Board of Managers member Babs Phillips: A hands-on volunteer


Homeland Chef Manager George Shum

Babs Phillips is a longtime Board of Managers member who has seen Homeland grow to meet the community’s needs while maintaining its status as a premier care facility.

“It’s the employees,” she said. “They maintain a caring attitude. It starts at the top and extends throughout the organization.’’

Babs has served on the Board of Managers for 22 years. This unique, all-women group is devoted to maintaining Homeland’s homelike atmosphere and an array of lively seasonal events that brighten the lives of residents.

“I enjoy all the boards I have worked with,” she said. “Everybody is so willing to work, and everything goes well.”

Babs grew up in the East End of Pittsburgh until her senior year in high school, when the family relocated to Indiana, PA, to be near relatives. There, a teacher recommended that Babs and three other students get summer jobs with the state in Harrisburg. Her mother, a free spirit, wholeheartedly approved.

That was her introduction to central Pennsylvania. After graduation, she attended Shippensburg University of Pennsylvania and returned to the Harrisburg area as a school guidance counselor for Cumberland Valley School District, where she spent her career.

“It was rewarding,” she said. “Kids, no matter where need an ear to listen to them. Sometimes, that’s all you have to provide.”

When Babs retired, a neighbor on the Board of Managers suggested volunteering for Homeland would be a good fit. Babs has been involved in everything from delivering food-truck French fries to hosting ice cream sundae parties to holding summer picnics in the shade of the Chet Henry Memorial Pavilion. Her husband, Jack, also volunteers, playing piano for Homeland sing-alongs.

“These are hands-on activities with the residents,” Babs said. “That’s the whole thrust of the Board of Managers, to be more involved with the residents, and that’s what I enjoy. It’s why we’re here. Sometimes their days can be long, and certainly, some of them aren’t feeling well some days, so an activity is a way to boost their spirits.”

Since retiring, Babs has also enjoyed volunteering for other causes. She loved the 15 years she spent delivering Meals on Wheels.

“You developed friendships with the people,” she said.

She also served with the Friends of Kline Library, supporting the small but mighty city branch in the Dauphin County Library System near her home in Harrisburg’s historic Bellevue Park.

Babs believes in treating people with dignity, and now, she encounters others who feel the same way.

“As an older person, you appreciate the respect people are trying to give you,” she said. “I notice that everywhere. People are always trying to help me.”

In her time on the Board of Managers, Babs has seen and been a part of Homeland’s growth, including the founding of Homeland at Home, comprising Homeland Hospice, Homeland HomeHealth, and Homeland HomeCare, and most recently Homeland Palliative Care. She said she is impressed by Homeland’s leadership recognizing opportunities to provide additional services the community needs.

“Homeland is just as loving and caring now as it was 155-plus years ago,” she said. “It’s maintained the best-ever reputation.”