Overheard at Homeland Employee Appreciation Day 2021:
“They have chicken tacos and chicken and beef.”
“Oh, no! Where’s the strawberry?”
“That’s the best milkshake I ever had.”
It was a bounty of food and treats, with a generous side helping of information from employee benefits providers, at the recent summertime celebration of Homeland Center and Homeland at Home employees.
Employees enjoyed the delicacies offered in a small-scale version of a food truck fest in Homeland Center’s parking lot. The annual event is Homeland’s way of extending thanks to employees for their service, especially after a year-plus of unswerving devotion to keeping Homeland Center residents and Homeland at Home patients safe and healthy.
The message was clear: Homeland protects the well-being of every team member so they can protect the well-being of residents and patients.
The smell of barbecue from Blazin’ Swine filled the air, but that wasn’t the only tempting fare. Employees could choose tacos from 717Tacos, or pasta bowls, or pizza from What’s Cookin’. For dessert, there were the delicious Lancaster Cupcakes or world-famous Farm Show milkshakes from the Pennsylvania Dairymen’s Association (chocolate, vanilla, or half-and-half, but to the disappointment of at least one diner, no strawberry).
The event underscores Homeland’s commitment to protecting the physical and financial health of employees so they can, in turn, assure the well-being of residents and patients. Representatives from Homeland’s insurance providers, retirement plans, and financial services arrived with packets of information and opportunities to answer questions face-to-face.
Tricia Heisey, business development/financial education provider for Belco Community Credit Union, was excited to be among the people she has been serving for a year and a half.
“We’re so happy to work with Homeland,” she said. “I’ve always been impressed that the board and the managers serve the employees. That speaks volumes. I think the employees feel special and appreciated.”
Pandemic or not, Homeland’s partnership with Belco, a community-chartered institution, has brought affordable financial services and financial education to help Homeland employees manage their money wisely. As Heisey noted, research shows that easing financial stress can reduce absenteeism, improve productivity, and even keep down health care costs.
Homeland’s Employee Wellness Program Coordinator Roxane Hearn, a.k.a. “Dr. Rox,” reflected over a busy year of organizing fun theme weeks meant to keep the focus on health. A Buddy Walk Week encouraged staff to stay active. Kindness Week inspired one employee to bring her massage chair into the Homeland Hospice office. During Self Care Week, employees posted photos of themselves meditating or getting manicures.
Today, Hearn was distributing gift cards rewarding employees for completing the Walking and Wellness Challenge.
Despite a year of disruptions and uncertainty, “everyone’s been doing well,” Hearn said. “They’re taking care of themselves so that they can take care of the residents.”
Homeland Center Dietary Purchasing Supervisor Brian Wallace was enjoying the chance to eat food that someone else prepared. He’s a Homeland Center rookie who joined the team in early 2021, but he knew Homeland and its reputation because his wife, Felicia Wallace, is Homeland’s endeared hairdresser.
The best part about Homeland, he said, is getting the chance to engage with residents – a rarity in other settings where he has worked.
“Here, it’s more personal,” he said. “I like that.”
Wallace appreciates Homeland’s customized approach to dining. When residents have thoughts to share about the food, he meets with them and adjusts their menu.
“It’s satisfying to be able to provide that service and be one-on-one with people,’’ he said. “I’ll get out and talk to residents. We’re trying to give them what they like.”
Employee Appreciation Day offered “a sign of normalcy” to Homeland staff after a challenging year, said Homeland Hospice Chaplain Dann Caldwell. “It’s a reason to celebrate. Celebrate the fact that you have a wonderful place to work, family to care for, and just being together, out in the open air.”