Even with photos of their black eyes and heads bleeding so badly they needed to be hospitalized, guilty verdicts were hard to secure, especially if the victim had been drinking, Leslie says. Rapists and abusers were routinely getting away with their crimes.
Determined to do more to empower victims and alert communities to predators, Leslie co-founded The RADAR Project in 2016, a nonprofit Android app and website that lets victims drop pins on a “Me Too” map to show where they were assaulted and share their stories anonymously without shame or stigma.
Lana named the project and dropped the first pin.
Lana told her mom she wished she could have dropped her pin years earlier. Her attacker had gone on to assault other underage girls at drinking parties, she told her parents. If others in T/E had had the app, they might have known about this predator in their own backyard.
Since 2016, more than 300 women around the world have dropped pins on The RADAR Project, and Leslie stays in touch with many of them.
But the Holts were just getting started.
In the fall of 2018, the family started collecting coats for homeless women and children in Kensington. It was Lana’s idea. She’d never forgotten the shivering women, many of them sexually abused and living on the streets, who’d approached her for money when she worked in West Philly. Some of Leslie’s own coats had gone missing at the time. “I never said anything but I know Lana gave them away,” she says.
After Lana’s death, coats continued to pile up at the family’s home and at Holt Motorsports, Tim’s business in West Chester.
“We were still in shock and could have pulled the plug but Lana wouldn’t have wanted that,” Leslie says.
And so, six weeks after her death, Leslie and Tim drove to Kensington and handed out hundreds of puffy jackets to women and children. Leslie tied a “Love, Lana” on each so the women “would feel like someone was thinking of them.” Tim calls that first trip “almost cosmic. It made us feel closer to her.”
The Love, Lana Coat Drive is now an annual event. It was so successful this winter that a second trip to Kensington is planned.
With The RADAR Project and coat drives established, Leslie’s days are currently consumed by her third passion, A Child’s Light.
A nonprofit offshoot of RADAR started a year after Lana’s death, A Child’s Light pays for therapy for Chester County children who’ve been traumatized – by rape, by abusive parents, by homelessness or by hunger.
Leslie says it’s crucial to get kids with PTSD into counseling pronto, particularly sexually abused kids.
“Those are the kids who end up just like Lana, looking for relief, drinking, smoking pot, angry, unable to manage their emotions. Some become isolated, others become really aggressive – it manifests in different ways. They’re the ones who become school shooters … If kids don’t get quality mental health care – many families can’t afford it – they’re sunk. They end up on disability, then on public assistance. If they had had counseling, we’d pay less in the long run.”
Leslie gets referrals from schools and social service agencies and says she can connect kids to quality, trauma-informed therapists within a week. “If it’s not a good match, we switch them. These kids can’t wait.”
Among the children she’s helped: a 7-year old boy who was beaten by his father as a toddler and a 14-year-old girl who was sexually assaulted from age 5. Both are thriving and tell Leslie they actually enjoy their sessions. “It makes them feel like they have a voice, that an adult believes them and supports them.”
As program director for A Child’s Light, Leslie raises money, writes grant proposals, speaks to civic groups, and personally connects kids to counselors.
The work fills her days but doesn’t fill the hole in her heart.
“Leslie feels like she lost a limb,” Tim says. “She’s doing incredible work; this is how she’s dealing with it.”
“I don’t have the emotion of joy anymore. That’s gone,” Leslie says. “From the moment I wake up until I finally fall asleep, there’s a scream that sits in the middle of my chest. I push it down, I try to ignore it working on A Child’s Light so no other child or parent has to experience loss. I know it can’t bring Lana back, but it definitely helps.”
To support The Radar Project or A Child’s Light, visit www.theradarproject.org or email [email protected]. Donations to the Love, Lana Coat Drive can be dropped off at Holt Motorsports, 1315 West Chester Pike, West Chester.
As eligibility expands, local vaccine supplies fall short
The COVID vaccine is slowly making its way into Main Line arms.
With rules for the rollout changing almost daily of late, here’s what we’ve been able to piece together:
- Phase 1A is well underway. Hospitals and health departments continue to vaccinate medical personnel, coroner’s offices, funeral home workers and residents and staff at long-term care facilities.
- Montco, Chesco and Delco just added folks 65 and older and people with certain high-risk medical conditions, including smokers, to group 1A. But don’t be doing cartwheels if you’re 65+ just yet. Distribution depends on vaccine supply which continues to lag woefully behind demand. Chesco requested 5.000 doses this week and only received 2,500. “The change in Phase 1A eligibility has not brought additional vaccines to our county,” reads the county’s Jan. 20 news release. “In fact, we have been told to expect vaccine shortages.”
- Everyone in Chester and Delaware Counties – regardless of your “group” – should pre-register with the Chesco Health Department by clicking here. Click here to pre-register in Montco. Those who preregister will be emailed when appointments for their priority group become available – at least that’s what county officials are saying this week. Vaccine logistics could change significantly with the Biden Administration.
- Main Line Health does not want patients contacting their care providers. Instead, the health system says it will be contacting patients in the current priority group as vaccines become available. Patients are urged to pre-register with their respective counties (see #3 above). They should also create a Main Line Health My Chart account which will assist in the notification process.
- Adding to the confusion, the city of Philadelphia plays by its own rules – not the state’s – and is sticking with its 75 and up requirement for the first priority group.
- With vaccine shipments so uncertain, officials can’t say when they’ll move to Phase 1B, which includes essential workers like teachers. It could be weeks … or months.
- Chester County has been vaccinating Phase 1A at its offices in West Chester but is securing smaller sites in schools, public buildings, churches and community centers. Look for drive-thru sites to open when the weather warms. For specific questions, email [email protected].
- Montco has been vaccinating Phase 1A at the county’s public vaccination clinic at Montgomery County Community College with more sites to follow.
- Vaccines are free and will be given by appointment only. Ignore phone calls asking for money for vaccinations; they’re scams. You should live or work in the county where you are vaccinated. You may have to present proof of eligibility. You’ll get an appointment for your second dose when you receive your first.
- The state of PA just released this vaccine provider map. Bookmark it. It’s not especially helpful now but should prove handy when new vaccine sites open.
- Still have vaccine questions? Officials recommend Chesco/Delco residents email [email protected] and Montco folks email [email protected].
So that’s the official stuff.
Unofficially, folks are finding ways around the rules. Most notably, Rite Aid stores in Philly had been offering online appointments for folks 65 and over, no questions asked, as vaccines became available. More than a few eager suburbanites logged on at all hours and snagged slots, in effect jumping the line.
And some are expressing outrage that serious health conditions like, say, the lung-compromising disease cystic fibrosis, are not listed in the high-risk priority. In a Facebook post, Lower Merion native and Emily’s Entourage namesake, Emily Kramer-Golinkoff, who has a rare CF mutation, wrote that she was “seething” that healthy 65 year-olds are eligible but she isn’t. She’s been so fearful of contracting COVID that she’s been locked in her house, postponing medical care and with “absolutely no human contact” for almost a year. “For many of us, a vaccine now vs. in a few weeks or months will be the difference between life and death,” she wrote.
Two new rapid COVID-19 test sites on the Main Line
Need a COVID test quick?
Vybe Urgent Care just opened new storefronts on Lancaster Ave. devoted exclusively to rapid coronavirus tests: one in the former Wells Fargo near the Radnor Hotel (above), the other across from Paoli Hospital.
The centers administer antigen tests with same-day results and will roll out PCR tests any day now. As supplies become available, rapid PCR tests will also be offered, company founder Peter Hotz tells SAVVY.
Rapid antigen tests are perfect for people who need clearance for travel, work, school or a medical procedure. More reliable, PCR tests are recommended if you have symptoms or known exposure.
Antigen nasal swab tests are $75, don’t require a medical screening, and are by appointment only to ensure safe social distancing.
Paoli COVID-19 Testing Center, 254 West Lancaster Ave., and St. David’s COVID-19 Testing Center, 599 Lancaster Ave., are open daily, 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Schedule up to a week in advance online (preferred) or call 215-546-1115.
New home for Handel’s Ice Cream
Berwyn’s beloved ice cream shop is moving … across the street. Construction is underway in the brick building that last housed Chic & Simple Resale For Her and before that, Aneu and Yang’s markets.
“We’re committed to Berwyn,” Handel’s owner Buck Buchanan tells SAVVY. He lives in Devon but has four family members living in Berwyn. “We’re trying to create even more of a town square atmosphere.” He’s hoping the township will install a crosswalk across Lancaster so Berwyn Village families can still walk for ice cream.
“The plan is to rearrange the parking and create a patio that’s not part of the parking lot so folks can order and enjoy ice cream safely,” says Stacey Ballard, president of Eadeh Enterprises, Handel’s new landlord.
According to Buchanan, the current Handel’s will stay open until the new digs are ready, likely by March or April.
The building that houses the current Handel’s, which Buchanan leases, was sold to developers of the proposed Berwyn Square. Buchanan had hoped Handel’s would be the anchor tenant of the new apartment/retail project but it remains tied up in court appeals and township approvals.
Stay well, live longer with homegrown, science-backed ‘happy’ tea
Vitamin water loaded with sugar.
Energy drinks drowning in caffeine and chemicals.
Juices and smoothies swimming in calories.
What does a girl have to do to get a healthy drink around here?
Stop by Solutions4Health in Wayne’s Gateway Shopping Center or log onto to happybeing.co to score some happy being, a new, physician-approved line of infused iced teas that taste so good, you’d never guess how good they are for you.
Company founders are Solutions4Health owner Chris Conway, Wayne native Dutch Buckley (EA ’18) and his Williams College ’19 classmate Josemaria Silvestrini, in consultation with an all-star medical advisory board.
The brand’s first tea – four are planned – is “happy being healthy,” formulated to boost immunity and fight inflammation.
“The [functional beverage] market is full of products that really aren’t good for you although people think they are,” says Conway. “We took a high-level, scientific approach to the formulation. This is elite nutrition.”
Conway calls Inflammation “cellular brain damage” and the root cause of the ailments that show up as we age: heart disease, neurological disorders, arthritis, cancer.
The nutrients in happy being healthy extend not just your lifespan, but your healthspan, the number of years you live an energized, vital and disease-free life, he says.
“It’s a way to get ahead of health problems instead of waiting for procedures to fix them down the road,” adds Buckley. “It’s preventive care in a bottle.”
And so much simpler than swallowing a handful of pills or a bushel of veggies each day.
Each brew contains powerhouse ingredients in scientifically proven amounts that work synergistically:
- 50 mg of the potent antioxidant polyphenol pterostilbene, equivalent to – get this – 960 cups of blueberries. “You would never eat that many but that’s the studied amount of the active polyphenol,” Conway says.
- 250 mg of Turmacin, a bioavailable form of turmeric that protects joints and reduces inflammation and pain.
- 1000 mg of the medicinal plant elderberry, 400 mg more than the amount shown to seriously boost immunity.
- Vitamin D, a key vitamin that builds strong bones, boosts immunity and promotes healthy inflammation.
Each is infused in organic white tea, which has the healthy polyphenols of green tea but without the caffeine or bitterness.
Each serving contains just two grams of organic sugar and is 35 calories or less. Compare that to, say, Honest Tea, which calls itself “a tad sweet” but has up to 10 times the sugar.
Happy being teas comes in three refreshing, taste-tested flavors: blueberry raspberry, peach rose, and lemongrass mint. The three founders worked as hard to perfecting the taste as they did on the nutrition.
Being healthy is “a series of choices we make every day,” Silvestrini says. “Am I going to drink the happy being or the Diet Coke? Am I going to take a walk or sit on the couch?”
Priced just a smidge above, say, a Starbucks double mocha latte with zero nutritional value and mucho calories, happy being teas are a long-term investment in better health.
The marketing and branding is clean and current, courtesy of Partners & Spade, the folks behind Warby Parker and Peloton. “Walking around with JUST water vs. Dasani says something about you, in the same way, carrying happy being instead of Gatorade says something about you,” explains Silvestrini.
Three more teas are in the pipeline: happy being active, which supports exercise and mobility; happy being rested, formulated for relaxation and sleep; and happy being smart, which promotes brain health and focus.
Happy being teas come in packs of 12 or 24 and are $4.60 to $6/bottle at Solutions4Health in Gateway Shopping Center or order online at happybeing.co. Coming soon to Arrowroot, Kimberton Whole Foods and other organic markets.
*******SPECIAL SAVINGS for SAVVY Readers: Get 15% off your first order online or in store with code SAVVY15.*******
Community reeling over senseless murder of young Conestoga graduate
Family and friends are mourning Stoga grad and Temple ’19 alum Milan Loncar who was fatally shot last Wednesday. Loncar, 25, was out walking his dog a block from his home at 7 p.m. in North Philly’s Brewerytown when two men approached him. They searched his pockets – he’d left his wallet at home – then shot him in the chest at point blank range.
He was still holding onto the leash of Roo, his beloved Dachshund-Chihuahua mix, when he was found.
Police have a suspect in custody: Josephus Davis, 20, who’d been freed from jail just two weeks ago after posting bail. Controversially, two judges had drastically reduced Davis’ bail on assorted theft, carjacking and aggravated assault charges. He’d been arrested five times since January 2019.
Loncar’s tragic killing became national news, including a feature on ABC World News tonight.
Meanwhile, his family and friends, including little Roo, gathered Friday night for a memorial service at the site of his slaying at 31st and Jefferson streets.
He was “the kindest person in the entire world. This is so screwed up,” his older sister, Jelena Loncar, told the Inquirer. Jelena lives a few blocks from her brother but now plans to move out of the city.
Milan’s mother, Amy Lounsberry, called her son “a beloved sweet boy just starting his life.” His girlfriend was about to move in with him and he was enjoying his job at construction management company Whiting Turner. “Everything was coming together for him.”
Outpouring of support for ailing owner of Berwyn Tavern
The community has come up huge for Joe Rexroat, 54, the affable owner of the Berwyn Tavern who’s recovering from the massive heart attack on Jan. 11.
His wife Monica tells SAVVY she’s overwhelmed with gratitude for the hundreds of Facebook messages she gets every day, the countless phone calls, the food and gift cards people have dropped off, and the GoFundMe for medical expenses started by the couple’s closest friends.
More than anything, though, Monica says “the prayers are carrying him through.”
Folks flocked to the BT last weekend to show support. “We had lines like we never had and two-hour waits for takeout orders. We ran out of food.”
Monica stopped by the Berwyn Fire Co. last week to personally thank first responders for saving her husband’s life. She’s also grateful to staff at Paoli Hospital, where Joe spent five days in intensive care, and to the team at the BT. “Joe would not be alive right now if not for our bartenders who were very quick to get on the phone and call 911.”
Monica talks about Joe having “the biggest heart.” He says yes to countless donation requests and keeps the bar open on holidays so people who are alone have a friendly place to go.
“What you put out there is what comes back to you,” Joe would tell his wife.
It sure does.
Presenting Villa Zeta: Escape to Italy without leaving the Main Line
Soothing water views.
Gracious gathering spaces.
A cozy bar and picturesque poolside loggia.
A seaside resort on the Amalfi Coast, perhaps?
Nope. This Shangri-La is in Haverford and it’s currently for sale.
Move into this 9,200 sq. ft. residence near Merion Golf Club and, quarantine or no quarantine, you might never leave home again.
Current owners are prominent Main Line realtor Linda Z and her husband, Max Zylberdrut, longtime proprietor of Millennium Hair & Day Spa in Wynnewood, who are ready to downsize.
The couple bought the neglected home, a drab contemporary, at a sheriff’s sale 23 years ago and lovingly transformed it into Villa Zeta, an elegant stateside version of their favorite hotel on the Amalfi Coast, Il San Pietro di Positano.
“When we stayed at San Pietro, I knew it was how I wanted to live. We wanted an old-world feel but comfortable,” says Linda Z, who redesigned and decorated the home herself. “When people think Mediterranean, they think heavy and dark. This is anything but that. It’s a really bright house with high ceilings and lots of natural light.”
Linda’s elegant Italianate touches are everywhere: in the antique wrought-iron gated entrance, in the marble lion fountain, in the Ludowici terra cotta roof, in the arched windows, doorways and portico, in the curved staircase and custom solid-wood doors.
“I’ve redesigned and resurrected so many Main Line homes over the years,” Linda says. “When you know the best, you put it in your own house.”
The home’s most unique feature is also its literal centerpiece: a show-stopping indoor swimming pool topped by a massive 22 ft. X 24 ft. retractable skylight and sheathed in glass on three sides. The pool deck’s terra cotta tiles are warmed by radiant heat and a dressing room with full bath is a few steps away.
Visible from the foyer, formal dining room and second-floor balcony, the skylit pool bathes the surrounding spaces – an oversized great room and loggia – in natural light.
Freshly resurfaced, the pool has provided oodles of fun over the years, from grandchildren’s birthday parties to holiday get-togethers. “We’ve opened the skylight in winter and gone swimming in the snow,” Linda says.
Like the very best Italian resorts, Villa Zeta offers refined indoor-outdoor living and endless options for entertaining. An immense two-story great room and formal dining room look out to the pool, which is prettiest when it’s lit up at night, Linda says.
Party guests often gravitate to the adjacent bar.
The spacious lower level includes a wine closet and a game room. The den (below) – Linda’s favorite room in the house – features a custom barrel ceiling, elegant arched windows and a cozy fireplace.
Villa Zeta has four oversized bedrooms and eight bathrooms. The first-floor master is a soothing oasis with his and her bathrooms and jaw-dropping closets.
Want to see more? Hop on this virtual tour.
Villa Zeta is offered at $2,399,000. Call Linda Z at 610-520-0455 for a private tour or more info.
Got questions? Wynnewood-based startup Sage has answers
When we need quick advice, most of us turn to our personal networks or search for answers online.
But where to turn when we come up dry?
When your friends can’t help and Google sends you on a wild web chase, may we suggest the new Q-and-A website, Sage?
Founded by Main Line techie Peter Yeargin, a former Cisco exec who runs operations from his Wynnewood home, Sage is an on-demand advice platform, connecting people with questions to people with answers.
“We make information that’s stuck in people’s heads accessible to other people in the world, and we pay them for it,” Yeargin tells SAVVY. “It’s a personal board of advisors in your back pocket.”
Registered users can ask other users with relevant experience or knowledge (“Sages”) pretty much anything.
Like, say, how to find the best care for an elderly parent.
Or proven strategies for breaking into Broadway.
Or which easy-care houseplants best improve indoor air quality.
If you pose your question publicly, the advice is free.
If you’re willing to pay a small fee – typically $5 to $20 – you can pose it privately and get personalized advice from the Sage of your choice.
There’s no fee to join the Sage community. If you’d like to monetize your knowledge and answer questions as a Sage, you simply submit a brief resume, list your areas of expertise, and set your answer fee. (You’ll pocket 70 percent.)
To ensure Sages impart reliable information, they acquire “reputation scores” based on users’ ratings of their answers.
Yeargin says the key to Sage’s appeal is its efficiency. Ask Google a subjective question and you’ll likely have to wade through pages of useless links.
“How many projects do you have sitting around where you’re stuck on a question?” Yeargin says. “For as little as $5, Sage can give you an answer that jumpstarts the project.”
Indeed it was Yeargin’s own stalled project – an 11th-hour tax-filing question – that prompted him to create the site. “It was April 14. It would have been so nice to go to a website like this and find a CPA to answer my question.”
It may have wreaked havoc elsewhere but the pandemic has actually been good for Sage, Yeargin says. “More people are stuck at home with time on their hands and are willing to ask and answer questions on a platform like this. We’ve had plenty of questions about COVID and its impact on students, schooling, professional and family life.”
Chris Martin, an early Sage user who’s answered 44 questions to date, calls the site “intuitive and easy to use.”
Another regular user, Doug Massey, who answers questions about finance, investing, math and education, calls Sage a “big upgrade” over Quora and other Q-and-A sites. “It works really well for complex questions search engines just can’t answer,” Massey says. “I think it’s going to catch on.”
Visit thesageboard.com to get started.
Remembering longtime Paoli business owner Jay Martosella
A fixture in the Paoli Shopping Center has passed.
Jay Martosella, owner of The Hairdresser Inc. for 40 years, lost his four-month fight with pancreatic cancer last week. He was 79 but with his trim physique, purposeful gait and ageless style, he seemed decades younger.
Yours truly was honored to know Jay for 25 years. I once profiled him as a “Main Line Man of Style” for Main Line Media News, the only man we ever featured. And I’ll never forget the dinner I shared with Jay and his brothers at Stella Blu in Conshohocken a few years later. I was writing an article about the Martosellas’ coveted guide to Italian restaurants. They were rating Stella Blu that night and invited me to tag along. That night still goes down as the most fun I’ve ever had “researching” a story.
Yes, Jay was witty, warm and charming, but at his core he was a man devoted to family: his own and his extended family at the salon.
His longest tenured employee, Marie Phillips Miller, a stylist at The Hairdresser for 32 years, calls Jay much more than a boss. “He was a father figure, advisor, confidante, cheerleader, and most importantly, my dear, dear friend. He taught me many things over the years, two that made an indelible imprint on my life: ‘Never overreact’ and ‘Know when to go.'”
Seems Jay didn’t take his own advice. He left us far too soon.
Donations in Jay’s Martosella’s memory can be made to Feeding America or St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital.
The Main Line stars in new reality TV show about entrepreneurs
Can’t get enough Shark Tank? Check out “Wolf PAC of Philadelphia,” a new reality show that funds and advises local startups. You might just spot someone you know.
Three cast member investors – The Wolf Pac – live on the Main Line.
The one with the most TV experience is Leslie Gudel, a former Philly sports broadcaster and serial entrepreneur, who lives in Tredyffrin.
“This came out of nowhere,” Gudel tells SAVVY. Co-creator Craig Shoemaker, a standup comic/TV producer, called Gudel in a panic after a cast member bowed out of the next day’s taping. She had so much fun, she signed on for the full season.
“Meeting the entrepreneurs was really inspiring,’ Gudel says. “All of them had such passion. I know firsthand how hard they all worked to get to this point.”
The first four episodes revolve around startups involving Aussie meat pies, a beauty salon, natural energy bars and sports collectibles. The last episode led Gudel to her latest gig – COO of Elevate Sports and Media, a new, tech-savvy agency that represents pro athletes.
Another local cast member is Wynnewood’s Leonard Lodish, aka the Analytics Wolf. A Wharton marketing professor and “Shark Tank” fan, Lodish mentored the founder of Scrub Daddy, still the show’s most successful company, and has invested in a slew of successful startups.
A third local Wolf is Courtney Lawless, a venture capitalist and tech founder who lives in the King of Prussia area.
A few familiar Philly faces pop up on the show: former Eagles Seth Joyner and Brian Dawkins and sandwich king Tony Luke.
Wolf PAC of Philadelphia is currently streaming on Amazon Prime. Another season is planned in Philly and then, if the ratings are good, the show will move to other cities, casting local business leaders as Wolves.
This and That
Two new eateries are coming to The Grove, the new lifestyle center in Malvern: Capriotti’s Sandwich Shop and sportsbar chain Chickie & Pete’s. The Grove’s developer, Jason Dempsey, tells us there’s only one retail space left to lease. Chickie & Pete’s should open next to Bulldog Yoga some time this summer, he says.
As if retailers don’t have it bad enough. A driver accidentally crashed into Kirna Zabete in Bryn Mawr Village last Sunday morning, shattering the peace – and the glass front of the upscale boutique. The store was able to open as usual after the shopping center created a safe, entry path through the former Bryn + Dane’s.
And speaking of Bryn Mawr Village, medi-spa chain OVME has signed for the former Cameo space. Look for a full array of aesthetic services including Botox and injectables, medical-grade facials and lasers, CoolSculpting, laser hair removal, B-12 shots and IV hydration, and for men, erectile dysfunction and testosterone replacement therapy.
An Ardmore realtor and WWDB “sober” radio show host made the list of last-minute Trump pardons. Gary Evan Hendler, 67, was convicted on drug-related charges for operating a Quaalude clinic in Philly in the early ’80s. Gendler told the Inky he “got all choked up” when he checked the list of pardons Wednesday and saw his name.
After 60 years in the Wynnewood Shopping Center, John Troncelliti Barbershop has moved to bigger, brighter digs in Devon. “We’re very excited about bringing the oldest brand name in old-school, neighborhood barbering on the Main Line to the T/E and Radnor region,” Troncelliti tells SAVVY. His eponymous shop is across from Whole Foods at 868 Lancaster Ave. Troncelliti had planned to do mobile or concierge barbering but changed his mind after hearing that barber Nick Pompeo had left Devon and his space was available. The move also brings Troncelliti closer to home – he’s lived in Tredyffrin for 22 years.
Two more COVID casualties. Sweet Freedom Bakery, the gluten- and allergy-free bakery in Bryn Mawr has closed. So has Touché Accessories in the KOP Mall. Owner Connie Alexandrian McDonnell plans to continue manufacturing and wholesaling in France and will resume retail sales online. She hopes to resurrect Touché in another location in a year or so.
And speaking of taking over old barber shops, A Cut Above hair salon is slated to open this week in the old Pinto’s space on South Wayne Ave. Owner stylist Skip LaSpina has come full circle. He started cutting hair at age 16 in Wayne salons owned by his father and uncle – La Casa and Vincent’s, if you can remember back that far. LaSpina relocated to Rosemont with his father, then took over his salon 20 years ago.
With its theaters dark for many moons, the box office has been anything but boffo at Bryn Mawr Film Institute, but fundraising is breaking records. BMFI’s 2020 Annual Appeal had record participation, more than double last year’s haul.
A prominent Main Liner is eyeing the governor’s mansion. Dan Hilferty, who lives in Ardmore and just retired as CEO of Independence Blue Cross, is reportedly talking to potential supporters about a run for governor next year. Hilferty ran for lieutenant governor as a Democrat in 1994 and lost. This time, he’d run as a moderate Republican. A Trump fan Hilferty is not. He was on the host committee for Biden’s first big Philly fundraiser and donated heavily to his campaign.
Ryan Costello, the former U.S. Rep. from Chester County, is reportedly sizing up a run for Pat Toomey’s Senate seat. Costello would also run as a moderate, anti-Trump Republican.
St. Charles Seminary will shrink from 75 acres in Wynnewood to 15 acres on the campus of Gwynedd Mercy University, under a deal inked last month. Main Line Health bought the seminary’s Wynnewood property last year for $43.5 million. The agreement gave the St. Charles five years to relocate.
Developers are circling St. Gabrielle’s Hall, the Audubon facility for delinquent boys just closed by the Archdiocese after 120 years. Its 60 acres are zoned for single-family homes but the Lower Providence Township would like to see St. Gabe’s main building preserved.
Blame COVID for two closures in Newtown Square. Boutique Sorelle ends its five-year run on St. Alban’s Circle at month’s end. A storewide sale, including furniture and fixtures, has been underway since early January. Forced to close from flooding and the pandemic, owner Deb Zuccarini calls 2020 “the challenge of a lifetime.” Nearby Burlap and Bean coffee shop has called it quits after 14 years. The company’s roast house in Media is still open.
Now you see it, now you don’t. The day after the siege of the U.S. Capitol, the Daily Local News ran an article about local officials’ reactions. The story included this controversial quote from Chester County Republican Committee Chairman Dr. Gordon Eck: “I don’t know who did this. Antifa or who.” But just like that, the quote vanished. The paper published a new version of the story that omits the quote on grounds Eck was misquoted. If you say so. Neither Eck nor the Chesco Republican Committee has responded to our request for an explanation.
A big hole has been filled at Malvern’s Eastside Flats, which has been looking mighty lonely of late. Luxury real estate shop Engel & Volkers is taking the former Blue Octagon space. It’s the company’s first franchise location in PA. Owner and managing broker is Malvern native Jim Becker, a longtime agent for Berkshire Hathaway in Malvern/Paoli, who calls E & V’s a “boutique brokerage providing a luxury client experience” and a “natural fit for the Main Line.”
COVID is clobbering museums everywhere but tiny Wharton Esherick has never been better. The Malvern museum was awarded a surprise $10 million endowment gift from the Windgate Foundation. For an institution with 2020 budget around $400,000, that’s a huge chunk of change.
The mud was sure flying in Montco. The chair of Montgomery County Commissioners, Dr. Valerie Arkoosh, flat-out called fellow commissioner Joe Gale a “racist” at their first board meeting of 2021. That was after Gale, a fervent Trump supporter, called out Democrats for voicing outrage over the siege of U.S. Capitol but not over the summer unrest on city streets, which he falsely claimed “destroyed nearly every major city in the nation.” Clearly fed up, Arkoosh fired back: “You are a racist and you were censured by the board because you used county letterhead to publish the statements.” To which Gale later responded: “The true racists are Democrat politicians, from our local commissioners up to our President-elect, who are playing the race card and using identity politics.” Arkoosh has refused further comment.
Gale came under heavy fire this summer for published statements calling Black Lives Matter “a hate group” and was sued for blocking dissenting voices from his social media accounts.
Another day, another apartment project on the drawing board in Bala Cynwyd. Plans are afoot to bulldoze the old Lord & Taylor and Chili’s in Bala Cynwyd Shopping Center and build a six-story, 230-unit retail-apartment complex. In the last five years, The Delwyn, Royal Athena, 335 Bala and The Kelly have all either opened or are under construction.
The new owner of Chesterbrook’s struggling office park is spending beaucoup bucks to lure companies back. Think upgraded lobbies, HVAC systems and technology and a splashy new amenity hub, The Circuit. Now under construction, The Circuit will include food, fitness, flexible conference/office space and a variety of outdoor seating areas. All told, the office park’s new owner, Rubenstein Partners, is spending $50 million on improvements to what they’ve rebranded as simply “Chesterbrook.”
Michael DiDomenico says
Knowing almost everybody in the articles, they really hit home and were written with care and empathy. Great job.
Caroline O'Halloran says
Thank you, Michael. Appreciate your saying so. Wish we had brighter stories to share as we start the year. Hopefully, next month we will.
There should be a trigger warning included at the beginning of this article for the sake of other people experiencing PTSD.
Caroline O'Halloran says
Thank you. We have added one.
Kathleen Seaton says
Had not heard that Jay Martosella died. Got to know him through his children in preschool and at his salon. He always had a kind heart and cared deeply about his staff, clientele, and the community. This is a loss to the western Mainline. Thanks for continuing to share the kind of news that is not often included elsewhere, Savvy is a vital source for information.
Caroline O'Halloran says
Jay was a true gentleman who radiated warmth and kindness. I was privileged to know him.
Damien Enderle says
As always, excellent and interesting reporting. Thanks, Caroline.
A heartbreaking story about Lana. There by the grace of god could be any one of our children. Lyme disease was what eventually lead to Lana’s use and there has to be more information and testing for Lyme than there is today. I have a good friend whose daughter had the same Lyme experience for years going from specialist to specialist before getting the right diagnosis and then treatment. If we can test for Covid in a matter of months then we should be able to develop test to detect Lyme.
Caroline O'Halloran says
Agreed. Chronic Lyme is an insidious neurological disease that, sadly, is still not well understood or easily treated.
Linda Golden says
Oh WOW…what would we do without you!!!
Maybe PennDOT should take part of St. Gabe’s to fix that curve
Dawn altman says
I was heartbroken to read the tragic story of Lana Holt. As a psychotherapist in private practice, I work daily with men and women who suffered trauma in their early lives and spend years dealing with the aftermath. I could not agree more with Lana’s mother-trauma is absolutely the gateway drug to addiction. People will understandably turn to drugs, alcohol, food, gambling, or shopping in an effort to distract themselves from the emotional pain and trauma. I would even go so far as to say that often when there is a long term, chronic illness that is difficult to treat or diagnose, trauma is at the root of it. I send much love to the entire Holt family and will hold them in gentle good thought.
Dawn Altman, M.S., L.P.C.
Lynda Seglias says
Such good reporting. Full of real life stories that also inspire help to various organization. All the information needed that affects living on the Main Line. Thank you, thank you. I will refer back to the vaccine information and register also.
Always appreciate the detail and depth of the stories here. When will LM tire of its apartment boom? It makes me wonder how township planning factored in all the tradeoffs. I need to start paying closer attention! Even with the increasing inventory, reasonable rents seem almost impossible to find here (or anywhere around here), which is kind of depressing to think of shutting out some who are on a fixed income, or students whose parents don’t have deep pockets, or middle class wage earners, or those just out of college looking to live here.
Caroline O'Halloran says
Thanks for your comment, Kelli. Yes, rents for relatively small units in newly constructed buildings are quite high up and down the Main Line. When retail is stumbling – as it has for years – residential developers see opportunity. The only places you’ll find somewhat affordable rates are in older complexes or less convenient areas. Eventually, demand will exceed supply and rents will come down a bit.
Jennifer Licate says
Thank you for sharing the story of Lana Holt. My heart breaks for her family. Learning about the work that Leslie Holt does for other children is so inspiring.
Pat DiFeliciantonio says
Thanks Caroline once again for keeping me connected to my community. Just wanted to say how sad Mark and I were to read about the passing of Jay. We have also known him for many many years through his salon as have so many people. He was certainly a sweet man and it is good to see his salon live on in the hands of his son.
Caroline O'Halloran says
Thanks, Pat. I know Jay’s family will appreciate seeing your comment. He was a truly terrific guy and so many will miss him!
Maryam Vafa says
So so sorry to lose such a wonderful neighbor and friend!
Our condolences to his entire family!
He will be missed!
Hi Caroline, My heart hurts for Lana’s story and Lana’s family and friends. I too graduated from Stoga. Having three daughters who will also be attending Stoga and one who is 14 now I must say I’m at odds that the alleged rapist’s name isn’t mentioned. Is this bc there is a pending case against the man? He is a genuine predator. Why is his face not shown? It would be awful to find out the rapist is well known locally and has positioned himself as a trusted figure in the community or worse actually poses as someone who is here to help women. Separately, there is a photo of the black drug dealer and apparently he has received the longest sentence in Chester county history. If it wasn’t that dealer it would’ve been another. Not so with the rapist. What’s going on with the rapist?
Caroline O'Halloran says
Thanks for your comment, JP. I understand your concern. The Holts did not choose to reveal the rapist’s name during our interviews. Lana’s parents did say that it was Lana’s decision about whether to report the rape. And there is no guarantee the DA would have taken the case. Leslie explained how hard it is to get a rape conviction and how rough the process is for victims who are already so traumatized. She has seen the process play out from her years of victims advocacy. Also, the statute of limitations on rape of minors in PA is age 30. According to her mother, Lana did not become more open about it until she was in her early 30s. As for the drug dealer, not sure what you’re saying. We never published his photo – you must have seen that elsewhere. The good news is that he’s in jail and will be for a long time.