Mary Graves minMary Graves brings joy with flowers and cakes!

Mary Graves loves flowers. Her grandmother’s yard was full of flowers, and she always made sure her Harrisburg home was alive with colorful blooms.

“I’ve got roses,” she says. “I’ve got petunias and azaleas. I have so much planted, I don’t know what it is.”

A Homeland resident since earlier this year, Mary and her sister grew up in Reidsville, North Carolina, on the tobacco farm owned by her grandfather. Raised by her grandparents after her mother died, she wasn’t expected to do many chores, but she did learn to milk the cows.

tamburitza rehearsal minA bit of Steelton came to Homeland Center on a Wednesday evening, when Balkan folk songs played by the St. Lawrence Tamburitza Orchestra conjured memories for residents who grew up in the ethnic mill town.

The nearby borough of Steelton is one of those Pennsylvania enclaves where immigrants found work in steel mills and mines. Many Homeland residents grew up there, amid the Eastern European traditions that their parents and grandparents brought from the old country.

The Steelton-based St. Lawrence Tamburitza Orchestra keeps alive the tunes and lyrics precious to people from the Balkan countries of Croatia, Serbia, Macedonia, and Slovenia. For their performance, residents filled Homeland’s dining room, and there were smiles all around.

The night’s theme was “love,” said the orchestra’s assistant director, Mark Kresho, who conducted the performance.

Sam Morris portrait minCNA Sam Morris brightens up the days of Homeland resident

Sam Morris likes to wear bright socks.

“Yellow, blue,” he says. “The brighter, the better.”

On this day, he is wearing dark socks emblazoned with multicolored stripes in horizontal and vertical patterns. With his bright socks and bright smile, he brings cheer to the workplace as a Homeland Center Certified Nursing Assistant.

Homeland’s corps of skilled, motivated CNAs is an essential element in providing quality care for residents. Through their training and certification, they learn to assist residents with daily tasks such as feeding and bathing, and they support the nursing staff with basic medical duties including taking vital signs.

Morris knew all about the role of CNAs in nursing care because his late mother was a CNA at Homeland for many years.

To celebrate the special role of food in the care, sheltering, and gathering of people since 1867, Homeland has released a commemorative, 150th anniversary cookbook, “Heritage Recipes from Homeland Center.”

The 86-page, hardbound binder features 185 recipes contributed by Homeland Center board members, residents, volunteers, family members, staff and friends. Each recipe is as flavorful as the memories they conjure.Phoebe Berner for resized for website min

“Homeland has thrived for 150 years by sticking to our core mission of providing excellent care, and by embracing change,” said President and CEO Barry Ramper II. “Enjoying food as we celebrate special occasions and go about our daily lives is a constant at Homeland, so it’s only appropriate that we mark our anniversary with a cookbook where the main ingredient of every recipe is love.”

Homeland resident Phoebe Berner’s recipe for Lemon Cake Pudding represents a group of friends who met for shared dinners at each other’s houses for 50 years.

“We’d play cards and have a cocktail first,” she said. “Some moved out of the area, so some other people came into the group. Some got sick and died a little early. So then there were other substitutes. It just kept going. We were very close friends.”

French fry story Gillian Sumpter resized min“Don’t be bashful! We’ve got Fench fries!”

Homeland Center Board of Managers member Janet Young was standing before a cart stocked with hot, fresh French fries ready for Homeland residents to enjoy with lunch.

Homeland Center has hopped on board the food truck craze and, in what is becoming an annual tradition, brought a French fries truck right to the door in late May 2017 for the enjoyment of residents and staff.

The truck first made an appearance in April 2016, after residents asked for fries with their meals. But keeping fries hot and crispy while serving them to multiple dining areas was a problem.


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