When it was time to choose a retirement community, Bonnie Clapp knew where she wanted to live.
“I picked Homeland because I wanted a place with a good reputation,” she said. “They run a good place here.”
Since August 2022, Bonnie has been a Homeland resident--enjoying the activities and crafts, helping other residents, and approaching life with a healthy outlook.
Bonnie grew up in New Cumberland before moving to Camp Hill at age 16. Her father worked at the local Navy depot, and her mother was a stay-at-home mom who sometimes worked evenings at a local store.
“I was there for my kids, too,” Bonnie said. “They’re only young once, and if you don’t get to enjoy it, you don’t get it back. I said I’d rather do without some things.”
Bonnie graduated from Cedar Cliff High School in 1962, part of the school's second graduating class. Until the COVID epidemic, she organized her class reunions.
“I knew where all the kids were and what they did,” she said. “I loved doing that.”
In 1954, Bonnie contracted a non-paralytic form of polio, but her mother wouldn’t let her slow down. Even years later, as an adult, she climbed the Statue of Liberty spiral steps “right up to the tablet.”
“My mother never raised me to be helpless,” she recalls. “She said, ‘You try to do everything,’ and I could do everything. She had a wonderful attitude. So, if I can see it, I can do it, or I can try, anyway.”
After graduation, Bonnie attended medical arts school and worked for a doctor’s office until she started her family. That’s when she got a part-time job, working evenings in the fabric department at the former Pomeroy’s department store.
“I’m a people person,” she said. “I like to be out and about.”
At Pomeroy’s, she got a discount on fabric, plus discarded patterns for free, so she was able to enjoy her favorite pastime--sewing.
She would stay up late, making clothes for her two daughters and sometimes sewing them matching outfits. Bonnie used skills she learned from an aunt who could, and did, sew everything, including drapes made from sheets.
“She sewed coats and made hats, and she never had a sewing lesson in her life,” said Bonnie. “That woman was so talented, and I guess a little bit rubbed off on me, but not to the extreme that she did.”
Bonnie also loves volunteering. For many years, she worked with the Retired Senior Volunteer Program to teach Cumberland County senior citizens about the dangers of Medicare fraud and other scams. In 2015, she earned the Cumberland County Volunteer of the Year Award.
“I just had the time, and I loved doing it so that I couldn’t say no,” she said. “I loved the seniors, and you learn so much from them. They all have different life experiences. I met wonderful people.”
For 18 years, Bonnie worked at the Pennsylvania Association of Nonprofit Homes for the Aging, now LeadingAge PA, performing meeting planning and public policy duties, retiring in 2003. While working for the organization, she learned about all Homeland offers and decided to make it her home.
At Homeland, Bonnie enjoys spending time with her 95-year-old roommate and joining her in numerous Homeland activities.
Bonnie loves Homeland’s beautiful chapel and the musicians who present programs every weekday.
“I can’t say I have a favorite because they have many guitarists,” she said. “They’re all good, and it’s wonderful to go to them.”
She also enjoys the holiday decorations put up by Homeland’s Board of Managers, the unique, all-women board responsible for maintaining Homeland’s renowned homelike atmosphere.
“Above the diner door, there’s a stuffed Santa Claus and packages,” said Bonnie, who used to have a Santa Claus collection. “He is so cute. Out in one of the courtyards, they have a Christmas tree all lit up. They really decorate around here to make it festive.”