Homeland Finance Office: Working behind the scenes to ensure quality care


Homeland Finance Office employeesAt Homeland, there are things that money can’t buy, such as the home-like atmosphere and attention from caring staff.

But money can buy little delights, such as lunch for a group of residents at Red Lobster or dipping into Homeland’s charitable funds to pay for an extra that brightens a day, such as an iPad stocked with a resident’s favorite songs.

“It takes a lot of facilitating to make sure there isn’t an interruption of what residents need just because there’s a financial aspect,” says Director of Financial Operations Evelyn Fry. “That shouldn’t be the driving force. The driving goal at Homeland is to make sure that residents get what they need.”

The six-person Finance Office efficiently shoulders many money management duties, so residents, staff, and family don’t have to.

Residents enjoy the office’s impact in big and small ways. When a resident needs a medical service or medication, the Finance Office works with nurses to obtain insurance coverage. If the insurer denies a claim, staffers will track down the problem or, if necessary, allocate payment from Homeland’s Benevolent and Charitable Care fund. In the past year, Homeland Center provided more than $3 million in charitable care.

Circumstances change daily, so the office works closely with Homeland department heads to pin down details and assure accuracy.

Over the years, the office’s functions have changed as regulatory oversight amplified and Homeland grew into today’s continuing care community offering personal, skilled, and dementia care.

“That’s what has kept me here,” says Evelyn, who celebrated her 35th anniversary with Homeland in 2019. “It has always been challenging and interesting.”

“We certainly want our residents to have the things they medically need, or that they need otherwise for their best quality of life,” Evelyn says.
Within the office, it’s all accomplished in an atmosphere of quiet professionalism, good cheer, and adherence to strict confidentiality standards. Each staffer – by coincidence, all women — brings a unique perspective to her role:

Barbara Jones-White, Administrative Assistant, says the office supports the entire staff so “they can come to work and focus on the care that they give to residents.” She “absolutely loves” interacting with the residents and calls her coworkers “some of the brightest people I have ever met in my life.”

Sonia Miralda, Administrative Assistant, joined Homeland in September 2019 and loves “the challenge every day.” She ensures residents receive personalized attention: “They come here, and they’re family.’’

Lori McMichael, Assistant Director of Financial Operations, says she likes the challenge of staying abreast of changes in the industry: “You don’t get bored. You don’t get stagnant.” Lori is also the office decorator, hanging seasonal items such as a Halloween ghost.

Lucinda Nemet, Accounts Receivable Clerk, has been with the office for 30 years and also helps tending to the birds in the Gathering Room as a way to interact more with residents “We’ve always been a close-knit community and family,” she says. “There are residents you get to know and have relationships with.”

Cindy Zelko, Assistant Director of Financial Operations, is another long-time employee with 23 years of service. “We’ve been blessed with consistency, so we have the same people knowing what they need to do,” she says. “We’re able to get it right, and we can rely on each other.”

At heart, the office is dedicated to responsible stewardship of Homeland’s financial well-being.

“Whether it’s residents, family, or staff, the Finance Office is here when you need us,” Evelyn says. “We’re very dedicated to making sure that Homeland will exist well into the future.”

Homeland Center’s commitment to charitable, uncompensated care stands as a resource for the community. A nonprofit, 501(c)(3) organization, Homeland relies on the generous support of our friends and neighbors to continue helping the less fortunate. To find out how you can make a difference, call 717-221-7727 or go to www.homelandcenter.org/giving

Arrival of the mermaids: Exhibit brings a touch of whimsy to Homeland

Bonnie Bissett

Bonnie and one of her mermaid pieces hanging in the gallery at Homeland Center

On a brisk fall day, mermaids came to Homeland Center

Not real mermaids, of course. These were artistic renditions from the creative mind of Bonnie Bissett, for Homeland’s latest quarterly art exhibit in the Florida Room gallery.

Homeland brings art to the walls through a partnership with the Art Association of Harrisburg, which invites artists to show their works in spaces throughout the region. Homeland remains the only continuing care community in the program, offering uplifting scenes for residents, staff, and families to enjoy.

Bonnie’s nautical pieces suited the space, hanging near Homeland’s newly refurbished aquarium. While exotic sea creatures swim in the tank, Bonnie’s sea horses and mermaids cavort amid foil finishes and shiny glass beads.

As Bonnie hung her works, her pieces attracted considerable attention.

“These are cool!” enthused Charity McCrae, a beautician from the adjacent Homeland beauty shop.

“The residents like coming down this walkway and seeing art on both sides. They might not be able to get out to see artwork, so it’s nice that it comes to them,” McCrea noted. “I put it on Snapchat, too, so other people can get to see it.”

Bonnie’s works will hang through December 2019. She comes from a family of artists, but she spent her early career running the engine rooms of oil tankers plying the U.S. West Coast.

Still, she knew she wanted to “design and decorate and paint.”

“My parents were interested in art, and I was always involved in art in high school, but I never considered it as a formal career because they were supposed to be skinny and hungry all the time – you know, the starving artist,” she said.

Bonnie has designed clothing, painted murals and faux finishes in homes, and sewn historical reenactor costumes.

In the mid-1990s, she relocated from San Francisco to her family homestead in Lewisberry, a rural spot between Harrisburg and York. Her work in interior design and organization introduced her to the Harrisburg Symphony Society Showhouses; fundraisers held every few years when artists remake the spaces of a classic home.

One of her memorable contributions was painting a “forced perspective” telephone room in a graystone home’s foyer. In that same home near Harrisburg’s Susquehanna River, viewers “either loved or hated” her fish-themed powder room, inspired by a high-water mark from the flooding of Hurricane Agnes.

“The showhouses were fun,” she said. “It was a lot of work. The benefit of doing that was meeting other professionals in the field and networking.”

She has taken “classes galore” on faux finishing and gilding techniques. Still, finding her own style as a fine artist has taken time and thought.

“I needed big pieces,” she said. “I told myself, ‘Focus, Bonn, focus.’ So, I came up with the eyeball and the mermaids.”

Bonnie BissettMermaids reflect her seafaring experience and her appreciation for the mythical creatures’ lore.

“They would capture the sailor’s heart,” she said. “Sometimes they’re evil. Sometimes they’re not. They’re mischievous.”

Two of the people who stopped to admire Bonnie’s art on this morning were also artists. Homeland Center Board of Managers member Catherine Rauth’s hands were slightly dirty from planting containers spilling over with flowers and greenery – one of the many special touches by board members to enhance Homeland’s home-
like feel.

Catherine has taken watercolor lessons and recognized the mixed-media nature of Bonnie’s works.

“This is fun,” she said. “This is cheerful. It’s so nice that Homeland brings this art here.”

Housekeeping staffer Cherie Moore has taken Art Association of Harrisburg classes and helped install a mosaic at an area school. Bonnie’s work made her stop and look because “it’s different.”

“It’s cold outside, and this makes me happy,” she said. “I like that they bring in the art, and the residents get to see it.”

Since 2015, Bonnie has enjoyed living in downtown Carlisle, Pennsylvania, in her first-ever brick home, “like one of the three little pigs.”

“I can walk to places, and there’s an interesting little art community,” she said. “They’re very supportive.”

Bonnie also works with elderly clients, helping them create their own works of art. She agreed with the exhibit viewers who appreciated the power of art to brighten Homeland’s halls — and the lives of residents.

“It’s important to be able to see art when you can’t get out and about,” Bonnie said. “It’s good therapy.”

Don Lauver: A twin who’s one of a kind

Don Lauver and twin Bob

Bob (left) and Don (right) Lauver

For Don Lauver’s 82nd birthday, more than 20 family members trickled into Homeland Center on a picture-perfect autumn afternoon, with Tupperware in their hands, smiles on their faces, and love in their hearts.

Don’s wife Joanne and daughter Jen Mark worked to set up the retro diner as Don greeted his guests from a chair situated strategically by his granddaughters.

The Tupperware contained all of Don’s favorite foods: German Chocolate cake (made with Splenda, as the doctor ordered), soup, wings, ribs, potato chips, cheese cubes, and more.

When Don arrived at Homeland in September, he was recovering from several falls at his former home, and was very ill, he and his family say. But in the few weeks he has been here, he has already gained 10 pounds, which has helped him rebuild his strength.

The marvelous meals are one of his favorite parts of Homeland.

Don readily shares how breakfast features hot and cold items, including poached eggs, sausage and bacon, and Sunday dinners are like a year-round Thanksgiving feast, with roast turkey, gravy, stuffing and potatoes.

He also praises the kindness of his caregivers and marvels at the array of activities that run all day.

Perhaps it takes a kindness connoisseur to know some. Like the devoted grandfather that he is, he asked the dietary staff to bring him some bags of snacks so that he could give them to some young ones who were expected to arrive at this party. It was his birthday, but he was more concerned about giving gifts to others.

That is just like him, say granddaughters Madison and Lauren Mark. Their granddad knows everybody and will talk to anybody. His “friends” collection grows wherever he goes. He was thrilled to discover that five of his former church friends from Progress Immanuel Presbyterian Church were already residing at Homeland.

He is such a “sharing” man that he even shares his Oct. 7 birthday with his twin brother, Bob, of Mount Gretna. Bob ran Harper’s General Store in Annville.

“We were really close,” Don says of their childhood. “We did everything together.”

Initially, they set out for different colleges, but Don wound up transferring to his twin’s university –Elon University–after his first semester.

Don is surrounded by educators. His son-in-law Eric Mark is a popular social studies teacher at Bishop McDevitt High School. Eric’s wife teaches school in Dillsburg.

Don’s wife Joanne also was a long-time teacher in the Susquehanna Township School District.

Joanne and Don Lauver at Don’s 82nd birthday party.

Don attended Susquehanna Township High School but later transferred to Perkiomen Prep School. He graduated from Elon University in North Carolina and worked in a tax office as an accountant. Born in Richfield, Juniata County, he lived in Harrisburg for most of his lifetime.

Joanne and Don lived in the same neighborhood, growing up. When asked if he married the girl next door, he replied with a broad smile, “No, I married the girl down the street!”

The relationship had a rocky start. When he tried to ask her out, Don accidentally drove his convertible into Joanne’s family hedges and had to apologize to her father.

On their first date in New Cumberland, his friends dared him to drink so many gin and tonics that Joanne had to drive him home.

Joanne described her husband as someone “Who knows what he wants.”

Lauver says yes, he lost the gin and tonic bet, but he got the girl. They also remember how she was so cold that night, he gave her his coat.

It was the dawn of a beautiful 54-year marriage, beginning at a ceremony in Progress Immanuel Presbyterian Church.

In addition to his career as an accountant, Don also served in the Air National Guard as a medic.

He always embraced the fresh air and wildlife of the outdoors. He had a cabin in Snyder County, surrounded by 300 scenic acres, where he enjoyed hunting deer and small game.

And he is a legacy at Homeland. Don’s parents both lived in Homeland, as did his wife’s aunt, Dottie Pickel.

Don Lauver and family

Don, Joanne (far right) surrounded by many of their children and grandchildren.

He has six grandchildren, ranging in age from 13 to 20, who are clearly his pride and joy.

“I’m really blessed,” he says. “They’re all honor students.” He is happy to catalog their majors and accomplishments.

Don’s son-in-law Eric says it sounds corny, but he thinks the lesson he most learned from his father-in-law is that every day is a gift, so enjoy every second.

Clearly, Don has done that for 82 unbroken years, with a twin to double the fun.

Update: Don Lauver passed away on January 4, 2020.