Homeland Administrative Clerk Rosie Padgett: A helping hand for all


Homeland employee, Rosie Padgett

When Homeland administrators need a hand with daily tasks, they turn to Rosie Padgett. When Homeland colleagues need help sorting through a problem, they turn to Rosie Padgett. When Homeland residents need a laugh and a caring smile … you get the picture.

In her 20 years with Homeland, Rosie Padgett has quietly become valuable to administration, staff, residents, and family. Her title is administrative clerk, but perhaps it should be Homeland ambassador. She is often the friendly face behind the front desk, but she is equally adept with the paperwork and behind-the-scenes procedures that keep Homeland operating smoothly.

Rosie is a Harrisburg native and self-described people person. Originally hired as a receptionist, her role has morphed over the years. She still handles the front desk when the scheduled receptionist goes for lunch or takes a break, but she also helps distribute paychecks every two weeks, manages paperwork for the human resources office, and organizes materials for department directors.

“I’ll pitch in any place where anybody wants me,” she says. “There’s always something happening somewhere. You have to be in the right spot at the right time.”

Before joining Homeland, Rosie worked for five years as a bartender at a Harrisburg establishment. It didn’t matter to her whether she worked daytime or closing shift. Both were fine, as long as she got to be around people.

“I get along with everyone,” she says.

Homeland Housekeeping Manager Sandra Ware testifies firsthand about Rosie’s generosity with her time and knowledge. When Sandra had financial issues to iron out, she went to Rosie for advice.

“She’s the best,” Sandra says. “Go to Miss Rosie for anything. It’s the truth. Whatever you need, she will help you. She’s awesome, and I’m not just saying that. I tell her all the time.”

As an all-around team member, Rosie knows everyone, and everyone knows her. On an afternoon as she sat in the John and Barbara Arnold Lobby at the Muench Street entrance, every colleague who passed by had a hello or teasing word for her.

Rosie swears that she never has a bad day.

“It’s always fun,” she says. “Most of the time, wherever I am in the building, there’s laughter. It’s like one big family here.”

Rosie is modest about her impact on Homeland, although one story of her meaningful relationship with a resident says volumes. She and the resident developed a bond so strong that he waited for her every morning. If she arrived for work at 9:01, he would look at his watch and say, “You’re one minute late.” Every morning, she would spend time with him and take him to exercise class in the chapel.

“Sometimes I’d take him to exercise, and he would sneak out after I left,” she says.

One day, the resident fell, and he moved from personal care to skilled care. While in skilled care, Rosie would continue to visit him, encouraging him in his daily activities. In order to maintain Rosie’s presence with him during the weekends, a poster-sized photo of her was put in his room. This photo helped encourage his participation even when she was not there.

Before she goes home, Rosie looks forward to joining a group of residents in the dining room.

“We sit and laugh and talk,’’ she says. “It’s the perfect way to end my day.”

Rosie sees herself staying at Homeland always.

“Homeland is a place that stands alone,” she says. “There’s no place like Homeland.”

Faye Dunkle: A resident steeped in Homeland history


Resident Faye Dunkle and her smile!

Faye Dunkle’s ties to Homeland Center go deep.

Before she found a home at Homeland, Faye would visit her sister and other relatives here. Her sister-in-law, Dottie Dunkle, served on Homeland’s volunteer Board of Managers and trusted Homeland with the care of her parents, sister and her husband, and even an uncle.

Faye has lived her whole life in Harrisburg and its environs. Her father owned a garage and her mother kept house for the family, including Faye, two brothers, and a sister.

“We had a wonderful family,” she recalls. “We were very close-knit.”

On Sundays, the family might go to a park or visit her mother’s sisters. Attending church was a definite.

“My father used to say Sunday wasn’t Sunday without going to church,” Faye says. For 80 years, she belonged to the same Methodist church in Harrisburg, until it closed.

When she was still in school, the family moved to Paxtang, a small community on the outskirts of Harrisburg. After she graduated from Harrisburg’s John Harris High School in 1941, jobs were hard to find. She was having lunch at a Paxtang restaurant with a friend when the friend’s father – the restaurant’s owner – came in and said that the Pennsylvania Farm Bureau had called. They had a job for Faye’s friend.

“Did you put in an application?” the friend asked. Faye hadn’t, but they were hiring and had offices right there in Paxtang. Faye went the next day and got a job that began a 42-year secretarial and support staff career with the agency.

“I loved it,” she says. “People didn’t leave because it was almost like a family. We were treated well. That’s why nobody left.”

Outside of work, Faye enjoyed dances, going out to eat, and traveling with friends from Maine to Florida.

When part of the Farm Bureau merged into the newly created Agway cooperative in the mid-1960s, Faye could have moved to Syracuse, but she chose to stay home.

“They had a lot of snow up there,” she said. “I didn’t care to move because I had relatives here. I had all these friends here.”

Faye’s father was 60 when he died, and Faye stayed home to help her mother. Faye’s mother showed her spunk, looking for work so she could manage financially. She ended up getting a job with a local funeral home, helping at the home and with the funeral director’s children while their parents worked.

In 2010, Faye came to live in a bright, comfortable Homeland personal care suite overlooking the solarium, but she remembers the previous decades when Homeland was very different, before construction of the skilled care and Ellenberger dementia units.

Her sister lived in skilled care exactly one room above the room where Faye lives now. Faye’s room is decorated in pleasantly seasonal fashion, with fall flowers and pumpkin figurines amid the family photos and a copy of the New Testament. Faye’s niece regularly visits, helping choose her stylish outfits for the week.

Faye always knew that Homeland would suit her.

“Everything is so nice and clean,” she says. “The people are friendly. You couldn’t find a better place.”

Homeland’s renovated Beauty Shop makes residents feel good


Newly renovated hair salon at Homeland Center

The brightened colors and spiffed-up décor of Homeland’s newly refurbished Beauty Shop impressed resident Vicki Fox, who was getting her hair done.

“It’s beautiful,” Vicki said.

Homeland’s Board of Managers has been methodically upgrading public spaces recently. The Main Dining Room got new curtains and artwork. The Florida Room got a new aquarium and valances.

Now, they have tackled the salon, a favorite spot of residents. The Board of Managers is the unique, all-volunteer group devoted to the stewardship of Homeland’s renowned home-like feel. Working with a modest budget, the group of women – descendants in spirit of the 18 women who founded Homeland as a “Home for the Friendless” after the Civil War – stages lively events, interacts with residents, and keeps public and private spaces feeling comfortable and welcoming.

The beauty parlor was established in 1953 by Homeland benefactor and Board of Manager, Katherine S. Kunkel, and is believed to be the first-of-its-kind in a long-term care facility.

Renovating the salon became a project after Board of Managers members and some residents realized that the last renovation dated to the 1990s. The upgrades were simple but impactful. The walls got a fresh coat of cream-colored paint. New chairs in a cheery cerulean blue are, like the old chairs, adaptable to the needs of elderly clients. Bigger shampoo bowls, in a sleek black, mean less water splashing around. The old floor gave way to a crisp faux wood in cream and gray tones.

The renovations were done “piece by piece” over weekends, said stylist Felicia Wallace, who has worked in the salon for 12 years.

“I know it’s not bigger, but it’s funny how things will make a space seem so much larger,” she said.

New beach-themed prints hang on one wall and in the restroom, but the feature that has everyone talking is the mural on the back wall depicting a walkway through the dunes, opening to a sandy beach and soothing ocean waves.

“I had a resident ask me if I thought it was the Pacific or the Atlantic Ocean,” said Felicia.

Polly Myers, resident and Felicia Wallace, stylist.

Definitely the Atlantic, said resident Polly Myers, sitting at Felicia’s station with her hair freshly styled. Polly said the mural reminded her of family vacations at the New Jersey shore.

Wallace and fellow stylist Charity McCrae provided input that kept the renovations in line with their workplace needs. While Polly was getting her hair done, Board of Managers members Barbara Cleeland and Catherine N. Rauth asked about hanging a mirror over the desk, where an old hutch once occupied the wall, but Charity doubted that the salon needed another mirror, so the two Board of Managers put their heads together to consider other options.

A drape in contemporary blue and green florals covers the salon’s glass door. The fabric matches the new valances hanging in the adjoining Florida Room, for a nice continuity between the two busy spaces.

That was intentional, said Barbara. The salon “just needed a little tender loving care. It got it finally.” And as for the residents, “They love it.”

Earlier that morning, Felicia had suggested that Polly arrive for her appointment a little early, perhaps around 11:15. Polly showed up at 10:30. She is a former Board of Managers member who believes that the salon and the styling skill of its hairdressers are vital to well-being – her own and that of her fellow residents.

Felicia sees that pride in her clients. The renovations “mean a lot because they like coming here. They love to look good, and it makes them feel good.”