Casino Day brings Lady Luck to Homeland


Two cards sat on the green felt in front of Geoffrey Davenport, a seven and a nine. The next card could put him over 21, for a losing hand, but he took a chance. Geoffrey declined another card when the blackjack dealer put down a three, bringing his hand to 19.

“I’ll sit,” he said. “I lucked out. I could have easily gone over 21.”

Homeland Center welcomed spring with Casino Day, a fun-packed event for all. While some residents socialized, others found their spots at the roulette wheel, Texas hold ‘em table, blackjack table, and the ever-popular slot machines. Of course, the no-stakes play was all with funny money, but residents enjoyed pressing their luck to try winning a hand or a round. Everyone left with a fun prize.

Homeland’s Board of Managers organized Casino Day as one of their quarterly parties. The Board of Managers is Homeland’s unique, all-volunteer group of women who carry on the legacy of the 18 women from nine Harrisburg churches who founded the “Home for the Friendless” – today’s Homeland Center – in 1867. Board of Managers members help create Homeland’s renowned homelike atmosphere.

On this springlike afternoon in March, Board of Managers members transformed the Main Dining Room into a gaming room. Giant dice and cards decorated the tables and walls. Snack choices included cups of Chex Mix and gluten-free cheese puffs with Shirley Temples to drink.

The Board of Managers’ last casino event was held on a pre-pandemic afternoon in 2019. Board of Managers Chair Alicelyn Sleber believes casino afternoons are popular because they’re interactive and engaging.

“It’s colorful,” she said. “It’s conducive for interacting with other people. It’s a casual atmosphere, and nothing is expected of you. You can talk. It’s really kind of unstructured.”

At the blackjack table, Geoffrey Davenport said that he’s not a gambler. However, he once played blackjack in Arizona winning dinner for his buddies.  He loves the events that the Board of Managers and the Homeland Activities Department stage for the residents.

“They keep my mind working,” Geoffrey said. “That’s important. And I mingle with other people. Playing the games today, I just go up and down and up and down. That’s fine. You just play and have a good time.”

Resident Bonnie Clapp was putting in tokens and trying her luck at the slot machines.

“I’ve been to Atlantic City once, but I played the penny machine,” Bonnie said laughing. “And I watched all the high gamblers. That was fun.”

She can’t understand people who gamble away their winnings.

“If I won $300 or $400, I’d keep it,” she said. “I wouldn’t gamble it.”

Bonnie expressed amazement that the Board of Managers could bring in the portable slot machines and stage such a lively event.

“This is a wonderful concept,” she said. “The Board of Managers do a great job organizing parties. They really are dedicated women.”

At Homeland Center, she added, “there’s always something fun planned, and there are so many things to do. They have great activities here.”

As they left, residents chose their prizes from a table stocked by the Board of Managers with various useful and delightful items. There were Junior Mints and body lotions, Easter baskets filled with felted Easter eggs, puzzle books, and journals. Resident Carl Barna picked out small plush rabbits to give to other residents and staff, knowing they would appreciate the cute toys.

Back at the blackjack table, Geoffrey Davenport was thoroughly engaged in play.

“There’s an adage I heard years ago that you stay on 16 or 17 when that’s what your cards add up to,” he said. “You don’t want to go over 21. But I have fun playing.”

With a 10 and a five on the table in front of him, he realized he had to test that adage. He asked for one more, and the dealer turned over a king, worth 10 points, for a total of 25.

“Oh, my goodness, I lost out on that one,” Geoffrey said. “That’s okay. You have to take a risk.”

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.