For Jeff Mattern, post-surgery rehab at Homeland Center was eye-opening as well as physically recuperative.
“It was one of the most enlightening experiences I’ve had,” Jeff says. “I learned a lot about what goes on in a nursing facility. I was able to observe the attention to detail that the folks who work at Homeland spend on the individual.”
Jeff already knew Homeland well, but never as a resident. As a member of the Board of Trustees, he helps Homeland conduct the fundraising that sustains excellence while assuring benevolent care for all residents who deplete their resources.
Ten days of rehab in summer 2021 expanded his outlook on Homeland’s outstanding quality of care.
“It was a great experience,” he says. He enjoyed hearing the memories of other residents, including his roommate, whose family owned fondly recalled restaurants in the Harrisburg region.
Jeff spent his entire career in fire protection engineering with the insurer FM Global, rising to chief engineer for mid-Atlantic operations. Today he is so devoted to community service that after an early retirement at age 58 in 2005, he turned down a lucrative offer to do consulting work. A friend had offered the job in Gaithersburg, MD, and kept expecting, month after month, that Jeff would arrive to get started.
Finally, the friend called and said, “You’re not coming down, are you?” Jeff admitted that he was having too much fun with civic organizations. The friend countered, “But I pay you. They’re getting you for free.”
“And I said, ‘Yeah, but I like it,’” Jeff says. “So, I stayed in the philanthropy mode, and it mushroomed from that point on.”
Jeff’s charitable endeavors have included The Foundation for Enhancing Communities, where he served as board chair for four years, and the Newport Lions Club in Newport. The Lions Club raises money to stock the emergency needs funds of local organizations, helping residents, for instance, get a gas card so they can drive to a job interview.
Jeff’s road to Homeland started with a 5K that his daughter ran. After the race, Jeff first met Homeland Center President/CEO Barry Ramper, joining him for breakfast. “If I ever need a member for my Board of Directors,” Barry said as they parted, “I’ll let you know.”
Nearly a year later, Jeff ran across Barry’s business card and thought, “I guess I’m not going to get on that board.” An hour later, the phone rang. It was Barry, asking Jeff to consider joining the board.
In his work, Jeff had seen poorly run nursing homes. Still, the praise he heard for Homeland assured him that a continuing care retirement community could achieve excellence and even, in Homeland’s case, earn a five-star Medicare quality designation.
“I knew it was a good organization,” he says. “It’s the idea of providing good care to good people.”
Jeff continues to make progress since his surgery. He insisted that he have his rehab at Homeland and says his decision proved correct.
“They were very thorough in their explanations of what to do and how to do it, and the effects of doing it and not doing it,” he says.
Jeff and his wife, Shari, have two daughters and three grandchildren, including their 15-year-old grandson, who lives with them. They keep busy with family and civic activities.
He admits to saying “yes” too often when a cause comes calling, but he adheres to a simple motto for Homeland and the other organizations he supports with his time and talents.
“I hope that I have been able to contribute to the community,” he says. “It’s about what the Lions Club logo says. ‘We Serve.’ That’s how I’d like to be remembered.”