Lady Gaga may have found a “cure” for some rough days and overworked staff at Wheeling Hospital recently.
Last Friday, a delivery of dozens and dozens of cookies, chocolate-covered pretzels and hand-wrapped candies made their way to the hospital thanks to Lady Gaga, her mom Cynthia Germanotta and their foundation, the Born This Way Foundation, all coordinated by Shadyside resident and family friend Janie Davis Husek.
It all started when a friend of Husek’s — a hospital employee at Ruby Memorial Hospital in Morgantown — happened to mention she missed out on a cookie delivery from the Born This Way Foundation, compliments of Lady Gaga and Cynthia Germanotta, who is a West Virginia University graduate and former cheerleader.
So Husek started digging a little and approached her friend Cynthia with the suggestion to do the same for Wheeling Hospital staffers, who have been working so hard amid the coronavirus pandemic. … something to make them smile, Husek said.
Germanotta gave her OK and a budget, and Husek ordered treats from The Fat Apple in Bridgeport, Ohio. Whitney Stemkowski, owner of The Fat Apple, was “so excited, she was shaking,” Husek said.
“We were so honored and excited to be a part of Lady Gaga’s Born This Way Foundation in honoring the workers of Wheeling Hospital. It was a privilege to know that the foundation, her mother Cynthia and Janie entrusted us is making this happen! This is something that we are proud to be a part of and will remember forever,” Stemkowski said. She made over 50 dozen sweets to be delivered to the hospital!
Over 50 dozen treats were made for Wheeling Hospital staff members.
Whitney Stemkowski of The Fat Apple in Bridgeport, Ohio
“Whitney really went beyond the call of duty,” in preparing the treats, Husek said. “Cynthia was tickled to death with the cookies!”
Along with coordinating the whole cookie caper — with help from hospital executive assistant Sheila Fox — Husek also delivered the treats. Staff members met her outside of the hospital to collect the boxes.
“I started crying as soon as I saw the hospital staff, all garbed in their gowns and masks. It was so emotional,” Husek said.
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Each department that received treats was also given a thank-you card from the Born This Way Foundation that was personally signed by Cynthia Germanotta.
The effort was much appreciated by staff and Douglass Harrison, Wheeling Hospital CEO, who commented, “We would like to thank the Born This Way Foundation along with Fat Apple for their generosity to the staff at Wheeling Hospital. Not only are we all blessed with Lady Gaga’s acting and musical talents, but her generosity to others is the reason she’s a star!”
Husek noted that Stephanie truly is “a genuine giving person.”
Husek and Cynthia’s family go way back, she pointed out. Ronnie and the late Paul Bissett — Lady Gaga’s (Stephanie Germanotta) grandparents and Cynthia’s mom and dad — were Husek’s kids’ “third grandparents,” she explained. They lived in the Benwood-McMechen area at the time. Ronnie — who is in her 90s — now lives in Wheeling.
“I am honored to call this family my friends,” Husek said. “Cynthia was deeply touched” to be involved in “something from her roots with such a personal connection.”
And, by the way, Husek’s friend that works at Ruby Memorial — who missed the cookie delivery there because it was her day off was not forgotten in all of this. She got a special care package of treats this time around, thanks to Janie and Whitney!
• Having spent nearly 38 years as reporter, bureau chief, lifestyles editor and managing editor at The Times Leader, and design editor at The Intelligencer and Wheeling News-Register, Phyllis Sigal now serves as Weelunk’s managing editor. She lives in Wheeling with her husband Bruce Wheeler. Along with their two children, son-in-law and two grandchildren, food, wine, travel, theater and music are close to their hearts.