Homeland family gathers for the holiday


Homeland family gathers for the holidayMusic? Check. Santa hats? Check. Heaps of homemade food? Check.

On a Friday evening in December, residents and their guests agreed that Homeland’s annual holiday party has all the makings of a family gathering at home.

Every year, Homeland residents invite their friends and family to this spirited celebration of the holidays. Throughout the building, hundreds of people mingle, catch up, and of course, enjoy delectables made with love by the Homeland staff.

In the second-floor skilled care dining room, residents Betty Dumas and Helen Schroll adorned matching outfits of bright red vests bedecked with glittery snowmen. The two coincidentally wore the same outfit the first year that Betty arrived at Homeland, in 2015. Since then, their daughters, Donna Longnaker and Pat Fortenbraugh, have gone shopping together to maintain the tradition.

Betty Dumas and Helen Scroll“Last year we went to get our mothers a red vest with Santa Clause on it, and this year, we got them with snowmen,” said Donna. “I love this. It’s so fun. I think everybody loves being here and hearing music, and all the food’s good.”

Homeland, she added, has been wonderful. “Everybody’s so nice. They take good care of Mom.”

Betty Dumas said she likes everything about the holiday party. “The singing,” she said. “The food.”

Music was as plentiful as food. Anthony Haubert, pianist, played holiday tunes on Homeland’s Steinway grand piano in the main dining room. A honky-tonk guitarist in the chapel played decidedly non-Christmas blues riffs and Hank Williams songs, to the delight of dancing residents and staff.

In the first-floor skilled care dining room, a fiddle-hammered dulcimer duo played “Oh Come All Ye Faithful” and other carols in soothing tones. Above, in the second-floor dining room, John Kelly sang and played upbeat holiday classics on guitar, accompanied by his wife, Joreen, on keyboard. Kelly’s weekly song sessions on Sunday afternoons are a favorite among Homeland residents.

Tables loaded with turkey, beef tenderloin, chicken wings, macaroni and cheese, potato salad, vegetables, cookies, and pies were in every dining area. Amid the bustle of the main dining room, Homeland’s day cook, Connie Lewis, watched residents and guests enjoy the staff’s creations.

“We did it all,” said Lewis. “I make the macaroni and cheese every year. We make the meatballs. We make the sauce. We put the sauce on the chicken. We put this all together from early this morning. This has been going on all week long, preparing for this.”

All the hard work is worth it, she said.

“We look forward to this every year, Lewis said. “It’s my pleasure to help people be happy.”

Upstairs, in the Homeland solarium, Sue Fortney, daughter of resident Maryanne Walker, gave a big hug to Dietary Supervisor/CNA Aprile Greene, dressed in a long red-and-green stocking cap.

“She’s our angel,” Walker said. “She feeds my mom. She’s so kind and friendly. She’s very cheerful. She does a great job. She loves her work.”

The holiday party is “always nice,” said Fortney, who was attending the party with her father, brother, and sister. “It gives us a chance to get together. This is like coming to grandma’s.”

Employee Spotlight: Jackie Roy brings grandmother’s lessons to work and life


Jackie RoyJackie Roy brings grandmother’s lessons to work and life.

Jackie Roy’s grandmother taught her how to cook and how to bake a cake from scratch. More importantly, Lula Mae Sellers taught her granddaughter lessons in being a good manager.

“If you’re ever in charge of people,” she would say, “treat your staff well, and they’ll work well for you.”

It seemed irrelevant at the time, but now, her grandmother’s prescient words are with Jackie every day. From starting at Homeland Center as a housekeeper in November 2007, she has risen to assistant director of housekeeping and laundry.

“She was right,” Jackie says of her grandmother’s advice. “You have to come to people with the respect you want in return, and it works well. I live by her words.”

Jackie joined Homeland at a difficult time in her life. She had worked cleaning jobs in state government and nursing facilities, but she was mourning her grandmother’s death when the call came for a Homeland interview. Getting the job and interacting with residents and families helped her snap out of her blues – perhaps a sign that Lula Mae was still watching over the granddaughter she called Peaches.

“I was definitely her girl,” Jackie says.

With her love for cleaning, she had no trouble earning accolades on the job, and one day, her supervisor said he wanted to talk. She was being promoted to supervisor. A couple of years later, she became a manager.

Since rising to assistant director in 2015, her father calls her “Boss Lady” and reminds her that her grandmother, too, was once in charge of laundry at the Dauphin County nursing home.

“That’s when my father said, ‘You truly are a vision of your grandmother,’” she says. “I think of that, and that’s what helps me get through.”

Whenever opportunities open up, Jackie seizes them with the support of Homeland management and staff.

“They gave me the tools, and I went for it,” she says. “Everybody’s willing to help you out if you need it. We work in different departments, but all in all, we’re a whole team. It takes all of us to get the job done, and that’s what I like about Homeland. There’s definitely some excellent teamwork here.”

Her wide range of duties – from carpet cleaning to ordering cleaning products to managing staff – “makes me better. I like the responsibility of it all.”

Jackie Roy with Gretchen Yingst“I can’t think of a better place to work,” she adds. “It’s just like home, and we get along so well to make things work for the residents. It’s good when you work for caring people because this is what we do.”

Outside of work, the lifetime Harrisburg resident spends time with family, including her parents, Doleris and Ellis Roy, and her four children, ages 6 to 21. In August, she became a grandmother for the first time.

She teaches her children everything her grandmother taught her. When she cooks, she hears her grandmother’s voice advising her on the right measurements and spices. At work, Lula Mae’s influence flows through everything she does.

“She was so strong,” Jackie says. “I could look at her and know everything was going to be okay.”

Resident Spotlight: Farm life was never dull for Homeland resident Theodora Howarth


Theodora Howarth

Farm life was never dull for Homeland Resident Theodora Howarth

Theodora Howarth lived a good life, growing up on a farm in New Jersey. The work was endless, but, “somebody has to get those eggs from those chickens.”

“You can’t stop, because if you did, you lost everything,” the Homeland Center resident recalls. “We had a good time. We worked hard.”

And if the pregnant cat was suddenly skinny, the kids knew what to do.

“We’d go up in the hayloft and hunt for baby kittens,” she says. Sometimes, a kitten would become a pet, but others would stay in the barn, hunting for mice.

“They have to do their share,” says Theodora, who has gone by “Teddy” since childhood. “They work just as hard as we do.”

The farm in central New Jersey, near East Brunswick, had long been in Teddy’s family, worked by her grandparents and great-grandparents. It was a full-scale operation, with chickens, cows, and crops. She and her sister pitched in.

Picking strawberries was hard work, crawling between the rows on a hunt for each berry. When the corn was ripe at the large farm of her mother’s parents, “you better get out in that field and pull the corn out and run it to market, because you can’t just let it sit.” She was once milking a cow when the cow “picked up her foot and put it right in that bucket.” Sometimes, the kids would “run like crazy” from roosters “who would chase you and try to peck you. Those roosters were nasty.”

But there were fun excursions, too – sneaking into a swimming hole, or grabbing buckets to gather huckleberries and blueberries growing wild in the woods.

“They make a wonderful pie,” she says. “We were good at making pie. There was all this stuff hanging around, and you end up making jelly.”

The eating was always good, including summer corn. They would go in the cornfield, picking cobs right off the stalk, while someone stayed inside keeping the fire hot under a pot of boiling water.

“It tastes so much better than something that you buy, because you pick it and eat it the same day,” she says.

Her first name came from her grandmother on her father’s side, pronounced “Tay-o-dor-a” in its native Polish. Ask her maiden name, and she rattles it off with ease.

“J-E-N-U-S-Z-K-I-E-W-I-C-Z,” she says. “That’s it. I still remember it!”

Her husband was at first only a friend, one of the gang. He was a machinist who went to work in East Brunswick. They raised five children, and today, Teddy’s sunny room at Homeland is adorned with photos of grandkids.

At Homeland, “everybody is so nice,” she says. “It’s quiet. You can do what you pretty much want to do.”

There’s no television in her room. She spends her time reading mysteries, doing crossword puzzles, and attending Homeland activities, including exercise classes. She is known for the striking, but very warm, spiked hat she wears in the winter – a gift from a Vermonter friend.

“You should have seen the looks I got the first two months I wore it,” she says.

Growing up on that busy farm, there wasn’t much time for school activities, but Teddy was never isolated. She remembers how families watched out for one another, getting together to share lessons learned and pitching in whenever anyone needed aid.

“Everybody watched out for one another,” she says. “Everyone helps the other one. You help one another. That’s what it’s all about.”

Board members Kelly Lick and Gail Siegel played key roles in Homeland life, finances


Homeland Center owes its renown, in part, to the expertise and enthusiasm of its board members. Now, it says goodbye to two who have been central to upholding Homeland’s commitment to excellence.

Homeland thanks Kelly Lick, Board of Managers 2014 to 2017, and Gail Siegel, Board of Trustees 2004 to 2017, for their service. Both are leaving their board positions, with vows to continue supporting Homeland.

Kelly Lick

Kelly LickKelly Lick first grew impressed with Homeland from the perspective of a family member. Her husband, prominent businessman and philanthropist C. Ted Lick, lived in Homeland’s Personal and Skilled care wings. With help from Homeland Hospice, he spent the last week of his life at home.

“He had nothing but the absolute best of care, and that’s why there was absolutely no hesitation on my part when I was approached about going on the Board of Managers,” says Lick. “Everybody from the cleaning staff to the aides to the maintenance people — everybody is phenomenal. They’re always so conscientious and so thoughtful and kind to the residents. You can see that people genuinely care. You can’t fake that.”

Lick brought an ideal skills set to the Board of Managers, the unique group responsible for ensuring Homeland’s home-like feel. With her background in insurance, art, and catering, she joined its house and grounds and financial development committees.

Her primary contribution, she feels, has been helping organize “some fantastic parties for the residents.”

There was the summer picnic, complete with swing band, at the Homeland Chet Henry Memorial Pavilion. She has held wreath- and cornucopia-making classes, getting to know residents one-on-one. When residents said they miss French fries – difficult to serve hot as they make the trip to Homeland’s many dining rooms – she recruited a French fry truck that delivered the fresh treat right to the front door.

For Homeland’s 150th anniversary in 2017, she helped solicit advertising for the gala booklet. At the suggestion of Homeland President and CEO Barry S. Ramper II, she helped solicit a wish list from residents of the activities they wanted as part of the celebration. Then she dove in on implementation, helping organize a fish fry, trips to see “The Lion King” in New York and “Pippin” in Lancaster, a casino night, and a performance at Homeland by Harrisburg Symphony Orchestra’s maestro Stuart Malina and musicians.

Though she leaves the board to concentrate on family responsibilities, Lick intends to remain involved, helping organize remaining 150th anniversary events and supporting financial development. When an excursion needs an extra pair of hands, she might go along.

And what has Homeland given her?

“Homeland has further enriched my appreciation of the elderly and how they should be treated,” she says. “It’s been nothing but a positive experience.”

Gail Siegel

Gail SiegelSince 2004, Gail Siegel has served four, three-year terms on the Board of Trustees, Homeland’s policy-setting panel, providing guidance and oversight in operations and finances.

Siegel was enticed to join the board by Morton Spector, who chairs Homeland’s Board of Trustees. She had just retired as executive director of Children’s Playroom, an organization she co-founded to teach skills to parents referred from county agencies and courts.

“We worked with these families to prevent child abuse and get children ready for school,” she says. Spector was on her board – “an extremely helpful and wonderful board member” — and he gave her a call.

“He said, ‘Homeland is this great organization and serves the community,’” she recalls.

She already knew about Homeland and its sterling reputation because her husband, Conrad “Connie” Siegel, had been the actuary for the pension plan when Homeland was still known as the Home for the Friendless, its original name from its founding in 1867.

Even with her background in human services, adopting board responsibilities in retirement care was “very difficult.”

“There were a lot of acronyms to sort out, and a lot of funding from different governmental sources to follow and figure out what we were supposed to do to comply,” she says. “We heard a lot about rules and regulations and trying to understand how an agency was supposed to function.”

With the complicated issues to sort through, it took about three years to learn the job, but Ramper “tried to make things easier.”

“He’s been absolutely marvelous in running the organization and working with the board,” she says. “He’s so respectful of the board and its decisions. It’s a pleasure to watch.”

Among her board posts, Siegel served on the financial development committee, “one of the pivotal committees in the whole organization,” she believes. “I tried to offer whatever help I could, but mostly, I was learning how the finances work and the investments we needed to keep the organization strong.”

She also felt “a tremendous sense of responsibility” in her service on the board nominating committee, “trying to find people who will give their time and energy and know something that will be valuable to the organization. We’ve had marvelous people.”

She feels she contributed her knowledge of the community and social and educational services to Homeland. Working the full spectrum from early childhood to senior care, she has learned a lesson that she sees in practice every day at Homeland – “respect for people’s wishes.”

“They know how they want their life to be,” she says. “You can’t just walk in and tell somebody, ‘You should do this, and you should do that.’ You need to show by example or give the opportunity for choice.”

Siegel and her husband spend half the year in California, near their son and his family. She hasn’t set her sights on any new pursuits, but Homeland remains in her thoughts.

“When you look at how the regulations are increasing in state and federal government, and you look at how alongside that, the funding is decreasing, my goal is that we manage to find money to keep the residents in good condition and enjoying life,” she says.

2018 Lottery Calendar – winners through the year


Homeland 2018 Lottery Calendar wrapped up!

Thank you to all the supporters of Homeland Center’s 2018 Lottery Calendar. The 2019 Calendar is now available if you haven’t purchased yours yet. Read here for more details.

More than $13,000 was awarded throughout the year. See the full list of winners of the 2018 Calendar Lottery here.

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