A multi-colored sky, through the eyes of Homeland featured artist Shelly Lipscomb

Shelly Lipscomb

Shelly Lipscomb, featured artist of the quarter, at Homeland Center.

Art had long been a part of Shelly Lipscomb’s life, but for a few years, it took a backseat to career and family. Then, on maternity leave with her second child, her preschool-aged daughter wanted to play with watercolors.

“Why don’t I paint?” thought Shelly. Not long after, a co-worker offered her space in her in-home gallery, and art made its official return to Shelly’s life.

Shelly is Homeland Center’s first featured artist of 2019, with works hanging in the Florida Room gallery. The rotating exhibit appears courtesy of the Art Association of Harrisburg, which recruits local artists to display original works in unexpected settings region-wide. Homeland is the only nursing facility showing works through the program.

Shelly’s work attesting to her love of nature and her unique perspective on the many colors of the sky also appeared at the Elizabethtown Library, WITF Public Media Center, and doctors’ offices. Her love of art first blossomed in middle school, under a teacher who recognized her talent.

“Any time a teacher can encourage a student who has a passion for something, you go for it,” she says today.

She majored in studio art at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, but after graduation, she returned home to Harrisburg to work in the Pennsylvania Capitol. In December 2016, she took early retirement, and art took center stage.

About a year before retiring, Shelly connected with college friend and children’s book author Bena Hartman. Bena wanted a true collaboration with an illustrator – a departure from publishing industry practice that usually assigns illustrators who have little contact with authors. In August 2016, Masthof Press published their first book, “My Elephant-Sized Dream,” about a girl inspired by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech to lasso shooting stars.

The process introduced Shelly to the back-and-forth of collaborating. It also taught her the difference between fine art and illustration, as she learned how to accommodate page edges and bindings, and how to turn ideas into images.

“It gave me a great sense of accomplishment – and my daughters think it’s cool,’’ Shelly says with a smile. “I like being able to show them to have goals and dreams.”

Both of Shelly’s daughters, ages 12 and 15, are artistically inclined. Shelly encourages them while also offering the practical advice she got from her father: “Study whatever you want in college but make sure you know how to type.”

Her older daughter combines her artistic talent with technology, studying biomedical engineering at Dauphin County Technical School. She likes drawing renderings of robots that she and her Robotics Club classmates dream up.

Shelly Lipscomb

Shelly sharing some of the story behind the painting.

In college, Shelly dabbled in student teaching but couldn’t see herself managing roomfuls of children. Today, however, you’ll find her teaching students of all ages, in a variety of settings, from Michaels craft store to Girl Scout meetings.

Shelly believes anyone can draw.

“I can’t draw a straight line, either,” she tells people. “I use a ruler. It can just be you expressing herself.”

Even life’s trials can inspire art, as she knows from the bald self-portrait she produced in 2011 while preparing for her WITF show and simultaneously undergoing treatment for breast cancer.

A favorite memory is a day at a lakeside cottage with her godmother, who insisted she couldn’t paint. Shelly sat to create a watercolor of the pretty lake, “and she did a painting with me, and she liked it. I said, ‘See. You can paint. Don’t say you can’t.’”

In Shelly’s eyes, the sky is “not always blue. It’s not always sunny or cloudy. It’s many different things, just like we are many different people.”

That perspective shows in six miniatures hanging in the Homeland exhibit. Most show a sky, perhaps with a sole bird fluttering through or a sun setting over a beach, with each depicted in different tones, streaked with blue, purple, yellow, or gray.

Her illustrations for “My Elephant-Sized Dream” are on exhibit at Harrisburg City Government Center, and other works will hang at a local reiki spa (on Facebook at Lipscomb Arts).

The Homeland gallery “is wonderful,” Shelly says. When she was hanging her pieces, with help from her husband, Ciro Echeverria, curious residents stopped to enjoy the works and ask questions about her techniques.

Homeland’s rotating exhibits, including photography and mixed media works, give residents something to look forward to, she says.

“Even when you can’t change the scenery outside,’’ Shelly says, “you can change the scenery inside.”

Steve and Renee Ramper: A Homeland Center love story

Steve and Renee Ramper

Renee and Steve Ramper – a match made at Homeland Center

Renee Ramper told her husband, Steve, that she didn’t need anything for Christmas. Their old plans to design an engagement ring had been scuttled back when they learned that she was pregnant. At that point, their wedding and the birth of their son, Jason, took precedence.

As Jason’s first Christmas approached, Renee kept telling Steve to return anything he’d gotten for her.

Until she turned around one day and there was a small gift for her on the baby’s high chair.

“You didn’t,” she said.

Today, she proudly wears the ring she thought she didn’t want. Steve and Renee Ramper are a homegrown Homeland love story. They met here in 2014 and as a team, have sailed through a lifetime’s worth of changes – fixer-upper home, puppy, wedding, baby, and college.

Steve came to Homeland Center first, in 2011 as a maintenance worker. He was 18 years old, fresh out of Dauphin County Technical School, studying electrical construction and getting hands-on experience by helping wire an extension to the school under construction at the time. Today, he is Homeland’s director of maintenance.

In 2014, Steve noticed the new physical therapy assistant’s nice smile and asked a co-worker about her. Their first date, at a Panera restaurant, ended when Steve said he had to get up early for school. Renee thought that meant he wasn’t interested, but it was actually her first encounter with his endearing honesty.

“Even if we disagree on something, he is very polite in the way he responds,” she says.
They started off as best friends, going out for dinner, until the night she asked, “Are we boyfriend and girlfriend?” He said yes.

“It was a good way to get to know each other,” she says. “We weren’t wild and crazy like a lot of other people.”

She appreciated his willingness to help with whatever she needed – taking cats to the vet, giving her a lift when her car was in the shop.

He liked “her caringness.” For his birthday, she gave him a pass to a NASCAR simulator, simply because she had heard him mention he would love to try it.

They married in July 2017. Jason was born in February 2018, after Renee – who works at Homeland through an on-site contractor – went into labor at work. The family now comprises Steve, Renee, Jason, and German shepherd Lucas.

Their home in Susquehanna Township was a foreclosure house and Steve did most of the upgrades. Renee asked how she could help, and he pointed to the floors, where someone had installed old carpet padding with an overabundance of tacks.

“They went crazy with the staple gun,” says Renee. “There were thousands of staples.”

“Well, I had to keep her busy,” he admits now.

Through all this, she was earning her master’s degree in health services administration online from the University of South Dakota. He is getting an associate degree in HVAC from Harrisburg Area Community College. Her parents care for Jason while they’re at work. He loves playing with the baby. They laugh about the time Steve and Jason stood in a long line at Costco. Jason started fussing, and one customer after another waved the pair ahead, charmed by the sight of the adoring dad and adorable son out buying baby formula.

Renee loves her work at Homeland. Co-workers feel like family. Her older patients teach her to appreciate the little, meaningful things that physical therapy can help them accomplish.

“On one of my first community hospice visits, the individual cried when we could transfer him out of bed and he could sit in the sunlight at the screen door,” she says. “When I ask them what they want to do today and it’s something that simple; it’s very touching.”

Steve appreciates the variety in every day, working in a place that, he says, “has seen me grow up.” The project in spring 2018 to install a 500 kW emergency generator taught him the importance of communicating and keeping everyone on schedule. He and his staff attend to each detail that keeps Homeland bright and cheery.

“If a light bulb is out, you fix it as soon as possible,” he says. “It’s not just a light bulb. The smallest thing that we might think is minor is very important to the residents because this is their home.’’

They manage their challenges together, “handling whatever throws itself our way,” says Renee. They are, Steve agrees, “pretty good at handling stress.”

“We work through it, and we definitely value each other as a team through whatever problems occur,” says Renee.

“We might disagree at the beginning,” adds Steve, “but we figure it out.”

Robert and Jenine Lane: Forging a life together


Robert and Jenine LaneThey were two young people who happened to attend a dance at the Harrisburg YMCA, but for Robert and Jenine Lane, it was the beginning of a 64-year journey.

“She was nice,” says Robert.

“He asked me on a date,” says Jenine.

That was March of 1954. Just two months later, on the night before Mother’s Day, he gave her a diamond ring. On Sept. 11, 1954, they were married at Linglestown United Methodist Church. Still going strong as they approach their 65th anniversary, the Lanes now share a comfortable personal care suite at Homeland Center.

Robert grew up in in Lackawanna County, northeastern Pennsylvania. He marvels today at the gumption of his father, a World War I veteran debilitated by mustard gas who left a job in an orchard to rent a farm just as the Great Depression was beginning. With that farm, he managed to support a family of five children.

As a young man, Robert worked for a drilling company until the day in September 1950 when a letter arrived – “a welcome from the president,” as he put it. Drafted into the U.S. Army, he served two years in an artillery observation battalion but, unlike some of his fellow soldiers, never got sent to Korea.

In the meantime, Jenine Chubb was living in the farmland outside of Harrisburg. Her father drove trucks transporting coal to customers or milk from local dairies to the Hershey Company. She worked as a typist in the state Civil Service Department for a division investigating fraud. Her office was in a temporary building erected behind the Capitol during World War II.

Jenine and a friend enjoyed going to dances, whether they were chaperoned USO events in Carlisle, or those Thursday night soirees at the Harrisburg YMCA. Robert had moved to the Harrisburg area looking for work. One night, he went to a YMCA dance, and that’s where it all began.

After they married, they lived in an apartment in Lemoyne, across the river from Harrisburg. Two years later, their first son was born. They needed a new home, and it just so happened that Robert was an apprentice learning installation of commercial and industrial plumbing and heating systems. Two of Jenine’s brothers were skilled in masonry. Another could do electrical work.

Together, the team built five houses in three years, all for their growing young families. Robert and Jenine had two sons, both active in sports, while the Lanes themselves played golf. Jenine admits to not being very good on the links, but she remembered her mother’s anxiety over her own game, wondering, “Why do you play if you don’t enjoy it?”

“When I played golf, I didn’t care what the score was,” Jenine says. “Why worry about it? The golf courses are so pretty, and I just enjoyed being out there.”

Robert’s game was a bit better. “I held up my share,” he says.

They were active in the Shepherdstown United Methodist Church near Mechanicsburg. Jenine was treasurer of the Sunday school. Robert served on the board of trustees, including time as chairman. When the building needed work, he was hands-on.

“The wind was blowing our rain spouting off,” Robert recalls. “They got us a 60-foot lift, and we re-hung it, with hangers that I designed.”

“That spouting is still there,” Jenine adds.

Their church was a welcomed sanctuary on the day when their 47th anniversary fell on Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2001. They couldn’t bear to stay home and watch the unfathomable news footage from New York, Washington, and Shanksville, so they went golfing, as usual. That night, they attended a special service at their church.

“We didn’t know what else to do,” Jenine says. “Only the Lord could take care of you.”

Together at Homeland, they enjoy the range of activities. They join other residents for bingo twice a week; Jenine attends Bible study and exercise classes. They used to play dominoes at their church, and now they’re part of Homeland’s Wednesday dominoes games in the Gathering Room.

In their suite, Robert works on jigsaw puzzles, separating the pieces by color and laying them out on wood boards slotted into a storage system he designed and built.

Their 64 years of marriage have presented few problems.

“I take care of him,” Jenine says.

“We know what to expect from each other,” adds Robert. “Maybe it’s not always good, but hopefully, it’s not bad.”

Editor’s Note: This love story had an unexpected twist with the sudden death of Robert Lane on February 26, 2019.  The staff and resident’s of Homeland Center express their love and support for Jenine and the Lane family.