The Healing Power of Music: Homeland Hospice Releases Music Compilation for Patients


homeland hospice presents beacon of hope cdThe sound of familiar melodies and lyrics can transport us back in time to the most poignant moments of our lives. Memories like listening to music while driving our first car to dancing on our wedding day become picture-perfect flashes in our minds after hearing a few recognizable chords.

Homeland Hospice has captured the power of music in a new compilation of popular hymns and scripture readings, which will soon be available for patients to download or listen to on CD. Homeland’s chaplains, pastors and a music therapist performed the recordings. Homeland Hospice is a nonprofit hospice program that serves communities throughout Central Pennsylvania.

The inspiration for the CD came from patients who cherish their time of fellowship through music. Homeland is fortunate to have talented chaplains and pastors who share their love of music with patients during routine visits. In addition, Homeland offers music therapy as a complementary service to help patients manage pain and lift their spirits. Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic has temporarily prohibited musical instruments in nursing homes.

“Patients may find comfort by listening to familiar voices,” says Reynaldo (Rey) Villarreal, chaplain for Homeland Hospice. “Through this project, we can connect with our patients spiritually when we cannot be with them in person.”

chaplains recording beacon of hope cdThe music compilation is a true project of unity around a shared goal to bless others. The Charlton United Methodist Church in Harrisburg served as the performance location and Derek Sandstrom, director of worship ministries for Fishing Creek Salem United Methodist Church, helped direct the production.

“We hope our patients love listening to the recording as much as we loved creating it,” Rey says. “Our spiritual team is bonded by a love a music and service to others.”

While the CD is a new project for Homeland Hospice, a commitment to the therapeutic benefits of music has long been part of the organization’s holistic approach to care. Homeland is certified in Music & Memory, a program to help aging Americans with cognitive and physical challenges find renewed meaning and connection in their lives through the gift of music.

“Music helps patients relive fond memories,” says Laurie Murry, volunteer coordinator for Homeland Hospice. “Playing a patient’s favorite song often helps them connect with family members and friends.”

Homeland staff members ask patients about their favorite songs or artists and download their choices for a personalized playlist. Research shows that the music individuals are exposed to from the ages of 12-24 has the greatest impact on their lives.

“It’s often the little things that make the greatest impact,” Laurie adds. “We hope the gift of music brings comfort to our patients in their time of need.”

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.

Wreaths Across America 2020



fort indiantown gap decorated with wreathsFor many years, Homeland Hospice staff and volunteers have participated in Wreaths Across America, a movement to remember and honor fallen Veterans with wreath-laying ceremonies. Homeland has been in attendance and assisted with ceremonies held at Fort Indiantown Gap and at the Dauphin County Cemetery.

Like most of this year’s events and activities, Wreaths Across America at Fort Indiantown Gap in Annville will have a different look. Despite the amended event, the ceremony will accomplish the same goal as in years past: to remember the fallen, honor those who serve and their families and teach our children the value and price of freedom.

On Saturday, December 19, instead of a live ceremony there will be a recorded event shared with media stations and available to watch on the Fort Indiantown Gap and Wreaths Across America Indiantown Gap Facebook pages.

Due to crowd-size restrictions, wreath placement will also look a lot different. Wreath placement will not be open to the general public but will instead be completed by Wreath Distribution Security Teams and Sponsorship Groups during specific time slots throughout the day.

wreaths prepared to honor veteransIn stark contrast to the Fort Indiantown Gap ceremony involving crowds, dignitaries, beautifully landscaped grounds, rows of white tombstones, and thousands of wreaths, Homeland Hospice also supports a second, more secluded Wreaths Across America ceremony held at the Dauphin County Cemetery. Also known as Potter’s Field, this is an obscure cemetery tucked behind industrial buildings along Gibson Boulevard in Swatara Township.

Homeland Hospice became involved two years ago when Volunteer Coordinator Laurie Murry researched local Wreaths Across America events. “My heart was immediately drawn to this cemetery and the people who have found this as their final resting place,” said Laurie.

The cemetery’s background is not unlike that of Homeland. Originally chartered as the “Home for the Friendless,” Homeland was founded to support the dependents – widows and children – of Civil War soldiers. “Continuing that tradition of recognizing the forgotten just seems like the right thing to do,” said Laurie.

Homeland Hospice has been involved with the ceremony at Dauphin County ceremony for the past two years. Six to eight Hospice staff and volunteers, along with the site coordinator Suzanne Sheaffer meet at noon and share in a small, informal ceremony. Wreaths are decorated to represent each military service branch and hung on the chain link fence surrounding the small field. A wreath is placed at the tombstone of the one identified veteran and other wreaths are placed throughout the field should there be any unidentified veterans.

Many poor, homeless, and unclaimed bodies have been buried at Potter’s Field for generations. “PennLive reported in a story about the cemetery that some could be veterans from as far back as the Civil War. Everyone who has sacrificed for the benefit of our country deserves to be remembered and honored. This is just one way we can do that,” said Laurie.


For information about Homeland Hospice and volunteer opportunities, call (717) 221-7890.

Care Cards Continue to Flow into Homeland Hospice



a pile of lovingly decorated care cardsIn the midst of a global pandemic that’s left people of all ages shut off from normal activities, a kind greeting or gesture from a friend or stranger takes on greater meaning.

In July, Homeland Hospice started a Care Card program and shared the opportunity with the online volunteer-engagement network VolunteerMatch. Since then, packages of cards have been arriving in the Homeland Hospice mailbox each week. Homemade, store-bought, crafted from construction paper — the cards came in every size and a rainbow of colors. Some have stickers. Some have jokes and riddles, others include crossword puzzles and search words. Some are from children who express love and respect to total strangers along with crayon drawings of flowers and smiles.

The reasons people are becoming involved are as varied as the cards. Some are looking for opportunities to complete community service hours, others want a project to do with their children, and some simply want an outlet for their creativity. “It has been very heartwarming to connect with people from all over the country who want nothing more than to bring joy to person’s day and a smile to their face,” says Laurie Murry, Volunteer Coordinator for Homeland Hospice.

One 10th grade student from Pittsburgh created over 70 thinking of you cards and a few paintings and inspirational signs. She shared that she worked to earn the money for supplies and to be able to buy some pretty cards. “I hope they will make people smile and feel a little happy! I can’t think of a better cause to earn the volunteer hours I need for my National Honor Society application.”

Another student from Texas shared that she spent approximately 20 hours gathering supplies, designing, and making her cards. She expressed excitement in making another batch of cards since she has developed a more efficient “system.” She commented, “Thank you so much for organizing and letting me join this volunteer activity. I greatly enjoyed making the care cards and knowing that they might help brighten someone’s day!”

A woman from New York City responded to the posting and shared that she is a finance professional with a secret passion for painting and she would love to make some custom cards with personal messages to encourage others.

A fourth-year student from the University of Florida stated that his personal life mission is make an impact on the lives of others, and he wanted to become involved.

“People simply want to help and it is very refreshing since so much of what we see and hear is negative or bad news,” said Laurie.

Learn more or sign up to participate in the Care Cards program on

Homeland Honors Veterans Through Flags for Heroes Event


rotary club - flags for heroes

On the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month in 1918, President Woodrow Wilson signed the armistice that ended World War I. The following year, President Wilson led the country in celebrating Armistice Day to reflect upon the heroism of those who died in service to our country during the war. In 1954, Armistice Day became Veterans Day to honor all veterans serving our country.

This year, Homeland Hospice and Homeland Center paid tribute to veterans through Flags for Heroes, a first-time event led by the Rotary Club of West Shore. Homeland is a nonprofit program that serves communities throughout Central Pennsylvania.

From November 8-15, 160 American flags will fly along the Harvey Taylor Bridge Bypass, a busy corridor leading into the City of Harrisburg. Representatives from Homeland Hospice, the Rotary Club of West Shore and members of our community celebrated this inaugural event with a special dedication ceremony on Veterans Day.

lines of flags honoring our veterans“We want the flags to send a positive message during these challenging times,” says Rod Hite, president of the Rotary Club of West Shore. “We are overwhelmed by the number of community organizations supporting the event.”

For Rod and his fellow Rotarians, the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic have shed light on the heroism of front-line workers like doctors, nurses and other caregivers. Through this year’s event, flags could be sponsored in honor of someone who has made a difference during the pandemic as well as a veteran for his/her service to our country.

“Rotary and Homeland share similar values,” Rod adds. “We have great love and respect for our community and country.”

For Homeland Hospice, honoring veterans is part of the organization’s core values. For more than eight years, Homeland has been 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).

Through the We Honor Veterans program, hospice volunteers who served in the military meet with veterans during their end of life journey. Patients are given a special pin, which represents their branch of service, as well as a small flag and certificate. The pinning ceremony ends with a salute, veteran to veteran. In this special moment of time, the patient can experience the proud memory of his/her first salute and the love and respect of an entire country.

While the COVID-19 pandemic has limited the number of volunteers who can visit patients, Homeland has kept the We Honor Veterans program strong with a smaller contingent of people participating in the pinning ceremony.

“Veterans hold a special place in our hearts and minds,” says Myra Badorf, B.A., Assistant Director of Development at Homeland Hospice. “We’re proud to serve as a sponsor and partner of this outstanding community event.”

For more information about the We Honor Veterans program visit

To learn more about Homeland’s work with this program, call Homeland Hospice at (717) 221-7890.

The Art of Creativity During the COVID-19 Pandemic: Allie Lombardi Brings Color to Our World



When the world shut down last spring because of the COVID-19 pandemic, loneliness and isolation crept into many of our lives. Our sense of community compelled us to reach out to those in need at a time when face-to-face contact was not permitted. Our methods of volunteering were changing, but our compassion for others remained the same. During this period of darkness, Allie Lombardi picked up her phone and paintbrushes to bring color to our world.

Allie is a high school senior in Providence, Rhode Island. For 14 years she has been a competitive dancer in ballet, jazz and contemporary dance. At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, Allie’s dance classes were cancelled, giving her time to focus on her other passions of volunteering and art.

Allie connected with Homeland Hospice through VolunteerMatch, an online service that connects individuals with causes and organizations. Allie’s grandmother is a nurse and her sister is studying nursing in college. In addition, her grandmother has volunteered with her local hospice, making a connection to Homeland an ideal match for Allie. Homeland Hospice is a nonprofit hospice program that serves communities throughout Central Pennsylvania.

“I was excited to connect with Homeland,” Allie says. “I had read about power of art therapy and thought I could help.”

Allie created 12 watercolor paintings of serene scenes with peaceful colors to illuminate a room. She sent the paintings to Homeland where they will be available to hospice patients. In the coming weeks, volunteers will work directly with patients to allow them to select a piece to display. After a month, the paintings will be rotated among patients to allow them to enjoy another work of art.

“We are delighted by Allie’s art,” says Laurie Murry, volunteer coordinator for Homeland Hospice. “Her beautiful paintings lift the spirits of our patients and their families.”

Hospice patients often feel a loss of control over their lives. Selecting a painting is a small, but powerful step in helping them feel a sense of satisfaction. This step also gives a local volunteer an opportunity to close the circle on Allie’s project, which began several months ago and more than 350 miles away.

While Allie will never meet the recipients of her artwork or see the smiles it brings to their faces, she knows her time and dedication to this project makes a difference.

“The project has brought me so much joy,” Allie says. “It feels good knowing I’ve been able to help someone during this time.”


For more information about Homeland Hospice and volunteer opportunities, call (717) 221-7890.


Brian Medkeff-Rose to Retire After Decades of Compassionate Leadership



Brian Medkeff-Rose, M.Div., M.A., Bereavement Counselor at Homeland HospiceAt the end of October, Brian Medkeff-Rose, M.Div., M.A., Bereavement Counselor at Homeland Hospice, will retire after more than 28 years of compassionate leadership. During his time with Homeland, Brian has implemented innovative approaches to reaching and supporting the bereaved. His deep well of empathy and support has helped countless people find new purpose amidst the pain of loss.

Brian graduated from the Methodist Theological School in Delaware, Ohio. He was ordained by the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), and obtained his clinical pastoral education from Bethesda Hospital in Ohio, which prepared him to work in acute care, outpatient care and long-term care, as well as elder services, home health and hospice care. Brian’s clinical pastoral work led him to Harrisburg and, ultimately, to Homeland Hospice. Homeland Hospice is a nonprofit hospice program that serves communities throughout Central Pennsylvania.

“I kBrian Medkeff-Rose at the Homeland Hospice 5knew immediately Homeland was where I belonged,” Brian says. “I’ve been proud to be part of a team approach to care. Social workers, physicians, nurses’ aides, volunteers – we have all worked together to help those in need.”

As a bereavement and spiritual counselor, Brian has used an out-of-the-box approach to create a path forward for individuals experiencing loss. Several years ago Brian launched the Men’s Breakfast and Women’s Luncheon Series, which provides a monthly platform for individuals to connect with others on a similar path. Through these events, strangers become friends by sharing a safe space to speak about their journey of grief.

In 2019, Brian helped organize “A Journey from Hops to Beer: The Grief Path” for individuals in Homeland’s bereavement program. At the event, Brian discussed the similarities in the journey of grief to the process of making beer. Both take time and patience. At the event, individuals at different points in the grieving process talked about their experiences and offered each other support.

Brian Medkeff-Rose decorating for Christmas“We never stop grieving,” Brian says. “The amount of time since the death of your loved one does not matter. It’s always okay to cry.”

In addition, Brian has helped incorporate messages about the grief process into Homeland Hospice’s Annual Memorial Walk and 10th Anniversary Event, “Guitars, Gifts & Gratitude,” held last November.

“I am so fortunate to have worked alongside of Brian,” says Noelle Valentine, MSW, LSW, Bereavement Counselor for Homeland Hospice. “He has given me the foundation to serve our patients and their families with a servant’s heart.”

At the core of Brian’s outreach exist a simple message of love, self-care and the acceptance of transformation as part of the grieving process.

“Brian’s love and passion for his work is contagious,” says Mary Peters, MSW, Assistant Director of Social Services for Homeland Hospice. “He will be greatly missed by our staff and hospice families.”

“It’s been a privilege to know our patients and families and support them through their life-changing journeys,” Brian adds. “They will always have a special place in my heart.”

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. Bereavement support group meetings also are held on a rotating schedule throughout the year.

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

Homeland Hospice Selected for National Project to Improve Care



Homeland Hospice, a nonprofit hospice program that serves communities throughout Central Pennsylvania, has been selected to participate in the alpha testing phase of a new tool to standardize the collection of data for hospice patients. Homeland is one of 20 hospice programs chosen nationally, and the only hospice in the state participating in the project.

The Hospice Outcomes Patient Evaluation (HOPE) tool is a project led by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) designed to better understand care needs throughout a patient’s dying process and contribute to the patient’s plan of care. The HOPE tool will also allow CMS to analyze data between patients and hospice programs across the country.

“A core goal of the HOPE tool is to understand how a hospice team works together to put the patient’s needs first,” says Mary Peters, MSW, Assistant Director of Social Services for Homeland Hospice. “A patient-centered approach to care has always been our philosophy.”

Homeland team members include a registered nurse case manager, hospice medical director, attending physician, volunteer coordinator, social workers, spiritual counselors, home care aides and others.

The HOPE tool alpha testing involves three phases, which includes training, data collection, and a forum scheduled in June 2021 to review the data and offer feedback about the tool.

Homeland has completed training and is in the data collection phase. During this phase, a patient’s primary hospice team – including a registered nurse, social worker and spiritual counselor – is present for each assessment.

With Homeland’s expansive service territory, data collection has required additional time and travel and Homeland’s dedicated staff has risen to the occasion.

“I’m proud of our staff for taking on this additional project,” Mary adds. “We are committed to providing excellent data to support the HOPE tool.”

Homeland Hospice is a hospice program that serves 14 communities throughout Central Pennsylvania by providing end-of-life care either in a person’s home or wherever they reside, including nursing facilities. Homeland also provides bereavement support to families for a full 13 months following the death of their loved one. This service is available to anyone in the community who is experiencing grief.

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

Finding the Hope in Hospice … for 10 Years



Myra Badorf, Assistant Director of Development for Homeland HospiceMyra Badorf is the Assistant Director of Development for Homeland Hospice and on August 16th celebrated her 10-year anniversary. Upon looking back, she shares her thoughts with us.


“Caregiving often calls us to lean into love we didn’t know possible.” ~ Tia Walker, author

I’ve worked for Homeland Hospice for 10 years now … never on the front lines like so many of my colleagues, but never far from the heartbreaking stories of untimely and sometimes tragic deaths, to the beautiful descriptions of the passing of an elderly person who lived a good life full of love of family, success in a career, a strong faith and peace … even welcoming death in the end.

My mother is 89 and my father is 88, and my family and I are blessed to still have both in our lives. Plus, I have never had anyone close to me ever needing the services of hospice. But I too know that it is a matter of time. With two parents looking at the doorstep of 90, I expect it now, and I will welcome the support hospice services have to offer when that time comes.

Here at Homeland Hospice I have the good fortune of reading the letters and cards of thanks that we receive from the many family and friends of those we have cared for over the years. Many of them include a monetary donation as a way to express their appreciation and gratitude, for which we are thankful.

These letters make me proud of the people I work with—our nurses, social workers, aides, chaplains, volunteers. All of them deal with important life issues daily, never wavering from this calling of hospice. I don’t know what burdens they carry for our patients, how it effects their off hours, or their health, but what I do know—to do this, they must have what we refer to as “the heart of hospice.” You see, it takes a special person, especially in the medical field to do this kind of work. Nurses are trained to heal. They are also trained to solve problems—which is an essential skill for anyone providing hospice care. In most cases healing will not come, but the opportunity to ensure a peaceful, pain-free death, managing complicated symptoms … well, our staff are second to none.

“Death is not the enemy sir, indifference is! You treat a disease, you win, you lose. You treat a person, I guarantee you, you’ll win, no matter what the outcome.” ~ Patch Adams

Homeland Hospice’s Soup & Casserole Program



By Laurie Murray, Volunteer Coordinator for Homeland Hospice

The end-of-life journey is a time when extra comfort and support is needed as patients and their families are often fatigued physically, emotionally and spiritually. A hospice caregiver is often faced with situations that can change daily or even hourly. Frequent medications, dressing changes, safety, toileting, feeding, and emotional support easily fills their day, and in many cases, their night too. In addition, there are situations in which a spouse or caregiver may never have prepared a meal. The patient is the one who always handled that daily task.

Homeland Hospice has found that for many patients and their families a simple home-cooked soup or casserole that can be taken from the freezer, heated, and enjoyed is a huge blessing. It is comfort for the belly! The meals are prepared by volunteers either working independently or as a group. Before Covid-19, our focus was having church groups prepare the meals. Now, there are people looking for opportunities to serve from their homes, so we are seeing more individual cooks becoming involved.

Some of our volunteers simply cook a little extra when they are preparing a meal for their own family. Church group often use the left-overs from a community or church meal to make a yummy dish or soup.

The meals are prepared in 8×8 aluminum pans, wrapped in aluminum foil, placed in a gallon freezer bag, labeled with the ingredients and reheating instructions and frozen. Volunteers then either contact Laurie to pick up a meal from them or the they are welcome to delivers it to the Homeland Hospice office. The meals are stored in a freezer at the office until it is delivered to a patient by hospice staff or by another volunteer, a “Casserole Courier.”

The meals do not remain in the freezer for long! With a census of over 200 patients, twenty meals can disappear very quickly. We are always accepting new cooks to assist with this program.

The Soup & Casserole Program is just another “extra” that is provided by Homeland Hospice. It helps in bring comfort to our patients, but also alleviates some of the stress from family caregivers.

Mary Beth, a faithful volunteer making soups and casseroles stated, “I’m so happy to help. All of the events of the world have made me feel helpless. This opportunity has once again made me feel helpful.”

Message from Dr. Rox



With Dr. Rox’s help, Homeland is making a conscious effort to STOP the panic, anxiety, heightened stress levels, and frustration caused by the current state of our lives due to the pandemic.

Right now, she is encouraging everyone to thinking about the importance of boosting our immune system to fight viruses such as COVID-19 and the Flu. Research has proven time and time again that the body’s stress response systems are directly connected to the immune system and can influence what type of immune cells are made, where they go in the body, and how they function.

In other words, stress weakens your immune system.

People tend to focus on the conveniences they have lost, which heightens their stress levels. Dr Rox encourages everyone to use the power of mindfulness to help reduce stress and strengthen their immune systems.

She reminds us that mindfulness is a NON-RELIGIOUS practice.

“Mindfulness means maintaining a moment-by-moment awareness of our thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations, and surrounding environment, through a gentle, nurturing lens. Mindfulness also involves acceptance, meaning that we pay attention to our thoughts and feelings without judging them—without believing, for instance, that there’s a “right” or “wrong” way to think or feel in a given moment. When we practice mindfulness, our thoughts tune into what we’re sensing in the present moment rather than rehashing the past or imagining the future.”  (Greater Good Science Center of Berkeley University of California, 2020)

Try These Three Ways to Stop, Breathe, Listen, and Connect

Practice #1: Come back to your breath. Every time you learn a new fact about this virus, stop, take a deep, calming breath, and notice what is happening in your body. Where are you storing this new information? Breathe deep and release any tension you’re holding. Here’s a simple practice for letting go.

Practice #2: Find ways to connect. Social distancing is the compassionate response to the challenge before us, but physical isolation doesn’t mean disconnection. Write letters to your friends, hold video chat parties, call your neighbors, send love notes to family and friends who live far away. If you’re feeling isolated, try this connection meditation to recharge.

Practice #3: Offer loving-kindness to the world. Whether you’re someone who hasn’t yet connected with this specific mindfulness practice, you’ve tried it and it felt a little odd, or you’re someone who relies on this practice for connection and nourishment—now is the time to offer our deep love to the world. Here’s how you can create a loving-kindness practice that feels right to you.



Roxane E. Hearn, PhD (Dr. Rox) is Homeland’s Employee Wellness Program Coordinator, Health & Wellness Psychologist and Personal Health Coach. To learn more about or contact Dr. Rox, please visit