While Homeland Center’s role has changed since it was founded almost 150 years ago, one thing has remained the same – the commitment of the staff to those who depend on them for care. 

Barry Ramper gives commemorative Steelers helmet to Felicia Foster
Felicia Foster shows the miniature Steelers helmet signed by Hines Ward she received from Barry S. Ramper II, Homeland Center's president and CEO.  

More than 200 Homeland Center and Homeland Hospice staff gathered this month for the annual recognition celebrating their service and honoring 26 employees who have served five years or more. 

“I thank you on behalf of our residents and patients,’’ said Barry S. Ramper II, Homeland’s president and CEO. “At the heart of truly being of service is when one entrusts their life to you. We are the best at that. If there were 30-plus hospice providers or 66 other skilled nursing and personal care providers in this room – and that’s an approximation of our service area – I would say the same thing.’’ 

Mary Peterson and Chris Fulton at Homeland Center  
Mary Peterson and caregiver Chris Fulton check out some door decorations.  

2015 Homeland Door Decorating Contest Winners:

  • 115 – Martha Finley & Wanda Kardos
  • 207 – Harold Hixon & Raymond Caldwell
  • E6 – Wanda Berger & Agatha Goodwin
  • 1N2 – Eleanor Allen


Nativity scenes and reindeer. Snowmen and penguins. All brightened the hallways of Homeland Center this Christmas, as residents adorned their doorways for the third annual door decorating contest.

Residents and their families are invited to dress up their doors and decorate together for Christmas, just as they’ve done all their lives. Residents and staff judged the artworks for neatness, detail and creativity. All entries showed off Homeland residents’ talents and their love of family, faith, and the holidays.

Herm Minkoff stands in the Homeland Diner before a group of residents. On the table are news clippings All the news with Herm Minkoff at Homeland Centerand books.

“Who has been following the stock market?” he asks.

“It’s up,” says one resident. “About 300.”

It’s been a volatile couple of weeks, Minkoff agrees. “The stock market right now is like a roller-coaster.”

“Yeah,” says another resident. “Take a guess!”

This is Homeland’s twice-monthly sports and current events talk, led by Herm Minkoff. The retired furniture dealer volunteers his time to help Homeland residents stay on top of the news of the day. In the process, he has earned the appreciation of Homeland residents and staff for his untiring service.  

Minkoff loves the people of Homeland right back. They grieved with him after the death of his wife, and they constantly support his volunteer work. Volunteers are essential to achieving Homeland’s mission of assuring residents safe, active lives. Minkoff embodies the character traits valued in volunteers – his upbeat attitude, his concern for others, his gift for communications, and his genuine compassion for the well-being of others.

“It’s a good thing when you help people out like this,” says Minkoff.

World War II took loved ones. It opened doors to opportunity, service, and sacrifice. It was a time when many Homeland Central Penn students talk to residents about Pearl Harbor at Homeland Centerresidents matured quickly from children to adults, and it all started with the bombing of the U.S. Navy base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, on Dec. 7, 1941.

On Dec. 7, 2015, Homeland Center residents gathered in the chapel to share memories of the “date which will live in infamy” with students from Central Penn College. The students then recalled the 9/11 attacks on the U.S., and the two generations bonded over the impact that national crises had on their lives.

“I was the first boy to be drafted from my school, and I finished,” said Homeland resident Don Englander. “I was one of the lucky ones.”

The Central Penn College students belonged to Rotaract, a Rotary Club initiative for 18-to-30-year-olds. The Homeland visit was the first community service project by the new club, sponsored by the Rotary Clubs of Harrisburg and Mechanicsburg North.

About a dozen residents shared their Pearl Harbor memories with seven students. Resident Harry Zimmerman was 13 years old, living in Harrisburg, when he heard newsboys outside, shouting about their extra editions.

“It was a different world back then,” he said. “We didn’t even have electricity.”

Luminous, late-morning sunlight streamed across the patterned carpet of the chapel of Homeland Center one recent

Pastor Dann and his father, Ray at Homeland Center
Rev. Dann Caldwell and his father, Ray, sing together at Homeland Center's monthly Wednesday morning prayer service.  

Wednesday in early autumn -- so much so that resident Ray Caldwell, 85, politely asked for the blinds to be drawn.

As he faced 12 of his fellow residents and prepared to sing by the stone altar and marble columns, the golden sunlight was blinding.

It was an apt prelude to the Gospel message expounded upon in a strong, soothing voice by Ray’s son, Rev. Dann Caldwell, chaplain of Homeland Hospice: that the Lord is the light of the world. Then, together, father and son sang “Leaning on the Everlasting Arms.” 

The father-son vocal performance is often one of the highlights of the monthly Wednesday morning prayer service.

The duo sang often as part of a musical family, when Pastor Dann led Charlton United Methodist Church in Lower Paxton Township.  Dann’s mom Betty, who still lives in the family home, sings tenor as part of the Sweet Adelines, and both Dann’s brother Rick and son, Peter, sing as well.

Three generations of Caldwells once performed the “Battle Hymn of the Republic” during Fourth of July services at his Lower Paxton church, when Dann’s son Peter, now 15, was only 4.

“That‘s one of my father’s favorite hymns,” said Dann.  “And that’s one of my special memories,” as he recited the famous words—“Mine eyes have seen the glory….”


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