For Dietary Supervisor Jermaine Simmons, working at Homeland Center is more than a fulfilling job – it’s a family tradition.
He heard great things about Homeland from his grandmother, Amelia Hope, who worked in the laundry, and his aunt, Melody Flemming, a receptionist. When longtime Assistant Director of Nutritional Services Carmella “BJ” Williams needed a dishwasher, she thought about her friend Melody’s nephew, Jermaine.
Jermaine rose steadily and landed his current role as a dietary supervisor. He oversees the kitchen's critical work – developing menus, maintaining health and cleanliness standards, and ensuring residents receive meals prepared according to their nutritional needs.
Oh, and he helps residents when they have trouble with their computers and TVs.
“Word got around,” he says of his sideline as IT fixer. “I graduated with an associate degree in digital art. They found out I was good with computers. People say, ‘Just ask Jermaine. See if he can do it.’ It’s something simple, but they make you feel like a genius.”
Jermaine says he didn’t expect to stay for long, but his strong ties to Homeland and the great atmosphere kept him here.
“When you’re doing something rewarding, you just enjoy doing it,” says the Harrisburg native, who graduated with honors from Thompson Institute, now the Kaplan Career Institute. “You don’t care how much time you spent on it. You enjoy learning.”
Homeland gave him the power to grow professionally, he says. He has learned to manage, communicate and build relationships according to people’s strengths and needs. He is continuously looking for ways to improve how things are done.
“You have to develop a process when you’re washing dishes for 200 people,” he says with a laugh. “I pass that on to everybody who comes here to get them to succeed. Even though it’s the dish room, if you take pride in what you do, you will do it efficiently.”
When Jermaine isn’t at Homeland, he enjoys playing instruments and writing songs, primarily R&B, hip-hop, and gospel. At his home studio, he teams up with other musicians to record and, putting his graphic arts skills to use, also designs logos and menus.
Jermaine met his wife, Messias, through her sister, a Homeland colleague and friend. While Homeland ultimately brought them together, their families were close, and when his aunt visited Georgia, she would stay at Messias’ mother’s house.
“It’s like our lives were intertwined when we didn’t even know each other,” he says. Today, they have “two beautiful boys,” ages 12 and 6.
“Everything is cnnected, it seemed, with my life and hers,” he says. “It’s like we’d been on separate journeys, but there were always links, like God saying, ‘You don’t know it yet, but you guys are going to be together.’”
In addition to his many other pursuits, Jermaine helps his wife run a daycare she opened two years ago. The center, named Growing Hope Child Care Center in honor of his grandmother, struggled during the pandemic, but he expects it to turn a corner soon.
For Jermaine, making sure that Homeland’s staff are cooperative, capable, and passionate about their work translates into a better quality of life for residents. At mealtime, every plate is healthy, delicious, and appealing. A dish, he says, that anyone would want to see served to their loved ones.
“How would you want someone treating your grandmother or grandfather? We make sure they are as comfortable as possible,’’ he says. “That’s how you treat the residents because this is their home. They deserve respect, just like you would want your grandmother or grandfather to receive.”