allison lawruk with resident 2

What is the role of a social worker in a retirement community? At Homeland Center, Allison Lawruk has participated in family planning meetings, organized current-events discussion groups, visited residents to check on their needs, and searched for residents’ lost shoes and hats.

In short, the social worker’s role is “making sure that residents have a home that’s really a home,” says Lawruk.

“I like interacting with families as well as the residents themselves,’’ she says. “You never know what is going to come up. People come to the table with such different ideas of what should happen and what might happen, and it’s neat to come to a resolution.”

Lawruk is pursuing a master’s degree in social work from Catholic University. As an intern in Homeland’s Social Services Office, she is learning how social work applies in an elder-care setting. 

Lou Hepschmidt heard hints about a surprise birthday party.lou hepschmidt greeting guest

“I heard rumors, but nobody would talk,” she said.

Then came a Saturday-afternoon message that a package was waiting for her in the Homeland Center Ted Lick Room. That “package” turned out to be a room full of friends and relatives, wishing the Homeland resident a happy 90th birthday.

While Lou is known to friends and family for her generosity, she is also a recognized philanthropist, contributing to many central Pennsylvania causes and setting an example for women in philanthropy. Her many gifts to Homeland include her sizeable collection of Hummel figurines and plates, donated with custom-made display cases, and on display in the Gathering Room.


artist Judith Hummel
 
Judith Hummel hangs her paintings as part of Homeland Center's program that features rotating exhibits from area artists.  

When the art exhibits unique to Homeland Center go on the Florida room wall, it’s not just residents who benefit from exposure to great art. Staff, too, find a few moments in their busy days to rejuvenate and recharge.

“It’s something nice to look at when you’re walking through the hallways,” said Homeland Certified Nursing Assistant Kaneice Foster. “It’s not just plain walls.”

Homeland Center’s Florida room art gallery is devoted to quarterly rotating exhibits offered by members of the Art Association of Harrisburg. AAH selects artists whose works they believe will appeal to Homeland’s residents.


Juggler Chris Ivey
 
One-time juggling world champion Chris Ivey delivers laughs and thrills during an hour-long show at Homeland Center.  

The juggler knew what his audience wanted to see – the dangerous stuff. So he displayed a bowling ball, a garden rake, and “a very real ninja katana sword . . . case.”

Fifty-plus people filling the Homeland main dining room groaned. The actual sword would be much more dangerous. The juggler gave in, adding the sword to his rotation.

“You guys don’t let me get away with anything,” he mock-complained.

On the day before New Year’s Eve, Homeland gave residents a special treat. Character juggler Chris Ivey, a one-time juggling world champion, gave an hour-long show that delivered laughs, thrills, and audience participation.

A “character juggler” is an entertainer who juggles while spicing up the act with comedy and costumes, Ivey said as he set up for the show. The Marietta-based entertainer arrived with cases full of classic and unique items, from juggling pins and rings to that garden rake and a battle ax.


Shari Yahner
 
Homeland Center Activities Coordinator Shari Yahner  

With an extensive career in long-term care, Shari Yahner knew that she wanted for work for Homeland Center. When a friend told her about an opening, she was thrilled to get the job.

“The staff is so caring and wonderful,” she says. “I feel so blessed to make a difference in someone’s life.”

Yahner first came to Homeland as a part-time dietary technician in June 2016, but soon, she was working full-time, spending one day a week on nutrition and the rest as a skilled-care activities coordinator. Some days, she’s helping residents make music by distributing homemade maracas to shake while a visiting musician sings familiar songs.

Other days, she works one-on-one, playing games or helping residents color adult coloring books. She’s always searching the internet for new ideas. She brought one favorite game from home – the classic Pass the Pig, when players toss plastic pigs like dice and earn points depending on how the pigs land.

 

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