Fun in the sun at Homeland Center 2017 Summertime Fair


2017 Summertime FairThe Homeland Center parking lot was overflowing, not with cars, but with happy children and their families for the 2017 Summertime Fair. Summer storms held off until the end of the day, and kids enjoyed everything from hot dogs to snow cones and virtual reality games to pony rides.

The Homeland Center Summertime Fair is a highly anticipated annual tradition. Administration, staff, and Board of Managers members collaborate to create a welcoming event that convenes Homeland residents and neighborhood families for a day of fun.

The 2017 version featured some old favorites and new events. Perennially popular pony rides were back, while across the way, kids lined up for a new event – a tent where fairgoers donned virtual reality headsets.

Homeland residents, in the meantime, sat under a giant tent to enjoy lunch while they watched children playing carnival games like ring toss. On this day, those late storms drove the bingo game, a fair highlight, into the Homeland Main Dining Room.

Another annual highlight is the basket raffle, with creative themes, dreamed up by Board of Managers members, ranging from an Italian feast to a cat lover’s collection. As usual, the most popular baskets were those featuring $50 worth of Lottery tickets, and one with a Kindle reader and accessories.

Homeland Board of Managers member Kelly Lick created all the baskets in the pleasing array, but this year’s basket of camping supplies gathered by Board of Managers members Gail Holland and Janet Young — complete with chairs, sleeping bags, and all the fixings needed for s’mores — almost had her stumped.

“This one is just phenomenal,” Lick said. “It’s unbelievable. They made assembling it a rather challenging time for me.” Her solution: A big plastic tub substituted as a basket, and Lick contained it in yards of plastic wrap secured with artfully concealed tape.

2017 Summertime FairAt the yard sale tents, fairgoers checked out shoes, purses, household items, and many other quality goods. In the jewelry section, Homeland resident Marie Smith looked through a basket of earrings.

“There are so many pretty ones in there,” she said. “We could be here all day looking all day, couldn’t we?”

2017 Summertime FairSmith has lived at Homeland for four years. “It’s nice,” she said. “It’s like home.”

Back on the fairground, 4-year-old Anai’ja Clark had her face painted like a cat. “It’s great!” she said about the fair. She even rode the big horse, not the little pony. Anai’ja’s mom, Kristian Mahone, was there because her aunt works at Homeland. She liked “everything” about the fair, she said.

“It’s something for the kids to do,” she said. “It makes people happy.”

Also getting their faces painted were brothers Caden and Cash, sons of Homeland speech pathologist Jessica Cunningham. Since starting work at Homeland in February 2017, she said she loves it.

“I like the facility and the residents and working as a team,” she said. The fair offered the chance to bring her sons to her workplace for some fun, she said. “It’s very enjoyable. The kids love it.”

Jahmelas Bryan brought 23 students from his Lotus Multicultural Learning Center in Swatara Township. All were “having a ball,” he said. “It’s summertime, and they love riding the bus. Any type of field trip is cool. They get cotton candy for free, and ices for free. They’re lining up for the ices very quickly.”

2017 Summertime FairThose snow cones came in peanut butter, grape, orange, blueberry, cherry, and lime flavors. Handing them out were some of the many Homeland staffers dressed in blue “Event Staff” T-shirts and, altogether, had a memorable time.

“We’re having fun getting the residents and kids together,” said CNA Sierra Tenant. “The residents love it. The kids love it. And we have a fun day at work.”

Resident Spotlight: Bob Shaeffer thrives on honesty and fair dealing


Bob ShaefferBob Shaeffer thrives on honesty and fair dealing.

Bob Shaeffer’s career as a salesman for Doubleday put him in touch with everyone from the friendly owners of mom-and-pop bookstore owners to celebrities.

But his greatest satisfaction was derived from a sideline, when he and a good friend teamed up to help people fix up their homes for nothing more than the cost of the supplies.

“Whatever anybody needed, we would do,” he says. “If you had a problem, we’d go solve it for you.”

Homeland resident Shaeffer has been retired from Doubleday, the eminent publishing house, for 20 years. Before launching that 36 year career, he taught school and worked for Prudential. As a Doubleday salesman, he started with a small area of Pennsylvania, and “they just kept adding, adding, adding” territory, until he covered Pennsylvania, New York, and New Jersey.

“It’s easy to work with people,” he says. “Just be honest.”

Building relationships with clients was the key to success.

“We got to the point where they allowed me to order for them,” he recalls. “I didn’t even have to talk to them. You treat somebody right; you have no problems.”

Often, he worked with authors as they publicized their books. He played golf with New York Yankees legends Mickey Mantle and Billy Martin, as notorious for their antics outside the ballpark as their prowess inside it.

“They were crazy,” says Shaeffer. “They were great. Most of the stories about them were true.”

His favorite celebrity, hands down, was Bob Hope. One day, Shaeffer knocked on Hope’s door at a Philadelphia hotel, and the beloved comedian came out singing his theme song, “Thanks for the Memories.”

“He was an extremely nice man, and he was exactly what you saw on television,” Shaeffer says. “I had 250 books of his to sell, and it was no problem. People lined up to meet him. The only problem was, he was hard of hearing. People would talk to him, and I would lean over to tell him what they said.”

Growing up on a farm in Manheim and then in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, Shaeffer learned the art of building and woodworking from his father. His father lived on a farm as a child, where “he learned everything. He was an excellent mechanic. He could fix anything. He was a tremendous person.”

For many years, Shaeffer collaborated with a friend on helping others with their houses, perhaps finishing a basement or repairing something troublesome. The pair enjoyed each other’s company and derived satisfaction from helping others with their hobby. 

“We never cheated anyone. It kept us out of trouble.”

Shaeffer and his late wife, Sandy, raised three children, who grew up to be a police officer, a nurse, and a teacher. At his home in West Hanover Township, outside of Harrisburg, he has 2,000 or 3,000 books, and he still enjoys reading. His reading companion is George, a 16-year-old black cat who curls up on his lap. Shaeffer found George and three feline siblings in the woods when they were kittens so small that all four fit in the palm of his hand.

Homeland, Shaeffer says, “is very nice here,” he says. “I like the people.”

“I’ve been very fortunate in my life,” he adds. “I’ve worked with a lot of nice people, and it was always appreciated – by me.”

Employee Spotlight: Quality assurance coordinator Amanda Schrader strives for excellence


Amanda SchraderQuality Assurance Coordinator Amanda Schrader strives for excellence!

In January 2016, Amanda Schrader had a new job at Homeland Center, a husband busy with his own work overseeing a prison medical unit, and two boys, ages 1 and 3.

“I decided that was the perfect time in my life to go back to school,” she says. “Why not? I’m crazy.”

The pursuit of knowledge, even in the face of daunting demands, is a defining feature of Schrader’s life. At Homeland, she is Quality Assurance Performance Improvement/Education Coordinator, responsible for the rigorous pursuit of consistent excellence.

Schrader grew up in Pennsylvania and North Dakota with a medical family. Her dad is an anesthesiologist, now living and practicing in Williamsport.

“Medicine was always part of my life but it never occurred to me until halfway through my senior year in high school that nursing was something I wanted to do,” she says. “Once I decided on nursing, I just stayed with it.”

Her nursing studies have taken her from North Dakota to Williamsport, working by day and studying by night. She expects to finish her bachelor’s degree in nursing from Grand Canyon University in November 2017.

Schrader’s husband of seven years, Josh, is a lieutenant at the Pennsylvania State Correctional Institute at Camp Hill, where he oversees the medical complex.

“It’s fun,” says Schrader. “He knows he can talk to me about the medical stuff going on and I won’t get grossed out.”

She and her husband devote their off-work time to the boys, Harrison, 5, and Nathan, 2 and a half. They go to science centers and zoos, parks and pools. Sometimes, family time is as basic as sitting on the deck in their rural home.

“When you have a stressful day at work, you have to be so cautious with the kids,” she says. “You can’t take away their childhood because you have a bad day.” Then she added, “Harrison and I had a pillow fight before I left for work this morning.”

At Homeland Center, Schrader first worked in the Ellenberger dementia unit. There, she honed her skills in catching the nonverbal cues from residents to indicate a need.

Amanda Schrader with resident“You have to completely know and be in tune with everything that goes on because they can’t say to you, ‘My back hurts,’” she says. “Maybe they’re calling out, and all they need is a Tylenol because their back hurts. Maybe they’re looking for the bathroom, but they can’t tell you that.”

Homeland is the right place for her because its standards of quality care for residents match her own.

“The people who have been here 10, 20, or 30 years, they’re the ones who make Homeland what it is,” she says. “I came on board and make sure the quality continues to be there.”

The days can be pressure-filled. It helps, she says, that “there’s a whole team of quality assurance people in the building.”

“Everyone’s busy, but there’s never a moment when they make you feel like there’s something more important,’’ she said. “That’s what makes this place different. This is such a supportive family.”

Residents and their families feel the difference.

“When you feel included and appreciated and supported, it’s one less thing weighing on your mind when you’re providing care for someone,” Schrader says. “It’s easier to leave stress outside the door because when you come inside, you feel safe and you feel protected. It’s all about the residents.”

Homeland Activities: Kids bring their energy to story time


Kids bring their energy to story time

Homeland Center Activities Coordinator Dee Smith strides into the Homeland Solarium and the children lining the benches sit up and smile.

“How is everyone?” Smith says brightly. “Good? Good! Nice day out today! Which stories are we going to read today?”

It’s Story Time at Homeland. Twice a month in the summer the children from McLamb Memorial Church Day Care Center walk just around the corner from their child care to Homeland. The first- through third-graders hear Smith read a story, while residents watch and smile.

Today, Smith reads “Pizza and Other Stinky Poems.”

“Onions are round, and yellow and smelly,” she begins. “No one would eat them with strawberry jelly.” From there, the poems continue, and the kids giggle over the idea of Irish stew that tastes like glue.

“The book rhymes!” one boy says. Another child alertly corrects Smith when she mistakenly reads the word “sitter” as “sister.”Kids bring their energy to story time

After poems about the joys of growing watermelon and the futility of getting peanut butter off the roof of your mouth, Smith comes to one about ice cream.

“Ice cream!” she says. “Remember this? ‘I scream. You scream.’” The kids join in and so do the Homeland residents. “’We all scream for ice cream!’”

After the reading, Smith shares a treat – Dunkin’ Donuts for everyone. When Smith asks if anyone knows a word that rhymes with donut, no one can think of anything, but one student suggests, “Ronut?” All agree it was a nice try.Kids bring their energy to story time

Homeland resident Shirley Miller thoroughly enjoys the encounter.

“It’s wonderful,” she says. “Just the fact that we get to see little children is nice. These children are so well-behaved.”

One girl named Jan’Yae was actively engaged in the activity, answering all of Smith’s questions and riveted by the poetry readings.  “They were stinky,” she says.

The day care’s head teacher, Chinia Plant, said the kids love coming to Homeland. They enjoy hearing Smith read to them, looking at the birds in the solarium aviary, and singing at the end of the program. If they miss a day, one boy named Jermaine always asks, “When are we going to Homeland? We missed our trip to Homeland.”

“I look forward to it, too,” says Plant. “The staff are very nice to us.

They treat our kids with nothing but love.”

Jermaine said he likes to come to Homeland for the donuts and to see the residents.

“They’re happy,” he said.

Seeing all the children “brings back a lot of memories of when you were a child yourself,” says Homeland resident Ray Caldwell. “We didn’t have anything like this in school. We had recess. That was just a time to get together and play a game or two, and then you went right back in. This is a nice outing for the kids.”

Caldwell remembers that his parents had two books depicting the First World War. “I used to love to sit on the couch with my dog Spot, and I would look at those pictures,” he says.

As the children were leaving, Smith asked for hugs, and they happily complied. Smith joined Homeland in early 2017 and is “loving it.”

“I love what it stands for,” she says. “You can see the staff cares. I come here to do a job and make other people feel good, and they have no idea how good they make me feel.”

As for the visits from the kids, Smith loves their energy.

“I love the way they interact with the older generation,” she says. “It brings out the residents’ inner child. It spruces them up. You can just see the energy when the kids are around.”

Homeland Center Wins Harrisburg Magazine Readers’ Choice Award for 6TH straight year


2017 READERS CHOICE For the sixth year in a row, Harrisburg Magazine’s more than 50,000 readers voted Homeland Center as Readers’ Choice for Best Long-Term Care Facility.

The Readers’ Choice honor comes as Homeland is celebrating its 150th Anniversary and on the heels of achieving a perfect 5.0 score in U.S News and World Report’s Best Nursing Homes 2016-17.

“This recognition is truly a testament to our committed staff, which both care about our residents and consider them family,” said Barry Ramper II, Homeland’s president and CEO. “For generations, families have counted on Homeland to look after their loved ones and this recognition underscores the commitment we have to provide the highest quality care to our community.”

Chartered as the Home for the Friendless in 1867, Homeland originally sheltered destitute women and homeless children, including Civil War widows and orphans. Today, occupying a full city block in uptown Harrisburg, Homeland is the home of 145 residents. Fifty individuals (some married couples) occupy contemporary suites; another 95 are cared for in Skilled Nursing Units, 24 of which are devoted to the care of those with Alzheimer’s and dementia related diseases.

No resident in financial distress has ever been asked to leave, and Homeland’s commitment to charitable, uncompensated care stands as a resource for the community. A nonprofit, 501(c)(3) organization, Homeland relies on the generous support of our friends and neighbors to continue helping the less fortunate. To find out how you can make a difference, call 717-221-7900 or go to

In keeping with its goal to meet the community’s needs, Homeland unveiled two new services in 2016 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.

Homeland Hospice, soon to celebrate 10 years of serving Central PA, has a team of caring professionals certified in both adult and pediatric care.

“Since we opened our doors 150 years ago our mission may have changed, but our commitment to providing quality care has never wavered,” Ramper said. “We never stop looking for ways to meet the medical and social needs of Central Pennsylvania.”