Resident Spotlight: Joanne Creason recalls a life of movie theaters, golf, and kids


Joanne CreasonJoanne Creason remembers working her father’s neighborhood movie theaters in Harrisburg. She did everything but run the projector – booking movies, selling tickets, working the concessions counter and keeping a close eye on the children attending the Saturday matinees.

“They could misbehave a little until I caught them,” she said.

Joanne lives in a Homeland Center personal care suite featuring a photo display of her eight children. The Harrisburg native has lived at Homeland for more than 4 years.

Growing up, she attended Harrisburg Catholic High School – now Bishop McDevitt. She loved her math classes, “which was unusual for a girl,” and was valedictorian of her 1937 graduating class.

Joanne was an only child, although her parents raised a cousin, one and a half years older, who was like a sister to her. Her father, Walter Yost, starting his theater business by buying one building and then built two more – the Grand, the Pennway, and the Roxy.

“He loved the theaters, and the closeness with the people,” she said.

Joanne’s mother, Agnes Yost, made hats for a milliner in Harrisburg before she married and often put her sewing skills to use in the family’s theater’s repairing seats.

“She could sew beautifully,” Joanne said, recalling the feathered hats she favored. “She was quite a seamstress. She had wonderful taste.”

A sample of her mother’s meticulous work hangs on the wall in Joanne’s room. Eight framed photos of children – six boys and two girls – dangle on fabric bell pulls adorned with tassels. The eight are Joanne’s children – David, John, Richard, Bob, Mary Lynn, Elizabeth, Jim, and Bill.

Joanne met her husband, Lynn Creason, when he was in the Army and took a wrong bus. His destination was supposed to be Indiantown Gap, but he realized he was going the wrong route. An avid golfer, when the bus passed the Colonial Country Club outside Harrisburg, he decided to take a look. He was in uniform, and members invited him to play.

At the course, he met Joanne, 20 at the time and a golfing enthusiast as well. They started talking, and Joanne liked the paratrooper’s brashness.

“My mother said I fell in love with his jump boots,” Joanne said, smiling.

Following Lynn Creason’s Army service the family returned to Harrisburg, where Joanne and Lynn worked for her father’s theater business.

Joanne also pursued her love of golf and was recognized as “one of the state’s top feminine golfers,” according to news accounts over about 20 years on the competitive circuit. She led a 1954 regional tournament with help from “one brilliant shot,” wrote a sports reporter.

“Choosing a 3-iron, she rifled a tremendous 160-yard hit dead to the pin,” the news story noted. “The ball hit the green, bounced once and rolled directly into the cup for an eagle-2. No other contestant in the tourney could better par-4 for the same hole.”

In her suite is a laminated photo from the August 3, 1952, Harrisburg Patriot-News in a year Joanne didn’t win the Harrisburg District Women’s golf championship. In the photo, she’s holding 7-week-old Jim while four of her other five children wave to her. “That’s OK Ma,” the caption is headed. “You’re still our champ.”

Today, the children and Joanne’s grandchildren live in the area and elsewhere, gathering for family get-togethers when they can.

Joanne likes life at Homeland.

“I’m able to do what I want,” she said. “The staff are just like family. If you need something, they’ll jump up and help.”

Employee recognition event celebrates relationships at the heart of Homeland Center


Employee recognition eventCarmella “BJ” Williams promised she wouldn’t cry, but her co-workers spotted signs of tears as she accepted recognition for her 25 years of service to Homeland Center.

“Congratulations to all my staff in dietary and for all the teamwork at Homeland,” said the assistant director of nutritional services. “We pull together for the residents.’’

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Safety first and always: Homeland Center unveils new $700,000 emergency generator


We are charged up!A steady drizzle on the heels of severe thunderstorms earlier in the week was a fitting backdrop as Homeland Center unveiled its new $700,000 emergency generator that will enhance the safety its 145 residents on May 17, 2018.

“We realized we had to, in the best of interest of our residents, become self-sustaining to the greatest degree that we possibly could,’’ said Barry Ramper II, Homeland’s President and CEO during a recent ceremony at Homeland Center in the Chet Henry Pavilion.

“Families trust us to care for their loved ones,’’ Ramper said. “That responsibility guides everything we do.’’

The new 500 kW generator and associated electrical upgrades replace Homeland’s more than 20-year-old generators and is large enough to allow for future expansion of the long-term care facility at its original Fifth Street site in Harrisburg.

Ramper thanked Dauphin County and Harrisburg officials, as well as the Kline Foundation, Wells Foundation and individual donors for the support that made the project possible.

Founded in 1867 and celebrating its 150th anniversary, Homeland is one of the few skilled nursing care facilities in the Central Pennsylvania region to earn the CMS Five-Star rating repeatedly. Homeland also is among only 15 percent of the more than 15,000 facilities nationwide to receive U.S News & World Report Best Nursing Homes 2017-18 – earning a perfect 5.0 rating two years in a row.

Safety first and always“It was great to see that U.S. News and World Report recognized what we all know, that Homeland is a top-notch facility,’’ said Dauphin County Commissioners’ Chairman Jeff Haste, who declared May 17 “Homeland Center Day in Dauphin County.’’

Harrisburg Mayor Eric Papenfuse praised Homeland Center not only for the care it provides to its residents but also for its commitment to the neighborhood.

“Homeland committed to staying here and developing here and growing here,’’ said Papenfuse, who supported Homeland’s county grant application.

“This is a wonderful facility, providing such essential and important services to our community,’’ he said. “You all have been the rock of this neighborhood. As we look to the future, we celebrate our long, historical relationship and say ‘thank you’ to Homeland.’’

Resident Phoebe Berner thanked all those whose contributions made the new generator possible, which she said is vital to those who call Homeland home.

“Nothing could be more important than an emergency generator. All we need to do is think of the elevators, three meals a day for 145 residents, heating, the laundry and bathing, not to mention lights, refrigerators and computers,’’ Berner said. “We are more secure and safe than ever, and we thank you very much for your great contribution.’’

In keeping with its goal to meet the region’s needs, Homeland also offers services to help seniors wherever they call home.

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. Additionally, Homeland Hospice serves 14 of the midstate’s counties providing compassionate care for patients and families to make the most of their time together.

The new generator is only one of the ways Homeland Center is safeguarding its residents.

Homeland’s planning includes coordination with the county Emergency Management Department, Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency, and the federal Department of Homeland Security. Homeland also is a member of the South Central PA Healthcare Coalition Long Term Care Subcommittee.

The fact that many of Homeland’s 255 staff members live within 10 blocks of the facility is a tremendous asset. Employees can quickly respond to an emergency, even when not on duty. Homeland is prepared to accommodate the staff’s children at the facility to keep personnel on hand around the clock in major emergencies.

Donald Schell, Vice Chair of Homeland Center’s Board of Trustees, said the new generator was essential to meet the facility’s current and future needs. In addition to providing quality care for residents, Schell said Homeland provides needed employment opportunities in uptown Harrisburg and has been a critical part of the neighborhood’s resurgence.

“It’s been exciting to me to see the changes that have occurred in the healthcare industry and be part of Homeland’s success in adjusting and meeting the needs of the people in the community and of our residents,’’ Schell said. “I think Homeland is probably one of the best-kept secrets in Central Pennsylvania.’’

Residents help plan their special party for Homeland’s 150th Anniversary


Homeland's 150th AnniversaryThe balloons were colorful and the conversation was lively as waiters and waitresses clad in black circulated among residents in Homeland Center main dining room, offering such delicacies as crab cakes, lobster rolls, sirloin tip pipettes and edible bruschetta spoons.

“There was a vast array of food and I enjoyed everything, but especially the lobster rolls,” said Doris Coyne, 98, a four-year resident of the home. “The preparation was elegant; the food was delicious. All of the events here are special, but this is even more so because of the age of the institution.”

The event, held on May 4, 2018, was the culmination of a year celebrating Homeland Center’s 150th anniversary. The year kicked off with a fund-raising gala at the Harrisburg Hilton on May 7, 2017. All proceeds went to the benevolent fund, which has made it possible for Homeland to continue its tradition of never asking a resident to leave due to financial difficulties.

Many residents, however, were not able to attend the gala, so donor John M. Arnold made a generous donation that allowed not only a party but a host of activities over the past year. Residents were involved every step of the way, voting on the activities they wanted, said volunteer Kelly Lick.

The result was an exciting list: a trip to New York City to see The Lion King on Broadway and a trip to the Dutch Apple Dinner Theater to see the musical Pippin; also a visit by members of the Harrisburg Symphony Orchestra, a fish fry, a casino event, a barbecue, and a new Blu-ray player for the library.

They also insisted that their families should partake of the end-of-year gala.

Homeland's 150th Anniversary“Every resident loves where they are,’’ said Lick, a volunteer and former member of Homeland’s Board of Managers. “They are happy they get to celebrate in their home.”

Phoebe Berner, a member of the residents’ committee working on the Gala planning, said she was thrilled when members of the symphony, including music director Stuart Malina, came to play.

“They gave us a lovely afternoon,’’ Berner said. “The selections were perfect for this group.”

Homeland's 150th AnniversaryResident Lorraine Englander said she has become fascinated by the history of the home, which was chartered in 1867 by 18 women from nine churches as a refuge for Civil War widows and orphans. As the children grew up and the women aged, the home started focusing on helping seniors.

Still located on its original Fifth Street site, Homeland offers personal and skilled care and rehabilitation services. A special unit provides a supportive environment to help those with Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia.

In keeping with its mission to meet the region’s needs, Homeland also established services to help seniors remain in their home while receiving the quality care they require. Homeland HomeCare provides an array of individualized services to meet the personal needs while ensuring safety in the home. Homeland HomeHealth provides at-home medical treatment that can be more comfortable, convenient and just as effective as care received in a hospital or skilled nursing facility. Homeland Hospice serves 14 of the midstate’s counties offering compassionate care to patients and families faced with life-limiting illness.

Englander, who has lived at Homeland for five years, said she tries to read everything she can about its history.

“It’s a fascinating story when you think about how many years they were here and how many thousands of people they have served,” Englander said. “I sincerely enjoy it here. Everybody is so friendly. This is my second family.”

Added Berner with a smile: “We’re all very spoiled now. We’re always spoiled here.”