Homeland Unveils Tribute Medallions at a Special Ceremony in May


homeland unveiling eventHomeland unveiled its Tribute Medallions at a special ceremony held in May at Homeland Center in Uptown Harrisburg. The Tribute Medallions along with a special plaque about Homeland are displayed on the iron fence that surrounds the facility. The zinc metal medallions are a tribute to loved ones who received Homeland services as well as recognition of those who make a difference through their volunteerism and dedication to Homeland.

The event included a special blessing from Todd Carver, MDiv, BCC, Homeland Chaplain, and remarks from Noelle Valentine, MSW, LSW, Homeland’s Lead Bereavement Counselor, about Homeland’s dedication to serving families through its outreach efforts. Following the remarks, guests toured the path along the fence to see the medallions and were invited to tour Homeland Center.

“The Tribute Medallions memorialize loved ones and represent the unity of Homeland’s work,” Noelle says. “Through Homeland Center and our outreach efforts we have a special connection with the names and families associated with each medallion.”

in memory of frances shoop medallionThe Tribute Medallion initiative was launched at Homeland Hospice’s 10th Anniversary Celebration in November 2019. At the event, Luetta Romberger of Millersburg purchased two Tribute Medallions in remembrance of her husband, Stanley Romberger, and mother, Francis Shoop, who received hospice services. When Homeland began assisting the family, Stanley was living at home and Francis lived a short distance away. As his health began to decline, Stanley entered a nursing home. Francis soon followed and resided in the same nursing facility. After Stanley died in 2018, Francis moved into Luetta’s home. With the help of Homeland, Luetta cared for her mother until her passing in 2019.

“I will always appreciate the care we received from Homeland,” Luetta says. “The support was beyond my expectations.”

At the event, Luetta toured Homeland Center. Along the way, she noticed a pianist playing on the baby grand piano in the dining room. Homeland frequently invites guests to perform for residents over lunch and dinner. Luetta asked if her 13-year-old grandson Elliott could play. He returned several weeks later and entertained the residents.

For Luetta and families throughout central Pennsylvania, Homeland is personal. Through its work, Homeland has the privilege to care for families and their loved ones during their changing life circumstances. The Tribute Medallions and Homeland’s outreach efforts will continue to grow as the needs of our community evolve.

“We will continue to offer Tribute Medallions for families to memorialize their loved ones,” Noelle says. “Every name and every medallion will forever be an important part of Homeland’s history.”

Since Homeland Center began as the “Home for the Friendless,” more than 155 years ago, it has been – and will always be – a place for friends, family and the community to find respite and support. Every time someone enters Homeland, the first thing they see is a beautiful iron fence with the names of loved ones on tribute medallions. Each name has a story and is part of Homeland’s history.

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Afternoon Tea Party Fit for Royalty


homeland tea party

Afternoon tea is a quintessential English custom and fashionable social event. It is a time to pause in the afternoon for refreshments, petite sandwiches, desserts and conversation with friends. Homeland Center residents recently donned handmade fascinators or boutonnieres for a special tea party hosted by Homeland Center’s Board of Managers, which is led by 17 women dedicated to the quality of life at Homeland.

For Nancy, a resident for over a year, the tea party was among many social activities she enjoys at Homeland. Nancy moved to a personal care suite at Homeland after she began experiencing weakness and worrying about the possibility of a fall or injury.

Prior to becoming a Homeland Center resident, Nancy was no stranger to the high-quality care and compassion delivered through Homeland. In the early 2000s, Nancy’s father and stepmother were residents of Homeland for over six years. Nancy visited them often and was impressed by the attention and support they received. This made her decision to move to Homeland an easy one.

“I saw the organization in action firsthand,” Nancy says. “I knew when the time was right, I would choose Homeland.”

Like Nancy, many of the tea party guests raved about their busy social schedules at Homeland. All activities are created with the residents’ quality of life in mind. Social activities not only engage residents with each other; they also help residents build personal bonds with Homeland staff and volunteers.

Homeland Center’s Board of Managers is led by Alicelyn Sleber, who has graciously volunteered at Homeland for over eight years. Alicelyn and the Board work directly with Aleisha Arnold, Homeland Center’s Director of Activities and Quality Assurance. The Board and staff base their events on conversations with residents. Many activities like various genres of entertainment and visits from food trucks are held at Homeland, while others involve outings to local destinations and attractions.

When the idea of an afternoon tea was proposed, Alicelyn and Aleisha researched area tea houses as potential venues. Based on the overwhelming interest in the event, the group decided to hold the tea in Homeland Center’s main dining room.

“Homeland is our resident’s home,” Alicelyn says. “We decided to bring a formal, classy event to them so everyone could be part of the fun.”

Flowers, delicious specialties and live piano music transformed the dining room into a formal setting suitable for royalty. Over conversations, guests discussed the next game of bingo – a crowd favorite – as well as special past and future events.

“We try to plan special events monthly or add to an event already planned,” Alicelyn adds. “This gives everyone something to look forward to attending.”

During the holiday season, inclusive celebrations are held with all residents, faiths and traditions in mind. As the summer months begin, the ever-popular French Fry truck day is planned along with an ice cream social and summer picnic. These events are in addition to weekly happy hours held on Fridays and various games and activities held on a regular basis.

“It is a privilege to spend time with our residents,” Alicelyn says. “I can see the gratitude in their eyes.”

Homeland’s Board of Managers is deeply rooted in the organization’s history. Homeland was founded in 1867 as the “Home for the Friendless” to serve families impacted by the devastation of the Civil War. At the time, the board served to connect with families in need through activities and engagement. More than 155 years later, the mission of the board of managers remains relatively unchanged. In fact, the Board of Managers was formed and continues to be led solely by women.

“I am honored to work alongside dynamic and caring women,” Alicelyn says. “Everyone has gifts and we all share what we can.”

Homeland Center offer levels of care including personal care, memory care, skilled nursing and rehabilitation. Homeland also provides hospice, home care, home health and palliative care services to serve the diverse and changing needs of families throughout central Pennsylvania.

For more information about Homeland Center, call 717-221-7900.

homeland tea party

Inaugural Class Graduates from Homeland’s Nurse Aide Training Program


CNA graduation at Homeland

Graduation days are special for graduates and everyone involved in their learning. Getting to the “big day” takes hard work and sacrifice by students and support from family members. Graduation also is a time for educators to celebrate the success of the learning process. Homeland Center recently held its first graduation day from its accredited Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) program.

“We are very proud of our first class of graduates,” says Kathy Kuchwara, RN/Clinical Instructor. “CNAs are the backbone of our work.”

In 2019, Homeland began developing its own Nurse Aide training program to develop current talent at Homeland as well as recruit and train new employees interested in becoming CNAs. Prior to this, Homeland used a program provided by an outside entity. Homeland staff members Dawn Mason, Quality Assurance CNA Manager, and Nicol Brown, Chief HR and Corporate Compliance Officer, worked with a health care education consultant to create a program specifically designed to meet Homeland’s core principles and values, while meeting the accreditation guidelines established by the Pennsylvania Department of Education. This was a comprehensive and focused effort slowed only due to the Covid-19 Pandemic.

“Our program is stringent and demanding,” Kathy adds. “It takes focus and dedication to complete the course.”

Homeland offers two CNA training sessions. Kathy leads a three-week session during the day with extended hours. Raechelle Sanford, RN/Clinical Instructor leads a five-week evening class. The flexibility of sessions provides options for students who are working at the same time as they are pursuing this important education advancement.

Prior to starting the course, prospective students meet with Dawn Mason, QA CNA Mgr/Program Administrative Assistant, to assess their skill level, interest, and level of compassion they have for others. This is to ensure that not only the CNA profession is a good fit, but they have a heart and ability to mesh with Homeland’s organizational culture. The goal is to provide a pipeline of committed CNAs to share their time and talents with Homeland. Once accepted, students begin the course. Kathy and Raechelle offer a fast-paced and intense curriculum to mirror the pace of daily work and social interactions required of a CNA. The curriculum also includes Classroom and Clinical instruction, along with tests, mid-terms, a final exam, and a clinical skills assessment.

Upon successful completion, the students attend a graduation ceremony, complete with caps, gowns, and family attendance. Graduates must then schedule and pass a written exam and a skills exam administered by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, to obtain their official certification.

Homeland has completed two training sessions and has more planned to keep up with the high demand for CNAs. The pandemic coupled with the aging Baby Boomer generation have caused the need for CNAs to skyrocket.

For Kathy, the Nurse Aide Training Program is a true labor of love. She has worked for Homeland for more than 18 years and has deep admiration and love for the residents she has worked with during her tenure. While Kathy has technically retired from her career at Homeland, she continues to work part-time on the CNA program to help more students reach their career aspirations.

“Homeland is always in need of talented CNAs,” Kathy says. “Compassion is the key to success.”

Homeland Center, which occupies a full block in uptown Harrisburg, is a licensed not-for-profit Continuing Care Retirement Community offering exceptional personal care, skilled nursing care, memory care and short-term rehabilitation. Homeland consistently receives CMS’s highest recognition for quality care, staffing, and safety – ranking it among the best in the country.

For more information on the CNA training course, contact 717-221-7797.

Lovable Pets Featured in Homeland’s 2023 Lottery Calendar


cute and cuddly lottery calendar

Our pets are loyal and trusted members of our family. Their unconditional love and friendship brighten our darkest days and make the good days even better. Research has shown that pets, especially dogs and cats, can even reduce stress hormone levels and increase levels of feel-good hormones. The undeniable comfort pets bring to our lives makes them the perfect subjects for our 7th Annual Lottery Calendar.

Homeland’s Lottery Calendar has become a tradition for friends, volunteers and supporters of the organization’s work. The monthly calendar costs $25 and supports Homeland’s benevolent care programs. Everyone who purchases a calendar is eligible to be entered into daily drawings for prizes. From $30 gift cards up to $100 gift cards on special days, purchasing a calendar is a winning bet. Only 1,000 calendars are produced and sold.

This year’s calendar features photos of the lovable pets of Homeland staff, board members, volunteers and complementary therapists. The concept for a pet-themed calendar was suggested last year at this time and the idea blossomed. Each month, a committee reviewed and judged pet photos based on the criteria of cute and cuddly, month and season, photo composition and creativity. The calendar is a compilation of the winning photos.

“The process was fun for everyone,” says Wendy Shumaker, Director of Marketing for Homeland. “It also raised awareness among our staff about the importance of fundraising to support our work.”

While the calendar predominantly features dogs and cats, Peach, a bunny belonging to the residents of Homeland Center, hops onto the page for the month of April for Easter. The most unique photo is of a Highland Cow, proudly showing off its long wavy, woolly coat.

Proceeds from calendar sales provide financial support and additional services to Homeland residents, patients and clients in need. Since the launch of the calendar in 2015, more than $60,000 has been raised to help Homeland Center provide benevolent care. Homeland provides more than $3 million in benevolent care annually to ensure all residents, patients and clients receive high-quality, supportive care when they need it most.

Homeland believes that every interaction with a resident, client, or patient is an opportunity to create a memorable moment, making an ordinary day a special day. This is especially true for residents who no longer have the financial means to pay. A hallmark of Homeland Center is that no one is ever asked to leave because they can no longer afford care.

To purchase a calendar, visit (Donate ( or contact Homeland’s Development Office at (717) 221-7885.

Homeland Hanukkah: A Celebration of Lights and Latkes


Hanukkah at Homeland

Hanukkah has meaning for everyone because it recalls a time when a small, devout family of defenders repelled a force of invaders, Homeland Center Chaplain Dann Caldwell told residents attending a ceremony commemorating the Festival of Lights.

“This is all part of the shared history we have as human beings,” Caldwell said. “It should remind all of us how God values freedom, freedom to worship, and freedom to be a community of faith. That is something that all goodhearted people can celebrate, and clearly, something that Jewish and Christian friends can celebrate.”

Hanukkah commemorates the rededication of the Temple in Jerusalem by the Maccabees after their victory over the Syrian-Greeks in the second century B.C. Upon recapturing the Temple, only one day’s supply of undefiled lamp oil remained, but the oil lasted a miraculous eight days.

During Hanukkah, each of the eight days is marked by lighting a candle on the menorah.

The ceremony brought together Homeland residents and staff in the Homeland chapel to hear the history of Hanukkah, light a menorah, say blessings, sing traditional songs, and for a special surprise, enjoy latkes in the Homeland Diner.

“Homeland respects the array of religious traditions under its roof,” said resident Lee Spitalny.

“Chaplain Caldwell is so involved and thoughtful about including Jewish tradition here,” she said before the ceremony. “He and his wife came to our synagogue’s Hanukkah dinner. He will come to everything we do.”

Lee brought a greeting card, given to her by a Catholic friend, that spelled out “Happy Hanukkah” in pop-up letters. She recalled Hanukkah celebrations with her family over the years.

“A lot of people think Hanukkah is a Jewish Christmas,” she said. “It’s not. It’s a gift-giving holiday to little kids, but it really is not connected to Christmas. I hope others who aren’t Jewish realize that it’s not a big important holiday, but it’s a fun one.”

Caldwell and Homeland Manager of Information Technology and Strategy Jennifer Ross led the service, with help from Homeland’s Activities Department. Ross explained that Hanukkah is a smaller “festival holiday,” when Jews are permitted to work, unlike other Jewish holidays.

“You’ll see me at work throughout the holiday of Hanukkah because I have no restrictions,” she told the residents.

Ross led participants in the traditional blessing, or shehecheyanu, before lighting the menorah candles. She also added the one spoken on the first night only that says, “Blessed are you, Lord our God, ruler of the universe, who has given us life and sustained us and enabled us to reach this season.”

“I think it’s extra special to do the first blessing because this is such a nice, joyous blessing, and it’s all about health and wonders,” she said. “There’s never harm in adding an extra shehecheyanu, so we’ll say that one particularly joyously.”

After lighting the candles, Ross led the residents in singing the familiar “The Dreidel Song” and “Hanukkah, Oh Hanukkah.” She closed with readings from “The Jewish Book of Days” about the festival’s meaning.

“We celebrate midwinter because of the knowledge that the sun will return to bring light and warmth,” she read.

Finally, residents got to enjoy a treat – potato pancakes known as latkes, prepared by the Front Street Diner in Susquehanna Township and served in the 1950s-style Homeland Diner.

While enjoying her latkes, resident Lois Galowitz said the ceremony was “very nice.” She still gathers for Hanukkah, sometimes over Zoom, with her extended family, which includes six nieces and nephews and 14 great-nieces and -nephews.

“We enjoy being together and celebrating,” she said. “It’s something we do every year. It’s a very special time to be together.”

While enjoying latkes, resident Chuck Glazier remembered the Jewish deli he owned in Allentown. There, he sold hot pastrami and hot corned beef.

“We’d celebrate Hanukkah, and I’d have menorahs in the deli,” he said, adding that he enjoyed Homeland’s Hanukkah commemoration. “Any service is nice, as long as you remember the holiday.’’

Homeland Holiday Party Returns: A Joyous Celebration


Homeland Center's holiday party returns

On a Friday afternoon in December, the Homeland Center annual holiday party returned for the first time since 2019.

The scents of homemade food wafted through the halls. Music filled the air. Santa posed for pictures. And best of all, Homeland residents hosted family and friends as they shared their holiday joy.

Homeland’s holiday party is a longstanding tradition when guests of all ages fill the rooms, and the halls are decked in cheerful greenery. When Covid restrictions canceled the annual event and limited visitors, staff worked hard to make the holidays happy and joyous for the residents.

Now that pandemic restrictions have eased, there was no doubt that the holiday party would return, with a few basic precautions such as temperature checks and small gatherings celebrating throughout Homeland — but still featuring all the fun and food of pre-pandemic years.

“A return to normalcy and joy,” rejoiced Homeland Chaplain Dann Caldwell. “Let’s pair those together. Normalcy and joy. That’s what the world needs.”

“I’m so glad they could get back to something like this,” agreed Sandra Daily, visiting her brother and resident Rusty Keiser. Sandra serves on the Homeland Board of Managers, which decorated the halls, windows, and doorways of Homeland with pretty greenery.

Live music filled the gathering spaces. In the skilled-care dining room, a bluegrass duo sang “Christmastime is Coming.” In the main dining room, a pianist played Christmas carols and standards such as “We Need a Little Christmas” and “White Christmas.”

The food – as always – was the star. Once again, Homeland’s dietary staff went into elf mode, gearing up to make treats for everyone to enjoy. Tables were full of homemade sweet and sour meatballs, spicy chicken wings, and the perennial favorite, fresh macaroni and cheese with a crumb topping.

“I think the party’s great,” said resident Carl Barna, as he enjoyed the holiday meal with his sister, Sue Espenshade. “I like having all the people and the nice gathering, and all the good food, especially the dessert. I might have to have seconds.”

While they ate, Sue’s 4-year-old granddaughter, Mia, happily danced to the music.

“She likes to visit her Uncle Carl and be at his party,” Sue said.

Mary Ellen Smith is a newer resident and a first timer to the party who said she was having a nice time.

“I like all the things they do here, too,” she said. “I love the music programs. They get you singing along.”

In Homeland’s classic 1950’s-style diner, the party was in full swing, as residents and their guests enjoyed their food. Resident Mary Robinson, proudly shared that she recently turned 92, looked elegant in a sparkling, black-and-white sweater and skirt

“I am blessed, blessed, blessed,” Mary said. “This party is lovely. Everything is lovely. I just like how Homeland carries everything out. It’s so nice.”

Homeland’s holiday party allows residents to welcome family and friends to holiday gatherings, just as they’ve always done. Mary’s daughters, Delphine Walker, Colleen Nash, and her dear friend Elizabeth Jones came for the gathering.

“I think it’s very nice,” said Delphine. “The food is really good. It’s a very nice way to get a chance to meet other residents and host a party.”

At the next table, the Simonic family posed for pictures with Santa Claus, who came from the North Pole to greet the partygoers throughout the building. Resident Ed Simonic, who came to Homeland for rehab, was hosting his kids, Dave and Rick Simonic, Maryanne Brawley, and her husband, Terry.

The Simonic family has always celebrated the holidays with big family gatherings, cabbage rolls, and pork and sauerkraut on New Year’s Day.

“It’s fun to see everybody here, out and about, and see the residents enjoying the party,” said Dave. “The staff at Homeland are all wonderful people. They’re very caring, sensitive and personal.”