Dennis Dinger and Tina Jones are a father-daughter duo with divergent careers but a shared passion for Homeland Center.
Dennis is a career financial services executive who serves as treasurer for the Homeland Board of Trustees. Tina started working in Homeland’s dietary department as a summer college job and is now a Homeland registered dietitian.
Both give their time and talents to help sustain the highest possible quality of life for Homeland residents.
Dennis has been associated with the board periodically since the mid-1990s when he was the CFO for the former Dauphin Deposit Bank. At that time, the bank president was retiring, and he suggested that Dennis apply for his seat on the Homeland board.
He said he looked into the board’s makeup and was impressed with the caliber of community leaders who served as members.
“It has always been a top-notch board,” Dennis said. “They always try to get trustees who have various backgrounds so that we can bring all of our expertise together for the sole purpose of benefitting Homeland.”
Tina was studying nutrition and dietetics at Messiah College (now Messiah University) when she took her first summer job at Homeland in 2008. Working as a dietary aide, she built experience in nutrition’s impact on health, a subject that has interested her since high school.
After graduating, she returned to Homeland and worked in dietary and nutrition roles while earning her dietetic technician credentials, followed by her registered dietitian certification.
Registered dietitians play a crucial role in the comprehensive care of residents. Tina is knowledgeable about the science of nutrition and its power to promote the overall health of the elderly.
She and her colleagues on the clinical side –– including nurses, social workers, and therapists — make sure that residents maintain an appropriate weight and protect their skin, and nutrition is a significant contributor.
“We work as a team to help the residents live to the best of their ability and be independent,” Tina said. “It’s about keeping residents happy and keeping them motivated. We like to bring smiles to their faces. It’s more than just nutrition. It’s caring about them.”
Tina takes every opportunity to get to know residents on a personal level. She also enjoys working with residents’ family members.
“I’m here for the resident, but I’m here for the family because they could be going through a difficult time,” she said. “I always give out my phone number freely.”
One resident’s family member once called to thank her for making a low-sodium diet palatable, saying the family could see the care she was providing for their mother.
Tina has a knack for nurturing the elderly and is “made for this job,” said her proud dad.
“She’s a hard-working, caring individual,” Dennis said. “I must say she has a wonderful boss here at Homeland – Yolanda Williams. She’s like a second mother.”
“I second that,” Tina chimes in. Homeland Director of Nutritional Services, Laundry, and Housekeeping Yolanda Williams has been “very, very helpful from the very beginning.
“She has a very good management style and cares about her employees,’’ Tina said of Williams, Homeland’s Director of Nutritional Services, Laundry, and Housekeeping. “She’s caring, and you can see that. She wants her staff to do well. She constantly impacts us, which impacts the residents and helps us care for them.”
Like Tina, Dennis also enjoys meeting Homeland residents. He constantly searches out those he might have a connection with from the workplace, church, or, especially, his Schuylkill County hometown of Hegins.
“I like to stop in to say hello and reminisce,” he said. “In a roundabout way, I’m caring for the residents with what I can contribute to the board.”
Dennis serves in a volunteer advisory capacity and said he is impressed with the financial acumen of Homeland executives and the management of the Homeland endowment. These funds assure that residents can stay in Homeland if their resources run out.
Dennis believes that donors support Homeland’s endowment, operations, and special projects because they believe in the mission. Typically, they either know about Homeland’s quality of care through a previous relationship, such as a board membership or a family member in residence, or they’re impressed by Homeland’s 155-year history.
Tina admires her father’s commitment to the growth and financial stability of Homeland, especially as a volunteer who carves out time amid his other job and family duties.
“To do everything he’s done in his life and volunteer on top of that shows that he’s a very caring individual,” she said.
The Dinger family often gets together for meals and extended-family vacations to Myrtle Beach. Whenever there’s a birthday, Dennis’ wife, Sandy, plans a meal of the birthday honoree’s choice. Tina always requests her mom’s meatloaf. Dennis likes a September picnic with hot dogs and hamburgers.
“Our family is growing with the grandchildren now, so it seems like there’s a birthday dinner every month,” Dennis said.
Tina is the youngest of Dennis and Sandy’s three children, and she is expecting their fifth grandchild – her first child — this summer.
Everyone in Homeland management is helpful, Tina concludes.
“They hear our wants and needs,” she said. “If we have a concern about a resident and take it to management, they will hear us and adjust to help that resident. It’s a team approach here with everything.”