The balloons were colorful and the conversation was lively as waiters and waitresses clad in black circulated among residents in Homeland Center main dining room, offering such delicacies as crab cakes, lobster rolls, sirloin tip pipettes and edible bruschetta spoons.
“There was a vast array of food and I enjoyed everything, but especially the lobster rolls,” said Doris Coyne, 98, a four-year resident of the home. “The preparation was elegant; the food was delicious. All of the events here are special, but this is even more so because of the age of the institution.”
The event, held on May 4, 2018, was the culmination of a year celebrating Homeland Center's 150th anniversary. The year kicked off with a fund-raising gala at the Harrisburg Hilton on May 7, 2017. All proceeds went to the benevolent fund, which has made it possible for Homeland to continue its tradition of never asking a resident to leave due to financial difficulties.
Many residents, however, were not able to attend the gala, so donor John M. Arnold made a generous donation that allowed not only a party but a host of activities over the past year. Residents were involved every step of the way, voting on the activities they wanted, said volunteer Kelly Lick.
The result was an exciting list: a trip to New York City to see The Lion King on Broadway and a trip to the Dutch Apple Dinner Theater to see the musical Pippin; also a visit by members of the Harrisburg Symphony Orchestra, a fish fry, a casino event, a barbecue, and a new Blu-ray player for the library.
They also insisted that their families should partake of the end-of-year gala.
“Every resident loves where they are,’’ said Lick, a volunteer and former member of Homeland’s Board of Managers. “They are happy they get to celebrate in their home.”
Phoebe Berner, a member of the residents' committee working on the Gala planning, said she was thrilled when members of the symphony, including music director Stuart Malina, came to play.
“They gave us a lovely afternoon,’’ Berner said. “The selections were perfect for this group.”
Resident Lorraine Englander said she has become fascinated by the history of the home, which was chartered in 1867 by 18 women from nine churches as a refuge for Civil War widows and orphans. As the children grew up and the women aged, the home started focusing on helping seniors.
Still located on its original Fifth Street site, Homeland offers personal and skilled care and rehabilitation services. A special unit provides a supportive environment to help those with Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia.
In keeping with its mission to meet the region’s needs, Homeland also established services to help seniors remain in their home while receiving the quality care they require. Homeland HomeCare provides an array of individualized services to meet the personal needs while ensuring safety in the home. Homeland HomeHealth provides at-home medical treatment that can be more comfortable, convenient and just as effective as care received in a hospital or skilled nursing facility. Homeland Hospice serves 14 of the midstate’s counties offering compassionate care to patients and families faced with life-limiting illness.
Englander, who has lived at Homeland for five years, said she tries to read everything she can about its history.
“It's a fascinating story when you think about how many years they were here and how many thousands of people they have served,” Englander said. “I sincerely enjoy it here. Everybody is so friendly. This is my second family.”
Added Berner with a smile: “We're all very spoiled now. We're always spoiled here.”