Linda Stoner had an idea. She had taken a techno-leap of faith by hosting a Zoom call craft-making session with friends, and she wondered if she could do the same for Homeland Center’s residents. With the staff’s cooperation, she made the monthly sessions happen.
“There were four ladies and one man, Patrick” she says. “He said, ‘I was just walking down the hall, and they grabbed me and pulled me into this room.’ So, there were four crafters and one hostage in the room.”
Linda is a newer member of Homeland’s Board of Managers, the unique group of women responsible for sustaining Homeland’s renowned, home-like feel. The Board of Managers is a Homeland mainstay, decorating public spaces and hosting lively seasonal parties, from picnics to casino nights.
She joined the board in September 2020 at the height of the pandemic. But like all Board of Managers members, she has been resourceful in her quest to keep the residents comfortable, engaged, and active.
Born in Pittsburgh, Linda grew up in various towns in Pennsylvania and New Jersey as her father pursued his career with Bell Telephone and AT&T. After double-majoring in elementary education and library science at Shippensburg University, she taught preschool and kindergarten at a Mechanicsburg-area private school.
For the second half of her career, she served as a children’s librarian for 21 years at Cumberland County Library System’s Simpson Library in Mechanicsburg, retiring in 2016. She welcomed the invitation to join the Board of Managers and the opportunity to help keep the residents comfortable and active.
COVID-19 limited many activities, but the board persisted in finding ways to keep residents engaged. They also wrote notes thanking the staff for going above and beyond: “We wanted to let them know we appreciate the way they give of themselves while caring for the ladies and gentlemen who live here at Homeland.”
Linda’s Zoom craft sessions originated with her own virtual get-togethers during the pandemic. An avid crafter who paints furniture and sews, she felt blue about not hosting her friends for crafting sessions at her home. Someone suggested virtual get-togethers.
Working with the Homeland Activities Department, Linda creates samples of each month’s craft and drops off the materials at Homeland. She aims for seasonal and useful items that residents can make – felt tulips in the spring, a summery bookmark for May.
“We’re going to make butterfly bookmarks, except for Patrick,” says Linda. “Patrick likes airplanes, so I made a special pattern for an airplane bookmark.”
“I hope they look forward to getting together and talking,” she says. “They seem to like what they’re making.”
Linda recently traveled to California, driving up the coast to San Francisco on a visit with her son, a Los Angeles resident, and daughter, who lives in the Denver area. Her grandpuppy, Tilly, “looks like Rin Tin Tin, with really long ears.” Her parents and two sisters all reside in central Pennsylvania.
She looks forward to finally meeting many of her Board of Managers colleagues in person and, when the time is right, helping to plan and decorate the board’s elaborate seasonal parties. She is impressed by her fellow members’ upbeat attitudes, which create a cheerful atmosphere for residents.
“Everybody is smiling,” she says. “Everybody is pleasant. Everybody is happy and helpful.”