Homeland’s CEO makes a big splash at Summertime Fair


Homeland resident Mary Peterson, assisted by caregiver Chris Fulton, gets ready to dunk Barry Ramper.

Homeland resident Mary Peterson, assisted by caregiver Chris Fulton, gets ready to dunk center President and CEO Barry Ramper II.

Barry S. Ramper II begged Mary Peterson not to hit the button that would send him into the dunk tank. The center’s president and CEO playfully wagged a finger and urged her to rethink what she was about to do.

Ignoring Ramper’s pleas, Mary hit the button and to the delight of the crowd at Homeland Center’s 2014 Summertime Fair, Ramper dropped into the waiting four feet of water.

The dunking resulted from a promise Ramper made weeks earlier: If $5,000 was raised for the residents’ activities fund before the Aug. 9 fair, he would take the plunge.

An anonymous donor contributed the entire $5,000, putting Homeland well on the way to its goal of raising $10,000 from the fair. Additional money was raised at the event from a white elephant sale, refreshments and tickets to the fair’s games and attractions.

“What you have done is given us an opportunity to provide more activities for our residents,’’ a thoroughly soaked but smiling Ramper said of the donor’s generous gift. “The fund helps us provide a broad range of life-enriching social experiences.’’

Through the activities fund, residents have gone to Phillies and Steelers games; visited the Baltimore Aquarium and Longwood Gardens; attended local theater; and toured historic sites in Gettysburg and Hershey. The fund helps cover the cost to bring in local performers as well as music therapists and art instructors.

Barry Ramper said he would go in the dunk tank if $5,000 was raised before the fair. An anonymous donor contributed the entire amount.

Generous support from donors throughout the Harrisburg region to the center’s endowment fund has made it possible for Homeland to continue its 147-year history of community service. No resident has ever been turned away because of financial distress; in the last fiscal year, Homeland provided more than $2 million in charitable and benevolent care.

Chartered as the Home for the Friendless in 1867, Homeland originally sheltered women and homeless children, focusing on Civil War widows and orphans. Today, Homeland is recognized as one of Central Pennsylvania’s top personal care and skilled nursing facilities, earning Medicare’s highest five-star rating for quality in care, staffing, and safety.

Homeland Hospice ensures patients nearing their life’s end are free of pain and able to spend quality time with their loved ones. Care occurs in the setting wherever a person calls home. Homeland Hospice’s services include a pediatric palliative care program.

After taking a shot at dunking Ramper, Dr. Donald B. Freedman, Homeland’s first medical director, said the center has grown in amazing ways.

“This place gets better all the time,” said Freedman, who came to Homeland in 1961 and served on the medical staff for 50 years. “It’s unbelievable. All the new things that go on up here – it’s great.”

Tara Roland, a housekeeper at Homeland for 14 years, said there is a special relationship between the staff and the residents. Roland, like a majority of Homeland’s staff, lives in the immediate neighborhood.

“I just love the people I work with and the residents,” said Roland. “Everybody gets along here. When the residents see that you care, that’s a good thing.”