Melanie Isaac is handing out musical instruments, of a sort – hand chimes, turkey calls, paper towel rolls wrapped in fuchsia and green duct tape.

Music therapy pic to use min
Every week music therapist Melanie Isaac helps residents reconnect with the songs they love.  

Preparing to sing “Jimmy Crack Corn,” she faces the eight Homeland Center residents who are gathered in a semi-circle and pulls out a plastic ear of corn made for shaking and strumming.

“Want to give it a try, Genie?” she asks one.

“Sure,” answers Eugenie. “You know me!”

It’s music therapy day, one of the weekly sessions that help residents with Alzheimer’s and dementia reconnect with the music they love. The residents come from Homeland’s skilled care unit as well as its specialized Ellenberger Unit, devoted to top-quality care for those with advanced memory impairment.

Homeland volunteers keep its popular Ted Lick Room library up to date

Marie Andrews is perusing the books on the shelves in Homeland Center’s newly renovated library and activities room.

Marie Andrews and Vivian Black sorting books  
Residents Marie Andrews, left, and Vivian Black worked with Barbara Cleeland, a member of Homeland's board of managers, to get the Ted Lick Room's books organized.  

“We have John Grisham books, and we have Tom Clancy,” says Marie. “We have Patterson. We have Debbie Macomber, who is very popular. Nora Roberts.”

“We have a lot of Nora Roberts,” adds Vivian Black.

Vivian and Marie should know what’s popular here. The Homeland Center residents volunteered to help in the recently renovated library and activities area – renamed the Ted Lick Room – and take pride in caring for the books and making them readily available.

The room was renovated in 2014 through a generous gift to the 1867 Homeland Society from Kelly Lick, widow of Harrisburg philanthropist Ted Lick. The cheery room sports a new kitchen, built-in bookshelves and armchairs for relaxing and reading. Residents gather here for cooking classes, bingo and knitting circles.

Barry Ramper in the dunk tank
Homeland resident Mary Peterson, assisted by caregiver Chris Fulton, gets ready to dunk Barry Ramper.  

Homeland resident Mary Peterson, assisted by caregiver Chris Fulton, gets ready to dunk center President and CEO Barry Ramper II.

Barry S. Ramper II begged Mary Peterson not to hit the button that would send him into the dunk tank. The center’s president and CEO playfully wagged a finger and urged her to rethink what she was about to do.

Ignoring Ramper’s pleas, Mary hit the button and to the delight of the crowd at Homeland Center’s 2014 Summertime Fair, Ramper dropped into the waiting four feet of water.

The dunking resulted from a promise Ramper made weeks earlier: If $5,000 was raised for the residents’ activities fund before the Aug. 9 fair, he would take the plunge.

An anonymous donor contributed the entire $5,000, putting Homeland well on the way to its goal of raising $10,000 from the fair. Additional money was raised at the event from a white elephant sale, refreshments and tickets to the fair’s games and attractions.

“What you have done is given us an opportunity to provide more activities for our residents,’’ a thoroughly soaked but smiling Ramper said of the donor’s generous gift. “The fund helps us provide a broad range of life-enriching social experiences.’’

Emergency checklist
Homeland Center officials never stop preparing for emergencies.

It’s an unfortunate reality in today's world that organizations of all types must imagine – and prepare and train for – the worst emergency scenarios. Detailed disaster
and emergency planning is at the heart of Homeland Center’s commitment to the safety and security of our residents and staff.

Preparation begins at the top, with Homeland Center President and CEO Barry Ramper II. He is involved in every aspect of Homeland Center’s emergency planning and preparedness. Ramper keeps Homeland’s emergency plan with him at all times. It’s an ever-changing document, constantly updated to include the latest thinking on how to remain safe in a variety of situations.

All the preparation and planning ensures that every Homeland Center manager and employee knows his or her unique role in the event of an emergency and that the ability to transition into crisis management and emergency response is second nature.

Additionally, Homeland maintains a working relationship with state, county and city emergency services and disaster response officials, who would swing into action.

It’s all part of Homeland’s commitment to the protection and welfare of our residents – and to the peace of mind of their families and loved ones.

Herm Minkoff talks to, from left, residents Dick Simons, Edwin Kingston, Stanley Fabiano and Verna Tarasi

Herm Minkoff talks to, from left, residents Dick Simons, Edwin Kingston, Stanley Fabiano and Verna Tarasi

Herm Minkoff asks the group: Should colleges pay their athletes? After all, schools make millions. Coaches make millions, plus bonuses for steering their teams toward championship games.

Dick Simons believes in a “reasonable reimbursement,” after accounting for scholarships and such. Verna Tarasi isn’t sure. Stanley Fabiano agrees with Simons that some payment seems fair.

“The major problem,” Fabiano adds to the debate, “is if they give it to one sport, they’d have to give it to all the sports.”

Welcome to Sports Talk at Homeland Center. Every other Thursday, residents and rehab patients gather near the beauty salon, just beside the eye-catching saltwater aquarium, for a discussion of sports topics led by Minkoff.


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