When Sharria Floyd moved to Harrisburg, she thought she would work for the same nursing home group where she had worked in Lancaster County, where she grew up.
Then she walked into Homeland for an interview. Immediately, she thought, “I’m going to work here.”
“Everyone I came across had a smile on their face,” she said. “I’m a pretty happy person, and that was refreshing. It made me feel welcome. It made me feel I could do the same in return.”
That was 18 years ago. Today, Sharria is the Quality Assurance CNA Supervisor for the Ellenberger Unit, which cares for those with Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia or memory impairment. She is a trusted friend to residents, their families, and colleagues.
CNAs are the backbone of Homeland’s care teams, offering help with the daily tasks that assure quality of life. The QA CNA supervisors are team leaders upholding the exacting standards that keep residents safe, healthy, and living life to the fullest.
Sharria has been a CNA since age 17, inspired by visits to the nursing home where her mother worked as a CNA. She was hooked.
“I appreciated the wisdom I saw in the residents’ eyes,” she said. “I saw their youth and their wisdom all at the same time, and I’d wonder what their life was like. I figured there was something there to learn, and maybe I could make their days better.”
She moved to Harrisburg and joined Homeland at age 21, working in the Ellenberger Unit, where she remained. Serving residents with dementia has taught her to stay optimistic and agile because they teach her that things can change.
“Be prepared for whatever life throws at you,” she said. “I’ve learned how to adjust and still find joy and happiness in those difficult moments. If I can help the residents and their families find joy, I can do the same for myself and my children. I can look at life sunny side up.”
Around 2017, Homeland created QA CNA supervisor positions in all units. To Sharria, the fit was ideal. She continued her work with residents and families while upholding Homeland’s standards of excellence and acting as a liaison between her unit’s CNAs and leadership.
Her days are filled with training the CNAs and conducting audits to check adherence to the countless details that promise residents their dignity and safety – name labels inside their clothes, teeth brushed, eyeglasses in place, room in order, care plans followed.
Reflecting on the countless encounters that touched her, Sharria recalls one resident’s final moments of life. At her mother’s side, the resident’s daughter gratefully accepted Sharria’s offer to pray with them. Then Sharria brought them a Bible, and the daughter read scripture as her mother passed away.
“She wrote a letter thanking me for that,” Sharria said. “It’s those moments I don’t think about being acknowledged. I don’t look at it as a job. I don’t often get the time to step back and say, ‘That’s why I’m here.’”
Her own family of three “fantastic, awesome, full of energy” kids keeps her busy. Jacob, 17, is loving and kind, and a football player at Trinity High School. Lincoln, 10, is the outspoken one, with a “larger-than-life attitude.” Sharria once lost sight of him at a football game but later saw him on the TV news, cheering the team in a sea of high schoolers who took him in like a mascot. Nyla, 5, is the family dancer and singer.
“She prays for all of us,” Sharria said.
Sharria devotes her free time to Bible study and volunteering for Jesus is the Word Ministries and Harris AME Zion Church, passing out food and clothing to the homeless. At work, her faith has taught her “to continue to serve others with kindness.” That encompasses not just residents but coworkers – perhaps making a bed when she sees that someone hasn’t had a chance to get to it yet.
She spends a portion of every day encouraging her colleagues with compliments or sharing moments of prayer, which has earned her nicknames like “Preacher Girl” and “Peacemaker.” One coworker, seeing her in the hallway, called her a superstar.
Sharria remains humbled by her responsibilities. Many years after her instant connection, Homeland remains “the right place for me,” she said.
The work, too, remains her anchor, as she draws inspiration from residents.
“I loved the idea of being a CNA before I even got into it,” she said. “I feel like I need them, and they need me.”