Employee Spotlight: CNA/medication technician Eve James believes in making a difference


Eve JamesEve James was a teenaged Homeland volunteer, helping residents with little things throughout the day. She quickly learned how much a small act of kindness could mean.

“We had a resident who didn’t have a lot of family, and she loved to do crossword puzzles,” says Eve. “I went to the store and got some crossword puzzles, and they were a dollar. Two books. She wept with gratitude. It made me feel so good that I could make her day.’’

Those two years as a volunteer led to a long-term commitment to Homeland. Today, Eve, 35, is a CNA/medication technician, working for Homeland since December 1999.

She began volunteering for Homeland at age 14 as an opportunity to “do something different,” especially outside a busy household of eight children – her five sisters and two brothers. She always looked for ways to help, from reading newspapers aloud to residents and giving manicures to assisting with correspondence.

“I always felt that I made a difference, even if I touched just one life that day,” she says.

Eve volunteered until she was 16, when she went to work at McDonald’s. In those days, she didn’t quite get what school was all about, so she dropped out before graduating. At age 18, she came to work for Homeland in the activities office. Since that day in 1999, she has built “so many memories connected to Homeland.”

“Homeland almost raised me,” she said. “I had a lot of my firsts here. I lost my father in 2002 while working at Homeland. I almost went into labor there with my first child. One of the nurses counted my contractions. She said, ‘I think we need to call your doctor.’”

She also credits Homeland with teaching her valuable life lessons about care and respect and to look for ways to help people outside the workplace. While at Homeland, she also started rethinking the value of education.

“After my first son was born, I knew I needed to do better,” she says. “I had to get my GED. I had to continue. I didn’t want him to think It was okay to drop out of school, so I went back, and I finished.”

She started pursuing studies in human services at Harrisburg Area Community College – perfectly suited to her interest in helping and being around others. At Homeland, she has worked in a variety of roles, including as activities coordinator, personal care activities manager, and as an aide in the Ellenberger memory care unit and skilled care. Homeland then trained her to dispense medications for her current position as a CNA and certified medication tech.

To succeed at Homeland, “you must be a genuine person,” she says. “You catch little glimpses of the differences you’re making. It can be the smallest thing, even with the different rapport you have with different residents.”

Outside of Homeland, Eve values the time she spends with her 14-year-old son A.J. Jones, 19-month-old son Mason Brown and fiancé Robert Brown. With another baby on the way – a little brother to her boys – Eve happily describes herself as a homebody.

“The older I get, the more I recognize what’s really important,” she says. “Over these last three or four years, I’ve come to recognize what I thought was important before is insignificant.”

She believes that she and her fellow Homeland CNAs “advocate for the residents on a daily basis,” making sure they get what they need and want – even if it’s ordering up a grilled turkey and cheese on wheat bread that’s not on the day’s menu.

“It’s not just a job,” she says. “Anyone who works in this field has to have a heart.”

Resident Spotlight: Donald Rudy’s work offers delicious memories


Donald RudyIn the lunch meat business, there’s one thing you learn by doing.

“I had to learn to slice,” said Homeland resident Donald Rudy. In those days, slicers didn’t have automatic stackers, so the operator had to slice and stack as he went along. “You’ve got to have good coordination, and you had to be fast. It was a knack.”

For 22 years, Rudy’s Farmer’s Market, in the Progress area of Harrisburg, served customers the best in meats and cheeses. It continued a tradition started by Rudy’s father, who in 1919 opened Frank B. Rudy and Sons in the city’s Broad Street Market.

Don and his brother, Burton, got into the business, and their cousins had similar stands in other markets. Shipments of lunch meats and massive wheels of cheese would arrive, and everyone would get to work.

At Eastertime, there were whole hams to be cut. “One Easter, we sold 500 hams,” said Don. “Easter, Christmas, and Fourth of July were our big weeks.”

The Fourth of July also was a big day in Don’s life because that’s when in 1954, he married his wife, Frances. They met as teens at Broad Street Market, where Frances’ father, Lynn Farver, owned a produce stand. The only problem: She lived in Mechanicsburg, and he lived in Progress.

“We bus-dated,” Don said. “I’d take my bus, and she’d take her bus. It depended on where the movie was.”

Frances was 18 and Don was almost 19 when they got married. He kept working for his father. She joined the business, too, and also worked for a food producer. Everywhere Fran went, she spread joy. He remembered one day when they took separate seats on the bus, and he could hear her chatting with someone. He asked if she knew that person. “No,” she said. They just happened to be seatmates.

Their lives revolved around family. Don and Frances had four daughters. Don, his brother, and his parents built neighboring homes. Every Sunday, everyone from both sides of the family would gather at Don and Fran’s house for sandwiches, pinochle, and shooting pool.

In 1968, they decided to build their own market on Route 22, on the outskirts of Harrisburg. At Rudy’s Farmers Market, shoppers found everything they needed, sold by a variety of vendors – meats, cheese, seafood, bread. A grocery section carried canned goods and other staples.

Donald Rudy with daughtersUntil it closed in 1990, the market was “a gathering place,” said Don’s oldest daughter, Debbie Kurtz, who was visiting recently along with her sister, Cindy Thomas. “You always saw people at the same time every week. You knew who would come on Friday nights, and they would make hours of it.”

Don moved to Homeland after Frances came for rehab. In the months before her death in January 2018, she formed strong bonds with her Homeland caregivers.

“They took terrific care of my mother,” Debbie said. “They were very informative. They genuinely liked her, so there was a rapport.”

Today, Don is the proud grandfather of 11, and great-grandfather of 15, ages 1 to 23. He likes life at Homeland. He enjoys Sunday services. When he can find three other players, he enjoys playing pinochle.

“I have a nice apartment,” he said. “I like the staff here.”

Pianist Domingo Mancuello brings ragtime melodies to Homeland


Domingo Mancuello told the Homeland Center audience that he would play three songs by a little-known songwriter names Isham Jones.

“One is called ‘Sweet Man,’ and the other is called ‘Sugar,’” he said. “And I’m not going to tell you the name of the third song because you’re going to know the title, and when you recognize that song, I want you to shout it out. Shout it out loudly, because this piano is loud.”

As the medley approached the end of the second tune, Mancuello burnished a few chords on the piano, slowed down the pace, and launched into a song that was recognizable in the first three notes.

“Sweet Georgia Brown!” Homeland residents shouted with delight.

On a Monday afternoon in early March, the young Mancuello brought an old form of music to Homeland. Under his fingers, the sounds of ragtime practically exploded from Homeland’s Steinway grand piano, a gift from a former resident.

“This is a great piano,” he said during his presentation. “It was definitely made in the 1920s because it feels good under my fingers.”

The large crowd of Homeland residents gathered in the Main Dining Room appreciated the serendipity. Toes tapped and heads nodded as Mancuello played familiar tunes and introduced lesser-known compositions, almost all from ragtime’s heyday in the first half of the 20th century.

Mancuello has played piano since age 4 – he’s now 25 – and discovered ragtime when his grandfather sang with a barbershop quartet. He and his grandfather were prowling antique shops, hunting for phonograph needles, when he heard a player piano for the first time. He was transfixed.

Today, he is production assistant at Fulton Theatre, Lancaster, while also pursuing his passion for ragtime. He tries to preserve an old tradition while refreshing it for the 21st century. He even played two of his own compositions for Homeland residents, including one soon to appear on “Ragtime Wizardry 2,” a compilation of new ragtime pieces from Rivermont Records.

“I don’t frown on modern music because what I’m playing was once the loud music,” he said.

Music wasn’t Mancuello’s only early love. As a child, he was obsessed with Rocky and Bullwinkle cartoons, not only watching the show but delving into its origins.

“I read books on how it was made, the animation process, how it was produced, and how the producers lived their lives to be the people who made Rocky and Bullwinkle,” he said after his performance for residents. “The show itself brought me so much joy that I thought, ‘How do I create something like that?’ My whole M.O. is, let’s just try to make people feel happy.”

During his Homeland performance, residents happily sang along when they knew the words to the songs. They joined in with “Ain’t She Sweet,” “Yes, Sir, That’s My Baby,” and “Has Anybody Seen My Gal?” When Mancuello played “Sweet Georgia Brown,” someone whistled the tune, just as it’s been performed for decades as the Harlem Globetrotters’ theme song.

Mancuello, veteran stage manager of many theatrical productions, has a quick smile and a relaxed manner. He thanked the residents and the sponsors who made his performance possible, Donna K. Anderson, president and CEO of On-Line Publishers, Inc., and her husband, Stan Anderson.

“It gives me such great pleasure to get to play this music for people because normally it’s just me in my apartment with a piece of sheet music,” he said.

Resident, Naomi Packer, called the performance “wonderful.”

“He brought back memories of my mother,” she said. “She was quite a piano player. She played all of this ragtime, but she also played very soft, smooth music. She was a great person, too.”

At the conclusion, resident Phoebe Berner stood up to thank Mancuello on behalf of everyone in the room.

“When this young man plays on Broadway, we can say we saw him at Homeland,” she said.