The Homeland Summertime Fair is a blend of old traditions and new ventures, but all Maliah Sumpter wanted to do was send Homeland Center Director of Admissions and Social Services Ashley Bryan into the dunk tank.
“Because the water is cold,” she said. Maliah was among the dozens of children getting silly at the fair, Homeland’s annual thanks to the community for providing the support that makes Homeland an integral part of Harrisburg life and history.
The 2018 fair featured all the old favorites -- dunk tank, bounce house, rummage sale, snow cones, French fries. Preliminary figures showed the fair raised more than $8,000 for the Homeland activities fund, which helps residents experience outings and entertainment.
Homeland’s fair also spotlighted a first-of-its-kind partnership with the Dauphin County Library System. Additionally, the library is expanding services to residents, taking books and activities into Homeland and bringing residents to the local library for programs.
DCLS brought MARCO, its mobile exploration station, to the fair. MARCO blew bubbles that floated across the parking lot transformed into fairgrounds, while kids used their imaginations to build fun structures with Straws and Connectors kits.
More residents attended the fair this year than ever before thanks to planning by Homeland’s activity staff that matched an employee with every resident who didn’t have an outside family member or friend to accompany them.
Resident Betty Dumas took a try at dunking Harrisburg Police Chief Thomas Carter into the dunk tank. Her daughter, Donna Longnaker, said she loved the entire day.
“It’s nice to see all these kids having fun,” she said. “The staff put on a nice show for the residents, and it’s wonderful.”
Chief Carter, a longtime friend of Homeland, sat in the dunk tank to honor a pledge made when employees raised $5,000 for the activities fund. His appearance drew delighted staff and children. He also told two local television reporters about Homeland’s commitment to the community and the employment opportunities it offers neighbors.
Homeland has been “vested here,” he said. “They have been here since the Civil War days, and they plan on staying here. It's a great working opportunity for local residents, so they are giving back."
One little girl lining up at the dunk tank was too small to throw the ball, but Carter urged her to walk right up to the target. With a push, he plunged into the tank
“You guys want to join me?” he asked the crowd as he emerged from the water.
Nearby McLamb Memorial Church Day Care Center, which often brings children to Homeland for reading sessions and interactions with residents, brought 50 children, ages 5 to 13. Head teacher Chinia Plant said kids and staff have been “looking forward to this.”
“We get a chance to hang out with the residents,” she said. “The kids like face painting. We just like coming here for the fun.” Her student An-Nisa Ray-English, 5 years old, loved the heart she got painted on her face.
“I chose the heart, and the artist said, ‘This is a nice heart for you,’” she exulted.
Jermane Buckner appreciated Homeland’s thanks to the community. The seventh-grader from Harrisburg said his aunt lives in the neighborhood, and “all the family came out because we wanted to get out of the house together. Everything is fun.”
At the sun protection station, Homeland Hospice staffers Bethany Traxler and Eva Nicotera were distributing sunglasses and sunscreen.
“People can come out and see what Homeland does, not only for the residents but for the community,” Traxler said.
At the rummage sale, run by the Homeland Board of Managers, shoppers perused housewares, collectibles, and $1 jewelry. Staffing the tables, Joyce Thomas said she followed in her mother-in-law’s footsteps onto the Board of Managers.
“Everybody has a home here,” she said. “It’s a very relaxed atmosphere.”
Residents enjoying the fair included Elaine Golembiewski.
“It’s a beautiful day,” she said. “Everything’s good. We’re outside. What more could you want?”
Her son, Steve Golembiewski, appreciated the care his mother receives.
“Homeland is really top-notch,” he said. “Everyone seems immersed in their jobs, and they care about the residents.”