Board of Trustees member Ellen Brown: A shared devotion to service


Board of Trustees member Ellen BrownBoard of Trustees member Ellen Brown sees parallels between her life and the history of Homeland.

She and Homeland are “deeply rooted in Harrisburg” and committed to serving the community.

Ellen’s mother was a Homeland Board of Managers member, and her family’s longtime church – historic Grace United Methodist Church in downtown Harrisburg – was a founding church of Homeland in 1867.

Today, as a Homeland Board of Trustees member, Ellen contributes her expertise in nonprofit development and fundraising.

“All the dots connect,” she said. “There’s no other organization like Homeland in the community. It started with women from nine churches who came together to help the disadvantaged women and children of the Civil War. That’s the foundation that Homeland was built upon. It’s part of the progression of my life. I know how important Homeland is to our community and was honored to be asked to be part of it.”

Ellen, who grew up in Paxtang, is a fundraising consultant and community volunteer whose experience stretches from the presidency of the Harrisburg Rotary Club to running Harrisburg’s legendary Cow Parade.

Her father, who had a law practice in Harrisburg, led United Way campaigns and served on the Allied Arts board. Her mother was a devoted community volunteer with the Junior League and her Homeland service.

“I was raised to believe that when you were asked to serve, the answer was yes,” Ellen said. “You figured out how you would fit it into your life. We were taught that we have to make sure that the next generation has a community that’s thriving, and you give back. We’ve been very fortunate and blessed in our lives, so we pay it forward.”

A Dickinson College graduate, her early career was in broadcast and billboard sales. One day, a cousin called to introduce a project some people thought she should lead.

“I went to lunch, and they showed me a Cow Parade presentation,” she said. For the next 18 months, she enlisted sponsors for the creation of 123 fiberglass cows decorated by artists and arrayed throughout the city.

“It was a wonderful time in the history of Harrisburg because it was something the entire community embraced,” she said. “On any given Saturday during that summer, hundreds of people were up and down Front Street. Some people literally had to have their pictures taken with every single cow. What else can you attach your name to that people in Harrisburg still talk about?”

That experience led to her working in nonprofit development before she went out on her own as a development consultant. That work continues while her commitment to the community remains steadfast. As president of the Harrisburg Rotary Club, she leads efforts to increase the organization’s visibility and attract younger members.

“We have to begin thinking about what Rotary will look like in 10 years,” she said. “It’s steeped in Harrisburg history, just like Homeland. We are the 23rd Rotary organization in the world.”

Ellen and her husband, David, own a horse farm in Grantville, where they breed show jumpers. Horses have been part of their lives since early in their marriage, when David, a native of Boulder, CO, suggested getting a couple. After he retired, he became fascinated with breeding. Together, they learned through immersion, once having eight foals in one year.

The farm is winding down its breeding operations, but Ellen calls the time she spends with horses “an unbelievable privilege.”

“It’s lovely to be able to go home and shift gears,” she said. “Here I am with this animal that trusts me completely and is reliant on me for everything. It’s almost a spiritual experience. When I’m not in a hurry and I’m leading a 1,500-pound animal that we raised out to a pasture, I appreciate the level of trust and connection that’s going on. The bond you create with a horse is quite extraordinary.”

As for her Homeland service, Ellen hopes she contributes to the stability of an organization that has lasted 156 years and will continue standing as a community mainstay.

“I hope to be able to do whatever I can using my background and my relationships in the community to help make Homeland secure and sustainable.”


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.

Community Outreach: Donation drives bring the Homeland touch to children and families


Stored neatly in boxes and ready for delivery, school supplies fill a corner of Tracey Jennings’ office.

“Altogether, we have about 30 bookbags,” Jennings said. “We have a ton of spiral notebooks. Looseleaf paper, crayons, pencils, highlighters, pencil cases, folders, erasers.”

Why is a retirement community loading up on the basics of back-to-school?

It’s all part of Homeland’s Community Outreach, tapping into employees’ generosity and filling needs that help local families thrive. This fall, the back-to-school donation drive assures much-needed school supplies for the students of Hamilton Elementary School, a few blocks south of Homeland.

Community Outreach is the brainchild of Jennings, Homeland’s assistant director of human resources and a devoted community volunteer through her church. Around 2019, she approached her boss, Director of Human Resources and Corporate Compliance Nicol M. Brown, with her idea for community outreach that generates team building and spreads Homeland love. Brown loved the idea, as did Homeland President and CEO Barry Ramper II.

COVID put the effort on hold, but now, Jennings is leading two or three drives a year. Each raises awareness of often-overlooked needs in the community. One drive brought a flood of duffel bags into Jennings’ office, all intended for foster children and youth.

“As foster kids move around, it’s known that they transport their things in trash bags,” Jennings said. “It’s a dignity issue, so they can have something nice to put their items in when they’re going from foster home to foster home or foster care facility.”

When she announces each drive, Jennings suggests places to find new and affordable items, with Walmart, Target, and Amazon being the stores of choice.

“Amazon is so perfect because they can deliver them directly to work,” she said.


homeland center school supplies drive


This fall’s back-to-school drive benefits the students of one school in Harrisburg School District, a Title I district where every family qualifies for free meals. Studies show that students with basic supplies at the start of the school year are better prepared, more likely to participate in class, have higher self-esteem, and show more interest in learning.

Teachers say that when their students have the right supplies, the classroom learning environment is more equitable, the focus remains on learning, and they can offer a wider variety of projects and assignments for students to dive into, such as artwork and science fairs.

Unfortunately, parents struggling to pay for food and household bills might be forced to skimp on school supplies.

“Not everyone can afford supplies, or parents maybe can’t afford to supply all they need,” Jennings said. “Students come to school not prepared. This is the school’s opportunity to identify those students and provide them with what they need to succeed.”

Homeland employees love the drives: “They’re really encouraging and supportive.”

Homeland Director of Utilization Review Lisa Browne feels fortunate to donate and participate in the drives.

“I just want to do what I can,” she said. “I’m very blessed and want to help as much as I can.”

Outreach “means the world” to Homeland, recalling its roots in community service, Browne said.

“Homeland was started over 156 years ago as a building that primarily helped the orphans and the widows of the Civil War,” she said. “To go into the future as a skilled nursing facility and provider of personal care while including kids and the families in the neighborhood is a wonderful thing.”

Up next, a holiday drive offering another new spin on a traditional effort. Jennings is planning a spice drive, collecting cinnamon, garlic powder, onion powder, sage, and all the other spices that bring flavor to the table.

As any grocery shopper knows, spices are expensive, and families struggling to buy groceries often skip them and resort to unhealthy fats and sugars to add flavor. A spice drive brings zest to family meals – and to the gatherings that occur around them.

“A lot of the food banks in the area have food, but they don’t have anything to give the people to spice up their food,” Jennings said.

Jennings thanks every Homeland employee who joins in extending Homeland’s renowned care to families in the community.

“Homeland is, of course, well known,” she said. “This adds a special touch to everything.”


homeland center school supplies drive


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.

Registered Nurse Assessment Coordinator Tammy Wiser: A resource gatherer for every resident


Registered Nurse Assessment Coordinator Tammy WiserWhen Tammy Wiser announced that she was leaving her previous employer to work at Homeland Center, her company’s HR director responded surprisingly.

“I can’t even ask you to try to stay,” the HR director said. “Everyone who goes there never leaves. I don’t blame you at all.”

That was in April 2022, when Tammy joined Homeland Center as a registered nurse assessment coordinator (RNAC). It’s a crucial post, demanding that she be a healthcare provider, puzzle master, and detective. Her combined skills contribute to ensuring that every Homeland resident receives all the support they need to thrive.

In a career across diverse healthcare providers, Tammy prefers working for nonprofits like Homeland. “You can tell the difference,” she said. “I always loved the nonprofit atmosphere – the family orientation and the resident focus. You enjoy coming to work, not dreading it.”

Tammy grew up in the rural Huntingdon County town of Three Springs. Her mother was a seamstress at a local factory. Her father started his own auto mechanic business. At Southern Huntingdon High School, she was active in “a little bit of everything” – band and playing piano, cheerleading, 4-H.

The family also had a farm, raising beef and tending a garden. Tammy remembers shelling peas to help her mom can 44 pints.

Early in her freshman year of college, Tammy suffered a car accident that broke her nose and jaw. Her teeth required five years of reconstructive surgery. That experience led her to work as an EMT with the local ambulance company. In time, she returned to college.

With a Penn State degree in business management, she opened a business that she would have for many years, making custom wedding gowns and renting wedding items.

In the meantime, travel nursing seemed like a good opportunity, so she obtained her CNA certification and continued attending nursing school. She worked in various roles in nursing homes, personal care homes, and hospitals.

In one setting, she started preparing the MDS (Minimum Data Set), required for documenting Medicare and Medicaid-funded services for every patient.

Around this time, Tammy met her husband, who was serving as a military contractor in Afghanistan. They communicated online, and for their first in-person date, Tammy flew to Sydney, Australia, where he had gone for vacation.

Tammy continued working at nursing facilities through COVID. Each place had its challenges, so when she learned about Homeland through an RNAC job posting, she went for it. “Everybody’s been great here,” she said. “Everybody’s very pleasant.

Everyone has been very approachable from day one.” She continues preparing those MDS documents, which she compares to filling out tax forms. There are a lot of details to enter, and the filer’s signature attests to the accuracy of the information. In the end, these are the forms that help Homeland residents receive the most accurate payments for their optimal care plans.

Behind every form is an entire team entering how they help residents live their fullest lives, including aides, doctors, nurses, therapists, social services, dietary, and activities staff. It’s a living document, updated at least every quarter and more often if residents’ needs change. “When you look at that form, you should have a pretty good idea of that resident,” Tammy said. “We do the juggling. That’s what I like to do. It makes sure the residents get what they need.”

Outside of Homeland, the workday doesn’t end for Tammy and her husband, who works in a quarry. They bought 50 acres in Huntingdon County about three years ago and started a Christmas tree farm.

That one property grew exponentially when a neighbor offered to sell 90 acres. It meant putting off building a new home and living in an old house on the property, but the dream is coming true. “For the past three years, I’ve been planting Christmas trees,” Tammy said. Of course, there is always mowing, trimming, and spraying. They also have dogs, a cat, chickens, and a 29-year-old horse. “He’s still feisty,” said Tammy. “That’s my boy. He’ll follow me around. He’s like a big dog.”

At Homeland, Tammy loves meeting the residents and learning their stories. She is proud to play a part in gathering the resources needed to make their lives comfortable and fulfilling. “This is their home,” she said. “They need to feel it’s more than a place to stay. Homeland is wonderful at focusing on the residents.”


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.

Betty Hungerford: A Homeland resident and cherished friend


Betty Hungerford, Homeland residentSipping a Coke float delivered by a kind Homeland Center aide, Betty Hungerford shared why life is better in a top-rated continuing care retirement community.

“When you reach a certain age, you’re better off in a place like Homeland than you are at home because you build friendships and relationships and have opportunities you couldn’t have if you lived alone,” she said.

At Homeland Center, Betty is a resident, and she is a treasure. For 20 years, she was Homeland’s development director, raising the funds that propel Homeland’s growth and sustain its stellar reputation for unmatched care.

Betty recently retired at the age of 90! Even as a Homeland resident, she volunteers to serve on the Board of Managers and advises the Board of Directors chair.

A native of Kentucky, Betty was born in a tenant house on her grandfather’s farm. Her father worked in local shoe factories, rising to supervisor, until he moved the family to Palmyra, PA, to work in a plant there.

“He was a learner,” Betty said. “He was a reader. He liked people. He talked as much as I do and lived to 40 days short of 100.”

He was also married to Betty’s mother for better or worse, as he once told a psychiatrist who advised him to get a divorce. Betty’s mom was mentally ill with manic depression and schizophrenia. She was institutionalized for 13 years until new medications helped her manage. Some friends didn’t know about her struggles in her final years.

“That’s her miracle story,” Betty said. “It’s a story I don’t mind sharing because it can give some people hope and understanding about mental illness. It’s a good lesson in never giving up your faith.”

Betty is a proud graduate of Lebanon Valley College, where she majored in economics with minors in political science and English. Music always played a central role in her life, and she sang with the LVC Glee Club.

After graduating in 1954, Betty married and had the family she had always dreamed of – a houseful of three boys and one girl.

“Everybody came to our house,” she said. She laughs about when one son got permission to invite “a few friends” after graduation rehearsal, only to bring the whole class of 125 kids.

Betty’s professional life began in the Pennsylvania Department of Highways (now PennDOT) communications office. She learned to stand up for herself, once telling her boss to stop slamming his door in anger because it disrespected her and the women she supervised.

“He was so shocked, I thought he was going to fall out of his chair,” Betty remembers. “We became long and fast friends.”

It was the beginning of a career devoted to communications and development. She learned fundraising as a March of Dimes volunteer. When she believed in the cause, she didn’t hesitate to ask for money. “If you tell your story and get people to understand how important it is, then it makes them want to give,” she said.

Betty was an independent contractor for Homeland projects. But Morton Specter, the late Homeland board chair, and Homeland President and CEO Barry Ramper II “just wouldn’t give up until I came to work here.” She relented in 2002 and started her remarkable run in an office equipped with a wingback chair and a telephone table.

She built connections to the community and raised funds as Homeland grew. Homeland Center’s 155th Anniversary Celebration Event in 2022 wasn’t meant to honor her, she insists, but she was humbled when organizers and her kids convinced her to let it become a tribute to the “Queen Bee.”

The event raised record amounts for Homeland’s benevolent care fund, ensuring that no resident is ever forced to leave Homeland due to depleted resources. The outpouring of love was “a little overwhelming,” she said, but it served as a testament to her love of people.

No profile of Betty is complete without her love story with Paul Hungerford. They first knew each other through friends, but in those days, she thought he was a snob, and “he thought I was a ditzy blonde.”

Then again, he had a dry sense of humor and “always looked like a million dollars.” In 1974, she joined him in Florida to get married. Until he died in 2010, they played cribbage before dinner, attended concerts and theater, and enjoyed each other’s company.

“We truly adored each other,” Betty said. “Everyone should be so lucky.”

Today, Betty provides fundraising guidance for Homeland Board Chair Carlyn Chulick – “She is marvelous,” said Betty. Betty also serves on the Board of Managers to help maintain Homeland’s homelike feel.

“I’ve never worked with such a dedicated group of volunteers,” Betty said. “Never. They all believe in Homeland and what we do.”

As a Homeland resident, Betty enjoys the activities, including musical performances. She loves reading as much as she did as a child when she hid under the covers with a flashlight and a book. Her room is filled with photos of Paul, her children, and grandchildren. The people of Homeland, she said, “have very kindly taken care of me.”

“I feel very secure and well-cared for,” she said. “I know that if my needs change, they will be met. I feel I’ve been blessed.”


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.