Homeland Center’s 150th Gala Anniversary Celebration!


Osgood and sun Homeland Center’s 150 years of meeting the needs of Central Pennsylvania was kicked-off at our Gala Celebration on Sunday, May 7, 2017, at the Hilton Harrisburg.

Charles Osgood from CBS Sunday Morning was the featured speaker. During the Gala key events from Homeland’s rich history also were highlighted, both on stage and in a special video.

All proceeds from the 150th Gala will go to the Homeland Center benevolent fund.

Thanks to the generous support of our many friends, Homeland continues to play a vital role in serving the health care needs of our community.

One can only imagine the pride those 18 women from nine Harrisburg churches who founded the “Home for the Friendless’’ would feel today to see how the seed they planted has grown. From our initial mission to save Civil War widows and orphaned children from a life on the street, today Homeland provides a full range of services that touch lives throughout South Central Pennsylvania.

1938 HistoryStill located on its original Fifth Street site, Homeland is a recognized leader in providing personal and skilled care and rehabilitation services. In keeping with its founders’ goal to meet the region’s needs, Homeland last year unveiled two new services to help seniors remain in their home while receiving the quality care they require.

Homeland HomeCare assists seniors with daily tasks such as meal preparation and transportation, while Homeland HomeHealth provides doctor-ordered medical assistance, ranging from providing intravenous therapy and other medications to physical therapy. In 2016, Homeland Hospice, which serves 13 counties, became the only service in central Pennsylvania to offer a dedicated pediatric hospice program.

Also in keeping with the spirit of the 18 women who became Homeland’s first “Lady Managers,’’ no resident in financial distress has ever been asked to leave. In the past year, Homeland provided more than $3 million in charitable care. All proceeds from the 150th Gala will go to the Homeland Center benevolent fund to ensure this cherished tradition continues.rsz snowy day

When those determined Lady Managers opened the doors in 1867, they certainly could not have foreseen all they set in motion. But everything Homeland is today harkens back to their abiding principles of providing the best quality of care in a home-like and welcoming setting.

It’s a proud tradition that we hope you’ll celebrate with us at Homeland Center’s 150th Anniversary Gala.

Employee Spotlight: Chef Constance Lewis takes pride in preparing delicious meals


Connie Lewis 1 Chef Constance Lewis takes pride in preparing delicious meals!

Constance learned to cook by doing. Her mother worked two jobs, and her brother was a high school athlete, so it fell to Lewis to feed him and her younger sister every night.

“He loved fried chicken,” she recalls. “He loved the leg and the thigh. Either that, or he loved chili. He would sit down with a bowl of chili and a whole pack of crackers.”

On May 1, 2017, Connie Lewis celebrates her 20th anniversary of working at Homeland Center, cooking delicious, nutritious meals for residents.

Lewis learned to love cooking because people enjoy it, and “that made me want to do it even more,” she says. “I cook because I love to feed people. I have two daughters that grew up with me cooking for them. I still cook Sunday dinners, and they love it.”

Lewis, a Harrisburg native and graduate of Bishop McDevitt High School, was curious about Homeland when she first walked in to fill out a job application. After that, she called the dietary director “and bugged him and bugged him, and he gave me a job.”

She started in the kitchen doing “dippings,” a term for setting up desserts and side dishes. She had never cooked for large groups, but she jumped right in when Homeland asked that summer if she could prepare soups and sandwiches for the evening meals. Then, subbing for the day cook turned into her full-time job.

“It took me a while to catch on,” she says now. “I had to learn how to get it right; I wasn’t used to cooking large, but I knew I loved to cook. I would go home and think about ways to do it right. I got better.”

Connie Lewis 2 She learned how to create flavor with herbs and seasonings, and without the excess salt that many residents can’t have. Residents, she says, “are not shy” about their opinions – or their gratitude.

“Every day, they let me know that they enjoyed the meal,” she says. “If they have an issue, they’ll let me know that, too. I apologize and let them know I’ll try to do better next time.”

Residents have a voice in Homeland’s five-week rotation of menus and so does Lewis. The number of residents ordering a certain dish is her gauge of its popularity and helps determine whether it stays on the menu. Residents can also request items not on the menu, or even bring in their own food – perhaps a juicy steak they purchased – for cooking in the kitchen.

“It’s all about the residents,” Lewis says.

Lasagna is a favorite dish. So is fried chicken. “We don’t serve the residents anything we wouldn’t eat,” says Lewis. “That’s our motto.”

Lewis works from 4:30 a.m. and until 1 p.m., cooking breakfast and lunch. During meals, she goes out and talks with residents, about the food, vacations, or anything else.

“I like to talk to them and listen to their stories,” she says. “Working here has been like a dream come true. I’m so happy that I make the food and it’s good, and everyone enjoys it. That makes me proud.”

Resident Spotlight: For Lura Hile helping others as a nurse was a lifetime goal


Lura Hile

For Lura Hile, helping others as a nurse was a lifetime goal.

Lura Hile always knew she wanted to be a nurse. Even as a girl, she set up a nursing station in the backyard of her Harrisburg home.

“I wanted to be a nurse from the day I was born,” says the Homeland resident. “That was my goal in life, and I became a nurse.”

Hile was born in Harrisburg in the same hospital where she first trained as a nurse. Lura was named after her grandmother on her father’s side, a woman she remembers was “a sweetheart.” Throughout her life, she says, the unusual name “was a good conversation opener.”

She grew up in the city in a neighborhood near Reservoir Park, the hilltop park that affords views for miles. She and her three sisters – Lura was the oldest — would jump rope, play hopscotch, and go sledding down steep, closed roads during the winter. Her father, a truck driver and then office manager for Sun Oil, was a good-natured man who graciously took all the teasing he got about having four daughters and no sons. While he worked hard, his wife and daughters vacationed annually in Wildwood, NJ, staying at a hotel owned by Lura’s aunt and uncle.

“I can’t swim, so I didn’t go too far out in the ocean,” she says.

Lura’s mother was a stay-at-home mom who had once worked as cashier at the Alva Restaurant, a Harrisburg establishment fondly remembered by longtime city residents. She was “a peach,” Lura recalls. “Everybody liked her.” One morning, her mother let the kids sleep in while she went to the market.

“We stayed in bed, and she came home with a bunny rabbit!” Lura recalls.

After graduating from John Harris High School, now Harrisburg High School, Lura immediately pursued her dream of nursing. She trained at Polyclinic Hospital, the uptown Harrisburg facility that’s now a campus of PinnacleHealth.

“I loved taking care of people,” she says. “I always felt I was born to be a nurse.”

Lura met and married George Hile, whose job in the office of Hecht’s Department Store took the young couple to Washington, DC. They lived in the nation’s capital, and Lura continued her nursing career at Providence Hospital, in Northeast Washington. While there, she was named Nurse of the Year, an award she believes she won for her caring attitude toward patients.

Two other children followed after the couple returned to the Harrisburg area. When the kids were older, Lura returned to her beloved nursing.

“I wish I could still do it,” she says today.

At Homeland Center, Lura enjoys every activity she can. She succeeds so readily at bingo that she has to give away all the candy bars she wins. She enjoys books by Beverly Lewis, the Lancaster-born, Christian novelist whose romances feature Amish characters. She does word search puzzles because “they make you think.” A lifelong fitness enthusiast, she continues to enjoy exercise classes.

At Homeland, the food is good, and “everybody’s really nice,” she says. She appreciates the dedication of Homeland nursing staff, who are “really friendly and nice.”
“I think nurses almost have to be nice,” she adds, with the voice of experience. “They have to like people.”

Homeland Center residents get ‘all dolled up’ at beauty shop


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Felicia Wallace reviewed her plan for Janet DeLong’s salon treatment. First, she would put Janet’s shampooed, wet hair in curlers. Then, Janet would sit under the dryer for 15 minutes or so. “Then I’ll take her out and fluff her hair a little bit, and she’ll be all dolled up for the day,” Felicia said.

Welcome to the Homeland Center Beauty Shop, one of the busiest spots in the whole facility. The cheery, two-chair salon is one of the reasons that Homeland Center residents always look their best. With weekly visits to the beauty shop, plus regular manicures performed by activities and clinical staff, the ladies of Homeland always look lovely.

On this Friday morning, Janet is getting her weekly treatment. Some weeks, she gets a perm. Others, it’s a simple set with curlers. “I get whatever it needs,” she said. Janet loves the shop so much that she stops by daily to check on Felicia and her colleague, Charity McCrae. “The shop is very nice, and the girls are both nice. They’re wonderful to talk to, and they do very good work. You leave here; you’re beautiful.”

Felicia considers her work at the shop to be rewarding. “They appreciate it, and this is like the highlight of their week,” she says. “It’s fulfilling to be able to please them. This is a treat for them.” Beauty treatments for the elderly require a few considerations not expected in outside beauty salons. Felicia has been with Homeland for almost nine years, and she is “mindful of how sensitive their skin is.” If her clients fall asleep in the chair and seem comfortable, she doesn’t disturb them.

wallace L delong“After doing it for nine years, you’re used to bending over and leaning sideways and getting wet,” she said. Otherwise, the atmosphere is much like any other beauty shop. Residents and stylists chat and laugh. Felicia loves “getting to know them, their generation and their stories.”

“Their lives were so much different than ours now,” she said. “Everything is so easy now. Sometimes, we take things for granted, and then we hear some of the residents’ stories.” Residents talk about past family vacations or their children. Janet has a son who’s a surgeon in Harrisburg, and a daughter who’s a registered dietitian in Florida, “where it’s nice and warm.”

She got a laugh from Felicia when she shared that her son, as a little boy, “wanted to be a caboose man on a train.”

“About a year or so later, he decided he wanted to own a Dairy Queen,” she said, earning another laugh. “My husband and I liked that idea. We could have ice cream every day.”

Another regular client, Anne Russo, was waiting for her appointment. Felicia, she said, “is great. Her whole demeanor is very professional. She knows her job. She knows what to do. She knows to treat different hair differently.”

After Janet’s hair was dry, Felicia removed the curlers and combed out the freshened style. A coat of hair spray, Felicia said, “and Janet is all dolled up.”

Janet held her head high.

“Do you think I’m ready for Hollywood?”