At Homeland Center, summertime is synonymous with delicious Wednesday picnics!


Homeland Center's picnic seasonFrom noon to 1:30 p.m. every Wednesday between June 12 and July 24, each of Homeland Center’s six care areas will have their own picnic in the Chet Henry Memorial Pavilion, located in the lush Fifth Street gardens.

Organized by the staff and Board of Managers members, the picnics are a welcome time when residents can relax with family and friends.

2019 Homeland Center Picnic Schedule:
• June 12: Ellenberger
• June 19: 1st Floor Skilled
• June 26: 2nd Floor Skilled
• July 10: Personal Care North
• July 17: Personal Care South
• July 24: Personal Care Main

Father and son Ray and Dann Caldwell share the gift of music with Homeland

Ray and Dann Caldwell

Two generations of Caldwells – Ray and Dann Caldwell share much at Homeland Center.

Music has been a constant note through the lives of Ray and Dann Caldwell.

Ray is a resident of Homeland Center, and his son, Dann, is Homeland Hospice chaplain with an expanding array of responsibilities overseeing the spiritual wellness of Homeland residents. Father and son love to share their love of music, and each draws strength from Homeland’s nurturing community.

Ray grew up in the historic Northumberland County town of Sunbury, Pennsylvania. His father was a World War I veteran. His musically talented mother would sit at the family’s upright piano and play the old songs that his father loved.

“She would open the piano bench, and there all these songs were,” Ray remembers. “Dad would sit in the background and just love to hear them.”

Ray enjoyed singing in school choirs and playing baritone horn for school bands. That baritone horn emitted “a beautiful sound,” he says. “If I ever recommend a sound to a young person going into a band, the baritone horn is like a voice. It’s a beautiful range.”

After graduating from Susquehanna University with a degree in business administration, Ray came to Harrisburg to live with his mother’s cousin. He joined the Harrisburg Choral Society, lending the group his tenor II-baritone voice.

One day, Ray visited Derry Street United Methodist Church, recommended by a friend. There, he spied a fellow Harrisburg Choral Society singer, one with a clear, beautiful voice whose range spanned alto to soprano. He walked up to Betty Stauffer and said, “I know your face.”

“One thing led to another, and we got married,” Ray says.

Betty’s father cofounded Harrisburg’s Polyclinic Hospital, now part of UPMC Pinnacle. The young family lived in a leafy Harrisburg enclave called Riverside. Dann and his brother, Rick, sledded the hills and streets. The family enjoyed feeding the ducks at Italian Lake Park.

“It was an idyllic little neighborhood,” recalls Dann.

Ray had seen his uncle selling insurance, and it seemed like a needed service. As an insurance salesman, he specialized in helping the elderly “make sound and good decisions,” says Dann. “He had a very strong moral foundation for assisting people in making appropriate and reasonable decisions about insurance needs.”

Adds Ray: “That’s what insurance is all about. You don’t think you need it, and maybe you let it go because something else needs to be done. It’s the idea that you learn to put certain things in order in your life.”

Through it all, music was a constant. Dann and Rick sang in church. Ray and Betty sang in the choir and a gospel quartet. Often, the family sang as a quartet.

Even at Homeland, father and son have sung duets for chapel services. When Betty, a former Homeland resident, died in 2018, Dann found the sole recording of the Caldwell family singing together, with their favorite hymn, “Wayfaring Stranger.” They played it at her funeral, and then the congregation joined in singing a fourth verse, written by Dann.

“Music was my mother’s favorite thing, so it was about the music of heaven drawing one home,” he says.

For 30 years, Dann has pursued his “desire to serve,” earning divinity degrees from Princeton University, and charting a course of ministries with “a foot in the church, and a foot in the community.” Today, in addition to his Homeland work, he pastors Shopes United Methodist Church.

Since joining Homeland Hospice in 2013, Dann says he has met incredible people.

“It is a privilege to serve our patients and residents,’’ he says. “It is a privilege to hear their stories and experience a small portion of their challenges and joys the place where each one is in the midst of their spiritual journeys.”

Dann’s duties include planning programs and inviting speakers. In May, he organized a Holocaust Remembrance Day program that featured Lillian Rappaport, Holocaust educator for the Jewish Federation of Greater Harrisburg.

“Our programs provide residents with opportunities to think and reflect morally and ethically and spiritually,’’ Dann says.

Dann sees Homeland’s commitment to quality of life reflected in his father’s experience.

“My dad certainly believes he’s well cared for, that people enjoy him, and he can enjoy them and have a good social life,’’ he says. “It’s a privilege for my father to live here, and it’ s a privilege and a blessing for me to serve the Homeland community.”

For his part, Ray appreciates the friendliness of the people.

“Homeland is a godsend,” he says. “Homeland is a beautiful treasure.”

Board of Managers member Beth Stoner brings splashes of color to Homeland

Beth Stoner

Beth Stoner, member of the Board of Managers at Homeland Center.

Beth Stoner loves to paint flowers, and though her artwork isn’t on display at Homeland, her artistry is on view in another sense. At the entrances to Homeland are colorful planters that Beth helped create. Brimming with flowers, they extend a cheery welcome to residents and visitors alike.

Homeland has a unique system of dual boards that combine to assure a well-run, comfortable facility. The Board of Directors oversees policies and finances, while the Board of Managers enlivens Homeland’s atmosphere with home-like décor and fun activities.

Beth has served on the Board of Managers since August 2018. Growing up, Beth’s parents instilled in her a love of art, music, and history. Classical music recordings were always playing in her home. Her father would stand in front of the hi-fi and pretend to conduct the orchestra – once, even using a conductor’s baton that came with a record.

Beth’s father also took the family to see battlefields in Gettysburg and artwork at the Philadelphia Art Museum, but his professional career followed a more technical path that culminated in his post as executive director of the Pennsylvania Turnpike. During World War II, he worked on the Manhattan Project, the U.S. government’s hush-hush initiative to develop an atom bomb.

“It was all secret, secret, secret,” Beth says. “When the first bomb was dropped, all the wives came out of their homes and wondered if this was what they were there for.”

Beth graduated from Camp Hill High School and then attended Alderson Broadus College – now Alderson Broadus University – in the “little, teeny town of Philippi, West Virginia.” There, she majored in history and minored in sociology and psychology. She spent a semester in Salzburg, Austria, where she had great fun “wandering the city” and exploring Vienna, Italy, and Czechoslovakia.

It’s a habit she continues, with travels that now include England, Ireland, Scotland, and Wales. She cruised the Baltic last year, but high winds kept her ship in St. Petersburg an extra day, so she didn’t get to disembark in Gdansk.

After graduating from college, Beth returned home and resumed something she had always loved – singing in a church choir. There, she met her future husband, Bill. Within a few years, his health started declining, and he needed dialysis. Beth was learning to operate an in-home dialysis machine, but the day it was supposed to arrive, a call came from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. They had a kidney for him, and he underwent a transplant in January 1977.

“That transplant gave us 14 more years,” she says. Bill’s career took them to New Jersey, Indiana, and Michigan, but as his health deteriorated further, they returned to central Pennsylvania to be close to family. The harsh anti-rejection medications transplant recipients needed in those days eventually took their toll, and Bill died in 1992.

Although much of her time had been devoted to helping care for Bill and accompanying him to regular medical appointments, Beth also worked in various administrative jobs over the years. After he died, she supervised Delta Dental typists for 14 years.

Beth remarried through an improbable series of connections. Her late husband’s former wife, with whom she was always friendly, thought Beth should meet her friend Max Stoner. Then Beth’s next-door neighbor – by coincidence, good friends with the parents of the same Max Stoner – said the same thing. That’s when Beth decided it was time. They met, and they married in 2007.

Max is an environmental engineer, and as the owner of Glace Associates, works with municipalities to develop water systems. Beth still sings and is a member of Market Square Presbyterian Church’s choir. She has two stepsons, two stepdaughters, and four grandchildren.

At Homeland, Beth creates spring and fall plantings, helps set up for activities and serves on the long-range planning and house and grounds committees. Homeland is a good fit for her because she has always loved being around the elderly. Her work helps maintain Homeland’s friendly atmosphere, and that’s gratifying.

“It helps the residents who live here feel more at home,” she says. “It also makes a good impression. It’s very important that the people who come here to visit see a place that’s cheery and pleasant. Homeland is a great place.”

Never forget: Homeland Center notes Holocaust Remembrance Day

Holocaust Remembrance Day

Lillian Rappaport, daughter of Holocaust survivors, shares their story with resident’s at Homeland Center.

At age 20, Lillian Rappaport’s parents hadn’t met yet. Both were living poor but normal lives in the Warsaw-area Jewish villages called shtetls. It all changed in September 1939 when the Nazis invaded Poland, the start of the Second World War.

“Neighbor turned against neighbor,” Holocaust educator Rappaport told Homeland Center residents. “People they were friendly with, people they went to school with, people they socialized with, all of a sudden turned their backs on them, and not just turned their backs but sometimes did more terrible things to them.”

Homeland Center hosted a well-attended Holocaust Remembrance Day program in the Homeland Chapel in early May. The event, part of a Homeland series on the Lessons of Jewish history, reflected global recognition of Holocaust Remembrance Day. The day amplified the voices of survivors and their descendants to ensure that the world never forgets or repeats the time in history when 6 million Jews and 5 million other “undesirables” were systematically slaughtered.

Holocaust Remembrance Day

Lillian Rappaport answers questions following her presentation.

“Here at Homeland Center, we surely believe that all of us regardless of our age need to remember,” program organizer and Homeland Hospice Chaplain Dann Caldwell said. Recent synagogue shootings spotlight the need for vigilance against anti-Semitic feelings and expressions that spiral into violence, Caldwell said.

“We need to consider things from our moral, ethical, and historical perspectives,’’ he said. “We need to engage with these issues, to learn again, to never forget, to work as one people to make sure these horrors do not happen again.”

The Holocaust started with small actions in Germany, “the most sophisticated, enlightened country in Europe,” said Rappaport. Germany’s 500,000 Jews and others, including Roma people and the disabled, were “marginalized and excluded.”

But with the invasion of Poland, the Jewish population under control grew by 3.3 million, and the German hierarchy under Adolph Hitler devised a plan of extermination. Within months, Rappaport’s parents were sent to a Nazi ghetto, where entire families were forced to live in single rooms, and starvation and brutality became the norm.

Rappaport’s mother, Genia, plus four siblings and a brother-in-law, were transported to concentration and slave labor camps, but all survived. Family legend says that Genia’s mother knew that God would protect her family because of her devotion to tzedakah, the Jewish concept of giving even if one has almost nothing of one’s own.

“They all weighed about 50 pounds when they were liberated,” Rappaport told the rapt audience. “They survived. Their bodies healed, and they all went on to live good, productive lives.”

Her father, Jacob Weinstock, endured all the horrors of the Holocaust, and as a result, “his soul was injured.” He survived by luck, wits, and talent. By tailoring beautiful uniforms for officers in slave labor camps, he would be rewarded with an extra piece of bread or a potato – the difference between survival and starvation.

As Allied troops were approaching to liberate Buchenwald, Jacob hid in the mud under his barracks for days while guards were killing prisoners in an attempt to silence witnesses. When he finally emerged, the sight of the first black man he ever saw – an African American GI – told him he was free.

He would learn that he was the sole survivor of his family. “No parents, siblings, aunts, uncles, cousins remained,” Rappaport said. All had perished in the camps, or died from starvation days after liberation, or been murdered by Poles.

Jacob and Genia met in a displaced person’s camp. They married, had their first baby, and in 1949, were among about 30 refugee families brought to the U.S. by Harrisburg’s Jewish community. Lillian was born the next year. Jacob opened a tailor shop, known to customers as a jovial and talented businessman.

While Jacob rarely talked about his Holocaust memories, Rappaport knew that it “never left my father’s soul.” On her wedding day, as her parents walked her down the aisle, Rappaport realized her father was crying.

“Look at all the people who aren’t here,” he said.

Today, Rappaport is religious school principal for Temple Ohev Sholom, Harrisburg, and Holocaust educator for the Jewish Federation of Greater Harrisburg. She has completed special training in Holocaust education at Yad Vashem Holocaust Institute in Jerusalem.

Homeland resident Pat Myers called the program “very informative. Vey heart-wrenching.” The Holocaust “teaches us an awful lesson,” she said, but Rappaport “has it right on the button. Somebody’s got to tell the story. We all have to think of each other.”

The ‘collective heart’ of Homeland volunteers gives time and passion

Barry Ramper and Gloria Mineur

Barry Ramper, CEO and Gloria Minuer, volunteer enjoy the program together.

The volunteers of Homeland share more than their time. They also share life lessons in generosity, giving, and selflessness.

“For you to take the time you take to serve the best interest of our patients, residents, and clients – sincerely, I thank you from the bottom of my heart,” Homeland Center President and CEO Barry Ramper II said during the annual celebration of all things volunteering.

Volunteers provide essential support for Homeland Center and Homeland Hospice, offering companionship to residents and patients, and administrative help to office staff. At the thank-you dinner, Homeland’s culinary staff served a meal of grilled chicken breast, fresh asparagus, rosemary roasted red potatoes, and tempting desserts.

Held in the Main Dining Room, bouquets of daisies and carnations adorned the tables, and walls and windows flaunted crisp new décor – flowers and redecorating all done by Homeland Center’s unique, volunteer Board of Managers. The program started with selections sung by Brothers in Arms, a young a cappella quartet sharingexpertly performed barbershop standards.

The ‘collective heart’ of Homeland volunteersEach volunteer received a small herb planter, an appropriate memento of the seeds of volunteerism that blossom into inspiration. Those honored for the most hours logged and for longevity, plus the dedicated spirit they gave to Homeland Center, over the last year were:
• Barbara Pak, 165 hours, who visits residents and helps with lunch duties.
• Judie Marcus, 304 hours, including 276 hours working in Homeland Center’s gift shop and 28 hours for Homeland Hospice, where she helps clients stay engaged.
• Lee Jackson, 187 hours supporting the Homeland Hospice bereavement program, plus additional hours decorating holiday trees and preparing hors-d’oeuvres for an event.
• Ann Phillips, 122 hours supporting the Homeland Hospice bereavement program and Homeland Hospice 5K and Memory Walk.
• Longevity: Gloria Minuer, 19 years.

Good friends Doris Coyne and Flora Jespersen were recognized posthumously for their 20 years of volunteer service by Homeland Activities Director and Volunteer Coordinator Gillian Sumpter. They are, Sumpter hopes, “playing bridge and taking charge in heaven.”

Sumpter also presented a clock to the daughters of the late Herm Minkoff, host of Homeland’s popular Sports Talk with Herm. His lively, bi-weekly gathering covered not just athletics but their meaning in society and sometimes the controversies that come with them.

“My father loved this place,” said Herm’s daughter Sheri Solomon. “For days, he would put his discussions together, and he would be so excited. After our mother passed away four years ago, Homeland became a significant place for him. Thank you all so very much for letting him have the joy of Homeland every other Thursday.”

Homeland Hospice Coordinator of Volunteers Laurie Murry thanked all the volunteers for their dedication.

“When you give away an hour, it’s gone. It can’t be copied. It can’t be duplicated or regulated,” Murry said. “We would be poorer if we didn’t remember that the giving of your time is the richest thing you can do.”

After the ceremony, longtime volunteer Gloria Minuer said she always enjoyed directing engaging activities such as You Be the Judge, where residents heard the details of actual court cases, passed judgment, and then learned how juries ruled.

“I don’t think there’s any other place like Homeland,” she said. “They do their best to keep everything on the highest level possible.”

Lee Jackson and Laurie Murry

Lee Jackson, Hospice volunteer and Laurie Murray, Coordinator of Volunteers for Homeland Hospice

Volunteer Lee Jackson said he feels gratification for doing work at which he excels. He has learned to appreciate the behind-the-scenes work needed to maintain excellence at Homeland Hospice. “Working in the office and seeing what they do is pretty amazing,” he said.

Ramper closed the night by telling guests that Minkoff, who regularly posted 5K times that beat much younger runners, will leave behind a legacy of motivation that will inspire him “for the rest of my life.”

Homeland could not have maintained the highest-level quality of care for 152 years without “a strong, committed volunteer group that supported, assisted, gave counsel, gave guidance, and supports development efforts.”

“It’s not about the number of people involved,” Ramper said. “It’s how committed the hearts are of the people who are involved. The most important thing in this room is a collective heart that is unsurpassed.”