Activities Coordinator Diomaris Pumarol: Brings the spice of life to Homeland residents


Looking to change up your exercise routine? How about cardio drumming?

“You hit a big ball,” says Activities Coordinator Diomaris Pumarol. “We play music from the ‘50s and ‘60s that residents connect with and they drum along.”

The cardio drumming is one example of how Diomaris brings boundless energy and imagination to find ways to keep residents active, personalizing activities to meet their interests and capabilities.

“My main interest is to keep the residents doing things that bring happiness to them,” says Diomaris, who joined Homeland in late 2019. ”It doesn’t feel like a job – working at Homeland fills my heart.’’

Diomaris initially trained as an accountant and, for much of her career, worked in financial services. But a move to the United States from her native Dominican Republic seven years ago inspired a change.

It all began when Diomaris’ daughter married a man from Hershey. Diomaris and her husband visited the area several times and decided they wanted to be around when grandkids started to arrive.

The move inspired her to seek a job “filling my heart;” this she found as an activity assistant at an area nursing home. When she joined the Homeland staff, she discovered a workplace that she genuinely loves.

“How can I change people’s lives? Just by giving them a little bit of attention,’’ she says. “Maybe someone is tired, but you engage that person in an activity, and at the end of the day, they tell you they had a wonderful day and say thank you.”

The Wednesday drumming sessions came about because Diomaris wanted to spice up the Homeland morning exercise class. Instead of doing the same workouts every day, participating residents now have varied sessions, depending on the day.
“I try to keep them busy according to their interests,” she says. “Some residents love to help. When we cook, everybody does something – read instructions, read the package, beat the eggs. It’s teamwork.”

A Friday “happy hour” may feature a bit of armchair traveling, with the residents taking a vicarious trip to France or Italy, enjoying the countries’ food and drink. One recent happy hour fell on Dominican Independence Day, so Diomaris displayed photos, and residents had a chance to eat empanadas and yuca. She even did a little dance from her home country, and two residents who had been to the Dominican shared their memories.

The world swinging around her grandson

Outside of work, Diomaris tracks time as “before and after the grandson.” She and her husband, Jerry Perez, go to church on Sundays, and they once loved to go out on weekends and enjoy good music. Now, with their grandson in the picture, “everything goes around him,” with visits to parks and zoos.

At Homeland, Diomaris cherishes her role in a team devoted to creating a full roster of fun activities every day.

“Homeland is the best place I’ve ever seen,” she says. “All the staff care about residents. You can see they like what they do.”

Infection control at Homeland: Strict attention to safety without disrupting quality of life


When a housekeeper suggested to Homeland’s Infection Preventionist Emile Shumbusho that the clock in Homeland Center’s Main Gathering Room would be a good, centralized place for a hand sanitizer station, he readily agreed.

“That’s a fantastic idea,” he told the housekeeper. “Let’s do it right away.”

Teamwork, agility, and communications have long been Homeland’s strength, and it has paid dividends as Shumbusho and the entire staff work to maintain sustained infection control during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Shumbusho, who joined Homeland in October 2020, was a physician in his native country Rwanda. It was a role that fulfilled a dream born in childhood when he wanted to help people in his war-torn country.

Emile, son and wife Diane

When he came to the U.S. to join his then-fiancée, an Army obstetrician-gynecologist who is now his wife, he shifted into infection control after finding it difficult to get into medical practice. He sees the field as fascinating for its power to combine medical knowledge with operational improvements designed to keep people safe.

“I’ve been impressed by the dedication of staff and the professionalism of leadership,’’ Shumbusho says of Homeland. “People are not just colleagues. They are trying to help and be good neighbors.”

From the beginning of the pandemic, Barry Ramper II, Homeland’s president and CEO, urged the team to do their best without worrying about monetary cost.

“That is a rare statement in health care – really rare,” says Shumbusho. “Putting the residents first, understanding the concerns for the residents, making sure that residents and staff are safe – it’s about adjusting to change.”

Having a dedicated role for infection control on staff ensures “undivided attention to complete that task,” he says. New federal and state infection prevention guidance mesh with Homeland’s existing precautions.

“You have to follow up and make sure every decision comes across,” says Shumbusho. “I feel like people comply when they understand the reason behind it. It’s just taking the extra step to make sure that people understand.“

“When we are in meetings or have a policy to implement, there are always two questions: Is this something we need to do, and how can we do it in a way that either improves or does not detract from the quality of life for our residents?’’ he says. “Making sure that every process centers on people’s quality of life is a lesson I carry with me.’’

Homeland resident Lyn Russek: A wonderful life


Lynn Russek, (L) assisting with efforts during WW II

Lyn Russek likes to say that she’s lived a full life – and has the stories to prove it.

As a Homeland Center resident, she enjoys attentive care and her personal care suite’s serenity. She is happy to share memories of her years stretching from department stores’ heyday to a career with IBM.

Lyn grew up in the Philadelphia suburb of Elkins Park. Her father, F.O. Alexander, was an award-winning comic strip artist and political cartoonist who served with the American Expeditionary Forces’ Camouflage Engineers during World War I. He drew his best-known comic strip, Hairbreadth Harry, from 1931 to 1939. In 1941, he joined the Philadelphia Evening Bulletin as its editorial cartoonist, with his cartoons distributed in syndication, and remained there until retiring in 1967.

“I’m very proud of him,” says Lyn today.

As a teenager during World War II, Lyn joined the civilian Navy League Service and served at Abington Memorial Hospital, filling tiny bags with teaspoons of sugar for patients’ coffee and taking trays to their rooms. An Abington Memorial Hospital pamphlet report from 1945 on the war years features the volunteers – and even has a photo of Lyn and another volunteer hard at work.

Lyn earned a degree in fashion from Centenary College in Hackettstown, NJ, and then worked as a model and fashion coordinator at Dewees department store in Philadelphia. Later, she worked at Russek’s Fifth Avenue, a New York-based store that had just opened a Philadelphia branch. There, she met her husband, Harold, who was working in his family business as a buyer for suits and coats.
Harold was called back into the Navy, serving as an officer on the aircraft carrier the USS Princeton and, during his term of duty, Lyn relocated to Coronado, CA for two years. Following his service, the couple returned east to Scarsdale, NY, where Harold continued in retail management, and the couple had two children Hal and Julie. Lyn loved raising her two children as well as singing in the church and serving on the altar guild.

In 1967, however, she decided it was time to go back to work. Kelly Girls, the famous staffing agency, sent her to IBM. She stayed for 23 years until her retirement.

Starting as a technical librarian, Lyn pursued positions in ordering and sales – jobs with more responsibilities, higher salaries, and tremendous competition in the male-dominated profession.

In one office, she was the only woman among seven men. She remembers working one New Year’s Eve — not a man in sight — while she entered all the salesmen’s tallies so they could make their quotas for the year.

“They could be funny. They could be mean,” she says. “The guys all kidded the heck out of me. It was fun being a woman in a crazy time. I never had any trouble that I couldn’t handle. If they wanted my help, which they did because I got along with their customers very well, they were very nice to me.”

In 1983, her boss announced that her department was moving to Mechanicsburg. Her mother had recently died. Her husband was recovering from a heart attack.

“Let’s try it,” she said. Her husband said, “Okay.”

They liked their new area very much. Lyn came to know Homeland because Harold lived in skilled care before he died in 2011. Since she came to Homeland in February 2020, she enjoys reading, doing Sudoku puzzles and word games, or sometimes just “sitting and doing practically nothing.”

She also listens to choral music on CDs sent by her friend, Dr. Robert Lau, the renowned liturgical composer and former choirmaster of her church, Mt. Calvary Episcopal Church in Camp Hill. For 30 years, Lyn sang second soprano in the Mt. Calvary choir.

“I wasn’t very good, but I loved it, and I blended,” she says. “I was a good blender. The notes were where they should be.”

At Homeland, Lyn enjoys the daily exercise class. She keeps in touch with her “wonderful, wonderful” children and grandchildren and cherishes her three great-grandchildren and is looking forward to a fourth, who is due in August.

“I like my suite” she says. “The people at Homeland are very nice to me.”

Looking back, she knows she has had “a full life. I loved my career. I love my family. What more can you ask for?”