Homeland receptionist Kristen Tate: Giving with love


Homeland receptionist Kristen TateWhen Kristen Tate accepted a part-time job as a Homeland receptionist in August 2022, she loved it so much that she wished it could be full-time. Two months later, a full-time position opened.

Now, Kristen is the friendly voice and smiling face greeting family, staff, and visitors from 6 a.m. to 1 p.m.

“I just love meeting and greeting everybody,” she said. “I love the feeling they give me, and I give them in return. Good vibes bring good vibes.”

Kristen brings family ties to Homeland. An uncle and an aunt are residents. Her grandfather spent his final years here. One of her sisters, Jennifer Tate-DeFreitas, is Homeland’s Director of Nursing. They talk every day, calling each other’s extensions even though Jennifer’s office is steps away from the reception desk.

“I love it,” Kristen said. “She brought me breakfast this morning. We have breakfast. We have lunch.”

Kristen grew up in Steelton around the family business — Major H. Winfield Funeral Home, a fourth-generation family business. Her parents raised Kristen, her two sisters, two cousins, and two children her father met when he went on a death call and learned they had no one to care for them.

“My parents are beautiful, beautiful people,” Kristen said. “They love so hard. They taught us to love and to do everything with good intentions. Our intentions are never to get anything out of it, but to make sure we’re giving all that God has given us to share and bless others.”

After graduating as valedictorian from an all-girls Catholic school in Columbia, Pennsylvania, Kristen founded a hairstyling salon that is still going strong 29 years later, The Glam Spot, in Oberlin. She also attended Hampton University and Morgan State University, two Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs).

She earned 110 credits, but after 9/11, her work and life took her away from school. She had two children, but in her second marriage, she suffered extreme domestic violence. On a February day in 2012, after a particularly savage beating, she found herself outside with the boys, ill-dressed for the bitter weather. A friend took her to the police station, where she pressed charges.

“It worked out that I’m okay, and my kids are okay,” she said.

Today, her older son, 24, is a men’s basketball coach at Harcum College. When his previous coaching job at a residential school ended with its sudden closure, he brought 15 stranded students from all over the world to Kristen’s home. They spent the summer sleeping on futons and mattresses, fed with help from generous family and friends. Most got into U.S. colleges, and all remained like family.

Kristen’s younger son, a rising senior at Bishop McDevitt High School, is involved in so many school activities that Kristen fears he needs a second page to list them on his college application.

“I pride myself on the fact that I have raised two amazing men,” she said. “God provides, always.”

As her younger son looks forward to attending an HBCU, Kristen herself is returning to school – accepted by Morgan State University. At the school she left years ago, she will finish her degree in health and human services. Helping a childless uncle navigate the social services network in his final years inspired her to want to enter the field.

“Who do people have when they don’t have anybody to stand in the gap for them?” she said.

Will she stay at Homeland when her degree is in hand?

“The social workers are all joking with me, saying, ‘We’re waiting on you to go to school so you can do this with us,’” she said.

When she’s not deep in her long workdays at Homeland and the salon, Kristen cooks dishes her grandmother taught her, travels, and enjoys family time.

“We still have Sunday dinner,” she said. “It’s all my sisters and our kids and our parents. It’s every Sunday. We don’t miss. I like family. I’m always with my family. We’re always doing something together.”

Homeland, she said, “is a well-oiled machine,” providing residents the best care.

“At this stage of people’s lives, they should have a nice, serene, beautiful atmosphere to live in,’’ she said. “Homeland provides that.”

Homeland resident Margie Welby: Seeing the world and raising a family


Homeland resident Margie Welby

Just back from living in Germany and Japan, where her father was stationed, 16-year-old Marjorie Welby and her family in the late 1950s moved to her dad’s new posting: Fort Dix in New Jersey.

One day when Margie was working in the post-exchange men’s department, a young soldier asked for “brass,” the term for uniform insignia. He motioned to a group of soldiers behind him and said he was paying for their brass, too. Then he asked for dress shoes.

Going into the stockroom to check, Margie found her coworkers in a tizzy. “Do you know who that is?” they squealed.

After her time overseas, Margie didn’t know U.S. pop culture, so she didn’t know that her handsome customer was Elvis Presley.

“He was so generous,” she said. “He picked up the whole tab and was just as nice as he could be.”

Since leaving a rehab hospital and coming to Homeland just before Christmas 2022, Margie has been getting stronger daily. Today, she enjoys reading in her personal care suite, participating in Homeland activities, and sharing stories of growing up in post-World War II as the daughter of an Army officer.

Margie was about seven years old when her World War II veteran father returned to the Army, getting posted to Munich, Germany, which was still devastated from bombings. Although her father was there to suppress post-war Germany’s black market, Margie’s mother had a secret. When she needed something like a pound of coffee or sugar, she would ask the German housemaid, who knew where to find things.

While in Munich, Margie’s father taught his children about the horrors of war and the evil humans can do by taking them to the Dachau concentration camp. The raw sights and smells of the Nazi death camp still lingered.

“When I hear people saying, ‘No, they didn’t do that to people then,’ I know that they did, because I saw the evidence,” she said. “I’ll never forget it as long as I live. We just don’t know how close we are to maybe having something like that happen again. So we’ve got to be careful.”

The family’s next overseas posting was in Japan. When the Army fielded a football team, the call went out for majorettes to round out the American experience. By now a teenager, Margie got one of the spots and was proud to march in her uniform with the Army band.

In the season’s final game against Air Force, Margie was knocked down on the sidelines by an Air Force player running to catch a ball. Still, she insisted on performing at halftime.

“I wanted to do my routine,” she said. “We had practiced so hard. Why not?”

Several years later, that perilous moment led to an incredible coincidence.

After graduating high school, Margie enlisted in the Air Force and met her future husband, Mike Berry, while stationed in Florida. Meeting his Boston-area family for the first time, she learned that Mike’s brother had played football for the Air Force in Japan – and he turned out to be the player who knocked her down!

“I ‘fell’ for my brother-in-law before I ever fell for my husband,” Margie jokes.

Margie loved the Air Force but left when she became pregnant with her first child. She and Mike had five children while he traveled as a daring motion picture photographer and pilot. Working for Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, he once descended into the ocean depths with Jacques Cousteau in the Alvin submersible as cinematographer for an award-winning film.

“He was the adventurer,” Margie said. “He was not afraid of anything. He would hang out of a helicopter to get a good picture.”

Two of Margie’s children, her eldest son, and daughter, have passed away. After her daughter died in her mid-40s from Alzheimer’s, the family turned tragedy into hope, raising money for Alzheimer’s research through an annual golf tournament.

“It brings a good crowd,” she said. “We have a fantastic day, with a little luncheon and great prizes. We’ve given away a car!”

Now at Homeland, Margie attends activities, reads Gospel passages for worship services, and even has an autographed photo of an Elvis impersonator who performed for the residents.

“It’s nice here,” she said. “There are so many people here who are so intriguing. They have amazing stories.”

The staff, she adds, are “so sweet. They’re kind. I’m sure I drive them nuts, but they forgive me. They’re wonderful. They really are.”

Afternoon Tea Party Fit for Royalty


homeland tea party

Afternoon tea is a quintessential English custom and fashionable social event. It is a time to pause in the afternoon for refreshments, petite sandwiches, desserts and conversation with friends. Homeland Center residents recently donned handmade fascinators or boutonnieres for a special tea party hosted by Homeland Center’s Board of Managers, which is led by 17 women dedicated to the quality of life at Homeland.

For Nancy, a resident for over a year, the tea party was among many social activities she enjoys at Homeland. Nancy moved to a personal care suite at Homeland after she began experiencing weakness and worrying about the possibility of a fall or injury.

Prior to becoming a Homeland Center resident, Nancy was no stranger to the high-quality care and compassion delivered through Homeland. In the early 2000s, Nancy’s father and stepmother were residents of Homeland for over six years. Nancy visited them often and was impressed by the attention and support they received. This made her decision to move to Homeland an easy one.

“I saw the organization in action firsthand,” Nancy says. “I knew when the time was right, I would choose Homeland.”

Like Nancy, many of the tea party guests raved about their busy social schedules at Homeland. All activities are created with the residents’ quality of life in mind. Social activities not only engage residents with each other; they also help residents build personal bonds with Homeland staff and volunteers.

Homeland Center’s Board of Managers is led by Alicelyn Sleber, who has graciously volunteered at Homeland for over eight years. Alicelyn and the Board work directly with Aleisha Arnold, Homeland Center’s Director of Activities and Quality Assurance. The Board and staff base their events on conversations with residents. Many activities like various genres of entertainment and visits from food trucks are held at Homeland, while others involve outings to local destinations and attractions.

When the idea of an afternoon tea was proposed, Alicelyn and Aleisha researched area tea houses as potential venues. Based on the overwhelming interest in the event, the group decided to hold the tea in Homeland Center’s main dining room.

“Homeland is our resident’s home,” Alicelyn says. “We decided to bring a formal, classy event to them so everyone could be part of the fun.”

Flowers, delicious specialties and live piano music transformed the dining room into a formal setting suitable for royalty. Over conversations, guests discussed the next game of bingo – a crowd favorite – as well as special past and future events.

“We try to plan special events monthly or add to an event already planned,” Alicelyn adds. “This gives everyone something to look forward to attending.”

During the holiday season, inclusive celebrations are held with all residents, faiths and traditions in mind. As the summer months begin, the ever-popular French Fry truck day is planned along with an ice cream social and summer picnic. These events are in addition to weekly happy hours held on Fridays and various games and activities held on a regular basis.

“It is a privilege to spend time with our residents,” Alicelyn says. “I can see the gratitude in their eyes.”

Homeland’s Board of Managers is deeply rooted in the organization’s history. Homeland was founded in 1867 as the “Home for the Friendless” to serve families impacted by the devastation of the Civil War. At the time, the board served to connect with families in need through activities and engagement. More than 155 years later, the mission of the board of managers remains relatively unchanged. In fact, the Board of Managers was formed and continues to be led solely by women.

“I am honored to work alongside dynamic and caring women,” Alicelyn says. “Everyone has gifts and we all share what we can.”

Homeland Center offer levels of care including personal care, memory care, skilled nursing and rehabilitation. Homeland also provides hospice, home care, home health and palliative care services to serve the diverse and changing needs of families throughout central Pennsylvania.

For more information about Homeland Center, call 717-221-7900.

homeland tea party

Artist Phiroza Kapadia: Subtle layers bring serenity to Homeland gallery


Artist Phiroza Kapadia: Subtle layers bring serenity to Homeland gallery

Maybe it brings to mind a patchwork of scrap paper made by a schoolkid in art class, but Phiroza Kapadia elevates the art form into seamless, peaceful works of art.

Serene lotuses. Elegant geishas. Twittering birds and gliding swans.

Phiroza’s works are on display at the Homeland Florida Room Gallery, demonstrating the possibilities of mixed-media collage in the hands of a master.

The exhibit is courtesy of the community gallery initiative, arranged by Homeland staff for the enjoyment of Homeland residents, staff, and visitors. Through a longstanding partnership, the Art Association of Harrisburg selects local artists who bring their work every quarter to delight, awe, and inspire the Homeland community.

Phiroza Kapadia brought her mixed-media collages to the Homeland gallery in early April. The artist started her journey toward collage around the time she took another journey. That was in 2013, when she and her family left India, where Phiroza was born and raised, and moved to the Harrisburg area for her husband’s work.

Her kids were growing up then, giving her time to develop her artistic vision.

“I remember as a child, my favorite presents were art supplies,” she said. “I always gravitated toward art. I have a natural affinity for it. People who stopped around would see what I was creating and compliment me, and that spurred me to investigate it as a hobby.”

Taking classes in abstract art from the York Art Association, Phiroza shifted away from her traditional “painterly” style. Always willing to try new styles and genres, she decided to take a class in mixed-media collage.

“I was totally hooked,” she said. “The class made you express your own voice.”

Just what is “mixed media?” In art, it means taking a non-purist approach. The artist works in inks, fabrics, and papers with various elements and textures. Phiroza loves an intriguing piece of scrapbook paper or beautiful origami paper.

“If it’s anything that will benefit my art, I’m happy to incorporate it into my work,” she said.

She finds inspiration everywhere. It might be a bird, a bowl of fruit, or, recently, the tulips at Hershey Gardens. Her “trusty iPhone camera” goes with her everywhere.

“Whenever the inspiration strikes, and I see something beautiful, I capture it,” she said. “With a little bit of imagination, I create a painting from it.”

From there, the image gives her an idea of where it goes on the canvas. She starts by creating a collage with that beautiful background paper, then sketches and paints the subject on top.

“The work should be homogenized,” she said. “It’s supposed to speak as a whole painting. I approach it first by working through collage, and that inspires me to see something in the painting.”

Look closely at the works hanging in Homeland, and you might see some of the background paper peeking through the paint.

Some of Phiroza’s recent favorites are hanging at Homeland. She saw large lotuses in a Vancouver garden – trips to botanical gardens provide a constant stream of inspiration – and they reminded her of the lotuses growing in ponds in India.

“The lotuses are a symbol of peace,” she said. “They are a symbol of calm, of tranquility, and I like bringing those peaceful qualities as well as joyful qualities to my art.”

Phiroza shows her work through the Art Association of Harrisburg, galleries in Harrisburg and Lancaster, and coffeehouses. On Instagram, you can find her work at @phirozas.creations.

“I absolutely love working out of my home studio,” she adds. “It’s a beautiful space. It has some large windows that bring in natural light, which is very important for an artist.”

Today, Phiroza’s daughter is pursuing her master’s degree toward becoming a physician’s assistant. Her son is in college, studying to be a mechanical engineer. She enjoys nature walks, exercising, and spending time with her husband, now retired.

“It’s a good life,” she said.

Phiroza hopes that bringing her work to Homeland “might help to cheer people up, and to bring a little bit of joy and fun into their lives.”

Looking ahead, Phiroza was anticipating a planned trip to Longwood Gardens, the Kennett Square attraction famous for its spectacular botanical displays and sparkling fountains.

“I expect to take plenty of pictures and of course, bring those back to my studio,” she said. “Something will evolve from there, I’m sure.”