Homeland Center’s Kings and Queens of Hearts warm a February day


In their 67 years of marriage, Flora and Jeff Jespersen have discovered a thing or two about lasting relationships.

Flora and Jeff Jespersen were elected as this year’s Homeland Center King and Queen of Hearts in a tradition dating back several years.

“It takes a little bit of tolerance for each other,” said Jeff Jespersen.

The Jespersens also enjoy the unexpected, and for Valentine’s Day, they got a real surprise – their election as a Homeland King and Queen of Hearts.

In a tradition dating back several years, Homeland residents circulate paper hearts and collect signatures from their neighbors, seeking votes to win the King or Queen of Hearts crowns for their units.

The Jespersens were crowned for the Personal Care Unit. Other winners were King Dale Williams and Queen Laura Buchanon, first-floor skilled nursing; King Michael Fludovich and Queen Wanda Berger, Ellenberger Unit; and King Leslie Kauffman and Queen Polly, second-floor skilled nursing.

Residents enjoy collecting signatures and interacting, said Director of Skilled and Personal Care Activities Ashley Bryan.

“The winners always have a big smile,” she said. “It’s a fun way to celebrate Valentine’s Day, which is all about spreading a little love.”

Though Flora Jespersen looked pretty in her tiara and red cape, she was modest and egalitarian about her elevation to royalty.

“There should be no reason that we’re any more queen than anybody else,” she said.

The coronations capped a Valentine’s Day social, where about 60 Homeland Center residents – many of them dressed in red — ate heart-shaped cookies and drank fruit punch. They also enjoyed classic love songs sung and performed on keyboard by Tom Edmunds, smoothly singing everything from “Unforgettable” to “Try a Little Tenderness.”

Betty Ludwig is a second-generation resident who chose Homeland as the best place for her mother and then came to stay herself because “they were very good to her.” Wearing a pink shirt decorated with a white felt heart provided by Homeland staff, she said she attends any event featuring music. She grew up playing piano and flute, and her mother played the piano at home every night.

“If there’s going to be music, I’m going to be there,” she said. “It’s wonderful. Really enjoyable. Very few people will turn down good music.”

Ludwig was chatting with resident Vivian Black, who stays active by attending social events and helping tend Homeland’s library.

“I come to most of their musical things because I don’t like to be alone, and if you stay in your room, you’re alone,” she said.

Resident Marie Smith relived memories of being a Queen of Hearts two years ago.

“I have my crown, and I have a bracelet they gave me,” she said. “It’s all rhinestones. It looks like diamonds on your arm.”

Julia Douden attended the program and saw her dad, Leslie Kauffman, anointed a King of Hearts.

“I like the good music,” said Kauffman. It made him think of Valentine’s Days from “way past.”

Douden said her dad enjoys Homeland’s programs, and she loves them, too.

“It’s a break in the normal day,” she said. “It’s exciting. I saw a smile.”

Homeland Center’s staff get a well-deserved ‘thank you!’


While Homeland Center’s role has changed since it was founded almost 150 years ago, one thing has remained the same – the commitment of the staff to those who depend on them for care.

Felicia Foster shows the miniature Steelers helmet signed by Hines Ward she received from Barry S. Ramper II, Homeland Center’s president and CEO.

More than 200 Homeland Center and Homeland Hospice staff gathered this month for the annual recognition celebrating their service and honoring 26 employees who have served five years or more.

“I thank you on behalf of our residents and patients,’’ said Barry S. Ramper II, Homeland’s president and CEO. “At the heart of truly being of service is when one entrusts their life to you. We are the best at that. If there were 30-plus hospice providers or 66 other skilled nursing and personal care providers in this room – and that’s an approximation of our service area – I would say the same thing.’’

Ramper noted Homeland Hospice, which earlier this year started Central Pennsylvania’s only dedicated pediatric hospice program, continues to grow. This year Homeland Hospice received superior quality assurance reports that set it apart from its peers.

During the lunch, in which members of Homeland’s Board of Managers took their place behind the lunch serving line as a special “thank you’’ to staff, Ramper made a special gift – a cherished miniature Steelers football helmet signed by Hines Ward, the MVP of Super Bowl XL. Fifteen-year employee and avid fan Felicia Foster won the special helmet in a drawing amid cheers.

For Homeland, the past year has been one to cheer as well.

In 2015, for the fourth year in a row, a poll of Harrisburg Magazine’s more than 30,000 readers resulted in Homeland Center being selected as the Readers’ Choice for Best Long-Term Care Facility. Homeland is also named as one of the nation’s best nursing homes by U.S. News & World Report and continues to be one of the few facilities in the region to receive Medicare’s top five-star rating.

None of it, Ramper told the assembled staff, would be possible without their hard work and determination.

“Please remember all of what we are and what we do is because of you,’’ said Ramper, who is celebrating his 15th year with Homeland. “Each and every one of you, one-by-one, consistently doing what you do on a day-to-day basis. Thank you for all you do.’’

The following are the employees who were honored for their years of service: 

Five years 

  • Myra Badorf
  • Annetti Garwood
  • Susan Harris
  • Bualle Jackson
  • Carmencita Krone
  • Angel Nieves
  • Jean Shannon
  • Patricia Spears
  • Latoya Venable
  • Carole Wells

10 years 

  • Sharria Floyd
  • Deborah Haas
  • Kathryn Kuchwara
  • Anita Payne
  • Philcetta Yongah

15 years

  • Nicol Brown
  • Felicia Foster
  • Albert Jackson
  • Betty Hungerford
  • Barry S. Ramper II
  • Tara Roland
  • Richard Simpson
  • Yolanda Williams

30 years

  • Ginger Sergott
  • James Webster

35 years

  • Ghidai Woldai