Homeland Board of Managers member Judy Bowman: Sharing her blessings


Homeland Board of Managers member Judy Bowman

As a career physical therapist, Judy Bowman saw many long-term care facilities with loving atmospheres – but none matched the intimacy of Homeland Center.

“Being a smaller place, everybody knows each other here,” she says. “We have more fun interacting with the residents. The staff is unbelievably and truly caring. The residents notice that, and the families notice that.”

Judy serves on the Homeland Board of Managers, a unique panel of women devoted to sustaining Homeland’s renowned homelike feel in décor and activities. The Board of Managers descended from the original 18 women from nine Harrisburg churches who, in 1867, founded the “Home for the Friendless” to shelter Civil War widows and orphans.

Coming full circle, Judy remembers that her mother attended church at one of those nine institutions. Judy’s grandfather would take her mother to visit Bethesda Mission and Homeland Center every Sunday.

Judy joined the Board of Managers in 2020, just when COVID restrictions shut down the fun activities that the board was known for presenting – picnics, Monte Carlo night, even a sock hop featuring an Elvis Presley impersonator.

Now that most restrictions have lifted, the board is in full swing. They have hosted a French fry truck, planned a fall festival, baked cupcakes with the residents, and bought patio furniture and a firepit where residents make s’mores. They also made 250 bows to refresh Homeland’s holiday wreaths and held an ice cream sundae party where residents chose their ice cream flavors and toppings.

“We had so much fun talking to the residents,” Judy says. “That’s what was missing during COVID, that interaction.”

Judy serves on the board’s House and Grounds Committee, sustaining Homeland’s atmosphere as “a beautiful, loving, and caring place.”

“This is the residents’ home,” she says. “Every member of the staff, whether in nursing, housekeeping, maintenance, dietary, or activities, focuses on each person’s needs because everybody’s different.”

As a physical therapist, Judy advocated for legislation benefiting the profession, served as an appointee on the State Board of Physical Therapy, and worked in rehab facilities and for the Visiting Nurses Association. She always gravitated toward working with the elderly.

“I enjoyed the conversations with them and the fact that they so appreciated it,” she says.

Judy and her husband both have strong ties to area history. Judy’s Baum ancestors settled in the region on a land grant from a son of William Penn. Her father worked in management for Hershey Enterprises. For a time, he worked in the factory supply center and had to be available for emergencies, so the family lived in the nearby Homestead, where Milton Hershey was born and perfected his milk chocolate formula.

“I couldn’t understand why people would come up and want to see the house,” she says. “I climbed every tree around there. I always brought little bunnies home and nursed them back to health.”

Judy’s husband, Steve, is a Bowman of Bowman Bowman & Co. department store, founded by his great-grandfather in 1871 and whose flagship stood in downtown Harrisburg for 100 years. Steve worked for the family business until he and his father started a sewer cleaning business. When they sold that enterprise, he went to work part-time for Boscov’s, where you’ll still find him conscientiously serving customers in the shoe department.

“He never gave up retail,” Judy says.

Judy also had her time in retail as a part-time bridal consultant at Boscov’s. Since retiring from PT and Boscov’s in 2019, she has volunteered. At Homeland, she witnesses the extraordinary commitment of staff sharing their enthusiasm and talents, and she has come to grasp the “unbelievable” scope of the work performed by the all-volunteer Board of Managers.

“It is very, very hands-on,” she says. “This board right now has so many different talents, and everybody works together using their strengths and gifts.”

She feels grateful to share her gifts – a lesson she learned from her mother, who graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Dickinson College and taught at Milton Hershey School. Her mother also volunteered for countless community causes, and always had room at the dinner table for any student who dropped by.

“The opportunity to help at Homeland is a blessing,” she says. “It truly is. We have an opportunity to help others, to give back, and to serve others. I think we get more rewarded than the other way around.”

Homeland’s Rev. Dann Caldwell to Speak at Soldiers’ National Cemetery in Gettysburg


Homeland’s Rev. Dann Caldwell to Speak at Soldiers’ National Cemetery in Gettysburg

It has been 159 years since President Abraham Lincoln traveled to Gettysburg, the site of one of the bloodiest battles of the Civil War. What he said that day in his two-minute speech and the sacrifices soldiers made on that hallowed ground stay with us today. Every year on November 19, a dedication ceremony and remembrance parade are held at the Soldiers’ National Cemetery in Gettysburg to honor that moment in our nation’s history. This year’s Dedication Day will feature a closing prayer by Rev. Dann Caldwell, chaplain for Homeland Center and Homeland Hospice.

Dann has been a member of Homeland’s team for nearly 10 years. In his role, Dann provides spiritual and emotional support to patients and their families. For Dann, a life-long resident of the region, the opportunity to participate in this year’s Dedication Day is an honor.

“A friend from my church recommended me to the Lincoln Fellowship of Pennsylvania,” Dann says. “I am humbled to be part of this historic event.”

This year’s Dedication Day includes remarks from three distinguished scholars. Dr. Allen Guelzo, author of award-winning books about Civil War history will give the keynote address. Historian and writer Jon Meacham, who won the Pulitzer Prize for his biography American Lion: Andrew Jackson in the White House, will present the Gettysburg Address and provide remarks. Harold Holzer, pre-eminent Lincoln scholar, will introduce Meacham.

For his closing prayer, Dann is drawing on his deep well of faith and pride as a citizen of our nation to deliver a message of peace while honoring those who are buried at the cemetery. As the final resting place for thousands of soldiers, the site summons a variety of emotions from loss to the healing power of faith.

“The day reminds us to bear witness to the tragedy of warfare,” Dann says. “God’s desire is for peace and reconciliation for all of His children.”

Homeland’s history is rooted in the impact of the Civil War. Homeland was founded in 1867 as the “Home for the Friendless” to serve families impacted by the devastation of the war. Today, Homeland Center is a personal care home, memory care home, skilled nursing facility and rehabilitation facility. Homeland also provides hospice, home care, home health and palliative care services to serve the diverse and changing needs of families throughout central Pennsylvania.

This year’s Dedication Day is sponsored by the Gettysburg National Military Park, the Lincoln Fellowship of Pennsylvania, the Gettysburg Foundation and Gettysburg College. The event is free and open to the public. For more information, visit Dedication Day Events.

For more information on Homeland Center and Homeland Hospice, call (717) 221-7890.

Homeland’s 2023 “Cute and Cuddly” Lottery Calendar!



Wag your tail with a chance to win prizes 365 days of the year, while at the same time helping Homeland with fundraising efforts that support benevolent care programs.

This year’s adorable Homeland Lottery Calendar features the lovable pets of our staff, boards, volunteers and complementary therapists!

The Lottery Calendar is a Homeland tradition because it is a gift that keeps on giving. Everyone who purchases a calendar is eligible to be entered into daily drawings for cash prizes of up to $100. Once received, please review the entry process on the inside back cover of the calendar.

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 $60,000 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.

Homeland believes that every interaction with a resident, client, or patient is an opportunity to create a memorable moment, making an ordinary day a special day. This is especially true for residents who no longer have the financial means to pay. A hallmark of Homeland Center is that no one is ever asked to leave because they can no longer afford care.

A limited number of these “cute and cuddly” calendars were available, but all 1000 have been sold. If you have any questions about next year’s calendars, please contact our Development Office at (717) 221-7885.

View 2023 Lottery Winners


ADON Latashia Simmons: Bringing joy through personal interaction


ADON Latishia Simmons

One of Latashia Simmons’ daughters is 13 and doing well, but around age 4, she was diagnosed with cancer. That experience inspired Latashia to become a registered nurse.

“Back then, I always said that once her treatments were done, I would go to school, and that’s what I did,” Latashia says. “Now she wants to be a nurse.”

Latashia has been with Homeland for 11 years, initially as a CNA providing direct care for residents. Today she is the Assistant Director of Nursing/Clinical Liaison, working with the team to ensure quality care.

“I absolutely love it here,” she says. “There’s teamwork. I love the residents. When my daughter was sick, it was like my therapy to come into work.”

Her daughter’s time in the health care system planted the seed for Latashia to put her career in high gear.

“I was there for her emotionally and everything, but I felt so hopeless,” she says. “I wanted to be able to help people.”

She went on to earn her LPN, RN, and associate degree. Next year, she will complete her bachelor’s degree from U.S. University.

“I’ve always been a climb-up-the-ladder person,” she says, recalling her early years at a McDonald’s, moving from crew to assistant manager to manager. “That’s kind of what I do. I climb up.”

At Homeland, Latashia is a floater supporting the other Assistant Directors of Nursing, or ADONs, as they’re known. She covers their units when they go on vacation or take a leave of absence.

When COVID shut Homeland’s doors, family members especially appreciated the support that Latashia and her coworkers gave the residents.

“Everyone came together during COVID,” she says. “That brought it out more, and it’s still here.”

Most of her work concentrates on Homeland’s skilled care unit, but she also loves interacting with residents in personal care.

“Everybody knows me over there, too,” she says. “I just like chit-chatting all over the place. A lot of residents have watched me grow. They all watched me go to school. A resident from personal care came to one of my graduations.”

She likes to say that learning all she can is one of her superpowers.

“It helps me with critical thinking, and I try to apply that to my everyday workflow,’’ Latashia says. “In nursing, you learn something new every day.”

Latashia has lived in the Harrisburg area since she was 10 or 11, but in her early years, she traveled with her Air Force dad to Florida, New Mexico, Alaska, and Philadelphia.

When she’s at home, she turns down the stress levels from her busy days by reading or watching movies.

“I like a lot of sci-fi stuff like werewolves and vampires,” she says. “I like romance novels, too. I watch a lot of Hallmark Channel.”

Latashia has four children, all living at home, ranging in age from 11 to 21. The family recently bought a house in the Harrisburg area and welcomed a new puppy, a blue-eyed pit bull.

“He’s so cute,’’ she says. “I’ve always wanted to get a dog for the family. The kids all just love him.’’

Back at work, every degree and promotion Latashia has earned makes her job busier, but that’s okay.

“No matter how busy I am, I still make time for the residents,” Latashia says. “It’s important for me to feel like I made a difference.”

‘Vet to Vet’ program brings Homeland’s Veterans together for friendship and shared memories


Homeland's vet to vet program brings veterans together

Bob Timpko appeared lost in thought as his fellow Veterans commented after seeing a short film depicting a soldier’s first-hand account of fighting in World War II’s Battle of the Bulge.

After the account of Germany’s last-ditch effort to stop the allied advance into their country in mid-December 1944, many sang “You’re a Grand Old Flag,” and a few talked about their time in the military or their family member’s service.

“I went into the Marines because it was the toughest one,’’ said Bob Timpko, who served from 1958-62, followed by a career in sales. “I wanted to serve, and there was also a draft at the time, so I joined. They helped me grow.’’

Welcome to the Vet to Vet Café, where Veterans and family members of those who served have a chance to talk and share their memories. The monthly gathering, held in Homeland Center’s 1950s-style Olewine Diner, offers these residents an opportunity to connect with others who understand the camaraderie and sacrifices of military service.

The program initially started with Homeland Hospice, an outreach program that cares for patients in the comfort of their homes or wherever they live. Homeland Hospice embraced the program as part of its work with We Honor Veterans, which offers hospices and community organizations guidance on assisting veterans.

Homeland Hospice Chaplain Todd Carver, who also served as a chaplain in the Army reserves, said the military culture is unique, and the Vet to Vet program gives Homeland Center residents who served the opportunity to connect with others who understand what they are feeling.

“There can be an emotional cost associated with military service; what they did 40 or 50 years ago can still affect the person they are all these years later,’’ Carver said. “Vet to Vet lets them know they are not alone and they can share their stories and experiences.’’

Another way the program recognizes Veterans is through the “pinning ceremony,’’ in which Homeland residents and Hospice patients receive a pin and certificate reflecting the military branch in which they served. They also receive a star cut from a decommissioned American flag.

Carver said the ceremony is often emotional and that, as someone who served, it means a lot to him when he salutes his fellow Veteran and thanks them for helping protect the country.

“I’ve spent a significant portion of my life serving that particular population, and I feel the connections and the experiences I had are transferable and relatable, even to those who are my seniors,’’ Carver said. “It’s a common ground.’’

Laurie Murry, Homeland Hospice’s volunteer coordinator, said learning how to relate to patients and residents is crucial, which is why Homeland embraced Veteran-related programs.

“The Veteran community really has its own language and culture, and to truly understand it, you either have to have served or educate yourself so you can better interact with the patients,’’ Murry said.

“We found that often Veteran patients have a unique set of issues they may deal with at the end of life; perhaps they’ve had trauma or PTSD or have not dealt with an incident that occurred during combat,’’ she said. “With education and support, we’re able as civilians to understand better and help them more.’’

Homeland resident Eufemia Cruz-Santana: Enjoying the little things


Eufemia Cruz-Santana, Homeland resident

Eufemia Cruz-Santana loves her sweets. A candy jar sits enticingly on her windowsill, and she offers a visitor a cherry Life Saver. A few minutes later, she digs through the bowl and hands the visitor a gold-wrapped Werther’s Original with all its toffee goodness.

“Here’s the best one,” she says.

That moment of sharing encapsulates the sweet and generous nature of Eufemia. Her life hasn’t always been easy, but as her bright room full of whimsical gifts attests, she has built up a reservoir of love among her family and, now, the Homeland family that takes good care of her.

Eufemia, who grew up in Guayama, a historic beach town on Puerto Rico’s Caribbean coast, lost her father when she was 2 and her brother was 4. Her mother remarried and had more children, and when Eufemia was 15, she moved to Chicago to live with her aunt.

Before coming to Harrisburg in 1972, Eufemia, her husband, and their five children shuttled between Chicago, New Jersey, and Puerto Rico.

“Her husband came here to visit a cousin, and they liked it, so we all moved here,” says Eufemia’s daughter, Laura Segarra, of Hummelstown. “It was much better than living in an apartment in New Jersey. They liked the atmosphere.”

Eufemia came to Homeland in the spring of 2021. This fall, she celebrated a milestone birthday, her 80th, with a family party at her son’s house.

“It was a good birthday,” says Eufemia. “I always get something good.”

The windowsill in her room in Homeland’s Ellenberger memory care unit is cheery with the presents she got for that birthday.

“My daughter bought me this for my birthday,” she said, tapping a button on a teddy bear that sang happy birthday while a ball in its hands spun and lit up in different colors.

The windowsill has other gifts and mementos: a vial of sand from Atlantic City, family photos, and autumnal décor. For the holidays, Laura decorates the sill with a small Christmas tree. A toy dog curled on a dog bed is so realistic you think it’s sleeping.

“I love it,” says Eufemia. “I enjoy just seeing it.”

Eufemia raised her five children, and today she has 21 grandchildren, 27 great-grandchildren, and three great-great-grandchildren.

“I tried to do the best I could,” Eufemia says of her years raising a family.

Laura agrees. The family attended St. Francis Catholic Church in Harrisburg. The kids learned to cook, including the traditional Puerto Rican dish of rice with gandules, the legume known as pigeon peas. More importantly, Eufemia taught her children “how to respect people.”

“She taught us how to work for what you want,” says Laura. “She taught me to be who I am now, a responsible mom.”

When the weather is nice, Laura will take her mom on excursions to visit family, eat lunch, and see Eufemia’s friend, Esther. The two have been best friends since their kids were young.

“She’d do anything for me,” says Eufemia.

Eufemia looks sparkly in a shirt studded with tiny rhinestones. She wears pendants saying “Sweet Mom” and “Nana,” her grandma names, which have become the endearment everyone uses. Her fingernails are perfectly painted in a deep red – a hallmark of Homeland, where residents get regular manicures.

“It’s nice here,” Eufemia says. “I like it. The people are so nice. Everything is nice.”

Laura adds, “They really like Mommy here.”

Homeland keeps Eufemia busy with daily activities, and she enjoys it all. She is proud of the artwork she has colored in craft classes that hangs on her armoire’s doors.

“We sing,” she says. “We exercise. We play bingo.”

Laura and one of her sisters visit weekly. On this day, Laura brought her mother a lunch of sancocho, a Puerto Rican stew of vegetables and pork-neck bones, and homemade rice pudding. With Homeland watching over their mother, Laura and her siblings appreciate the peace of mind from knowing their mother is in good hands.

“When I call if there’s something wrong, right away, they get back to me,” Laura says. “If she’s not feeling well and maybe doesn’t tell anyone, I’ll call and tell them, and right away, they get on it. Whenever they do things for her, they check with me right away. We like the whole staff.”