Story time 2 min

Homeland Center Activities Coordinator Dee Smith strides into the Homeland Solarium and the children lining the benches sit up and smile.

“How is everyone?” Smith says brightly. “Good? Good! Nice day out today! Which stories are we going to read today?”

It’s Story Time at Homeland. Twice a month in the summer the children from McLamb Memorial Church Day Care Center walk just around the corner from their child care to Homeland. The first- through third-graders hear Smith read a story, while residents watch and smile.

2017 READERS CHOICE For the sixth year in a row, Harrisburg Magazine’s more than 50,000 readers voted Homeland Center as Readers’ Choice for Best Long-Term Care Facility.

The Readers’ Choice honor comes as Homeland is celebrating its 150th Anniversary and on the heels of achieving a perfect 5.0 score in U.S News and World Report’s Best Nursing Homes 2016-17.

“This recognition is truly a testament to our committed staff, which both care about our residents and consider them family," said Barry Ramper II, Homeland’s president and CEO. “For generations, families have counted on Homeland to look after their loved ones and this recognition underscores the commitment we have to provide the highest quality care to our community."

Virginia Halty for website minDignity is paramount to Assistant Director of Nursing Virginia Halty

Virginia Halty entered nursing in pediatrics, but she was inspired to serve the elderly by watching her beloved grandmother deal with “the issues of aging.”

“She was probably the most beautiful, understanding, kind, and considerate person I’ll ever meet in my life,” says Halty. “She was like my best friend. She taught me how to cook, sew, crochet.”

Halty joined the Homeland staff in late May 2017 as assistant director of nursing, responsible for infection control and restorative care. Nursing seemed to be her calling, as she discovered that her family tree is full of nurses, teachers, and social workers. She holds a bachelor’s degree from Jacksonville University and a master’s degree from Drexel University.

Jim Phillips for website minMany people cook for fun, or because they must. Jim Phillips, though, believes that cooking “can become a means of worship.”

The Homeland resident has spent his life on a spiritual quest entwined with cooking as a ministry, whether he’s preparing meals for a few friends or hundreds of people.

Jim grew up in Ohio, raised by foster parents after the death of his mother. When glaucoma took his foster mother’s sight, she would sit in the kitchen doorway and coach Jim through the steps of making the family dinner.

“She would ask, ‘Does it look like this? Does it taste like this?’” Jim remembers. “She was like a living cookbook. That’s what began my journey with food.”

After attending Northcentral University in Minneapolis, Jim’s career path wound from counseling troubled teens to buying for department stores, to preparing bank financial statements. But all his life, he had wanted to attend a monastery and he discovered idyllic Holy Cross Monastery, on the banks of the Hudson River.

Kelly Calaman Betty Wise Jane Krebs for website minEnjoying the warm weather during one of Homeland Center’s recent picnics, resident Pete Patton and his daughter, Deb Herneisey, said it reminded them of past family get-togethers.

“We had a fire pit before fire pits were in style!” said Deb, recalling the family’s “wienie roasts,” where they cooked hot dogs and s’mores over an open fire. Pete, a retired lineman who was often called to manage challenging situations, has been at Homeland for more than four years. “I love it,” he said. “The people are all nice.”

Organized by Homeland staff and supported by Board of Managers members, the Wednesday summer picnics offer a chance for residents to visit with family and friends.

Homeland’s unique Chet Henry Memorial Pavilion provides the perfect picnic spot. Added to Homeland’s lush Fifth Street gardens in 2012, the pavilion honors a former resident who was Harrisburg’s youngest fire chief and Pennsylvania’s first state fire commissioner. A gentle breeze, helped by ceiling fans whirring overhead, kept the atmosphere cool and comfortable.


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