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

Carol Sweigert and Flora Jespersen
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.”                                                                                                                                      

Homeland Center resident Ray Caldwell remembers the joy of French fries on a warm night. Residents enjoy fries at Homeland Center

“As a kid, I’d go to local fairs in the street,” he said. “In the summertime, people had fairs, maybe a block fair or carnival. Fries were always one of the main items. It was a good way to satisfy your appetite.”

Caldwell and fellow Homeland residents relived those memories on a rainy Friday, when a French fry truck pulled into the parking lot. The event, inspired by residents and planned by caring staff and board members, dovetailed perfectly with Homeland’s philosophy of serving nutritional meals without depriving residents of tasty favorites.

The day originated when the Homeland Center residents council, including Caldwell, asked for French fries with their meals. Sadly, their wish couldn’t be accommodated because French fries lose their heat in the transfer from kitchen to dining rooms. But Board of Managers member Kelly Lick said she “put my thinking cap on.”

“How can we get French fries to the residents?” she said. “Fresh, hot, nice, crispy French fries.”

Lick contacted York-based Bricker’s Famous French Fries, and soon, truck wheels were turning. Homeland’s dietary and activities departments joined in, collaborating to bring residents a special treat.

When Ronald Brinkley visits Homeland Hospice patients, he believes he gets more out of the encounters than they do.

maryann smith and tessy volunteer at Homeland Center
Maryann Smith and Tessy. who enthusiastically greets visitors to Homeland Center's gift shop.  

“It’s been a blessing and truly a privilege,” said Brinkley. “You get to know them well. Most of them are very gracious and thankful that somebody came to see them.”

Brinkley was among the volunteers honored at the Homeland Center and Homeland Hospice’s Annual Volunteer Appreciation Banquet in April 2016. Dozens of volunteers filled the Homeland Center main dining room, decorated with pansy centerpieces and tiny stars sprinkled on the tablecloths.

Homeland Hospice Coordinator of Volunteers Leanne Porterfield thanked the volunteers by reciting the lyrics to “Seasons of Love,” from the Broadway musical, Rent which emphasizes the theme of all the friendship and love that can be measured in a year.

“I can’t think of a better thing to share with all of you, for all that you do for the seasons of life that our patients at Homeland Hospice and our residents are Homeland Center are going through,” Porterfield said.

On the rainy day when Don and Lorraine Englander first met, he was whistling “Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head.”

Don and Lorraine Englander
Don and Lorraine Englander  

That was around 1978, and it has been their song ever since.

Today, the Englanders live in separate Homeland wings but they get together every day to talk, laugh, watch TV, and share meals. And they still share all their favorite love songs with each other and with fellow Homeland residents.

Don is an accomplished, lifelong singer and keyboardist who has performed with combos throughout Central Pennsylvania. On Valentine’s Day, he presented a program at Homeland, performing from a playlist of the Sinatra standards that he and his Homeland neighbors love – “Fly Me to the Moon,” “You Make Me Feel So Young,” “My Funny Valentine.”

While Don performs, Lorraine is at his side. Though his eyesight has deteriorated, he can still play his Yamaha keyboard because he taught Lorraine – who readily admits she “can’t carry a tune in a bucket” – to program the songs.

From Don’s cozy room, Lorraine recalls how she came to Homeland first, from their home on Reeser’s Summit, outside of New Cumberland, where they loved watching storms roll in over the valley. Don followed about a year later to join her.

“I wanted to come here,” he says.

“Because I was here,” Lorraine adds.

In their 67 years of marriage, Flora and Jeff Jespersen have discovered a thing or two about lasting relationships.

Flora and Jeff Jespersen of Homeland Center
Flora and Jeff Jespersen were elected as this year's Homeland Center King and Queen of Hearts in a tradition dating back several years.  

“It takes a little bit of tolerance for each other,” said Jeff Jespersen.

The Jespersens also enjoy the unexpected, and for Valentine’s Day, they got a real surprise – their election as a Homeland King and Queen of Hearts.

In a tradition dating back several years, Homeland residents circulate paper hearts and collect signatures from their neighbors, seeking votes to win the King or Queen of Hearts crowns for their units.

The Jespersens were crowned for the Personal Care Unit. Other winners were King Dale Williams and Queen Laura Buchanon, first-floor skilled nursing; King Michael Fludovich and Queen Wanda Berger, Ellenberger Unit; and King Leslie Kauffman and Queen Polly, second-floor skilled nursing.


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