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Felicia Wallace reviewed her plan for Janet DeLong’s salon treatment. First, she would put Janet’s shampooed, wet hair in curlers. Then, Janet would sit under the dryer for 15 minutes or so. “Then I’ll take her out and fluff her hair a little bit, and she’ll be all dolled up for the day,” Felicia said.

Welcome to the Homeland Center Beauty Shop, one of the busiest spots in the whole facility. The cheery, two-chair salon is one of the reasons that Homeland Center residents always look their best. With weekly visits to the beauty shop, plus regular manicures performed by activities and clinical staff, the ladies of Homeland always look lovely.

On this Friday morning, Janet is getting her weekly treatment. Some weeks, she gets a perm. Others, it’s a simple set with curlers. “I get whatever it needs,” she said. Janet loves the shop so much that she stops by daily to check on Felicia and her colleague, Charity McCrae. “The shop is very nice, and the girls are both nice. They’re wonderful to talk to, and they do very good work. You leave here; you’re beautiful.”

Felicia considers her work at the shop to be rewarding. “They appreciate it, and this is like the highlight of their week,” she says. “It’s fulfilling to be able to please them. This is a treat for them.” Beauty treatments for the elderly require a few considerations not expected in outside beauty salons. Felicia has been with Homeland for almost nine years, and she is “mindful of how sensitive their skin is.” If her clients fall asleep in the chair and seem comfortable, she doesn’t disturb them.

Lura Hile sized for website

Lura Hile always knew she wanted to be a nurse. Even as a girl, she set up a nursing station in the backyard of her Harrisburg home.

“I wanted to be a nurse from the day I was born,” says the Homeland resident. “That was my goal in life, and I became a nurse.”

Hile was born in Harrisburg in the same hospital where she first trained as a nurse. Lura was named after her grandmother on her father’s side, a woman she remembers was “a sweetheart.” Throughout her life, she says, the unusual name “was a good conversation opener.”

She grew up in the city in a neighborhood near Reservoir Park, the hilltop park that affords views for miles. She and her three sisters – Lura was the oldest -- would jump rope, play hopscotch, and go sledding down steep, closed roads during the winter. Her father, a truck driver and then office manager for Sun Oil, was a good-natured man who graciously took all the teasing he got about having four daughters and no sons. While he worked hard, his wife and daughters vacationed annually in Wildwood, NJ, staying at a hotel owned by Lura’s aunt and uncle.

“I can’t swim, so I didn’t go too far out in the ocean,” she says.

Lura’s mother was a stay-at-home mom who had once worked as cashier at the Alva Restaurant, a Harrisburg establishment fondly remembered by longtime city residents. She was “a peach,” Lura recalls. “Everybody liked her.” One morning, her mother let the kids sleep in while she went to the market.

“We stayed in bed, and she came home with a bunny rabbit!” Lura recalls.

Connie Lewis 1 for websiteConstance Lewis learned to cook by doing. Her mother worked two jobs, and her brother was a high school athlete, so it fell to Lewis to feed him and her younger sister every night.

“He loved fried chicken,” she recalls. “He loved the leg and the thigh. Either that, or he loved chili. He would sit down with a bowl of chili and a whole pack of crackers.”

On May 1, 2017, Connie Lewis celebrates her 20th anniversary of working at Homeland Center, cooking delicious, nutritious meals for residents.

Lewis learned to love cooking because people enjoy it, and “that made me want to do it even more,” she says. “I cook because I love to feed people. I have two daughters that grew up with me cooking for them. I still cook Sunday dinners, and they love it.”

Lewis, a Harrisburg native and graduate of Bishop McDevitt High School, was curious about Homeland when she first walked in to fill out a job application. After that, she called the dietary director “and bugged him and bugged him, and he gave me a job.”

Osgood and sun resized for webHomeland Center’s 150 years of meeting the needs of Central Pennsylvania was kicked-off at our Gala Celebration on Sunday, May 7, 2017, at the Hilton Harrisburg.

Charles Osgood from CBS Sunday Morning was the featured speaker. During the Gala key events from Homeland’s rich history also were highlighted, both on stage and in a special video.  

All proceeds from the 150th Gala will go to the Homeland Center benevolent fund.

Thanks to the generous support of our many friends, Homeland continues to play a vital role in serving the health care needs of our community.

One can only imagine the pride those 18 women from nine Harrisburg churches who founded the “Home for the Friendless’’ would feel today to see how the seed they planted has grown. From our initial mission to save Civil War widows and orphaned children from a life on the street, today Homeland provides a full range of services that touch lives throughout South Central Pennsylvania.

Homeland Center is seeking donations for a new van specially equipped for wheelchair passengers that will make it possible for more residents to enjoy community outings.

The drive to raise $25,000 to $50,000 is underway and expected to conclude by early spring, when the winter hiatus ends and residents resume the trips they enjoy to restaurants, stores, theaters, concert halls, and other community settings.

All donations are tax-deductible and will be recognized in Homeland Center’s newsletter and social media. To donate or learn more, contact Director of Development Betty Hungerford, 717-221-7727, or visit www.homelandcenter.org.

Homeland has a 14-passenger bus, but it only has the capacity to securely lock in place two wheelchairs, a federal requirement for passengers who need a mechanical chair lift to let them access the vehicle.


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