Doris Coyne brings the world to Homeland Center!
Throughout her 96 years, Doris Coyne has kept her feet moving. Whether she’s kayaking in Fiji, peeking behind the Iron Curtain in East Berlin, or serving meals to the hungry, she is always hunting for new experiences and the chance to stay engaged with the wide world.
“I need people,” she says. “I’m a people person.”
Coyne is among the many residents who bring a wealth of experience to Homeland Center, including two decades of volunteering with Homeland. When she shares her stories of travel to 29 countries and her still-active volunteerism, it’s as if a Chinese New Year dragon, a remote Alaskan hospital, and a picturesque state park in northeastern Pennsylvania all congregate under the Homeland roof.
Coyne was born in Scranton, the daughter of a coal company safety engineer and a homemaker. Her abiding love is water sports, starting with a canoe club on the placid waters of Lake Winola. She always loved the challenge of the water, so at age 75, she tried kayaking, not in a quiet stream, but in the Jersey Shore ocean waves.
“I no sooner was seated in the kayak than it flipped over,” she says with a laugh. “The only thing to do is get back in it.”
Coyne’s husband, whom she met while ice skating at Rocky Glen State Park, was a AAA domestic travel manager. They were fortunate to be married for 35 wonderful years, traveling as a couple and as a family with their two children. After his death in 1981, at age 58, Coyne knew she didn’t want a 9-to-5 job, so she worked temp jobs and ran her own small travel agency.
She also joined Friendship Force International, the travel group promoting personal interaction among people worldwide. Living in host-family homes, from apartments to palaces, Coyne dove into local cultures. In Taiwan, she witnessed a Chinese New Year’s parade and its dozens of men carrying the dragon. In Turkey, she rode on a circa-1905 Russian train. In West Berlin, her host’s home overlooked the Berlin Wall, patrolled by soldiers with dogs. She even got a pass to cross into East Berlin, giving up her passport for the day.
“Then you really knew what it felt like to be in a controlled country,” she says.
Coyne and her husband moved to Harrisburg in 1975. She immediately loved the area and started giving back – ushering for the Harrisburg Symphony, serving meals for the homeless, taking mission trips to support an isolated Alaskan hospital.
Through her church, Pine Street Presbyterian, Coyne began visiting Homeland Center residents in 1981. She then joined the Board of Managers and served several terms over 20 years.
“It was a wonderful, wonderful opportunity,” she says. “I enjoyed the employees and the warmth of their responses.”
As a resident, Coyne remains engaged in Homeland life, joining everything from picnics to crafts to bridge to chair Zumba. She credits her parents and her church for instilling strong values and the desire to give back.
“I love anything where you’re active but having fun doing it,’’ she says. “It isn’t selfish to have fun helping people.’’