Homeland Chef Manager George Shum: Listening to residents


Homeland Chef Manager George Shum

With his decades in food service, George Shum has learned that the small details make a big difference.

“We ensure our plates are preheated to keep the food warm,” said Homeland Center’s chef manager. “It’s simple but important.”

George joined Homeland in the spring of 2022, bringing his listening and management skills to the complex job of planning, ordering, inventorying, and scheduling that makes every meal served to residents possible.

At Homeland, kitchen staff takes good care of residents and personalizes their meals – something George hasn’t always seen at other nursing communities.

“If they want turkey and Swiss cheese on rye bread, we’ll make it for them as long as we have the ingredients,” he said. “This is something residents can look forward to.”

George’s journey in food service took him from a restaurant in East Side Manhattan to Richmond, Virginia, to Baltimore, and finally to York, where he worked for a chain restaurant and a nursing home food contractor. He has owned restaurants and managed kitchens. He is so skilled on the grill — keeping more than two dozen orders on track — that a coworker once called him “a beast.”

“I can’t teach you that,” he said. “I just go with it.”

George’s father was a chef, and when George was 10, he announced to the family that he would make a lunch of sweet and sour pork, but it didn’t go as well as he had hoped.

“The pork was uncooked,” he said with a laugh. “The middle was raw.”

He has learned to jump in wherever he’s needed.

“I never shy from doing dishes,” he said. “You have to lead by example. If I don’t want to do the dishes, it sends a message that it’s not a good thing. By the end of the day, I’m always drenched with soap.”

At Homeland, George joins the resident council meetings, taking note of suggestions and ideas for maintaining Homeland’s high standards in dining.

“At the most recent meeting, they said the meat is juicy and tender,” he said. “Everything is going well.”

Meal planning and execution for a retirement community always require the dual skills of listening and adjusting. If a resident misses her sugar-free ice cream, George makes sure to put in an order. When one resident shared that the fried fish tasted overly salty, George noticed that the breading was the culprit. He diluted the breading with a 50/50 split of corn meal, and the result was a big hit.

“I try to make it a point to acknowledge people when I see them,” he said. “I always try to put myself into their place. Treat others how you want to be treated. Give them a little bit of dignity. Give them respect. Joke with them. I think that’s important.”

George and his family immigrated to the U.S. from Hong Kong when he was 12. He knew English, although getting used to the spoken rather than the written word took time. In college, he trained as a civil engineer but, amid an oil crisis, couldn’t find work in that field.

Today, he indulges in his passion for building and tinkering by working on classic cars. Currently, he has a smooth-running, six-cylinder 2002 Subaru – an inexpensive purchase that has sucked up thousands of dollars in parts — and a diesel 1985 Mercedes-Benz 300. He has also restored other Subarus to sell or give to his sons.

George has four grown children – two daughters, two sons, none of whom cook – and one granddaughter. He and his wife, a middle school art teacher in Baltimore, live in Dallastown.

He is happy to be working at Homeland.

“This is the first time I worked for a nonprofit organization, and I see the difference in how they treat the residents,” he said. “It’s really nice.”

Artist Marilyn LaDieu: Finding color in nature


artist marilyn ladieu

From her earliest years, Marilyn LaDieu had relatives who were artists and who always encouraged her in her artistic pursuits.

“I have memories of people saying, ‘Oh, Marilyn’s an artist. She can draw that,’” said LaDieu. “I’ve run into many people over the years who always wanted to try art but were discouraged at some point. You have to keep practicing. If you have an interest, I think you can go somewhere.”

For winter 2023, LaDieu’s works hung in Homeland’s sunny Florida Room gallery. The exhibit is courtesy of the Art Association of Harrisburg’s community gallery initiative, which brings in high-quality work from local artists for residents and staff to enjoy.

Her vibrant works reflect her fascination with color, nature, and architecture. Many are plein air scenes painted in the open air to capture moments when the scenery and light are just right.
LaDieu was born in Rhode Island but moved to the Rochester, NY, area at age 9. Her first job after earning an MFA in illustration from Syracuse University College of Visual and Performing Arts, was creating medical illustrations for the University of Rochester. Ironically, her brother used a textbook she illustrated when he studied medicine.

Later, LaDieu and her husband, whom she met at Syracuse University, moved to Hagerstown, MD, and then to the Harrisburg area in 1976. In those days, LaDieu was busy with their two sons and the occasional freelance illustrating job.

Around 1990, LaDieu returned to fine art, painting large studio works, and in 1993, she and four other artists staged an exhibit at the Art Association of Harrisburg.

She went along when some of her artist friends wanted to try plein air painting. She had to overcome the nervousness from having passers-by looking over her shoulder, but in a few months, “something clicked in, and I was okay with it.”

“When you’re standing outside and see this whole scene, it’s hard to zoom in on some little section of that scene and concentrate on it,” she said. “Every time you look up, you lose where you’re looking. After a while, I became better at it.”

LaDieu and her husband live in West Hanover Township, travel extensively, and spend winters in Venice, Florida. She has painted in plein air festivals in Escalante, Utah, with its breathtaking canyons and rock formations.

“It’s beautiful countryside,” said LaDieu. “There are beautiful rocks all over the place, and lots of colors compared to the east, which is green. Out there are reds, oranges, and yellows.”

Colors fascinate LaDieu so much that she is currently taking an online course from artist Patti Mollica, known for her vibrant color work. LaDieu is learning such techniques as unifying a painting’s look by mixing a single “mother color” into every color used. She is also discovering “colorful grays,” which the artist creates by mixing complementary colors.

“If you have a bright color with one of these colorful grays next to it, it can make the bright color pop out of the canvas,” LaDieu said.

LaDieu belongs to several art associations and has shown her works at Art Association of Harrisburg and the Perry County Council on the Arts. Her eldest son, Ben LaDieu, who draws in pencil and pen and ink, recently won Best in Show for PCCA’s Annual Juried Exhibition (find his intricate, fantastical works at www.benladieuart.com).

For the Homeland exhibit, LaDieu chose scenes from her travels, such as the Cavendish Cliffs on Canada’s Prince Edward Island, but also some of Harrisburg’s historic neighborhoods and riverfront that viewers might recognize.

Homeland’s gallery is “a nice space,” she said. “Homeland is one of the nicer retirement homes to be in. These exhibits give people enjoyment. They can look at beautiful art.”

Homeland resident Joyce Zandieh: Dedicated to justice, and loving the Homeland life


homeland resident Joyce Zandieh

Joyce Zandieh is a new resident at Homeland, but since moving into her personal care suite, people can see a difference.

“My friends say they can feel a change in me since I came here,” she said. “I always had to figure out who would cut my grass. Will the kids do this forever? Yesterday was the first snow in my adult life when I didn’t have to worry about who was going to shovel the snow. It’s like freedom, finally.”

Joyce brings a lifetime of activism and advocacy to Homeland. As a career nurse, she always found a way to speak up for others and help them overcome barriers.

On the day Joyce was born in Harrisburg, her father was in England, preparing to cross the English Channel with General George S. Patton’s 3rd Armored Division in the wake of D-Day. She grew up in Lemoyne before the family moved to the Mechanicsburg area.

After graduating from Cumberland Valley High School, she joined friends attending nursing school at Polyclinic Hospital in Harrisburg. In her last year, she found she enjoyed working in psychiatric care and providing care during labor and delivery. When she graduated, Joyce won an award for outstanding ability in obstetrical nursing.

“The miracle of seeing somebody being born was amazing,” she said. “I just loved it.”

Graduation launched a 45-year career in nursing, including time in her beloved labor and delivery. When she worked at Holy Spirit Hospital, she and a nurse who shared her interest in obstetrics and psychiatry co-founded the Maternal Assistance Program for pregnant women battling drug addiction.

Through the program, case managers helped women and babies get to doctors’ appointments and find whatever help they needed.

Joyce, who has a son and daughter from her first marriage, was single for 14 years after her divorce until she met Mehrdad Zandieh in 1985. A member of the Bahá’í faith, he fled his native Iran during the Iranian Revolution to escape persecution.

mehrdad and joyce zandieh

Making his way to the U.S., he met Joyce, a fellow Bahá’í drawn to the faith by its themes of one God, religion, and mankind. They married in 1990 and enjoyed movies, picnics, Bahá’í activities, and holy days. (For a good primer on Bahá’í, Joyce recommends www.bahaifaith.org).

They also shared a love of Broadway shows, counting “Phantom of the Opera” and “Les Misérables” as their favorites. Joyce remembers her first Broadway experience when she was about 13. The family was driving home from a shore vacation when she and her sister urged their parents to follow signs to New York City.

“And they went!” Joyce marvels. They saw Ethel Merman in “Gypsy.” “She never used a microphone. That hooked me on Broadway shows.”

Joyce is a lifetime NAACP member who believes passionately in equality and fairness.

As a member and later chair of the Harrisburg Human Relations Commission, she and a Latino woman once separately answered the same rental ads, busting the landlords whose blatantly inequitable treatment of the two violated fair housing policies.

“I’ve always been an advocate for people,” Joyce said. “I never wanted anybody to be mistreated.”

Joyce’s ties to Homeland go back many years, knowing its sterling reputation from her mother’s time as a resident to the support from Homeland HomeHealth nurses after knee and hip replacements.

When Mehrdad, a cancer survivor, was diagnosed with a new tumor early in the COVID pandemic, Joyce cared for him at home. In his last few weeks, Homeland Hospice sent a nurse to help with the medical care and an aide to take care of Mehrdad’s personal needs.

“I felt relief because I could be the wife again,” she said.

Mehrdad died in May 2020. Joyce grieved deeply but continued living in her Harrisburg home, still doing favorite things like renting a limo to take her daughter and daughter-in-law to see Hugh Jackman in “The Music Man.”

However, looking back on the last year, Joyce realizes that she was building up towards the move to Homeland, having her house cleaned and giving family and friends her beautiful Persian rugs from Mehrdad’s native Iran.

An avid fan of Freddy Mercury and Elvis Presley, Joyce brought a Freddy Mercury doll crocheted by her daughter to her bright Homeland suite. As she settles in, Joyce looks forward to starting a new jigsaw puzzle featuring the album covers of Queen. She loves playing bingo and enjoys the musicians who entertain the residents.

“Sometimes, an older gentleman will get up and dance with some of the aides, and it’s so sweet,” she said. “I don’t have to cook. I don’t have to do housework. I don’t have to clean. I’m really happy to be here.”

Lovable Pets Featured in Homeland’s 2023 Lottery Calendar


cute and cuddly lottery calendar

Our pets are loyal and trusted members of our family. Their unconditional love and friendship brighten our darkest days and make the good days even better. Research has shown that pets, especially dogs and cats, can even reduce stress hormone levels and increase levels of feel-good hormones. The undeniable comfort pets bring to our lives makes them the perfect subjects for our 7th Annual Lottery Calendar.

Homeland’s Lottery Calendar has become a tradition for friends, volunteers and supporters of the organization’s work. The monthly calendar costs $25 and supports Homeland’s benevolent care programs. Everyone who purchases a calendar is eligible to be entered into daily drawings for prizes. From $30 gift cards up to $100 gift cards on special days, purchasing a calendar is a winning bet. Only 1,000 calendars are produced and sold.

This year’s calendar features photos of the lovable pets of Homeland staff, board members, volunteers and complementary therapists. The concept for a pet-themed calendar was suggested last year at this time and the idea blossomed. Each month, a committee reviewed and judged pet photos based on the criteria of cute and cuddly, month and season, photo composition and creativity. The calendar is a compilation of the winning photos.

“The process was fun for everyone,” says Wendy Shumaker, Director of Marketing for Homeland. “It also raised awareness among our staff about the importance of fundraising to support our work.”

While the calendar predominantly features dogs and cats, Peach, a bunny belonging to the residents of Homeland Center, hops onto the page for the month of April for Easter. The most unique photo is of a Highland Cow, proudly showing off its long wavy, woolly coat.

Proceeds from calendar sales provide financial support and additional services to Homeland 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.

To purchase a calendar, visit (Donate (paypal.com)) or contact Homeland’s Development Office at (717) 221-7885.