Charles Osgood enjoys the home-like atmosphere of Homeland


Osgood plays for residents

So many men were lost during the Civil War that places were needed to shelter their widows and orphans. That’s the piece of history that made an impression on retired CBS News Sunday Morning anchor Charles Osgood when he came to Homeland Center as part of its 150th anniversary celebration.

Osgood was the keynote speaker for Homeland’s May 7 gala at the Hilton Harrisburg. Earlier in the day, he visited Homeland, entertaining residents in the main dining room by playing popular songs on the piano and sharing a few stories from his time in the news and political arenas.

Osgood opened by playing “Gallant Men,” the 1967 Top-40 hit he had co-written while announcer for the United States Army Band. The Grammy-winning recording included lyrics spoken by U.S. Senate Majority Leader Everett Dirksen, known for his mellifluous voice.

That song recalled a memory of Dirksen that Osgood shared. For 16 years, Osgood said, Dirksen and then-Sen. Lyndon Baines Johnson traded the office of majority leader as their caucuses won control of the chamber. Every night, the two would sit down over bourbon to make deals and plot out the next day’s legislative agenda. Although “there was no question which one was the Democrat and which one was the Republican,” they “were prepared to help each other do the job of the Senate.”

“It’s really unthinkable now,” Osgood said. “It’s a crying shame, and I think we need to get back to those days. I have a particular fondness for bourbon, as a result.”

At the piano, Osgood played a variety of standards and old tunes, from “You Are My Sunshine” to “My Wild Irish Rose.” Taking requests, he loved playing “New York, New York,” because it recalled the city that is his home.

While working at a New York City radio station Osgood discovered that he was good at “taking something that was in the news and writing about it.” Co-worker Ted Koppel went to work for CBS News in television and suggested that they consider Osgood.

That put Osgood in the orbit of legendary CBS News anchor Walter Cronkite, who taught him that “you’re not supposed to let the audience know how you feel about the news. Of course, today, that’s all washed out.”

In his years in gathering news and conducting interviews, the main thing Osgood learned “is that I don’t know anything. Ask questions by all means, but listen. Don’t just go to the second question without really hearing.”

Residents meet Osgood

When it came time for Homeland residents to ask questions, some teased him. “Do you realize that you’re one of the youngest men in the room?” one asked the 84-year-old news legend.

Osgood admitted to a few ailments of aging and added that he’d be happy at Homeland.

“Senior citizens, of which I am one, should be given an opportunity to have an active and pleasant life,” he told the residents. “You’re living it.”

“You’re always welcome here!” a resident responded.

Osgood felt the home-like atmosphere that the Homeland community is proud to cultivate.

“I couldn’t imagine better friends than the staff and the people who work with you,” he told the residents. “It doesn’t seem like an institution at all. You know what it seems like? Home.”


Resident Spotlight: Betty Wise finds joy in painting


Betty Wise Betty Wise enjoys sharing her paintings with family and friends, but there is one painting she will never give away. It’s her first, a view of rowboats on a shimmering blue ocean. She copied from a picture in a book and after she had finished, Betty’s art teacher said, “You’re going to be a painter.”

Today, Betty is a 10-year resident of Homeland who is known for her enjoyment of painting and devotion to attending Homeland’s regular art classes.

The native of Tower City, Pennsylvania, grew up with four sisters and one brother. Their dad was a miner who passed on his love of vegetable gardening to Betty. Their mother was a garment worker.

Betty always wanted to be a hairdresser, but for miners’ families, strikes were a fact of life, and money for schooling wasn’t available. To indulge her love for hairdressing, Betty would go into homes up and down the street, charging 25 cents to put up the girls’ hair in pin curls. That evening, she would undo the pins, and “everybody would go to the dance with their hair all done up.”

Even today, Betty loves to have her hair done, saving quarters won from playing bingo for her weekly trip to Homeland’s popular beauty shop.

Betty was a senior in high school when she met her husband, Pat, a native of nearby Gratz, at a Tower City dance hall. In 1940, they came to Harrisburg, where Pat worked driving a cement truck and with the railroad. During World War II, he served in the U.S. Navy, stationed in the South Pacific.

One day in Harrisburg, an insurance company supervisor knocked on the door and ended up offering Pat a job.

“Oh, Pat, you can’t sell insurance,” Betty remembers saying, but then she laughs. “He turned out to be their top salesman. He could sell anything.”

The couple led an active life in the Harrisburg suburbs, where they raised two daughters. They often hosted neighbors at cookouts. While Pat worked in insurance, Betty enjoyed working as a secretary for state government.

boat painting Betty discovered her artistic side when she was in Delaware, where she and Pat would go crabbing and fishing for 15 years after they retired. She met an art teacher who invited Betty to join a class, where Betty produced the boat painting that still hangs on the wall in her Homeland personal care suite.

At Homeland, Betty learned about art classes taught by Harrisburg artist Barbara Passeri-Warfel. “I just liked her the minute I met her,” Betty says. “I stayed with her, and I turned out to be a painter.” Betty enjoys painting flowers and birds. She once traded shopping bags with a somewhat dumbfounded woman in Boscov’s because the other woman’s bag depicted just the kind flower painting of big flower that Betty wanted to paint.

Now taught by Taqiyya Muhammad, the classes continue teaching Betty new techniques, such as sketching. Each new work has the potential to hang on her wall or to be given away to anyone who likes it. When she’s not painting, Betty also enjoys reading – another skill passed on to her by her father. Her favorite is bestselling novelist Nora Roberts.

“I can lose myself in reading,” she says.

Homeland Center celebrates change and tradition in 150th anniversary gala


Gala crowd shot websize A beacon of care and stability. A model for change.

This is the Homeland Center that was celebrated on May 7, 2017, when Homeland’s many friends gathered to celebrate the 150th anniversary of a storied Harrisburg institution.

Homeland’s 150th anniversary gala, held at the Hilton Harrisburg, was noted for its elegance, its reverence for the past, and its confidence in a bright future.

In 1867, 18 Harrisburg women pooled their energies and talents to create “The Home for the Friendless.” Originally meant to shelter Civil War widows and orphans, it evolved over 150 years to become Homeland Center, the region’s premier Continuing Care Retirement Community and service provider.

Few central Pennsylvania organizations can boast the longevity of Homeland, and the anniversary event attracted 400 people representing all corners of the region’s business, culture, and nonprofit segments.

Co-chairs John K. Stark and Marion Alexander kicked off the festivities, with Stark sharing his deep family ties to Homeland. His grandmother, Katherine “Kitty” Kunkel, was president of the Board of Managers, instrumental in instilling Homeland’s lasting commitment to the residents’ comfort and someone who “truly loved Homeland and passed that appreciation to me.” Grandfather Congressman John Crain Kunkel grew up behind Market Square Presbyterian Church, original meeting place of Homeland’s founders.

The night’s featured guest, retired CBS News Sunday Morning host Charles Osgood, entertained the crowd with songs at the piano and memories of his career in the news business. He opened by saying that he is “agape at the significant achievement you are celebrating tonight.”

“What you have done here for all this time is so effective and so beautiful that it should be a model for the rest of this country,” he said.

Osgood at Gala He said that he had met Homeland residents earlier that day and played piano for them, too. There was one song he particularly wanted to play, he said, before launching into “Happy Birthday.” By the time he reached “Happy birthday, dear Homeland,” the crowd was singing along.

Board of Trustees Chair Morton Spector mused on “how amazed and how proud Homeland’s founders would be today. In a time without a social safety net, they had the vision to create a new beacon of caring. Today, that commitment guides us in a host of ways.”

Last year, Spector said, Homeland provided almost $3 million in charitable care, “and no resident in financial distress has ever been asked to leave.” He offered a toast “to all who have given their passion for service as a gift to our community.”

Gala guests were entertained by the renowned Steve Rudolph Trio, with jazzman Rudolph at the piano. He also accompanied entertainers Rick Stevens and Debbie Smith, singing reflections on Homeland’s unique nature to the tunes of such familiar songs as “New York, New York.”

“Our mission is prime. Our care is sublime. And I’ll make sure you’re part of it, Homeland, Homeland!” Stevens sang.

A custom-produced video spanned Homeland’s history, from its founding in the wake of the Civil War, to its expansion into today’s comprehensive service provider, featuring personal care suites, skilled nursing care, dementia unit, and hospice, home health, and home care services. The expansive facility is crowned by its hallmark circular conservatory, part of the 24-bed dementia unit.

“Seen at night, the conservatory’s glowing panes mark Homeland as a true beacon of care,” the video narrator noted.

Homeland’s founders – those 18 women and the seven-member Board of Trustees charged with business and financial matters – “didn’t start with any money. They started with a conviction,” said President and CEO Barry S. Ramper II. “They started with principles they believed in. They then acted upon those principles.”

Homeland has survived 150 years because “thousands of individuals have not wavered on those convictions,” Ramper added. The entire staff is outstanding, not only because of their skill sets, “but because they have a heart that is second to none.”

The founders made wise decisions that allowed Homeland Center, plus the more recent creations of Homeland Hospice, Homeland HomeCare, and Homeland HomeHealth, to thrive by staying true to “the original, fundamental, total commitment they had 150 years ago,” he said.

Barry at Gala “They made something that today we only have a responsibility to make stronger,’’ Ramper said. “Fifty years or 100 years from now, our names are meaningless, but the goal is for it to be able to be said by someone 100 years from now, ‘They did a good job in 2017 in preparing us for the world we’re in today,’ just as those in 1867 did an outstanding job in preparing the world that we are in.”Barry Osgood

As the evening closed, Stark announced that the event had been a success “in more ways than one,” spotlighting not just the milestone anniversary but Homeland’s adherence to benevolent care, which the gala benefited, providing care even when residents run out of resources.

“Homeland Center exists because of our community generosity and willingness to help others,” said Stark. “For our residents and their families, words cannot fully express join in knowing their loved ones have a safe and secure home.”


Employee Spotlight: For 49 years Pauline Neal delivers joy


Pauline Neal For 49 years, Pauline Neal delivers joy!

Pauline Neal has trained thousands of Homeland employees, and she tells them all the same thing she heard when she was hired in 1959.

“Always remember that this facility doesn’t belong to anyone but the people who live here,” the Homeland matron told Pauline. “It’s their home. It’s not ours. We’re invited guests in their home, and we’re paid invited guests.”

The native of Huntingdon, PA, first worked in Harrisburg facilities as a nurses’ aide. She never worked in a nursing capacity for Homeland, but for 49 years, she has held multiple caregiving roles – as director of housekeeping and linens, food services director, resident liaison, and now, part-time receptionist.

A mainstay for nearly one-third of Homeland’s 150 years, Pauline has touched countless lives through her attention to detail, her empathy for residents and families, and her devotion to keeping the “home” in Homeland.

Pauline’s first Homeland job, cleaning rooms to prepare for inspection of newly constructed wings, was meant to last one week. On the second morning, the assistant superintendent told her he had inspected every room and wanted to discuss the quality of her work. The young Pauline waited for the ax to fall.

The rooms were spotless, he said. And then he asked, “How would you like a full-time job here?”

In those days, three trunks in the basement were filled with baby clothes, recalling the time when Homeland accepted children. The washing machine required a staffer manning a pedal to run the spin cycle. The person running the behemoth dryer set the temperature by reaching in to adjust the gas flame. When new laundry equipment arrived, doors into the basement had to be enlarged to fit it all.

“It was a mess, but it was so much fun,” Pauline recalls. “Everything that we had here involved all the employees. There wasn’t one department that was better than the other.”

Pauline’s years coincided with Homeland’s concerted efforts to comply with rising regulations and instill excellence as its hallmark. She would tell staff, “Everyone is a special guest and should be treated as such.”

When the nearby Three Mile Island nuclear plant nearly melted down in 1979, Pauline and Homeland staff packed up clothing and medications, and then boarded residents on two buses and “I don’t know how many ambulances.” For five days, the evacuees lived in a former tuberculosis sanatorium and the dorms of Wilson College, both in Chambersburg, where Pauline and colleagues kept watch.

“We made sure they were fed and bathed and tried to do activities to keep them occupied,” she says. “Nobody got sick. That was traumatic for a lot of those people. You had to be very calm.”

After retiring in 2004, Pauline served as a part-time resident liaison, ensuring that residents and families got everything they needed. She remains in touch with many families. They bring her peanut butter eggs at Easter and send flowers on Mother’s Day. The stack of thank-you cards she keeps at the front desk includes one from a former resident’s daughter.

“Thank you for all your help, support, expertise and kindness when my mother was in Homeland,” the note reads. “You are a class act.”

Such sentiments mean the world to Pauline. She believes she is blessed because she found a job as a young woman and landed among people “who cared about me enough to help me grow.”

“My dedication is to the residents and their families,” she says. “I was taught that you put Jesus first, others second, and yourself last, and you will always have joy.”

THANK YOU for your support of our 150th Anniversary Celebrations!


Homeland Center
150th Anniversary Gala

May 7, 2017

Thank you to our sponsors, patrons and friends!

Anniversary Year Sponsor
The John Crain Kunkel Foundation

Celebrity Sponsor
John M. Arnold

Diamond Sponsor
Harold E. Mauery

Platinum Plus Sponsor
Capital BlueCross
Fulton Financial Advisors at Fulton Bank

Platinum Sponsor
Bryn Mawr Trust
Lou Hepschmidt
The Benjamin Olewine III Family

Gold Sponsor
AFR Foundation
Lamar Advertising Company
M & T Bank
Morton and Alyce Spector
R. S. Mowery & Sons

Silver Sponsor
Marion C. and William H. Alexander
Glen and Nancy Bergert
Mr. and Mrs. Steve Davenport
Delta Dental of Pennsylvania
Bradford Dorrance, Keefer Wood Allen & Rahal, LLP
Edwin L. Heim Co.
Geisinger Holy Spirit
Highmark Blue Shield
Hilton Harrisburg
Carlton and Shirley Hughes
L. B. Smith Ford Lincoln
Nick’s 114 Cafe
Paytime, Inc.
Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center
Gary and Sylvie St. Hilaire
Conrad and Gail Siegel from the Second Anonymous In and Out Fund of TFEC
Janet Rittner Young and Family

Bronze Sponsor
Frank and Carlyn Chulick
Conrad M. Siegel Inc.
Gannett Fleming Inc.
Gatter & Diehl, Inc.
Hetrick-Bitner Funeral Home
LeTort Trust
Mette, Evans & Woodside – Attorneys at Law
Pecht and Associates, PC
The Foundation for Enhancing Communities
The Heath & Eleanor Allen Family
The Jewish Community Foundation of Central Pennsylvania
The Robert and Angela Ortenzio Family Foundation
Rosewein, OLCAM, PAG Enterprises; CEO, Peggy Grove
David Skerpon and Christopher Baldrige
Phoenix Contact, Inc.
Joseph and Alicia Stine
William and Sherry Stout
Vartan Group, Inc.
Henry and Peggy Weaver
Wilsbach Distributors, Inc.

Karen S. Ball
Lora Bierce
BNY Mellon Wealth Management
Brown & Brown of Pennsylvania
Nicol M. Brown/Brown Family
Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney, PC
Dennis and Sandra Dinger
Joy and Jill Dougherty
Patricia and Rolen Ferris
Evelyn M. Fry
Joseph Hafer and Marki Cady
Triple Crown Corporation
The Hall Foundation
Betty C. Hungerford
Intrada/PRWorks, Inc.
Alice M. Kirchner
KPMG, LLP, Joseph Seibert
Carolyn L. Kunkel
Marty Lane and Sherry Phillips
Ken and Karen Lehman
Kelly Lick
Jeffrey and Sharon Mattern
Mid Penn Bank
Susan E. Minarik
Morgan Stanley Wealth Management
On-Line Publishers, Inc.
Michael and Shelly Page
Eugene and Sandy Pepinsky
Dr. and Mrs. Thomas Pheasant
Barry and Kathy Ramper
Jim and Pam Ramsey
Reynolds Enterprises, Inc.
RSR Realtors – William Rothman
Edward and Kathleen Savage
Donald and Barbara Schell
Donald and Sally Springer
Jennifer Tate-DeFreitas
Mr. and Mrs. Charles E. Thomas, Jr.
David W. Volkman

Alexander Building Construction
Ed and Susan Batista
Jesse Beshore
C.F. Acri and Son, Inc.
Katherine Costabile
CliftonLarsonAllen, LLP
Endodontics Associates
Charles K. Fetterhoff, Jr., D.M.D.
G. R. Sponaugle & Sons, Inc.
Mrs. Smith B. Gephart
Greenworks, Inc.
Gunn Mowery
Sally S. Klein
McCoy Brothers, Inc.
Steven Neiman
Peggy Purdy
Pyramid Construction Inc.
Smigel, Anderson & Sacks
Stanley A. Smith
The Donald Healey Group

We’ve worked diligently to include all sponsors, patrons and friends in this list and will update it with additional information as needed.