Homeland Center residents start the summer with music and strawberry shortcake


Everyone loves the signs of summer. Fresh strawberries. Flowers in bloom. Music in the air.

Residents Carol Sweigert, left, and Flora Jespersen enjoy Homeland’s “Signs of Summer” party.

Homeland Center residents and staff enjoyed them all as they welcomed the warm weather during the “Signs of Summer” gathering under the Chet Henry Memorial Pavilion.

Balloons and decorations in bright blues, greens, pinks, and yellows echoed the flowers blossoming in the adjoining Homeland Center garden. The David Winters Quartet played jazzy renditions of classic standards, from “Cheek to Cheek” to “Chattanooga Choo-Choo.”

The party, held the day after Memorial Day, kicked off a planned summer series of picnics. Organized by Homeland unit and floor, the events will help residents and as many guests as each cares to invite reminisce and relive the fun and food of classic picnics.

At the “Signs of Summer” event, resident Flora Jespersen took the hands of another resident to dance in the shade of the pavilion. On the pavilion’s fringes, resident Doris Coyne said she loved the delicious shortcake, “Especially the strawberries, they were very fresh.” She also appreciated the music from a combo she knows well.

“This is a band I used to dance to all the time,” she said. “I love that kind of music.”

Residents heard all their favorites played by the David Winters Quartet

Coyne likes Homeland’s “homey atmosphere, and the rapport between the residents and employees.” She also is a longtime Homeland Center volunteer, including more than term on the Board of Managers, the all-female board which organized the celebration and is responsible for ensuring that residents enjoy a good quality of life.

“The Board of Managers does such a good job here,” she said. “It’s so pleasant for the residents. They do programs. These things don’t happen overnight. The residents especially like this, to get outside.”

The Board of Managers organizes events fostering that “homey atmosphere,” said Board Chair Susan Batista.

“We’re essentially here to make sure the residents have a safe, secure, and homelike environment,” said Batista, as the party went on around her. “We try to make it as much as possible like their home as we can.”

Residents paired their strawberry shortcake with planter’s punch, a refreshing concoction of orange juice, pineapple juice, lemon juice, ginger ale, and a splash of Grenadine. Board of Managers Member Kelly Lick, serving the punch, said the board originally planned a May Day party, to help residents relive memories of circling the maypole on May 1, but spring-like weather wasn’t in the forecast that day.

After a cold, rainy spring, the weather gods “are smiling on us” for the summertime kick-off, Batista added.

“Oftentimes, we have parties inside,” she said. “It’s so nice to get everyone outside, especially in this gorgeous setting.”

Homeland’s summertime picnics make everyone smile, Batista said.

“It’s wonderful,” she said as guests applauded the band’s rendition of “Sunny Side of the Street.” “The families so appreciate it.”