Artist Shelly Lipscomb Echevarria: A passion for beauty and justice


Artist Shelly Lipscomb EchevarriaShelly Lipscomb Echevarria has a gift for seeing the spectrum of colors in a blue sky. The skies in her paintings shimmer in blue, green, gold, red, and orange.

“I like painting the skies,” she said as she hangs her artwork at Homeland. “They always change. They’re never the same.”

Shelly is the artist featured in Homeland’s summer 2023 Community Art exhibit, staged in collaboration with Harrisburg Art Association. HAA selects artists whose works resonate with Homeland residents, staff, and visitors. The exhibits, hung in Homeland’s sunny Florida Room gallery, rotate quarterly for a glimpse into the minds and techniques of varied artists.

Shelly’s current showing is not her first time at Homeland. Her works reflect her search for beauty and peace, even in turbulent times, and since an exhibit in 2019, she has returned with a new array of works depicting seashores, mountain scenery, and Freddy Mercury.

Yes, Freddy Mercury, the legendary frontman for the band Queen. The dynamic Freddy Mercury portrait hanging outside the Homeland beauty salon came from a challenge by a college friend to create works based on the Queen song, “Bohemian Rhapsody.” Shelly painted the Mercury portrait and titled it “Momma” from a line of the song. Next to it hangs “My Bohemian Rep So Tea,” a Queen-themed abstract compilation.

Traditionally, Shelly doesn’t paint abstracts but said, “I feel it coming on. I can’t stay silent forever on social issues.”

She hopes to start speaking up through art. A recent visit to the Equal Justice Museum in Montgomery, Alabama, reminded her that “we’re still not at the ‘justice for all’ in this country.”

Through it all, her artwork exudes serenity.

“I’m still doing a lot from nature,” she said. “Right now, the world just seems too ugly in how we treat each other, so I’m looking for a little bit of beauty.”

The younger members of Shelly’s family have set their sights on making a difference with their careers. Her nephew is a future minister, Shelly’s two daughters are a high school junior planning to go into public policy and the law, and a college student studying biomedical engineering and working on creating prosthetics.

“They’re not saying, ‘I want to make as much money as I can,’” Shelly said. “They want to do things that help people. I think that’s pretty cool.”

Shelly’s younger daughter, Jasmin, joined her mom to help hang the Homeland art exhibit.

“She’s a big help,” said Shelly. “It’s good to have help, and she has a good eye.”

As she hung paintings on the Homeland walls, Jasmin recalled helping stage a recent exhibit at the East Shore Area Library and attending the opening reception, where “it was fun to meet all the people who came out.”

That library exhibit emerged from a collaboration with the Lower Paxton Township Arts Council. Shelly serves on the council, appointed by township officials, to help infuse the arts into the community.

“Sometimes, the importance of all the arts is being overlooked, especially in times of financial crunch,” she said. “They’re not looked at as a necessity or important, but having an outlet for people’s self-expression is always important. Being able to create and express yourself, whether it’s through visual arts, music, or writing, is really important for your mental health. It uses different areas of your brain than other tasks.”

Shelly stays busy with her paintings and commissions and recently illustrated her second book. Her first book was a collaboration with college friend and children’s author Bena Hartman, “My Elephant-Sized Dream,” about a girl inspired by a Dr. Martin Luther King speech to lasso shooting stars.

Her latest collaboration is “The Fight,” with author Dr. Brittany Patterson – a relative of Shelly’s and a psychologist whose workbook helps adults who work with teens teach emotional resilience.

Shelly is pleased to bring her work back to Homeland.

“The residents should be remembered and appreciated,” she said. “Everybody was made for a purpose and a reason and a season. I’m sure they will appreciate the exhibit. It gives them something interesting to look at and a change as they go about their days.”

Homeland Center ( offers 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 or to arrange a tour, please call 717-221-7900.

Resident Carl Barna grows a community garden


Resident Carl BarnaCarl Barna is looking over the Homeland vegetable garden when he spots a tomato, ripe and red.

“Oh, my gosh,” he said. “Did you see that? Look at that. Holy cow.”

Carl is a lifelong gardener who never ceases to delight in his creations, and now, he gets to share his fresh produce with his fellow Homeland residents.

At Homeland, “They’re nothing but the best here,” said the good-natured Carl. “Everybody who works here, all the people – they’re great.”

In June, Homeland was a featured stop on the 2023 Historic Harrisburg Garden Tour. The 5th Street garden in full summer splendor was on display, with its fountain, roses, and shady seating.

Visitors also saw the vegetables and herbs thriving in the sunny Catherine Elizabeth Meikle Courtyard. That’s where Carl has been making his garden grow since 2018, soon after he arrived. He found some home-store managers who were happy to donate their late-season plants to Homeland, and before long, he had tomatoes and peppers growing.

Today, the garden is a cornucopia of summer goodness.

“We have tomatoes out there,” said Carl. “We have all kinds of peppers. We have jalapenos. We have bell peppers. We’ve got a red cherry pepper. Serrano. Cubanelle.”

He adds, “I like hot. We have a habanero. Now that’s hot.”

There are also carrots and turnips, and then there are the herbs – parsley, cilantro, sweet basil, and oregano.

“We don’t have any rosemary and thyme, but I like the song,” said the Simon and Garfunkel fan, singing the first line.

He suddenly remembers the time he and his mother, who was bedbound and living with dementia, were singing “Amazing Grace” when she suddenly stopped.

“Carl, you don’t want to sing,’” she told him. “You can’t hold a tune.” He laughs heartily at the memory, saying, “I’ll never forget that. Those were the exact words out of her mouth.”

As for enjoying the bounty of the garden, that’s where Carl’s garden helper, Homeland Activities Coordinator Diomaris Pumarol, enters the picture. Carl keeps the hot peppers for himself – “because nobody likes hot peppers” – while Diomaris chops up the rest into a seasoned medley for residents to enjoy.

“They get to taste it,” Carl said. “Everybody shares it.”

Carl, who worked his career in railroads and real estate renovations, taught himself to garden at his first home. There in the small backyard, he planted every square inch that got sun.

“Peppers, tomatoes, zucchini, lettuces,” he recalls. “I always wanted to get into asparagus, but you need a big area for that.”

When he’s not in the garden, Carl might be found in his bright and spacious Personal Care suite, fiddling with his computer, watching “Gunsmoke,” or chatting with neighbors who pop in. He makes friends everywhere, staying in touch with neighbors who move to Homeland’s Skilled Care.

“I try to have fun with all the people,” said Carl. “The good Lord put me here, so you have to plant your seed here, and hopefully, you grow; whatever you grow, it’s a good, happy plant – or person. I try to be happy every day and try to make other people happy in life.”

pepper plants

Homeland resident Katherine Harrity: Self-sufficiency and a sense of humor


Homeland resident Katherine HarringtonKatherine Harrity calls herself a smart aleck, but in reality, she is a satisfied Homeland resident with a quick, self-deprecating wit.

“I’ve been here for a while, and they haven’t put me out on the street with a sign that said, ‘Take me,'” she said with a laugh.

In her spacious personal care end unit, Kathie enjoys the comfort and security of life at Homeland.

Kathie grew up in the western New York village of Hamburg, outside of Buffalo and near the beaches of Lake Erie.

“Hamburg was a nice community to live in,” she said. “The people that lived in the village looked after each other. When you lived in Hamburg, New York, you’d better mind your P’s and Q’s because it wouldn’t be a secret. At least, not when I was growing up.”

The keepsakes in her room include a framed advertisement for the 1940s “Design for Happiness” home model. It’s not just any home, though. Kathie’s father, an architect, designed it and built one for his family.

“We were the first family to live in that house,” she said.

She remembers her father’s patient ways. When he was laying the home’s flagstone patio, Kathie would bring stones as he needed them from a pile by the breezeway.

“If it wasn’t the right size or shape, he wouldn’t fuss at me,” she said. “He would just put it aside and ask me to get another one.”

Kathie was active in intramural sports in school, “not very well, but I was pitching in there and doing my share,” she said.

In her high school yearbook, filled with well-wishes from classmates, Kathie is described as having: “Graceful feet dancing to the song in her heart.”

That’s because she had dance training, even dancing in toe shoes. She would also fill in when her dance teacher took dinner breaks during evening ballroom dancing lessons, donning one of the lovely dresses she bought with her babysitting money and demonstrating ballroom steps with the teacher’s husband.

Kathie’s Class of ’56 was the first to graduate from a brand-new high school, a centralized school for Baby Boomers and an influx of students from the surrounding countryside.

“I graduated on Friday night and went to work on Monday morning in an office,” she said.

Adept at shorthand and typing 120 words a minute, she worked in office administration until her children were born. When they were old enough, she returned to work.

Married soon after graduating from high school, Kathie had four children. The family moved to Indiana, Ohio, and Pennsylvania and back to Hamburg.

When Kathie was in her 40s, she decided it was time to get the college degree she bypassed after high school. She enrolled in the University of Pittsburgh, older than many of her teachers, and earned her bachelor’s degree in information science.

After earning her degree, she returned to work in office administration, “showing up on time and working when I was there.”

“I made a decent living,” she said. “I’ve taken care of myself.”

Kathie’s parents died young – her father at 44, her mother at 67. Both were smokers, but Kathie is not, “and I’m an octogenarian!” she said today.

Her room is filled with the mysteries she likes to read and also with penguins. Her love of penguins started when she was chaperoning her daughter’s Campfire Girls group, and she needed a camp name.

“Knowing where I was raised in Western New York, which had terrible weather, I picked ‘Penguin,’” she said. “Kids will remember a name like that. Somehow or other, the penguins followed me.”

She is happy at Homeland, adding that she likes the food and the mealtime table seatings with only two or three other people.

“If you don’t feel like you’re part of a mob, you can get acquainted with people,” she said. “I’ve been very, very comfortable here.”