Board of Managers member Maggie Kirsch: Gratitude and fulfillment


Board of Managers member Maggie KirschMaggie Kirsch can’t name a single incident that exemplifies her beautiful experiences at Homeland.

“All the little ones make up for one big one,” she said. “Everybody is so kind, considerate, and caring here that I can’t honestly say there’s one big thing. It’s the little things that make this place.”

Maggie is a longtime volunteer, serving on the Homeland Board of Managers for about eight years. The Board of Managers is Homeland’s unique, all-women board devoted to sustaining Homeland’s renowned homelike feel, managing the details that range from hanging holiday decorations to redecorating the dining room and refreshing bench cushions.

“I have never met so many kind women so eager to help and ready to do whatever needs to be done,” she said. “They don’t hesitate. Amazing, amazing women.”

Maggie was born in Brooklyn and is the daughter of Italian immigrants. Her mother learned English by reading the Sunday comics. Her father followed a tortuous path through the Alps, across the Atlantic, and down through Canada to reach a better life in the United States.

“He made something of himself on his own,” she said. “He didn’t expect anybody to give him anything. They knew what they had to do.”

Her family moved to Harrisburg from Brooklyn, NY when she was two to be closer to her mother’s family. Maggie’s grandparents ran a grocery store on Cameron Street, near the Bethlehem Steel plant in Steelton, and her father owned an ice cream truck. Later, her parents owned a Harrisburg bar called Guy’s Café.

Maggie attended Bishop McDevitt High School, where she loved singing with the choir and the a cappella group. After graduating from high school, she became a medical assistant and worked in a doctor’s office, which taught her how to do blood tests and other procedures.

In 1966, Maggie married Tom McAuliffe, a Bethlehem Steel electrical engineer. For 22 years, they stayed busy raising their four children. Then one day, while at a seminar in Bethlehem, he died suddenly while out for his daily run.

“I can only say I put one thought in front of the other, handled one situation in front of the other,” she said of those challenging days. “Thank God my kids are good. I was fortunate to have good friends and good family to help.”

Maggie also worked for 16 years as an office administrator for AAA Travel, and after her husband died, she worked as a temp for Kelly.

The agency allowed her to be home every day when her youngest child came home from school.

While serving as a temp with Amp, the former electrical component manufacturer, she attended a holiday party where she met an Amp engineer named Paul Kirsch. Soon, they were dating, and they married before he took a business trip to Paris.

The couple’s travels have taken them to Alaska, Hawaii, and Europe. On one memorable trip, Maggie and four of her siblings – the Bianchi family — ventured with their spouses to their parent’s Italian hometown. There, where a cousin was mayor, they walked the cobblestone streets, ate gelato made by another cousin, and saw their grandmother’s silkworm farm and fig-tree groves.

“It was the best trip we ever took,” Maggie said. “All the things my parents talked about now came to life. If you can return to wherever your parents were from, go!”

Maggie and her husband live in Lower Paxton Township. The grandmother of 14 loves to golf, is an avid gardener, serves as a docent for the Pennsylvania Governor’s Residence, and sings soprano, just like she did in high school, but now with the Hummelstown Community Singers.

Since joining the Board of Managers, Maggie has “enjoyed every minute of it.”

“I feel so satisfied just to see how happy the people are,” she said. “I feel so gratified by the things I can do to help make the residents’ lives better. The employees are so nice. I have never met a rude person here. Everybody is very considerate of each other’s position and how they can help each other.”

Board of Managers member Babs Phillips: A hands-on volunteer


Homeland Chef Manager George Shum

Babs Phillips is a longtime Board of Managers member who has seen Homeland grow to meet the community’s needs while maintaining its status as a premier care facility.

“It’s the employees,” she said. “They maintain a caring attitude. It starts at the top and extends throughout the organization.’’

Babs has served on the Board of Managers for 22 years. This unique, all-women group is devoted to maintaining Homeland’s homelike atmosphere and an array of lively seasonal events that brighten the lives of residents.

“I enjoy all the boards I have worked with,” she said. “Everybody is so willing to work, and everything goes well.”

Babs grew up in the East End of Pittsburgh until her senior year in high school, when the family relocated to Indiana, PA, to be near relatives. There, a teacher recommended that Babs and three other students get summer jobs with the state in Harrisburg. Her mother, a free spirit, wholeheartedly approved.

That was her introduction to central Pennsylvania. After graduation, she attended Shippensburg University of Pennsylvania and returned to the Harrisburg area as a school guidance counselor for Cumberland Valley School District, where she spent her career.

“It was rewarding,” she said. “Kids, no matter where need an ear to listen to them. Sometimes, that’s all you have to provide.”

When Babs retired, a neighbor on the Board of Managers suggested volunteering for Homeland would be a good fit. Babs has been involved in everything from delivering food-truck French fries to hosting ice cream sundae parties to holding summer picnics in the shade of the Chet Henry Memorial Pavilion. Her husband, Jack, also volunteers, playing piano for Homeland sing-alongs.

“These are hands-on activities with the residents,” Babs said. “That’s the whole thrust of the Board of Managers, to be more involved with the residents, and that’s what I enjoy. It’s why we’re here. Sometimes their days can be long, and certainly, some of them aren’t feeling well some days, so an activity is a way to boost their spirits.”

Since retiring, Babs has also enjoyed volunteering for other causes. She loved the 15 years she spent delivering Meals on Wheels.

“You developed friendships with the people,” she said.

She also served with the Friends of Kline Library, supporting the small but mighty city branch in the Dauphin County Library System near her home in Harrisburg’s historic Bellevue Park.

Babs believes in treating people with dignity, and now, she encounters others who feel the same way.

“As an older person, you appreciate the respect people are trying to give you,” she said. “I notice that everywhere. People are always trying to help me.”

In her time on the Board of Managers, Babs has seen and been a part of Homeland’s growth, including the founding of Homeland at Home, comprising Homeland Hospice, Homeland HomeHealth, and Homeland HomeCare, and most recently Homeland Palliative Care. She said she is impressed by Homeland’s leadership recognizing opportunities to provide additional services the community needs.

“Homeland is just as loving and caring now as it was 155-plus years ago,” she said. “It’s maintained the best-ever reputation.”

Homeland Board of Managers member Judy Bowman: Sharing her blessings


Homeland Board of Managers member Judy Bowman

As a career physical therapist, Judy Bowman saw many long-term care facilities with loving atmospheres – but none matched the intimacy of Homeland Center.

“Being a smaller place, everybody knows each other here,” she says. “We have more fun interacting with the residents. The staff is unbelievably and truly caring. The residents notice that, and the families notice that.”

Judy serves on the Homeland Board of Managers, a unique panel of women devoted to sustaining Homeland’s renowned homelike feel in décor and activities. The Board of Managers descended from the original 18 women from nine Harrisburg churches who, in 1867, founded the “Home for the Friendless” to shelter Civil War widows and orphans.

Coming full circle, Judy remembers that her mother attended church at one of those nine institutions. Judy’s grandfather would take her mother to visit Bethesda Mission and Homeland Center every Sunday.

Judy joined the Board of Managers in 2020, just when COVID restrictions shut down the fun activities that the board was known for presenting – picnics, Monte Carlo night, even a sock hop featuring an Elvis Presley impersonator.

Now that most restrictions have lifted, the board is in full swing. They have hosted a French fry truck, planned a fall festival, baked cupcakes with the residents, and bought patio furniture and a firepit where residents make s’mores. They also made 250 bows to refresh Homeland’s holiday wreaths and held an ice cream sundae party where residents chose their ice cream flavors and toppings.

“We had so much fun talking to the residents,” Judy says. “That’s what was missing during COVID, that interaction.”

Judy serves on the board’s House and Grounds Committee, sustaining Homeland’s atmosphere as “a beautiful, loving, and caring place.”

“This is the residents’ home,” she says. “Every member of the staff, whether in nursing, housekeeping, maintenance, dietary, or activities, focuses on each person’s needs because everybody’s different.”

As a physical therapist, Judy advocated for legislation benefiting the profession, served as an appointee on the State Board of Physical Therapy, and worked in rehab facilities and for the Visiting Nurses Association. She always gravitated toward working with the elderly.

“I enjoyed the conversations with them and the fact that they so appreciated it,” she says.

Judy and her husband both have strong ties to area history. Judy’s Baum ancestors settled in the region on a land grant from a son of William Penn. Her father worked in management for Hershey Enterprises. For a time, he worked in the factory supply center and had to be available for emergencies, so the family lived in the nearby Homestead, where Milton Hershey was born and perfected his milk chocolate formula.

“I couldn’t understand why people would come up and want to see the house,” she says. “I climbed every tree around there. I always brought little bunnies home and nursed them back to health.”

Judy’s husband, Steve, is a Bowman of Bowman Bowman & Co. department store, founded by his great-grandfather in 1871 and whose flagship stood in downtown Harrisburg for 100 years. Steve worked for the family business until he and his father started a sewer cleaning business. When they sold that enterprise, he went to work part-time for Boscov’s, where you’ll still find him conscientiously serving customers in the shoe department.

“He never gave up retail,” Judy says.

Judy also had her time in retail as a part-time bridal consultant at Boscov’s. Since retiring from PT and Boscov’s in 2019, she has volunteered. At Homeland, she witnesses the extraordinary commitment of staff sharing their enthusiasm and talents, and she has come to grasp the “unbelievable” scope of the work performed by the all-volunteer Board of Managers.

“It is very, very hands-on,” she says. “This board right now has so many different talents, and everybody works together using their strengths and gifts.”

She feels grateful to share her gifts – a lesson she learned from her mother, who graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Dickinson College and taught at Milton Hershey School. Her mother also volunteered for countless community causes, and always had room at the dinner table for any student who dropped by.

“The opportunity to help at Homeland is a blessing,” she says. “It truly is. We have an opportunity to help others, to give back, and to serve others. I think we get more rewarded than the other way around.”

Homeland Board of Managers member Sandra Daily: Giving back on behalf of her family


Sandra Daily is a busy woman.

She’s a grandmother involved in the Daughters of the American Revolution and a supporter of anti-bullying campaigns. So, the first time Homeland asked her to serve on its Board of Managers, she declined.

But when the opportunity next arose, Sandy decided it was time. She knew the quality care Homeland Center provides from her frequent visits with her mother and brother, Peggy and Rusty Keiser.

“I figured I have two people here and that I should give back,” she said. “Everybody’s been so nice and kind to them. I felt it was my turn to step up to the plate.”

The Board of Managers is a tradition unique to Homeland Center. In 1867, 18 women from nine Harrisburg churches gathered to advocate creating a home for Harrisburg’s widows and orphans of the Civil War.

While a Board of Trustees oversees financial and policy issues, the Board of Managers hearkens to those 18 women determined to avoid giving their initiative an institutional feel. The Board of Managers, still an all-female group, is responsible for sustaining Homeland’s home-like environment and quality of life.

Sandy Daily joined the Board of Managers in September 2021. She helps decorate for the holidays and arrange flowers for Homeland’s dining room tables, making sure every table has a vase fresh with blossoms each week.

She welcomes the opportunity to be a friend to the residents – especially those whose families aren’t close enough to visit.

“They’re all so happy to see somebody,’’ said Sandy, who also serves on the board’s House and Grounds Committee. “I chat with the residents and ask about how they’re doing. People need that.”

She worked with fellow board members to help the Homeland Activities Department host a fun day with the first Fall Fest in October 2021. The COVID-weary residents and staff enjoyed a day of outdoor activities, with a wacky photo booth and the chance to “bob” for apples using long-handled grabbers.

Sandy’s membership in the Harrisburg Chapter Daughters of the American Revolution came after researching her mother’s family tree by her mother’s maiden name, Hummel. As her maiden name suggests, Peggy is descended from the founder of the Hershey-area town of Hummelstown, and a Hummel connection was a Revolutionary War patriot.

After joining the DAR, Sandy spearheaded the creation of an essay contest and scholarship awards for high school seniors. Today, she serves on the chapter’s Historical Committee, helping preserve the National Register-listed Dr. William Henderson House in Hummelstown, considered an excellently preserved example of a Federal-style townhouse.

Sandy is a retired elementary school teacher who combined her knowledge of knitting and teaching into support for the national Hat Not Hate anti-bullying campaign.

Participants knit blue hats that are donated to schools and distributed to students as symbols of anti-bullying initiatives. Sandy was pleasantly shocked the day that campaign founder Shira Blumenthal went live on Facebook to open a box of knitted hats from “Sandy D,” of New Cumberland, PA.

Blumenthal read the letter from Sandy that talked of bullying, which she witnessed first-hand as a teacher, and its negative impact on young lives.

“Your Hat Not Hate program is so important in today’s world,” Sandy wrote. “I wish this program had been around when I was teaching.”

Like her mother, who knits sweater vests for children in need, Sandy loves knitting for a cause.

“If you can make someone’s life a little better because you show you care, that’s a help,” Sandy said. “Shira Blumenthal always said to consider it a hug. I told my neighbor kids, ‘You’re getting a hug.’”

Board of Managers Secretary Cathy Leeds: A heart for service


Before Cathy Leeds joined Homeland Center’s Board of Managers, she knew first-hand about Homeland’s quality service from the years her mother and her father-in-law lived here.

“My husband would come home from visiting his dad and say, ‘That is an amazing place,’” Cathy says. “He was very pleased.”

Today, Cathy is secretary of the Board of Managers and a mainstay in all its activities. The all-volunteer group devotes their time and talents to sustaining Homeland’s well-known home-like feel.

Cathy’s service to Homeland is just one piece in a lifetime tapestry of volunteerism to support community causes and help others at all stages of life.

Cathy grew up in northern New Jersey and studied psychology at Muhlenberg College in Allentown. She met her future husband, Dick Leeds, during her freshman year. They graduated in 1968, “right at the height of Vietnam,” and Dick’s draft number was very low, so he enlisted for Officer Candidate School.

That decision launched Dick’s 20-year career serving in the U.S. Army Quartermaster Corps.

“The only overseas tours we had were two in Korea, one in the ‘70s and one in the early ‘80s,” Cathy says, adding that “we had to pay to go to Europe on vacation. The Army never sent us to Europe.”

The couple settled in central Pennsylvania in 1984, choosing the area for its proximity to their aging parents, his in New York and hers in New Jersey. Cathy worked for 16 years for Capital Area Intermediate Unit as an early intervention specialist. In that role, she helped preschool-aged children overcome learning and developmental deficits on their way to kindergarten.

Helping in her community has been the constant thread in Cathy’s life, ever since her teenage days as a hospital volunteer.

“It’s always a good way to meet people.”

When her husband was in the military, she volunteered for the Red Cross and Army Community Service, the Army’s social services agency. She was active in the Junior League in Lansing, Michigan, and Harrisburg. For her church – the historic Silver Spring Presbyterian, with doors on the pews and a “wineglass” pulpit – she has been a deacon, sung in the choir, and volunteered for the Downtown Daily Bread kitchen and homeless shelter.

For 30 years, she has volunteered for Contact Helpline, the phone hotline for people needing referrals to social services or assistance. Devoting about four hours a week to calls from people in need can be challenging, but it can also be rewarding when they make a connection that bridges them over a difficult time.

“We’re trained that our callers have within themselves the ability to solve their own problems,” she says. “One of the critical things is that you can’t burden yourself with the caller’s problems. You just use active listening to try to help them see what they might need to do.”

Her volunteer work with Silver Spring Presbyterian and Homeland will cross-pollinate in spring 2022, when the church’s Reach Out and Rebuild (ROAR) Team will rehab the Homeland gazebo. Over the past decade, Cathy has joined the team for mission trips to impoverished areas of West Virginia, Florida, and Maine.

“I’m a jack of all trades, master of none,” she says with a laugh. “I love doing the chop saw. I’ve laid floors. I’ve done tile. As long as I’m told what to do, and I’m given a little instruction, I can do it.”

Cathy brings her jack-of-all-trades approach to her Homeland service as well, helping stage the board’s seasonal events, such as summer picnics and the casino night that was a huge hit with residents. She helps decorate for the holidays and, currently, serves on the financial development and long-range planning committees. It’s all supporting the board’s mission to make Homeland a genuine home for the residents.

“I love interacting with the residents,’’ she says. “We have a wonderful Board of Managers. We all work very well together and have a good time. You feel good about being at Homeland and knowing that you’re making a difference in people’s lives.”


Charlie Fetterhoff: Board of Trustees member puts Homeland “in a class by itself”


Charles Fetterhoff has seen the inside of many nursing homes, visiting friends and his sister, born with cerebral palsy, as she went in and out of rehab.

He also knows Homeland Center from the years that his mother and his sister – both named Mary – lived there.

“You couldn’t compare anything to Homeland,” he says. “It was night and day.”

Now, Charlie is putting his love for Homeland into service, joining the Board of Trustees in September 2021. He has watched Homeland grow in renown as it extends its legendary excellence in care. From residential services at Homeland Center into the community through Homeland at Home, the continuum of care provider boasts Homeland Hospice, Homeland HomeHealth, and Homeland HomeCare.

Charlie’s mother spent her final three years in Homeland, enjoying “happy hour” in personal care and flower arranging in skilled care. His sister, who lived independently until age 70, lived there for her last seven years. She loved to play bingo and, as an avid reader, would pick out biographies in the Homeland library.

“Those were good years for both of them,” he says. “At that point in their lives, Homeland helped them live a very nice quality of life. Homeland was always clearly above the rest.”

Charlie grew up in the city of Harrisburg, in the historic Bellevue Park neighborhood. His father was an obstetrician, who inspired him to pursue a career in health care – but one with better hours. He chose dentistry, earning his bachelor’s and DMD degrees at the University of Pennsylvania. He stayed in Philadelphia for his internship but returned to Harrisburg for a quieter lifestyle near his family.

For 45 years, he had a practice in Harrisburg’s Colonial Park area. He joined a group practice for the last three, but now, beginning October 2021, he is retired.

Charlie also chose dentistry for the chance to work with his hands. It’s in his blood. His great-grandfather and ancestors were blacksmiths and wagon builders in the Dauphin County town of Lykens. As a kid, he built model railroads.

“We’ve always worked with our hands,” he says. “You have that three-dimensional way of looking at things in dentistry.”

Retirement leaves him more time for building things and working around the house.

“When you have a house, there’s always something to fix,” he says. “Some people relax in the kitchen, but for me, if I can be down at my workbench puttering with something, that’s joyous. When you’re finished, you’ve created something or repaired something, and it’s meaningful.”

Recently, he became quite good at working with plastic wood, staining, and polyurethane. It’s all due to his greyhound, Marla, who “has an affinity for furniture. I don’t mean sitting on it. I mean chewing it.”

Marla is the newest of five greyhounds Charlie has owned for over 25 years, all of them ex-racers. He started with one after a friend introduced him to the gentle dogs.

He quickly realized that, as track animals that lived their whole lives in kennels, they are used to being around other greyhounds. So, he got another.
“You realize how much they enjoy each other,” Charlie says. “It makes it a happier time for the dog.”

Marla’s companion is Jimmy, aka Lebron James. As Lebron was a champion basketball player, Jimmy was a champion racer, but some of the others weren’t destined to succeed at the track (which is now illegal in Florida).

“There’s something about a rescue,” he says. “When I went to State College to pick up Marla, she not only had her head on my lap, but she pressed her body against me. They’re happy to have a home.”

Charlie serves on the Market Square Concerts board and is president of the Medical Bureau of Harrisburg, a phone answering service for medical and other offices. He has helped with fundraising with Homeland, including the successful 150th-anniversary gala that raised funds for Homeland’s benevolent care.

“Homeland is in a class by itself,” he says. “I’m hoping that with everybody’s support and care, it will last another 100 years.”