Eve James was a teenaged Homeland volunteer, helping residents with little things throughout the day. She quickly learned how much a small act of kindness could mean.
“We had a resident who didn’t have a lot of family, and she loved to do crossword puzzles,” says Eve. “I went to the store and got some crossword puzzles, and they were a dollar. Two books. She wept with gratitude. It made me feel so good that I could make her day.’’
Those two years as a volunteer led to a long-term commitment to Homeland. Today, Eve, 35, is a CNA/medication technician, working for Homeland since December 1999.
She began volunteering for Homeland at age 14 as an opportunity to “do something different,” especially outside a busy household of eight children – her five sisters and two brothers. She always looked for ways to help, from reading newspapers aloud to residents and giving manicures to assisting with correspondence.
“I always felt that I made a difference, even if I touched just one life that day,” she says.
Eve volunteered until she was 16, when she went to work at McDonald’s. In those days, she didn’t quite get what school was all about, so she dropped out before graduating. At age 18, she came to work for Homeland in the activities office. Since that day in 1999, she has built “so many memories connected to Homeland.”
“Homeland almost raised me,” she said. “I had a lot of my firsts here. I lost my father in 2002 while working at Homeland. I almost went into labor there with my first child. One of the nurses counted my contractions. She said, ‘I think we need to call your doctor.’”
She also credits Homeland with teaching her valuable life lessons about care and respect and to look for ways to help people outside the workplace. While at Homeland, she also started rethinking the value of education.
“After my first son was born, I knew I needed to do better,” she says. “I had to get my GED. I had to continue. I didn’t want him to think It was okay to drop out of school, so I went back, and I finished.”
She started pursuing studies in human services at Harrisburg Area Community College – perfectly suited to her interest in helping and being around others. At Homeland, she has worked in a variety of roles, including as activities coordinator, personal care activities manager, and as an aide in the Ellenberger memory care unit and skilled care. Homeland then trained her to dispense medications for her current position as a CNA and certified medication tech.
To succeed at Homeland, “you must be a genuine person,” she says. “You catch little glimpses of the differences you’re making. It can be the smallest thing, even with the different rapport you have with different residents.”
Outside of Homeland, Eve values the time she spends with her 14-year-old son A.J. Jones, 19-month-old son Mason Brown and fiancé Robert Brown. With another baby on the way – a little brother to her boys – Eve happily describes herself as a homebody.
“The older I get, the more I recognize what’s really important,” she says. “Over these last three or four years, I’ve come to recognize what I thought was important before is insignificant.”
She believes that she and her fellow Homeland CNAs “advocate for the residents on a daily basis,” making sure they get what they need and want – even if it’s ordering up a grilled turkey and cheese on wheat bread that’s not on the day’s menu.
“It’s not just a job,” she says. “Anyone who works in this field has to have a heart.”