Lin Roussel’s donation drive shows her gratitude to Homeland


Lin Roussel (L) conducting a portion of the twice daily employee screening at Homeland Center

When the COVID-19 virus sidelined Lin Roussel’s work as a Homeland Hospice massage therapist, she became a temperature screener at Homeland Center, ensuring no incoming employees had a fever — a potential coronavirus symptom.

“I always heard from people that they love Homeland,” she says. “Now that I’m at Homeland Center, I’m meeting people who have worked here for 20 or 25 years. There’s a waiting list to work here. They have such a good reputation. I wasn’t surprised because of all the good things I hear from my patients.”

Since joining Homeland Hospice in May 2019, Lin has felt welcomed by colleagues, patients, and the entire Homeland organization. With her diverse experience in health care, social work, massage therapy, and teaching, she recognizes firsthand Homeland’s commitment to personalized care and unwavering excellence.

The move from Homeland Hospice to Homeland Center came from being in the right place at the right time. Unable to give massages because of the coronavirus, Lin asked about volunteer opportunities and was elated when she instead was offered the temperature screening position.

Wanting to give employees an extra boost when they arrived, Lin issued a request to her extensive network of massage therapists for goodies she could give out, and the response was tremendous.

“My gosh, in the first week, I think 10 or 15 people stepped up and said they’d like to donate candy or chips or comfort food,” she says. “A company I get samples from for my oncology massage and hospice classes donated 200 foot-massage cream packages. Everybody I’ve asked has been happy to donate.”

One donor makes facemask extenders that ease pressure on the ears.

“They go very fast,” says Lin. “They’re a hot commodity.”

Lin’s journey to Homeland is a winding one. She started her career in nursing, discovering that she liked working in oncology and hospice. At age 30, she returned to school and became a social worker. For about 15 years, she worked with the homeless population of Lancaster city. An area hospice asked her to help create a program for homeless people and also sent her to massage school.

She also was motivated to learn the skill by a friend who was dying from melanoma and couldn’t find a massage therapist. The experience underscored the benefits of massage therapy for oncology and hospice patients.

“They taught me how to listen,” she says. “They taught me patience. Gratefulness. Compassion. I always wanted to make a difference, and I felt like I was making a difference.”

Lin says Homeland Hospice’s massage therapists help with symptom management – dealing with pain, stress, or anxiety.

Through the Society for Oncology Massage, Lin teaches courses for oncology massage therapists nationwide. Her classes often teach massage therapists to hone their compassion and patience: “Being able to take a breath and just be with the person, letting them control the environment and the massage. And listening. Listening is the most important thing.”

Outside of work, Lin, a Lancaster County native who lives in Lititz, enjoys hiking and antiquing with her husband, Jim. They have four grown children living in the area and, mindful of coronavirus, Lin enjoys socially distanced walks with her 14-year-old granddaughter.

Lin is passionate about the quality attention she says is Homeland Hospice’s hallmark.

“Everyone at Homeland Hospice is compassionate and caring,” she says. “They’re always on, no matter when or what time. Somebody’s always there to help.”

Homeland Center meditation sessions offer happy thoughts to banish stress


Dr. Roxane Hearn, Homeland Wellness Program Coordinator

“We’re going to the beach today,” Dr. Roxane Hearn told a group of Homeland Center residents.

Sure enough, the residents went to the beach. Mentally, at least, they wiggled their toes in warm sand.

More importantly, they created calm places for mental getaways and for replacing stressful thoughts with happy memories.

Welcome to “Calm My Mind Tea Time.” Dr. Rox, Homeland’s Employee Wellness Program Coordinator, began the meditation sessions as stress relievers for residents when the Covid-19 pandemic began uprooting cherished routines.

A walk on the beach

At first, the sessions lasted 15 minutes, but they quickly grew so popular that they are now 45 minutes long, twice weekly for first and second floor skilled care residents. Every session starts with an affirmation of gratitude, as residents repeat after Dr. Rox: “Thank you for another day.”

Before meditation begins, Dr. Rox plays an upbeat song, such as “All is Well,” by Karen Drucker. A resident suggested that Dr. Rox look up the singer, whose life-affirming messages suited the sessions. “All is well,” say the lyrics. “I can rest. I am safe. All is well.”

“I felt that was the most perfect song for the residents,” said Dr. Rox. “You can rest well knowing you’re taken care of. You’re safe here at Homeland. All is well.”

After the song, Dr. Rox opened the Simple Habit app on her phone, and the 10-minute meditation began. A man’s voice with a lilting brogue directed participants to close their eyes and focus on their breathing. The voice walked residents through a meadow, down three steps, and onto a “wonderful, golden, sandy beach.”

“You have this beach to yourself,” said the voice. “Just find a place where you can relax and let go and enjoy the experience of being on this golden, sandy beach.” Remember this place, the voice said, and when you need to be calm and centered, return to it.

Pleasant memories

After residents opened their eyes, Dr. Rox reminded them that in addition to their calm place, they can conjure up a happy place. To help residents recollect one, she played a familiar song – “Take Me Out to the Ball Game.” Did anyone have a happy memory to share?

One resident immediately piped up. At age 4, her parents took her to a baseball game in Chicago.

“I had a sister, but they only took me, so I had both of their attentions,” she remembered fondly. She was wearing her favorite pale blue coat but somehow left it behind. Her father, coming to the rescue, went back into the stadium to retrieve it.

When Dr. Rox looks around the room, she sees that residents love hearing each other’s stories. Sometimes, she sees secret smiles on faces, as residents recall memories that they don’t share. That’s okay, too.

Relaxed residents participating in Tea Time

“Just for that time, their mind is off the news or thinking that their loved ones can’t visit or worrying about their family getting sick or not working,” says Dr. Rox, who also is conducting Zoom meditation sessions for Homeland at Home staff. “During that time, we’re tapping into happy memories.”

This day’s session also featured Elvis Presley’s “Blue Suede Shoes,” which prompted a resident to make everyone laugh with her story of a boyfriend who couldn’t dance unless he was on roller skates.

Every session ends with the playing of Celine Dion singing “God Bless America.” The anthem resonates deeply with every resident, as they all sing along.

“I feel like we have a Homeland choir,” marveled Dr. Rox at this Monday session. “I watch how it moves through you.”

Abundance of gratitude

Residents attending Tea Time say they have a lot to be grateful for.

“I am grateful for a nice clean place to live with friends that is virus free,” said Faye Dunkle.

“It’s like having family here,” said Ann Soder. “I enjoy the Story Time and Alphabet Trivia with Becky. I also am grateful for the aides who are patient with me.”

Ann added that she loves the music of Tea Time, which “puts the heart and mind in the right place.”

Vicki Fox loves “the energy in the room” that Tea Time creates. “Very calm and safe,” she noted.

The second-floor group agreed that the sessions take their minds off the stressful things going on in the world.

Every session ends with tea and Lorna Doone shortbread cookies. Before residents disperse, equipped with happy memories and calm places, Dr. Rox leads them in repeating another affirmation.

“Everything is well in this moment,” they say. “I am so blessed for everything I have. Thank you for another day.”

Homeland resident Clyde Johnson recalls a life of hard work and service


Personal Care resident Clyde Johnson

It wasn’t always easy for Clyde Johnson, but after a lifetime of service to community, church, and country, he is happy to be at Homeland Center.

“They treat me just like a king,” he says. “I can’t even describe it.”

Clyde, the fourth of 11 children, grew up in Reedsville, North Carolina, in the tobacco-growing country near the Virginia border. His parents were sharecroppers, obliged to give half of everything they planted to the landowner.

His grandfather owned his own land and may have been a slave before Emancipation, but Clyde doesn’t know for sure. That grandfather, who used to give Clyde piggyback rides, died from a crash at a county fair auto race.

Between his father’s meager earnings and a couple of dollars his mother made doing laundry for the local white people, “it was rough,” Clyde says. Flour, sugar, shortening and other staples from the Red Cross helped the family survive. So did a cow they kept for milk and butter – when the cow cooperated.

“The cow would get mad and stick her foot in the bucket,” Clyde says. “She would do it on purpose.”

Every Sunday, the family would walk three miles to church, where Clyde’s father taught Sunday school. Black children couldn’t enroll at Clyde’s local high school, so his cousin – a schoolteacher – helped him enroll in a high school in a nearby town.

Later, he drove a school bus, and that’s how he met his “sweet Cecilia.” Sometimes, his passengers would complain because he would get off the bus to walk her from the bus stop the half-mile to her home.

After he graduated from high school, Clyde was determined to leave sharecropping behind. With World War II raging, he joined the Army and initially served at Fort Bragg before transferring to Fort Knox, Kentucky, where he helped guard the nation’s gold supply.

Following his discharge from the Army, he and Cecilia married and traveled around North Carolina, New Jersey and other states. For a time, they lived with Cecilia’s family after she became pregnant with the first of their two sons.

Clyde used the GI Bill benefits to learn bricklaying at night school and began working for contractors in Pennsylvania and the Washington, D.C., area.

Eventually, they settled in Bressler, where Clyde built the family home. He was active in his church, serving as treasurer and singing in the gospel choir.

Singing was always a big part of Clyde’s life. In his younger days in Reedsville, he was part of a gospel quartet called the Pearly Gates. For seven years, the group performed live on the radio every Sunday morning. They traveled to Chicago, South Carolina, New York, and Virginia to perform at churches.

Giving back is also important to Clyde, who is a 33rd degree Mason. His order – based in a former Steelton firehouse that he helped renovate – engages in a variety of community activities, such as preparing gift baskets for neighborhood residents at Christmas.

While Clyde was an active Mason, Cecelia rose to become Grand Worthy Matron of the Pennsylvania Order of the Eastern Star, a Masons’ auxiliary.

“I had to take her all over the state,” he jokes. “I was her chauffeur.”

Cecilia died in 2017, two weeks short of their 75th anniversary. At the hospital, before she died, Clyde held her hand and told her, “We have to make 75 years.”

“She squeezed my hand and smiled,” he said.

At Homeland, Clyde appreciates the excellent food and the attentive laundry for his sharp wardrobe, hanging neatly in the walk-in closet of his sunny suite.

“Everything they do here is very nice,” he says. “They really care about the people who live here.’’