Lura Hile

For Lura Hile, helping others as a nurse was a lifetime goal.

Lura Hile always knew she wanted to be a nurse. Even as a girl, she set up a nursing station in the backyard of her Harrisburg home.

“I wanted to be a nurse from the day I was born,” says the Homeland resident. “That was my goal in life, and I became a nurse.”

Hile was born in Harrisburg in the same hospital where she first trained as a nurse. Lura was named after her grandmother on her father’s side, a woman she remembers was “a sweetheart.” Throughout her life, she says, the unusual name “was a good conversation opener.”

She grew up in the city in a neighborhood near Reservoir Park, the hilltop park that affords views for miles. She and her three sisters – Lura was the oldest -- would jump rope, play hopscotch, and go sledding down steep, closed roads during the winter. Her father, a truck driver and then office manager for Sun Oil, was a good-natured man who graciously took all the teasing he got about having four daughters and no sons. While he worked hard, his wife and daughters vacationed annually in Wildwood, NJ, staying at a hotel owned by Lura’s aunt and uncle.

“I can’t swim, so I didn’t go too far out in the ocean,” she says.

Lura’s mother was a stay-at-home mom who had once worked as cashier at the Alva Restaurant, a Harrisburg establishment fondly remembered by longtime city residents. She was “a peach,” Lura recalls. “Everybody liked her.” One morning, her mother let the kids sleep in while she went to the market.

“We stayed in bed, and she came home with a bunny rabbit!” Lura recalls.

Connie Lewis 1 Chef Constance Lewis takes pride in preparing delicious meals!

Constance learned to cook by doing. Her mother worked two jobs, and her brother was a high school athlete, so it fell to Lewis to feed him and her younger sister every night.

“He loved fried chicken,” she recalls. “He loved the leg and the thigh. Either that, or he loved chili. He would sit down with a bowl of chili and a whole pack of crackers.”

On May 1, 2017, Connie Lewis celebrates her 20th anniversary of working at Homeland Center, cooking delicious, nutritious meals for residents.

Lewis learned to love cooking because people enjoy it, and “that made me want to do it even more,” she says. “I cook because I love to feed people. I have two daughters that grew up with me cooking for them. I still cook Sunday dinners, and they love it.”

Lewis, a Harrisburg native and graduate of Bishop McDevitt High School, was curious about Homeland when she first walked in to fill out a job application. After that, she called the dietary director “and bugged him and bugged him, and he gave me a job.”

Osgood and sun Homeland Center’s 150 years of meeting the needs of Central Pennsylvania was kicked-off at our Gala Celebration on Sunday, May 7, 2017, at the Hilton Harrisburg.

Charles Osgood from CBS Sunday Morning was the featured speaker. During the Gala key events from Homeland’s rich history also were highlighted, both on stage and in a special video.  

All proceeds from the 150th Gala will go to the Homeland Center benevolent fund.

Thanks to the generous support of our many friends, Homeland continues to play a vital role in serving the health care needs of our community.

One can only imagine the pride those 18 women from nine Harrisburg churches who founded the “Home for the Friendless’’ would feel today to see how the seed they planted has grown. From our initial mission to save Civil War widows and orphaned children from a life on the street, today Homeland provides a full range of services that touch lives throughout South Central Pennsylvania.

Homeland Center is seeking donations for a new van specially equipped for wheelchair passengers that will make it possible for more residents to enjoy community outings.

The drive to raise $25,000 to $50,000 is underway and expected to conclude by early spring, when the winter hiatus ends and residents resume the trips they enjoy to restaurants, stores, theaters, concert halls, and other community settings.

All donations are tax-deductible and will be recognized in Homeland Center’s newsletter and social media. To donate or learn more, contact Director of Development Betty Hungerford, 717-221-7727, or visit

Homeland has a 14-passenger bus, but it only has the capacity to securely lock in place two wheelchairs, a federal requirement for passengers who need a mechanical chair lift to let them access the vehicle.

2017 employee appreciation pic

Honesty is “the fundamental basis of any relationship,” and all Homeland employees deliver that essential quality to residents and clients, Homeland Center President and CEO Barry S. Ramper II said at the annual Employee Appreciation Day.

“They’re looking at our eyes,” said Ramper. “They’re looking at our mannerism. They’re looking at our presentation, and they need to trust us. You are doing a phenomenal job of that, each and every one of you individually in all that you do.”

Homeland’s Employee Appreciation Day recognizes the hard work and dedication of the staff, who recently had a chance to dress down, eat a lunch of ribs and chicken served by the Board of Managers. During the annual lunch held earlier this year, employees received awards for length of service and won door prizes ranging from luggage to toaster ovens.


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