Board of Managers Secretary Cathy Leeds: A heart for service


Before Cathy Leeds joined Homeland Center’s Board of Managers, she knew first-hand about Homeland’s quality service from the years her mother and her father-in-law lived here.

“My husband would come home from visiting his dad and say, ‘That is an amazing place,’” Cathy says. “He was very pleased.”

Today, Cathy is secretary of the Board of Managers and a mainstay in all its activities. The all-volunteer group devotes their time and talents to sustaining Homeland’s well-known home-like feel.

Cathy’s service to Homeland is just one piece in a lifetime tapestry of volunteerism to support community causes and help others at all stages of life.

Cathy grew up in northern New Jersey and studied psychology at Muhlenberg College in Allentown. She met her future husband, Dick Leeds, during her freshman year. They graduated in 1968, “right at the height of Vietnam,” and Dick’s draft number was very low, so he enlisted for Officer Candidate School.

That decision launched Dick’s 20-year career serving in the U.S. Army Quartermaster Corps.

“The only overseas tours we had were two in Korea, one in the ‘70s and one in the early ‘80s,” Cathy says, adding that “we had to pay to go to Europe on vacation. The Army never sent us to Europe.”

The couple settled in central Pennsylvania in 1984, choosing the area for its proximity to their aging parents, his in New York and hers in New Jersey. Cathy worked for 16 years for Capital Area Intermediate Unit as an early intervention specialist. In that role, she helped preschool-aged children overcome learning and developmental deficits on their way to kindergarten.

Helping in her community has been the constant thread in Cathy’s life, ever since her teenage days as a hospital volunteer.

“It’s always a good way to meet people.”

When her husband was in the military, she volunteered for the Red Cross and Army Community Service, the Army’s social services agency. She was active in the Junior League in Lansing, Michigan, and Harrisburg. For her church – the historic Silver Spring Presbyterian, with doors on the pews and a “wineglass” pulpit – she has been a deacon, sung in the choir, and volunteered for the Downtown Daily Bread kitchen and homeless shelter.

For 30 years, she has volunteered for Contact Helpline, the phone hotline for people needing referrals to social services or assistance. Devoting about four hours a week to calls from people in need can be challenging, but it can also be rewarding when they make a connection that bridges them over a difficult time.

“We’re trained that our callers have within themselves the ability to solve their own problems,” she says. “One of the critical things is that you can’t burden yourself with the caller’s problems. You just use active listening to try to help them see what they might need to do.”

Her volunteer work with Silver Spring Presbyterian and Homeland will cross-pollinate in spring 2022, when the church’s Reach Out and Rebuild (ROAR) Team will rehab the Homeland gazebo. Over the past decade, Cathy has joined the team for mission trips to impoverished areas of West Virginia, Florida, and Maine.

“I’m a jack of all trades, master of none,” she says with a laugh. “I love doing the chop saw. I’ve laid floors. I’ve done tile. As long as I’m told what to do, and I’m given a little instruction, I can do it.”

Cathy brings her jack-of-all-trades approach to her Homeland service as well, helping stage the board’s seasonal events, such as summer picnics and the casino night that was a huge hit with residents. She helps decorate for the holidays and, currently, serves on the financial development and long-range planning committees. It’s all supporting the board’s mission to make Homeland a genuine home for the residents.

“I love interacting with the residents,’’ she says. “We have a wonderful Board of Managers. We all work very well together and have a good time. You feel good about being at Homeland and knowing that you’re making a difference in people’s lives.”


Homeland resident Anna Guidara: A life built around faith – and cookies


Since coming to Homeland two years ago, Anna Guidara has made many friends and has earned a reputation as Homeland’s “prayer chain queen.”

When people need a prayer for their health, they stop by Anna’s room, and their requests go into Anna’s prayers.

“When I retired, I had more time, so I went to church every morning, and I started praying and praying and praying, so I keep praying,” she says. “I pray every day for somebody.”

Anna’s steadfast faith has been a comfort through a life of tragedy, resilience, and family. That tight-knit family includes a granddaughter and great-grandson who work at Homeland, keeping them close every day.

Anna grew up in Steelton, the youngest of seven children. Her parents married in their native Italy, and the old country traditions remain central to her family. Her granddaughter, Homeland Clinical Manager Kelly Weldon, recalls, “We had spaghetti dinners every Sunday.”

“And meatballs,” Anna adds. “And homemade wine. They made their own wine.”

Anna’s father worked for the railroad but times were tough, and Anna left school at 16 to take a job in the packing room of ice cream maker Hershey Creamery, where two of her brothers were supervisors.

Two years later, in 1946, Anna got married. Not long after their 20th anniversary, her husband, Bill, went to work and was electrocuted on the job. He was 37 years old, and Anna was a young, widowed mother.

“My daughter was 12 years old, and I raised her,” Anna says now. “I put her through school, and she was a nurse for 40 years. I’m proud of her. I’m proud of all my family. God’s been with us all the time.”

Anna supervised the deli counter at Karns Food Store for about 25 years, and though she was busy with work and family, she still made the time to help the nuns at her church serve meals to students.

“I used to make around 500 subs a day for fundraisers,” she says. “Karns gave them the lettuce and the tomatoes. They gave them the ham. They sold them for a dollar. You can’t do that now.”

After she retired, Anna moved across the Susquehanna River to Marysville to be closer to her daughter and help watch her granddaughters.

“She liked to shop,” says Kelly of those years. “She always took my sister and me shopping for school clothes. It was a tradition.”

Another Italian tradition that Kelly enjoyed with her “Nanny” was holiday baking.

“We always baked a ton of cookies at Christmastime,” says Kelly. “We would give them out. We had a routine. We would pick up nut rolls the week before Christmas and hand them out. We would give out the cans of cookies, too. Now, my mom and I do it.”

When Anna could no longer live independently, Homeland was the logical choice because Kelly was working here, as is Kelly’s son, Drew, in dietary. Since moving to Homeland two years ago, Anna has enjoyed morning worship, exercise classes, walking, and her longtime passion – playing bingo.

“I know everybody here,” she says. “I talk to everybody.”

Faith remains an integral part of Anna’s life.

“I pray for my health and that everybody up here is well,” she says. “I pray for everybody who’s sick and everybody who’s in the hospital. Every time I talk to somebody, I’m praying for them.”

Kelly admits that she can’t cook as well as her grandmother, but she learned more essential lessons from Anna.

“Faith, number one,” Kelly says. “And I learned to be strong. Nanny was a widow at a very young age. She raised my mom by herself. She did remarry, but her second husband was very sick, and he died when I was young. I’ve learned from her what it’s like to be a strong, independent, do-everything-on-your-own person.”

Anna hopes that she has been an inspiration.

“My one friend said that God has me here for a reason,” she says. “She said, ‘He’s not done with you.’ I’m 93 years old. When He’s done with me, He’ll take me. Everybody says I don’t look 93. They say I look 75. I say, ‘Get out of here.’”

A Season of Giving and Winning Begins: Annual Homeland “Lottery” Calendar Now Available


Homeland calendar 2022 smallIn this season of giving, we often find ourselves struggling to find that perfect gift for the person who has everything. If you are searching for the ideal gift for friends and family on your holiday shopping list, Homeland has the solution. The Sixth Annual Homeland “Lottery” Calendar is now available. What could be better than supporting the critical work of Homeland while giving a gift which includes opportunities to win cash prizes!

The Lottery Calendar is a Homeland tradition because it is a gift that keeps on giving. Everyone who purchases a calendar is automatically entered into daily drawings for cash prizes of up to $100. Having a chance to win while giving adds an element of fun to this gift.

For $25 your calendar purchase helps Homeland provide financial support and additional services to residents, patients and clients in need. Since the launch of the calendar in 2015, more than $40,000 has been raised to help Homeland Center provide benevolent care. Homeland provides more than $3 million in benevolent care annually to ensure all residents, patients and clients receive high-quality, supportive care when they need it most.

Order now!

“My husband gives one to everyone who works for him,” says Homeland Board of Trustees member Carlyn Chulick. “One man has won nine times. It’s a great gift for all those people you give a little something to when you want to say you’re thinking of them during the holidays.”

For 155 years, Homeland Center has been committed to meeting the ever-changing needs of the community. Homeland was founded in 1867 following the Civil War to care for widows and orphans. Over the years, it has become a five star facility offering state-of-the-art personal care suites, short-term rehabilitation services, a skilled nursing unit and the Ellenberger Unit, specializing in dementia.

Twelve years ago, Homeland launched its hospice program as an outreach effort to provide end-of-life care either in a person’s home or wherever they reside, including nursing facilities. Homeland Hospice is a nonprofit hospice program that serves 14 communities throughout Central Pennsylvania. Services include bereavement support to families for a full 13 months following the death of their loved one. This service is available to anyone in the community who is experiencing grief.

Homeland HomeHealth and Homeland HomeCare were created five years ago to provide a continuum of services for patients and their families through a team-approach to care, which places patients at the center of the team. Since the launch of these services, thousands of patients have received exemplarily care by a team who treats them like family.

Homeland’s 2022 calendar spotlights the organization’s 155th Anniversary. Calendars are now available. Order your calendar today by contacting the Homeland Center development office at (717) 221-7885 or use the button below to order via PayPal:

Order your calendar today!

Homeland social worker Amanda Williams: A friendly presence for residents and family


Amanda Williams only knew a bit about Homeland Center when she applied for a social worker position. After getting the job, she quickly realized that she was in a unique place.

“You can tell when you’re in a place where administrative staff has been there a long time,” she says. “They’re committed to the mission and the organization and upholding the standards of excellence and quality care.’’

Amanda joined Homeland in December 2020, quickly finding her place as a friend to residents and a help to family members. As a social worker on second-floor skilled care, she helps develop care plans, guides families through the health care system, and whenever she can, visits with residents to hear their stories and share their days.

Before joining Homeland, Amanda was a social worker for an aging-in-place service in York, helping the low-income elderly with the needs of daily life – making grocery runs, helping pay bills, assisting with Medicaid enrollment.

“Sometimes, we were their only family,” she says. “In those moments, you could see the smile on their face with the simple task of going to the grocery store for them.”

Still, she wanted a job where she could have a more significant impact. She found that at Homeland.

Amanda has always wanted to work with the elderly. Even while growing up in the Montgomery County town of Souderton, she often volunteered at nursing homes.

“The elderly have so much to offer and so much life experience,” she says. “Getting to talk with them, hear their stories and help them — it’s very rewarding.”

Amanda earned a bachelor’s degree at Elizabethtown University and a master’s from Marywood University. After three and a half years in York, she came to Homeland to work because her soon-to-be husband (she’s a newlywed now, having married in March 2021) lived in Harrisburg.

Family contact is an essential part of her job. When families schedule visits, they can turn to Amanda for help. They might call with requests as simple as assistance in finding a loved one’s favorite shirt or blanket. If they have questions about a loved one’s care, she conveys it to the nursing staff.

After the recent death of a resident, she recognized the impact that she and her colleagues have.

“The family was so grateful that I was a phone call away,” she says. “I could answer their questions and calm their minds about how their dad was doing. It’s never an easy time, but they showed overwhelming gratitude for the staff.”

When she’s not at work, Amanda and her husband love spending time with their 3-year-old German shepherd, Kona.

At Homeland, Amanda appreciates the guidance she gets from her supervisor, Director of Social Services Daniqwa Buckner.

“She has been a great teacher and a great mentor,” Amanda says. “Our unit managers have been very helpful and don’t mind explaining things. Everyone is willing to help you with questions. They’re very supportive here.”

Homeland resident Sadie Hawkins: 106 and going strong


Sadie Hawkins was commuting between home and work when her doctor issued a warning. If she kept riding the train back and forth every day, she wouldn’t last long, he said.

In October, Sadie turned 106 years old.

“He died, and I’m still here,” she says.

The day after her 106th birthday, Homeland Center arranged a Zoom call with her family. They talked about her life steeped in faith. During the call, Sadie showed her spot-on sense of humor while sharing her thoughts on the excellent care she’s getting at Homeland – especially the enjoyable meals.

“They give you enough to eat,” she says. “Oh, my goodness, yes.”

Sadie has seen the world, but her heart belongs to her native Pennsylvania, where she has lived most of her life. For a time, her father was a coal miner. With five children, things weren’t always easy, but the family managed. When the Great Depression arrived, they got by.

“I remember people were hungry, but I wasn’t,” she says.

World War II interrupted young adulthood. Sadie’s two brothers went to war. One died in a naval battle, and the other endured captivity as a Japanese POW. Sadie became a clerk for the U.S. government to do her part.

“I never graduated from high school, but I went to a business school for 10 months to get my education,” she says. “That got me into the business. Otherwise, I’d have been out of luck. I didn’t have a college education, but I could add and subtract.”

She loved her work and enjoyed a long career in government. Over her long life, Sadie has seen society change completely. She’s no fan of technology, especially the cellphones and screens that dominate today’s world.

Asked if life is better with or without technology, she has a ready answer.

“Without, because people don’t appreciate the little things in life.” Sadie once told her nurses that she walked 100 steps a day, and when they asked if she got the number from a Fitbit, she said, ‘No, I just counted my steps!’”

Life took a new turn days after her 90th birthday when Sadie married her longtime companion, Orville Hawkins. He died only one year later, but they enjoyed excursions and family visits in their travel trailer in their time together.

Homeland has been very lovely, Sadie says.

“Everyone is really great,’’ she says of the staff. “They take care of you. Anything you want done; they’ll do. They’re a great bunch of people. They work hard.”

Sadie’s birthdays are always a cause for celebration. Because of COVID restrictions, last year, friends and family held a drive-by party. This year, the party moved to Homeland’s porch.

As for all that good Homeland food, she recalls one particular meal.

“It was filled with macaroni and cheese, ice cream and cherry pie,” she says. “It was good, but I couldn’t eat all of it.”

Then again, she admits: “later on, I got some more ice cream.”

She spends her days reading, especially the Bible.

“I’m a Catholic, but I go to any church that is near,” she says. “I’m sure the good Lord is not going to ask, ‘Are you a Catholic, or are you a Protestant?’”

Friends and family call and send presents. A niece recently set a bottle of her favorite perfume – the classic Estee Lauder Beautiful.

“It really smells nice,” she says. “I’ve used that scent for years. Some men have stopped me and asked me what I’m wearing. Sometimes, people don’t tell you what they’re wearing, but I like it, and so I’ll let anybody know who asks.”

As for the secret of living to 106, “the good Lord figures out everything,” she says

“It’s Him or nobody. I don’t know who else could do the things that He does for people. When I broke my hip, and they said I wasn’t going to make it, I thought to myself, ‘Well, we’ll just let it fall on Him and do what He has to do.’ And here I am.”

Homeland Center’s Fall Fest and Halloween Spirit Week deliver autumn fun


Candy corn and apples. Pumpkins and witchy cupcakes.

Welcome to Homeland Center’s first “Homeland Fall Fest” – a celebration of autumn that brought residents and staff outside to enjoy a crisp day and fun with friends.

“You could tell what it meant to them,” says Activities Coordinator Emma Lengyel. “Even on a cloudy day, they were so happy to be outside and be together.”

The Fall Fest was just one measure of autumn fun at Homeland. The Homeland Activities Department scheduled Fall Fest the Friday before a “spirited” Halloween week, full of costumes and treats, ensuring that every Homeland resident experienced the colors, tastes, and sights that brought back fond memories of autumns past.

Fall Fest

As with many of the Activities Department’s efforts since March 2020, Fall Fest emerged from brainstorming alternatives for activities that were scuttled due to COVID-19. Homeland’s annual Summer Fair wasn’t held this year, but Activities staff still worked to give residents a day in the sun.

“We wanted something special for the residents and the staff, just because this past year, and almost two years now, has been crazy,” says Activities Director Aleisha Connors. “We decided to get the residents outside with a fun event planned for them.”

Fall Fest was spread across two venues – the parking lot for skilled care residents and the Chet Henry Memorial Pavilion for personal care. Each featured fun, fall-themed activities, such as a photo booth where residents posed in front of a backdrop image of hay bales and pumpkins, wearing masks depicting leaves, pumpkins, and “I love fall.”

“The residents have been talking about them all week,” Activities Coordinator Diomaris Pumarol said of the pictures, which were displayed in the Homeland Gathering Room. “Some of them are really funny.”

There also was pumpkin decorating, plenty of baked goods and even Farm Show milkshakes from the PA Dairymen’s Association food truck. Residents could even bob for apples using long-handled grabbers.

Halloween happenings

In pre-COVID years, residents thrilled to little ghosts, princesses, and superheroes – the children of Homeland staff – roaming the halls for trick or treat night. Until that popular event can return, Homeland Activities have made sure that residents aren’t missing the delights of Halloween, with daily ghostly doings for Halloween Spirit Week.

Monday was the day for wearing a favorite Halloween shirt. Nurses and CNAs wore Halloween-themed scrubs. Several staffers wore shirts from the movie “Hocus Pocus.”

On Tuesday, crazy socks peeked out from the staff’s Crocs and Danskos. One nurse in personal care wore spider web socks. On Wednesday, accessories day, Aleisha donned her “light-up” pumpkin earrings.

The week culminated with a repeat of the costume parade that was a big hit in 2020. Staff dressed in costumes, coordinated by department, and paraded to music through all four units of the building, handing out bags of candy along the way.

The Activities Department decided to dress as witches. Emma has been “going very hard into Spirit Week.”

“I made my own broom,” she says. “I have a big flouncy cape and a skirt and a witch hat with feathers.”

Residents join the fun, too, wearing colorful outfits and accessories while they find themselves reminiscing.

“It’s something festive, something that brings residents to those days, not necessarily when they went trick or treating, but mostly when they took their children trick or treating,” says Diomaris. “Those are the memories that come to them.”