Marie Andrews is perusing the books on the shelves in Homeland Center’s newly renovated library and activities room.
“We have John Grisham books, and we have Tom Clancy,” says Marie. “We have Patterson. We have Debbie Macomber, who is very popular. Nora Roberts.”
“We have a lot of Nora Roberts,” adds Vivian Black.
Vivian and Marie should know what’s popular here. The Homeland Center residents volunteered to help in the recently renovated library and activities area – renamed the Ted Lick Room – and take pride in caring for the books and making them readily available.
The room was renovated in 2014 through a generous gift to the 1867 Homeland Society from Kelly Lick, widow of Harrisburg philanthropist Ted Lick. The cheery room sports a new kitchen, built-in bookshelves and armchairs for relaxing and reading. Residents gather here for cooking classes, bingo and knitting circles.
“It’s a well-used room, not just a library,” says Vivian.
Kelly Lick’s gift allowed for the remodeling of a skilled care room, also named in honor of her late husband, and for the purchase of a handicapped-accessible van.
The gift was among the first received by the 1867 Homeland Society, established to encourage and recognize major gifts. Donations to Homeland’s endowment allow the center to care for residents regardless of their resources. Last fiscal year, Homeland spent more than $2 million on charitable and benevolent care.
Homeland’s library was established a decade ago through a bequest from Catherine “Kitty” Meikle, a resident and avid book lover. Ten years later, when Vivian and Marie were asked to pitch in, the collection needed their help. Due to the sudden illness of a volunteer who had kept the library organized, donated and borrowed books weren’t making their way to the shelves.
“This place was full of books in boxes,” says Marie.
“There were boxes and boxes,” adds Vivian, pointing around the room. “They were on that stand, and on all those shelves. They were back in that corner and in this corner over here. We had a terrible thing to tackle.”
Marie and Vivian worked with Barbara Cleeland, a member of Homeland’s board of managers, to reorganize and reshelve the books by categories – paperbacks, large print, fiction, nonfiction, picture books.
Residents and staff can borrow books indefinitely, leaving a card matched to each book in a basket for Vivian or Marie to file. Favorite selections vary from one day to the next, but mysteries are enduringly popular. So are titles of local interest, such as books about the Battle of Gettysburg or Amish culture.
As books are donated, it’s the job of Marie and Vivian to sort, select those likeliest to appeal to the Homeland community, and designate the rest for donation to church or other retirement home libraries. They tell their regulars when a book they’d like has come in. They keep an eye on current events and retain any books that might have topical interest.
“We’ve been hanging on to things with Hillary Clinton in case she runs for president,” says Vivian.
Marie remembers first coming to Homeland and being “only too glad to come down here and get a book to read.” The reader of mysteries and historical fiction liked the fact that she didn’t have to ask others to bring books to her.
The Ted Lick Room’s atmosphere invites relaxation and contemplation. A collection of elephant figurines, donated by a world-traveling former resident, Robert D. Hanson, fills a pair of bookcases. Through the windows, there’s a view of Homeland’s beautiful Fifth Street garden.
“When all the dogwoods and all the azaleas are out, it’s gorgeous,” says Marie. “Absolutely fantastic.”