Not long ago, Samira Rosario -- “Sam’’ as she’s known to everyone -- was driving a resident to a doctor’s appointment.
“Sam,” the resident said. “I’m dying for some French fries. Can you please take me to McDonald’s?”
Sam called Homeland’s dietary department and got the okay. Off they went to the drive-through.
“Her face was everything,” Sam says. “It was like you gave a little kid some candy.”
Sam is a familiar face to Homeland residents and staff. She drives residents to appointments and family visits, but as the French fries excursion demonstrates, she’s a friendly helper, too.
“It’s the little things you can do for them that make them happy,” she says. “It’s not about you. It’s about them. It’s about other people.”
When she was in high school, Sam came to Homeland, getting her CNA certification through Harrisburg School District’s former vocational training program. That was almost 15 years ago.
“At first, I didn’t have an idea of what a nursing home was,’’ she says. “I thought it was a regular job. As time passed, it became another home.”
Sam’s path to Harrisburg is marked by perseverance and a national tragedy. Her mother moved to the mainland U.S. from Puerto Rico, followed by Sam’s father a year later. Sam and her brother landed in New York on her brother’s birthday – Sept. 11, 2001, the day of the 9/11 attacks.
“When we left New York, everything was shut down,” she says. “It was so crazy. Our uncle picked us up. It was a scary situation.”
Sam is the second of 10 children, including eight boys. Her mother had health conditions that required extended hospital stays, so Sam learned to care for her younger siblings.
“I used to cook for them and help them with homework,” she says. “My mom says she feels sorry now because she pushed me to grow up too fast, but my mom is an only child. She didn’t have much help over there.”
That immersion into adult-style responsibility helped her develop an independent streak. She moved out on her own at age 19 – still working at Homeland.
She served as a CNA for about six years until Homeland offered the transportation position. She was scared about taking on new responsibilities, but it was an opportunity to grow her relationship with residents and hear their stories.
“Homeland gives you a lot of chances to grow up in different areas,’’ she says. “I always tell my family, ‘That’s my other family.’”
Sam has learned the organizational skills needed to manage ever-changing responsibilities. She has the independence to plan each day and respond to occasional emergencies.
In the past three years, Sam has been on a family journey of her own. She once teased friends about looking for love online, but her work and travel schedule kept her busy. Her sister convinced her to try online dating, and she met Victor Rosario. In six months, they were married. She believes that God brought them together.
“I feel like I was going too fast, but things just got in place so fast. I just felt this is it. He’s the one.”
Sam and Victor welcomed their daughter, Mia, in September.
“Victor loves being a dad,’’ she says. “He helps me a lot. A lot, a lot, a lot.”
The family enjoys attending church at New Generation Ministry. Victor serves on the worship team, playing guitar for services. Sam, always nurturing, is a youth leader, helping young families find their spiritual footing.
Sam appreciates the support she gets as a teammate of Homeland Transportation Coordinator Michael Quinones.
“We have a great relationship,” she says. “When I need something, he helps me out. He’s been doing this for more years than me. We like to make the residents happy.”
It all adds up to her joy at making Homeland her second home.
“Loving what you do – nothing else is wrong,” she says. “When you love your job and love what you do, everything is easy.”