Ken’s Story: Discovering a New Identity Through the Journey of Grief


Ken Stoner

For Ken Stoner of Etters, discovering his new identity after the death of his beloved wife Sarah has been a difficult journey. With the support of his family and new friends from Homeland Hospice’s men’s breakfast group, Ken is tapping into his creative and entrepreneurial spirit to find new purpose.

“I attended my first men’s breakfast on my first wedding anniversary without my wife,” Ken says. “The men in the group understand the challenge of finding strength through grief.”

Last fall, Ken transformed a portion of his home into an airbnb, which he affectionately calls Home on the Hill. Since it’s opening in November, Ken has hosted individuals and families from as far away as China. In the coming months, Ken wants to learn how to use Facebook to promote his business. His long-term plans include expanding his rental space to accommodate more travelers.

Guests staying at Home on the Hill are often treated to one of Ken’s delicious homemade pies. Ken began baking following the death of his wife as a way to stay busy. After months of practice, he has mastered recipes for seven pies and always makes his own crust.

Apple PieKen finds the greatest joy in baking is sharing his pies with friends, including the men in the breakfast group. At the men’s breakfast in August, the group encouraged Ken to enter his apple pie in the Annual New Cumberland Apple Festival.

“I never imaged I would open an airbnb or start baking,” Ken says. “I’m learning to take on new challenges to help me through my grief.”

In the coming months, Ken will begin volunteering with Homeland Hospice. As an avid guitar, piano and ukulele player, Ken hopes to share his love of music with hospice patients. He remembers the important role music played in comforting his wife during her illness and hopes to bring this sense of peace to others.

Ken’s journey through grief reflects the transformation many individuals encounter. Along the road of heartache, new opportunities and friendships can help individuals discover a part of themselves.

“The changes I’ve made have been a blessing,” Ken adds. “They have given me purpose.

Homeland Hospice’s bereavement support program is available to the bereaved of Homeland’s patients as well as anyone in the community who is experiencing grief.

The men’s breakfasts are held on the second Thursday of each month from 9 -10:30 a.m. at Gordon’s Family Restaurant in Harrisburg.

To learn more, please contact Brian Medkeff-Rose at Homeland Hospice at (717) 221-7890.

Pride, Honor and Purpose Supporting Veterans in their Final Days


John GoodMusic, art and photographs transcend time. They can transport us back to defining moments in our lives, and provide peace and comfort when the days are overwhelming.

John Good, chaplain for Homeland Hospice, uses images and music to provide a sense of normality for military veterans during their end-of-life journey. He strives to bring “out of the box” approaches to help veterans and their families find comfort and healing.

“When patients receive a terminal diagnosis, their life narrows,” John says. “I try to find something that resonates with them as a person – not a patient – to bring purpose back into their lives.”

John carries a Bluetooth speaker with him to quickly access music. While visiting a veteran from World War II, John played a patriotic march by John Philip Sousa. Although he was in his final hours of life, the veteran snapped to attention, saluted and made the sign of the cross.

More recently, John worked with a former tank commander who served in the Korean War. During their conversations, John learned the commander loved working with his hands and constructed grandfather clocks prior to his illness.

Tank Commander GazeboJohn enlisted the help of his daughter to collect wooden tongue depressors and referenced online sources like Pinterest for ideas. The commander’s focus shifted from his illness to creating crafts, like miniature birdhouses, using the tongue depressors. He proudly gave them to family and friends, and the nurses providing his care.

“I’m humbled to help our distinguished veterans,” John says. “It’s an honor to help them find comfort after their sacrifice for us all.”

John’s work is part of the We Honor Veterans program, created by the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization (NHPCO) in collaboration with the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). The program works to improve the quality of health care for all veterans. Homeland Hospice has been part of the program for six years.

While not a veteran himself, John holds a special place in his heart for those who have served our country. When visiting veterans in hospice care, John likes to partner with volunteers and chaplains with military service.

“I love to see the veterans salute each other,” John adds. “It brings pride and honor to the veteran in hospice care at a time when they need it most.

For more information about We Honor Veterans visit To learn more about Homeland’s work with this program, call Homeland Hospice at (717) 221-7890.

Forging a Path Forward – Breakfast Series Helps Men Find New Purpose


Breakfast Series Helps Men Find New Purpose

“It’s often difficult to talk to other men about grief,” Michael says at a recent men’s breakfast provided by Homeland Hospice. “This group understands that losing a loved one is a journey.”

Michael began attending Homeland Hospice’s breakfast series more than two years ago after the death of his mother. Through the group, he has found a supportive network of friends who understand that grief doesn’t operate on a fixed timeline. Together, they help one another find new purpose amidst the pain of loss.

“Sometimes I feel like the ‘odd man out’ because I’m grieving the loss of my mother while the other men have lost their spouses,” Michael adds. “Everyone in the group understands heartache. They listen and offer their support.

At the most recent breakfast in August, attendees talked about their happy and challenging moments of their summer. For many, vacations with family members and time with friends provided a necessary respite.

“It’s okay to take a break from your grief,” Brian Medkeff-Rose, M.Div., M.A., Bereavement Counselor at Homeland Hospice says. “Self-care is important to keep your mind and body healthy.

For several of the men, the loss of a loved one coupled with retirement has compounded their loneliness and loss of identity. Finding meaningful ways to fill their days has led many to volunteerism.

Ken, who began attending the men’s breakfast series earlier this year, has become a volunteer for Meals on Wheels. He takes great pride caring for those he serves, making sure to check in on individuals when delivering their meals. At the urging of the men in the group, Ken recently renewed his passport so he can volunteer internationally.

“My wife and I volunteered in Liberia in 1979,” Ken says. “I used my skills and experiences to fix the air conditioning system at a local hospital. I’m thinking about going back to volunteer again.”

“I appreciate the support of the group,” Ken adds. “Everyone has been welcoming and kind. We truly relate to one another.”

At the end of the breakfast, the men talked about upcoming anniversaries marking the death of their loved ones.

“We will always grieve the death of our loved ones,” Brian says. “Transformation is part of the process, and we’re here for you each step of the way.”

The men’s breakfasts are held on the second Thursday of each month from 9 -10:30 a.m. at Gordon’s Family Restaurant in Harrisburg.

Homeland Hospice’s bereavement support program is available to the bereaved of Homeland’s patients as well as anyone in the community who is experiencing grief. To learn more, please contact Brian Medkeff-Rose at Homeland Hospice at (717) 221-7890.

Homeland Hospice riding in style with the AACA Museum for a unique fundraiser


Join us for a Night at the Museum benefitting Homeland Hospice and the AACA Museum in Hershey.

Join Homeland Hospice and the original Ford Mustang designer for a Night at the Museum.

The designer of the original 1965 Ford Mustang will receive the AACA Museum, Inc. Automotive Heritage Award during the Museum’s annual gala fundraiser on October 10 benefiting Homeland Hospice and the AACA Museum, Inc.

Award recipient Gale Halderman began as a designer with Lincoln-Mercury in 1954 and four years later became head of Ford’s Advanced Studio. In addition to leading the team that created the first Mustang, during his eight years as studio chief, Halderman oversaw the development of the Lincoln Mark VII and VIII.

  • The AACA Museum, Inc.’s “Night at the Museum Gala” will be held from 5-10 p.m. on Wednesday, October 10 (Hershey, PA) and includes a cocktail reception and full dinner. UPMC Pinnacle is the Premier Sponsor and presenting sponsor is PNC.
  • Tickets are $150 and proceeds will help support benevolent care provided by Homeland Hospice as well as the AACA Museum’s continuing preservation work.
  • Guests can meet in a special VIP setting for a $50 upgrade featuring a private exclusive reception with Gale Halderman. VIP Guests will also receive an autographed Mustang poster courtesy of Ford Motor Company.
  • For more information, please visit the museum’s event website or contact Jake Dunnigan at 717-566-7100 ext. 116 or

The AACA Museum, Inc. will hold a live auction with auctioneer Josh Katz of the Katz Family Foundation during the Gala, which also marks the 15th anniversary of the Museum. Many interesting auction items including artwork and special experiences – ones you cannot buy anywhere else – will be up for bid.

During the event, visitors will have the opportunity to tour the museum’s featured exhibits including “Mustangs: Six Generations of America’s Favorite Pony Car,’’ with more than two dozen Mustangs, a trio of Thunderbirds courtesy of the International Thunderbird Clubm and the 1985 Modena Spyder aka the “Ferrari” from the movie Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.

A Journey to Serve Others Employee Spotlight: Chaplain Mark Harris


Mark Harris, Chaplain

Throughout his life, Chaplain Mark P. Harris, M.A., M.Div., Spiritual Counselor at Homeland Hospice, has responded to the call to serve others. On his journey to becoming a spiritual counselor, Mark learned valuable life-lessons, which enriched his understanding of faith and his compassion for others.

Mark joined the United States Navy after high school and became a hospital corpsman, providing medical support to sailors and marines nationally and internationally. In 2000, Mark transitioned from active to reserve status. After the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, he wanted to do more. He returned to active duty and trained other corpsman for deployment. Mark’s time in the Navy was a period of spiritual growth.

“As a corpsman, I focused on physical wellness,” Mark says. “I was feeling a higher calling. I wanted to help people on their spiritual journey, even during their darkest hours.”

Mark enrolled in online courses through Liberty University and earned a Masters of Arts in theological studies and divinity. While on his way to becoming a Navy chaplain, Mark was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. He retired from the Navy and began to plan the next step in his career.

When the opportunity to work for Homeland Hospice arose, Mark recalled the advice he received from a fellow chaplain. “If you ever have the chance to work for hospice, run toward the opportunity.”

Mark joined the Homeland team in 2017. In his role, Mark helps patients and family members deal with spiritual issues, repair strained relationships to bring peace to the patient, and supports individuals during their final hours.

“I meet people where they are on their journey,” Mark says. “I assure them they are not alone.”

Recently, Mark served as a guest speaker at the Silver Lake Institute and Asbury Retreat Center’s 145th Anniversary. The Center, located in in Western New York, draws individuals from all parts of the nation to learn and enjoy various aspects of art, music, social justice and spirituality.

In his homily, “Faith in the Sunshine and Storm,” Mark spoke about finding faith and holding on to it during good and difficult times.

“I learn so much from the people I serve,” Mark adds. “It’s an honor to help others during their final journey.”

Spiritual counseling is a component of Homeland’s holistic approach to health care. Counselors and chaplains respect each individual’s beliefs and offer support and encouragement. In addition, Homeland offers bereavement support to families for a full 13 months following the death of a loved one.

To learn more, please contact Homeland Hospice at (717) 221-7890.

Homeland at Home Helps Lead Discussion on Elder Care

Annual Health Care Symposium Addresses Industry Trends

Every day, families throughout our community and nation are facing difficult discussions about the care of aging loved ones. Often these conversations don’t happen until an incident occurs prompting family members to “take stock” of their loved one’s ability to live independently.

These situations are developing rapidly as the baby boom generation ages and Americans live longer than ever before. Today, 46 million adults living in the United States (15 percent of the population) are 65 or older. By 2060, that number is expected to climb to about 98 million, or 24 percent of the population (Population Reference Bureau).

Elder care, as well as the opioid crisis and medical marijuana, data and communication in hospitals, and the Amazon effect, were topics discussed at Central Penn Business Journal’s Annual Health Care Symposium held on July 17 at the Sheraton Harrisburg-Hershey. Homeland at Home served as a presenting sponsor of the event.

Barb GollBarbara Goll, B.S., Community Education Liaison/Nutritionist at Homeland at Home, served as a panel member focusing on elder care. She was joined by Michael Fiaschetti, president and CEO, MediPlanConnect, and the discussion was moderated by Joel Berg, editor of Central Penn Business Journal.

The panel focused on the importance of aging in place, which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention defines as “the ability to live in one’s own home and community safely, independently, and comfortably, regardless of age, income, or ability level.”

Research shows 90 percent of individuals prefer living in their own homes as they age.

“Helping families age in place is my passion,” Barbara says. “Through our outreach efforts, I help families navigate options, including services provided by Homeland.”

Caregivers also serve as a critical link to living independently. Training can help family members learn how to care for their loved ones.

“I encourage families to start the conversation about aging in place before it’s necessary,” Barbara adds. “Provide time for a loved one to absorb the process and offer feedback before making a decision.”

Homeland at Home offers a full continuum of services to care for individuals as their needs change.

Compassionate caregivers provide an array of non-medical daily living services through Homeland HomeCare. Assistance can include, but is not limited to:

  • Light housekeeping
  • Errands such as grocery shopping or transportation to a doctor’s appointment
  • Medication reminders and/or administration
  • Oral care including suctioning
  • Bathing and dressing
  • Monitoring diet and appetite
  • Help with feeding and meal prep

Homeland only hires certified nursing assistants (CNAs) to provide services. They are supervised and trained by licensed nurses as Direct Care Workers per Pennsylvania Department of Health guidelines.

Homeland at Home also provides at-home physician-ordered medical treatment services through Homeland HomeHealth, and Homeland Hospice provides end-of-life care.

To learn more, please contact Homeland at Home at (717) 221-7890.

Homeland Center Resident Recalls Life of Family and Friends as She Nears 100th Birthday


Homeland Center Resident nears 100th BirthdayStrong bonds with family and friends are a common theme in Sara Slothower’s life. Loving and supportive parents shaped her childhood, and brought her to Harrisburg where she met her husband and raised her family. Friendships formed through her volunteer work ultimately brought her to Homeland Center where she has lived for the past three years. In October, Sara will celebrate her 100th birthday.

Sara grew up in Brownsville, Pennsylvania, a small town close to Pittsburgh. She was the eldest of four children and fondly remembers attending a small country school and playing baseball in her youth.

“I had wonderful parents,” Sara recalls. “We loved swimming and having picnics in the summer.”

Her fondest memories are her family’s annual visits to Kennywood, a popular amusement park.

“I rode the merry-go-round and ate ice cream all day,” Sara remembers. “It was the highlight of my summer.”

At 17, Sara moved to Harrisburg after her father took on a new job. She completed her senior year at John Harris High School, now known as Harrisburg High School. Sara remembers the challenges of adapting to an urban school after growing up in the country.

“My father often reminded me of the opportunities available at a larger school,” Sara adds. “I struggled to adjust until I met my husband Wilbur.”

Homeland resident with her familyAfter marrying, Sara and Wilbur moved to Paxton Street where they raised their children Janet, Tom and Richard (not pictured).

Like her childhood, Sara loved summers with her husband and children. The family owned a cottage in Stoney Creek. Wilbur would spend weekends at the cottage and return to work while Sara and her children enjoyed the outdoors.

When her children were in school, Sara went to work at Sear’s Service Center and then Feller’s Store in Harrisburg.

Sara’s love of people led her to volunteering at Dauphin Manor. For 10 years, she volunteered at the gift shop and helped plan birthday parties for the residents. Sara enjoyed selecting the perfect cakes and making gifts to ensure residents felt special on their birthday.

While volunteering, Sara met Barry Ramper II, now Homeland Center President and CEO. At the time, Barry was Administrator of Dauphin Manor. Sara and Barry became friends and stayed in touch over the years.

In 1997, Sara’s beloved Wilbur died. She lived independently for years, always making important life decisions with confidence. At 95, she decided to stop driving and at 97 chose to move to Homeland. Knowing Barry made the transition easy.

At Homeland, Sara enjoys playing bingo, pokeno and the occasional game of pinochle. Her most cherished time is spent with her daughter, Janet, and son, Tom. Her son Richard lives in Georgia, but makes regular calls to stay in touch. In addition to her children, Sara has four grandchildren and nine great grandchildren.

Sara BillboardThis spring, Sara and Barry were featured on billboards for Homeland Center. For Mother’s Day, Tom drove his mother around Harrisburg to see the billboards. Sara proudly displays the photo used on the billboards in her room.

As she approaches her 100th birthday, Sara is grateful for a life filled with family and friends.

From her years of planning birthday parties for her children and the residents of Dauphin Manor, Sara knows what she wants for her 100th birthday celebration.

“Carrot cake with cream cheese icing and vanilla ice cream,” Sara says with a smile. “Cake with my family would be a perfect birthday.”

Homeland Center has a 150-year tradition of caring for residents like family. Located in Dauphin County, Homeland is a five-star skilled nursing and personal care facility. Since opening its doors in 1867, Homeland has served thousands of individuals and families. Today, 145 residents call it home.

Running for a Good Cause


Heroes for Homeland Hospice 5K4th Annual Heroes for Homeland Hospice 5K a Success!

On Saturday, June 9, runners and walkers of all ages and abilities laced up their sneakers for the 4th Annual Heroes for Homeland Hospice 5K at City Island in Harrisburg.

The event brought together nearly 100 runners who enjoyed the course along the Susquehanna Riverfront, as well as Homeland employees, volunteers and individuals who have lost a loved one.

Running for a Good Cause

For Jen Phillips and her family, the event was a chance to honor her father, Bob, who died in 2015. Jen’s family proudly wore “Team Bob” badges on their shirts with a photo of her father.

“Homeland was accommodating of my father’s needs,” Jen says. “After he died, they followed up with our family and offered bereavement support.”

Through the grieving process, Jen’s mother, Ann Phillips, has become a Hospice volunteer to help others during their time of grief.

Padget 243Homeland Hospice provides bereavement support through phone calls, mailings, one-on-one consultations and support groups up to 13 months after the death of a loved one. Support groups offer self-awareness, healing, helping others, a sense of community and coping skills.

For many Homeland employees, the event was a family affair. Debbie Klinger, RN and Director of Homeland Hospice, enjoyed spending time with her granddaughters, Morgan and Padget, at the 5K.

“I like to spend time with my grandmother at the race,” Padget says. “Plus, the money goes to help people.”

Padget, who is seven years old, is a veteran racer. This was her third 5K for Homeland Hospice. She predicted the course would take her one hour, but she finished it in less than 46 minutes, a personal best for the young runner. Padget placed third in the 14 and younger age group.

Finding Strength and Friendships Through Women’s Luncheon Series


“The clouds are starting to part thanks to this great network of support,” Cathy remarks at a recent women’s luncheon provided by Homeland Hospice. “We understand each other because we’re all going through the same thing.

Women's LuncheonCathy has attended the women’s luncheon series since it was launched last year. She learned about the monthly luncheons while participating in Homeland’s six-week bereavement support group.

Homeland Hospice provides bereavement support through phone calls, mailings, one-on-one consultations and support groups up to 13 months after the death of a loved one. Support groups offer self-awareness, healing, helping others, a sense of community and coping skills.

Cathy credits Homeland’s support, and the positive attitudes of her “luncheon friends,” with helping her cope with the death of her husband.

“After the luncheon in April, I felt so good I encouraged a friend from the luncheon to book a cruise with me,” Cathy adds. “We’re heading to Bermuda!”

At the luncheon in May, attendees talked about their challenges and joys during the past month and plans for the coming month. Returning attendees, like Cathy, helped welcome new guests to the group.

“The first time I came to a luncheon, I didn’t know anyone,” Peggy says. “I was sad and lost. I didn’t know how to start the conversation about who I was going to be, but everyone understood.”

“These are my people,” Peggy adds with a laugh.

This shared understanding of grief makes the women’s luncheon series a dynamic time for women to navigate their journey in a safe and supportive space. No topic is off limits and everyone has an opportunity to share.

At the recent luncheon, attendees laughed when telling a favorite story of a loved one, as well as discussed poignant topics, like donating their deceased spouses’ clothing to charity. Whatever the subject, all voices were heard and supported.

“This is a place where you can talk about the difficult topics no one wants to discuss,” Peggy adds. “We share our ups and downs.”

At the end of the luncheon, Brian Medkeff-Rose, M.Div., M.A., Bereavement Counselor at Homeland Hospice reminded attendees about the process of grief.

“We never stop grieving,” Brian says. “Transformation is part of the process and we’re here for you each step of the way.”

The Women’s Soup and Salad Luncheons are held the third Friday of each month from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Isaac’s Grill at the West Shore Plaza.

Homeland Hospice’s bereavement support program is available to the bereaved of Homeland’s patients as well as anyone in the community who is experiencing grief.

To learn more, please contact Brian Medkeff-Rose at Homeland Hospice at (717) 221-7890.


Sharing Memories Brings Comfort at Memorial Picnic


Rocks 3“My husband used to give me the first wildflower he saw each spring,” remarks a widow from a Homeland Hospice bereavement group. “Some years it was a dandelion.”

Fond memories of a loved one can bring solace and strength during the grieving process. Sharing memories with others helps us understand we are not alone in our journey.

Homeland Hospice provides bereavement support through phone calls, mailings, one-on-one consultations and support groups up to 13 months after the death of a loved one. Support groups offer self-awareness, healing and a sense of community, with individuals entering as strangers and often leaving as friends.

The Homeland Hospice family – including support group members, staff and volunteers – recently gathered to celebrate this special bond at the Homeland Hospice Annual Memorial Picnic in Enola. During the event, support group members each shared what they miss most about their loved ones.

Sisters Patty and Sheryl fondly remember their stepfather, Joe, as a proud veteran and a gentleman. He often spoke about his experiences on a B-52 aircraft during World War II and was a resident of Homeland Center when he died at age 97.

During Joe’s time at Homeland, staff members took him to New Cumberland Army Depot to tour a B-52 aircraft, just like the one he flew. Patty and Sheryl remember Joe’s excitement and happiness during this visit.

“He toured the entire plane and shook hands with everyone there,” Patty said.

Memories like this help sustain the sisters through their grief. They find comfort in sharing their remembrances with others who have similar experiences. Both sisters have participated in Homeland’s six-week bereavement support group program. Sheryl also attends a ladies luncheon held the third Friday of each month at Isaac’s Grill at the West Shore Plaza.

“Looking around the room, I know everyone has a story to tell,” Sheryl said. “It’s comforting to know how much Homeland cares about grieving families.”

At the close of the picnic, Brian Medkeff-Rose, M.Div., M.A., bereavement counselor at Homeland Hospice reminded guests that they are not alone.

“Everyone here has something in common,” Brian said, “We have all lost a loved one and understand the grieving experience.”

Homeland Hospice’s bereavement support program is available to the bereaved of Homeland’s patients as well as anyone in the community who is experiencing grief.

To learn more, please contact Brian Medkeff-Rose at Homeland Hospice at 717-221-7890.