Homeland’s Family Feud: Gunn-Mowery brings the popular game show to residents

Homeland's Family Feud

Let the fun begin!

Name an animal you wouldn’t kiss. That was the question. Team 2 debated it among themselves. Gorilla, someone said. Or a monkey?

“I’d kiss a monkey,” one teammate objected.

They decided on “frog,” but that brought up a red X on the screen and a loud buzzer. This was Family Feud, Homeland-style.

The Family Feud game came to Homeland on a rainy Thursday afternoon courtesy of Gunn-Mowery, LLC, the venerable insurance company based in Lemoyne. Gunn-Mowery has long done business and volunteer work with Homeland, and when staffers there expressed a desire to extend their community volunteerism to retirement homes, Homeland was the perfect fit.

The game was played much like the beloved TV show that first aired in 1976, when teams guess the answers that survey respondents give to questions. Homeland residents joked about the absence of original host Richard Dawson and current host Steve Harvey, but they easily got into the spirit. Residents and staff divided into teams. One team member had a bell to ring when the question for each round was presented.Homeland's Family Feud

From there, the competition was friendly but lively. Teammates debated answers to such queries as “Name a reason someone might wake up at 2 in the morning,” and “Name another word for garbage.” Controversy almost erupted when the moderator, Gunn-Mowery’s Marketing Director Jamie Mowery Lewis, gave Team 2 a point for “disposable” when the answer was “litter.”

The Fast Money rounds tested the skills of individual team members, each given one minute to give a single answer to 10 questions. Homeland resident Helen “Polly” Myers burned up the board, matching seven out of the 10 answers.

“I do watch game shows, to see if I know the answers,” she said. And as for her scorching performance? “I did all right,” she admitted.

Gunn-Mowery encourages staff to give time to community causes, spreading cheer and getting jobs done for local nonprofits. Staffers have supported Special Olympics, United Way Day of Caring, and Dress for Success South Central PA.

“I feel you should give back to the community and those who need assistance,” said insurance agent Mary Markel.

Homeland's Family FeudResident Ann Soder eagerly suggested answers to the Family Feud questions.

“It was fun,” she said. “It keeps you on your toes.”

Ann loves the full range of Homeland activities and suggested that anyone looking for a retirement community should “check out Homeland before they go to other homes.”

Gunn-Mowery, whose slogan is “The Upside of Insurance,” has used its online version of Family Feud for internal events and then decided to try it out with the community, said Lewis, a member of the company’s Upside of Giving Committee. A recent survey of employees found that many had a desire to help the elderly. As a Gunn-Mowery client, Homeland has been very active in leveraging the resources the insurer offers to sustain safety and security efforts, so it made sense to reach out with a fun activity for residents to enjoy, said Lewis.

Insurance agent Debra Walburn, who assisted Team 1, is passionate about helping the elderly.

“I’ve always enjoyed being with older people,” she said. “They have so much to tell. They have so many stories. They have a lot to offer the world, and they’ve given so much.”

In the end, Lewis couldn’t quite calculate which team won the most points, so she declared that everyone was a winner. Polly Myers enjoyed the afternoon’s competition, but she appreciated that spirit of sportsmanship, too.

“Everyone won,” she said. “That’s what’s important.”

Board of Managers member Alicelyn Sleber: Drawn to Homeland Center for its community impact

Alicelyn Sleber

Alicelyn Sleber, member of the Board of Managers at Homeland.

Before she joined the Board of Managers, Alicelyn Watson Sleber knew Homeland Center well through her work in local social services and visits to fellow church members living here.

“I like that Homeland is in the community,” Alicelyn says. “They involve the community in their undertakings, and they give back to the community. It’s all part of life, and they afford that to the residents here. Homeland’s good reputation precedes it.”

Homeland, a CMS Five-Star Skilled Nursing Care Facility rating, Medicare’s highest citation, assures excellence in care. A unique, dual board structure provides this comprehensive foundation for the Harrisburg area’s premier continuing care community. While the Board of Trustees oversees policies and finances, the Board of Managers fosters Homeland’s home-like atmosphere, seeing to such “quality of life details” as fresh flowers on dining room tables, updated décor, and fun parties and picnics.

The Board of Managers is a good fit for Alicelyn’s nurturing nature. She is a retired psychologist and educator who has worked in private practice with her husband, Rick Sleber, and as special education teacher and administrator with the Harrisburg School District.

“I’ve always liked people,” she says. “I enjoy working with them.”

Her work in the Harrisburg schools put her in contact with students of varying ages. As a special education facilitator, she helped incarcerated youth stay on track to earning their degrees, so they wouldn’t lose educational momentum while in detention.

In her private practice in clinical psychology, Alicelyn continued to work within family systems, helping couples and children through difficult child custody cases, working with judges on adjudicating parenting conflicts, or evaluating youth in the county detention center.

Even before retiring, Alicelyn was a mainstay in community causes. She has served on boards and volunteered for Parents Anonymous and the YWCA of Greater Harrisburg. When it came time to choose a church, she went with Harrisburg’s venerable Pine Street Presbyterian Church so she could assist its Downtown Daily Bread ministry, which offers meals, shelter, and services for the hungry and homeless.

Seeking out a need and serving it seems ingrained in her DNA. Alicelyn grew up in Philipsburg, Pennsylvania, a small, coal-mining town in Centre County. Her mother, Bette Cole Watson, was an avid volunteer and a nurse who couldn’t be deterred by bad weather from her daily rounds to care for residents in the rural region.

“Not only would she go to see them, but her back seat would be filled with pieces of cake,” Alicelyn recalls. “She would take everybody a piece of cake.”

Alicelyn’s grandmother, Alice Cole, managed a restaurant in the Allentown area. The woman Alicelyn called “Baba” would help her employees find housing and manage their finances. Early in Alicelyn’s time working at a Harrisburg elementary school, “Baba” would knit mittens as Christmas gifts for her students, delivering them to Alicelyn with the instruction, “You be sure to give them some candy. No apples.”

With the Homeland Board of Managers, Alicelyn believes she can contribute her organizational and problem-solving skills, further enhancing Homeland’s “user-friendly approach” – and not solely for the benefit of residents.

“We’re here to support the staff,” she says. “We have an amazing staff here. They always work as a team. I’m amazed at how wonderfully they interact with each other.”

Since retiring in 2017, Alicelyn has filled her time with travel, family, and friends. She indulges her love of the beach at Marco Island, Florida, and Newport Beach, California. She has seen plays in New York. In the summertime, she hosts “Sleber Camp,” when her grown nieces visit to enjoy shopping, trips, and nature walks. The 2019 edition of “Sleber Camp” includes walking in the Homeland Hospice 5K and Memory Walk. The Memory Walk is a new feature offering non-runner a short course to stroll in memory or honor of loved ones.

Alicelyn said she joined Homeland’s Board of Managers because of the value that Homeland delivers to the community.

“I came here because it is Homeland, and because of its reputation,” she says. “I wanted to be affiliated with it and support the mission.”

Homeland resident John D’Orazio: An active, independent life in personal care

John D’Orazio

John D’Orazio continuing his pursuit of music.

The songbook on the Roland keyboard in John D’Orazio’s personal care suite at Homeland is open to “Stranger in Paradise.” It’s a testament to John’s lifelong love of music.

“I was never very good at it,” he admits. “I’m a frustrated musician. I tried to teach my son the guitar, and I got to like the guitar, but my fingertips got sore.”

John moved to Homeland in May 2018, for the opportunity to be near his wife of 66 years, Barbara, who came to Homeland in December 2017. He stays active with Homeland’s array of events and the security of personal care, while he has peace of mind knowing that Barbara receives the excellent care that earned Homeland the CMS Five-Star Skilled Nursing Care Facility rating, Medicare’s highest citation.

Homeland Center’s personal care wing offers support and services tailored to help residents pursue active, healthy, independent lives. Comfortable suites include a full bathroom and kitchenette. Mealtimes offer selections from a varied menu. Around-the-clock support assures on-call emergency and medical help, plus assistance with daily needs.

John is a Philadelphia native whose path in life took him deeper into central Pennsylvania. He was a U.S. Air Force trainee stationed in Baltimore when he and a buddy went on a double date. John’s companion for the evening was a blind date – a student nurse named Barbara. She was training in a psychiatric unit.

“I always tell everybody I met her in the insane asylum,” John jokes.

John served four years as a clerk in the Air Force, from 1948 to 1952. When he and Barbara married, they moved to Danville, PA, her family’s hometown. He carved out a career in local industries, testing metals for defects. He utilized x-rays, ultrasonics, magnetic particles, fluorescent penetrants, and magnaflux to discover flaws. For the first 20 years of his career, he scrutinized metals made for fighter jets. For the last 20 years, he tested materials used to make railroad tank cars.

“The tank cars held commodities like chlorine,” he says. “If a tank car ruptured or a weld was no good, you’d have to evacuate a whole town.”

John’s daughter Jane puts it in laymen’s terms. “He was to industry what a radiologist is to humans,” she says.

Barbara had an equally important job – obstetrics nurse for Geisinger health system.

“She helped train doctors that were residents,” John says with evident pride. “She made sure the doctors did it the way it was supposed to be done.”

Even when she wasn’t working, Barbara stayed busy, always crocheting, knitting, sewing, growing herbs, cooking, and – especially – reading. Such authors as Sue Grafton were favorites.

“She would read a book a week,” John says.

The D’Orazios raised three daughters and one son. Life was rich with music, as John played the guitar or accordion or organ, and Barbara enjoyed listening. Friday and Saturday nights centered around a card game called Bonanza, played with family.

“It was a little bit of poker, pinochle, and gin rummy,” says Jane.

After they retired, John consulted, and Barbara kept working, too — but they had a plan. They saved their earnings for travel. Their journeys took them to Ireland, Wales, London, Germany, Austria, and Switzerland.

In the winter, they would rent a house in Florida, departing “as soon as we got the Christmas tree down.”

John D’Orazio

John D’Orazio showcasing one of several wood models he built.

John loves Homeland for the activities, which seem to him much richer than the offerings he’s seen at other retirement communities. He knows that Barbara is comfortable in Ellenberger, where “the nurses take good care of her.” He joins fellow residents to play poker or study history.

In his bright, comfortable personal care suite, he plays that keyboard and keeps a few of the models he built from wood in years past – a sleek whale in oak and walnut, a dump truck, a sporty roadster.

“They’re nice rooms,” he says. “I like the personal care here. They clean the room, and I get laundry done. The food is good. You can ask for something that’s not on the menu, and they’ll prepare it. Everybody here is friendly, and that’s the main thing. I’ve seen other nursing homes, and this tops them all.”

Health, wellness, and fun door prizes at Homeland employee recognition day

Homeland employee recognition day

Barry Ramper II thanking Homeland employees at the annual recognition event.

Being healthy is its own reward, but that doesn’t stop Homeland Center from sweetening the pot, so to speak, with incentives and challenges encouraging employees to take charge of their health.

“For us to be the best we can be for the group of residents, patients, and clients who’ve entrusted their lives to us, we have to be at our best,” said Homeland President and CEO Barry Ramper II. “That is a responsibility we have.”

That ideal was in the spotlight for the annual Homeland employee recognition event, paired in 2019 for the first time with a health and wellness fair. While Homeland treated employees to food-truck burritos, gift cards, massages, and fun raffle prizes, they also got a dose of health education. Tables featured information on skin health, cardiovascular disease, the consequences of smoking, and bone density.

Homeland employee recognition day

What’s the number?

Homeland officials saw an opportunity to blend the wellness fair with annual recognition day. Raffle prizes that attracted a crowd included big-screen TVs, furniture, air pressure fryers and instant pots, gift cards, and a five-burner grill.

“They’re more relaxed, and they can take advantage of the screenings,” said Homeland Health and Wellness Director Roxane Hearn. “This is something we’re going to do every year from now on.”

Homeland employee recognition day

Ohhh, that feels good!

Offering chair massages for the first time added a special touch.

“That’s what today’s all about, appreciating the employees,” said Roxane.

Roxane reminded employees that her health coaching is a free benefit, offered to help keep Homeland employees healthy and on the job. She reminded those gathered under a tent in the Homeland parking lot that the true measures of good health aren’t weight but body fat and “visceral fat” – the health-diminishing fat stored around the abdominal cavity.

“If that’s off, you’re not healthy,” Roxane told the gathered employees. “The weight number, that’s up to you. I want you to be healthy.”

The event also recognized Homeland employees who have met their personal health goals. Angelo Evans, a Homeland Hospice CNA, had been to see Roxanne only two weeks beforehand. In just two weeks of going to the gym and cutting sugar and carbs, his visceral fat dropped four points.

Angelo said he finally decided to consult with Roxanne “just to get healthy.” With his excess weight, even simple tasks left him short of breath. Two weeks into his turnaround, he was feeling better and putting his newfound energy into his job. His goal now is to “continue being healthy.”

“I feel great,” he said.

In his work with Homeland Hospice, Angelo said, “I love everything. I love taking care of people.”

Dahlia Dixon, a Homeland Center staffer in the Activities and Dietary departments, said she could see at the event “a lot of great opportunities for people to check in with their health.”

“It’s getting people the resources they need to start taking charge of their health, and it all starts with awareness,” she said.

Dahlia has loved her two years working at Homeland. “I really enjoy being with the residents and hearing their stories,” she said. “I like taking them outside and enjoying that quality time with them.”

Ramper congratulated those who have achieved their wellness goals and then made a surprise announcement about a contest scheduled for July 1 to Dec. 31. Two employees at Homeland at Home and at Homeland Center who achieve the most significant wellness gains would receive $2,500 each. The contest is meant to encourage lifestyle changes that change lives.

“You will gain in years of life expectancy, not having medication, and not having other complications,” Ramper said. “It starts with you making a choice.”

Ramper told the dedicated employees of Homeland that he “could not work nor would I be able to choose to work, with group more highly committed, focused, heartfelt-actioned individuals.”

“There is no group better, I’ll go as far as outside of central Pennsylvania, for skilled nursing, personal care, home health, home care and hospice,” he said. “I thank you all.”

As employees accepted their awards for longevity, recognized in five-year intervals from five years to 35, those who wished to say a few words all expressed their gratitude.

“Thanks for five good years at Homeland,” enthused Homeland Hospice Chaplain Dann Caldwell. “I’m about to finish number six in a couple of weeks. Thank you, Homeland!”

Melissa McCreary, another employee celebrating five years, spoke from the heart.

“Thank you,” she said. “This is the best place I’ve ever worked. I’m so happy.”

The following employees were honored for their years of service:

5 years

Chastity Anderson
Dann Caldwell
Jarvis Dodoo
Andrew Ford
Aprile Greene
Kay Herre
Steven Hoover
Tracey Jennings
Whitley Johnson
Debbie Klinger
Trevor Maben
Melissa McCreary
Gail Oakley
Lumane Oxceva
Pamela Ramsey
Marilyn Reid
Debra Robinson
Elizabeth Ruiz
Dana Seidensticker
Keyaira Stanton
Isaac Strausser
Bessie Yohe

10 years

Tina Coble
Christina Dinger
Deborah Donato
Courtney Jackson
Dawn Mason
Margie McClure
Nicole Polliard

15 years

Denise Anderson

20 years

Cherie Griffin

25 years

Barbara Jones

35 years

Evelyn Fry