The resident didn’t want breakfast. Her worried son told Aprile Greene that his mom wasn’t eating her oatmeal and eggs, but Aprile had an idea. She went into the kitchen for some applesauce.
It did the trick.
“You get to know the residents and what they like,” says Aprile. “I knew how to help her. She wanted something cold. She didn’t want something hot, and she ate the applesauce. She ate her yogurt, too, because it was cold. You have to put yourself in their shoes.”
Aprile, who came to Homeland in 2013, takes to heart that she’s a guest in the place that residents call home.
“What would they do at home? They would laugh. They would dance. They would sing if company came over,’’ Aprile says. “We may work here, but we’re like company to them. We’re in their house. We entertain each other. They keep me smiling. We keep them smiling.”
Before joining Homeland, Aprile worked as a medical assistant in a pediatrician’s office. Dealing with sick children and their parents took a toll on her, and every day, she carried the stress home with her. Then, at a laundromat, she met a woman who works at Homeland, who suggested she apply.
Aprile started as part-time in the dietary department. Six months later, Homeland paid for her to earn her CNA certification. Soon, she was working full-time with diverse duties building-wide as CNA, dietary supervisor, and activities aide. She is known for chatting cheerily with family members and for dancing with residents during musical presentations.
While Homeland staffers often say that coming to work helps them park their troubles at the door, Aprile flips the script. At the end of every day, the joy of Homeland goes with her. She credits her unique perspective to Homeland’s adherence to standards of excellence, which instills self-awareness about the attitude she projects.
“Being in someone’s home, you have to be aware that someone might not be feeling good or if they’re having a problem,” she says. “Your attitude has to change with every single person you run into. It grooms you for better behavior as far as society is concerned. When you’re here, you’re saying good morning to everyone or offering to help, and that’s what you do when you’re on the outside.”
Aprile is a lifelong resident of Harrisburg, from a family steeped in a tradition of service. Family members who served in the military include her father, sisters, brothers, niece, and nephew, and Aprile was in ROTC in high school. Her father, the first black student to graduate from John Harris High School with honors, spent his career as a civilian computer analyst for the U.S. Army. In World War II, he wrote the math test administered to qualify fliers as Tuskegee Airmen, the legendary African-American bombers and fighters.
Aprile’s mother worked hard every day caring for their 11 children – Aprile was the 10th, and the youngest girl – and instilled a strong work ethic in her kids. Even dinner was a time for togetherness and a routine that Aprile can still recite.
“We would say Grace, all eat at the same time, then get up, scrape your plate, put your plate in the sink. Somebody had dishes that night. We wash them, dry them, and put them away. Soak the dish towels, sweep the floor, wipe the stove. Once the kitchen’s shut down, it’s shut down. No eating anymore.”
Aprile’s sense of service has been passed down to her four daughters, who work in healthcare, education, and financial services. Whenever she can, she spends time with her 11 grandchildren, ages 1 to 17.
Residents’ family members have been known to call Aprile their “angel.” To Aprile, that means “doing what we can” for residents.
“We’re supposed to make them feel comfortable in their home,” she says. “We’re supposed to make them feel happy in their home. If they’re having a bad day, we cheer them up. I go out of my way for them because it matters to them. You have a good day here, and you take it out of here.”