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.’”