Homeland volunteer shares chats and cookies with residents


Henry Weaver Don Englander for websiteFor three years, Henry Weaver’s mother-in-law lived at Homeland Center, and she always had visitors.

Weaver’s wife, Peggy, visited Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays. Henry Weaver came on Sundays, joining her for lunch in the dining room.

“She was well-loved by people here,” Henry Weaver says. Though her husband had never called her anything but Elizabeth, “when she came here, she was affectionately known as Lizzie.”

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Employee Spotlight: Carmella “BJ” Williams


Carmella “BJ” Williams brings artistry and heart to Homeland’s kitchen!

Carmella “BJ” Williams was standing by the flea market booth at Homeland’s annual summer fair when a resident’s son approached and said, “I just want to thank you for everything that you do.”

It meant the world to her.

“It came out of nowhere,” she said. “He just came up and hugged me.”

During Homeland’s 150th anniversary year, Williams celebrates a milestone of her own. October 22, 2017 is her 25th anniversary of working at Homeland, rising from kitchen staff to assistant director of nutritional services.

Williams was 20 years old, working at a Harrisburg Burger King when she applied for a part-time position in Homeland’s dietary department. She was nervous, but she took advantage of every opportunity to be trained and work her way up to supervisor.

From helping to unload the food delivery trucks to once spending months with a coworker preparing meals on two standard home stoves during Homeland’s kitchen renovation, Williams is committed to getting the job done right.

Training as a prep cook early in her career meant making desserts, even though baking took her out of her comfort zone. Her Homeland supervisors taught her not to give up, and she shares that lesson with trainees today.

“You make a mistake, you try it over,” she said. “That’s the only way you’re going to learn from your mistakes.”

When she first joined Homeland, Williams hadn’t completed high school. Then, at her sister’s GED graduation ceremony, her sister said, “You helped me out. Now it’s time for you to get yours.”

Williams earned a diploma through a Cumberland Valley High School adult education program. She even went to the prom, with her aunt’s boyfriend as her date.

At graduation, friends and family were there, and so was a Homeland resident and her family. Williams remains grateful to the many Homeland residents who helped her earn that diploma. They helped with math, science, and history.

At home, Williams and her wife of three years enjoy entertaining friends. Williams does the cooking, but she has learned the differences between cooking at home and cooking for Homeland residents. At Homeland, attention to the dietary needs of residents comes first, followed closely by their enjoyment of every meal.

“This is their home,” she said. “This is their food. We’re going to make sure these residents get what they order.”

She knows that any outside pressures she brings to the job will dissipate as soon as she talks with residents and hears their stories. She loves putting smiles on their faces, and they are “very appreciative” for their meals every day.

“You’re going to hear the good, the bad, and the ugly,” she said, “but most of the time, it’s the good, and that’s what makes my day.”

Homeland resident Genevieve Cutshall celebrates 100th birthday


Genevieve CutshallIn 1917, Homeland Center celebrated its 50th anniversary. It was a time of compassion and progress. The facility was expanding, even installing Harrisburg’s first elevator.

Also in 1917, Genevieve Culbertson Cutshall was born in Mt. Union, Pennsylvania. It was the beginning of a life that would include trips to all 50 states. In September 2017, as Homeland celebrated its 150th anniversary, Mrs. Cutshall celebrated her 100th birthday with a party in Homeland’s Olewine Diner.

Mrs. Cutshall grew up in a loving family, even when circumstances separated them. She was 6 months old when her father died, and her grandparents helped raise her. When her mother remarried and went to work in Pittsburgh, she said, her grandparents pleaded, “Please don’t take Genie.”

In high school, she played clarinet in the band, enjoying invitations to perform at events such as an apple blossom festival in Virginia. In a 30-member band with only three girls, the boys “were very protective of us. It was always fun.”

Jobs were hard to find in 1935, the year she graduated from high school, but she was lucky. A good friend who worked at the G.C. Murphy five-and-dime got her a job at the store. She remembers telling her family: “I don’t care where they put me, but I hope it’s not in hardware.”

“Well, I guess you know where I landed,” she said with a laugh. “I landed in hardware, and consequently, by the time I was there a couple of years, I had hardware, electric, glassware, dinnerware. I had the whole shmear that I had to take care of.”

She learned to love working in hardware. When customers sought a particular item, she would ask what it was for, and they would gladly tell her.

In 1939, she married Raymond Cutshall, the drum major from that high school band. He was just one of the gang until the night they were walking to their homes, and he was with her every step of the way until they arrived at her front door.

Fortune smiled on her again, because Raymond’s father worked for the Pennsylvania Railroad and helped his son get a job as a passenger conductor and the couple later moved to Harrisburg. During World War II he continued in his job working on the railroad, which was considered an essential occupation because of the need to transport troops.

Mrs. Cutshall went to work for Nationwide Insurance as a transfer underwriter, enjoying her role in reviewing applications. She and Raymond also drove the great American highways and byways, with occasional plane trips, to see anything and everything they wanted to see, from the Statue of Liberty to the Grand Canyon.

Over time, they logged visits to all 50 states.

“We met a lot of people,” she said. “There weren’t many things I didn’t see. I was a lucky lady.”

After 65 years of marriage, Raymond died in 2000. Mrs. Cutshall continued enjoying the love of “two wonderful brothers” and their families. She first saw Homeland while visiting a neighbor’s mother.

“I said maybe someday I’ll come here,” she said. “I made up my mind right then. To me, it felt like home.”

Genevieve Cutshall celebrates 100th birthdayGenevieve Cutshall celebrates 100th birthdaySince arriving at Homeland in March 2008, she spends time with family and friends and enjoying crafts. As for that 100th birthday party thrown by family, she said, “It’s nice of them, but it’s just another day.”

She has no secret to reaching 100.

“My mother lived to be 102, so I know where it came from,” she said. “I’m just here. I never did anything special. I’ve been lucky. Let’s put it that way.”

Homeland Center fish fry serves up haddock, shrimp, and memories


Homeland Center fish fry

When it comes to childhood memories of fish dinners, opinions are divided.

“When my mom made fish, I didn’t like it,” said Gloria Walters.

“I always liked fish, and I used to love to go fishing,” said Sarah Lewis.

However, on a pleasant, sunny September day, Homeland residents found common ground. They all enjoyed the fish fry held in the Homeland Chet Henry Memorial Pavilion, named in honor of a former resident who was Harrisburg’s youngest fire chief and Pennsylvania’s first state fire commissioner.

The fish fry is part of a series of special events designed by and for residents to celebrate Homeland’s 150th anniversary. All the events are being funded by the generous support of John M. Arnold in memory of his late parents, John and Barbara Arnold.

Planned activities through spring 2018 include trips to see “Pippin” in Lancaster and “The Lion King” in New York City. Also planned are a recital by Harrisburg Symphony Orchestra Conductor Stuart Malina and friends, a casino night, and an hors-d’oeuvres party for family and friends.

The fish fry on this ideal September Friday attracted a large, appreciative crowd. The menu featured haddock and shrimp prepared by Homeland staff in a steaming, bubbling fryer, plus coleslaw and potato salad.

“It gets you outdoors on a perfect day,” said resident Phoebe Berner. “And you can eat the fish with your hands. Sometimes, it’s the only way.”

Next to her, Shirley Miller admitted that she doesn’t eat shrimp, but “you can give it away. You can treat someone else with it.”

At another table, Lura Louise Hile had a different shrimp strategy. She pronounced the shrimp very good, before admitting, “I already ate the shrimp.”

Geoffrey Davenport declared the fish “cooked perfectly.” He should know because his family owned a legendary Harrisburg restaurant, the fondly remembered Davenport’s.

“It’s nice and crisp on the outside, flavorful on the inside,” he said. “It tastes like fish – good fish.”

Gloria Walters, the one who didn’t like fish growing up (maybe because her mom cooked food to accommodate her dad’s refusal to wear his partial dentures), liked the fish on this day. She sat at the table with her sister, Fern Sucec.

The two are Homeland residents living in different wings. They get together whenever they can, catching up on their daily lives and laughing over shared memories. Fern “was bad,” Gloria said, “but then, she was a lot older.” For her part, Fern remembers giving baths to her younger siblings.

“She used to holler, ‘You got soap in my eyes!’” Fern said. “I said, ‘Well, hold still and I won’t get soap in your eyes.’ I’m glad that business is over.”

As residents finished their fish and shrimp, members of Homeland’s Board of Managers began circulating with trays of strawberry cheesecake and banana pudding.

Homeland Center fish fry“Anybody want a second dessert?” Gail Holland offered. “I’m not going to be very good to your diets.”

For Sarah Lewis, a Homeland resident since February 2017, the fish fry brought back memories of fishing with her cousins in Mississippi. They would catch perch and catfish. Then they would clean and salt it, getting ready to enjoy their catch.

“We did it in cornmeal,” she said. “We fried it.”

Sarah said she has lived in other nursing homes, and Homeland is the best, “all the way around. The food is good. I’m well taken care of, and that’s the most important thing.”

Homeland: A History of Caring since 1867