A Career of Empathy and Kindness: Debbie Klinger to Retire from Homeland Hospice


Debbie Klinger - Retired RN and Homeland Hospice DirectorAt the end of February, Debbie Klinger, RN and Director of Homeland Hospice, retired following her nearly eight-year career with the organization. Homeland Hospice is a nonprofit hospice program that serves communities throughout Central Pennsylvania.

During her tenure, Debbie has strived to embody the heart and soul of the hospice mission while working with patients and families. Through her leadership, she has created a team that practices empathy and kindness while delivering the highest quality care.

Debbie knew she wanted to be a nurse early in life. She learned she was accepted into Geisinger Medical Hospital’s School of Nursing on the same day she learned she was expecting her first child. Debbie put her aspirations of a nursing career aside while she raised her children. When her sons reached their teenage years, Debbie decided to begin her nursing education.

“I became a student as a single mother at age 38,” Debbie says. “My passion for nursing never waned and my determination to achieve my goal grew stronger.”

After working many years in management with other hospices, Debbie joined Homeland Hospice as the Assistant Director of Clinical Services. She later advanced into her current position. While Debbie has been part of many successful projects and events, her legacy is the creation of strong teams committed to consistent and compassionate care.

“I’m proud to work with a team of dedicated professionals who believe the patient comes first,” Debbie adds. “I believe this is the hallmark of our organization.”

Kris Crockett Portrait - Our TeamOne of those dedicated team members, Kris Crockett, RN and Assistant Director of Clinical Services of Homeland Hospice, will move into Debbie’s role. Kris has been part of the Homeland team for more than nine years. She started as an on-call weekend nurse and began working as the assistant director of clinical services in 2017.

Over the past few years, Kris has worked tirelessly to reduce the organization’s pharmacy costs while continuing the highest quality of care. This process has included daily research of the cost of prescriptions along with educating the hospice team about medication changes.

Like Debbie, Kris believes in building strong teams by focusing on the mission of the organization while never losing sight of the little things about the job, which can culminate into a big difference.

“Our nurses often check in with one another during stressful times,” Kris says. “These small acts of kindness aren’t in their job description, but build lasting bonds between team members.”

As Debbie’s retirement nears, her commitment to Homeland Hospice will continue. Debbie and Kris are proactive planners who are committed to working together as a team to ensure the transition is seamless.

“I’m proud of my years with Homeland,” Debbie says. “I’m confident Kris will continue to lead the organization with vision and compassion.”

Homeland Hospice serves 14 counties throughout central Pennsylvania, providing end-of-life care either in a person’s home or wherever they reside, including nursing facilities. Homeland staff is closely involved as death approaches and may be present at the time of death. This is one of hospice’s greatest strengths – helping the patient and loved ones cope as a person approaches life’s end.

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

Random Acts of Kindness ~ A Way of Life


By Laurie Murray, Volunteer Coordinator, Homeland Hospice

A clear jar with many brightly colored jelly bean candies

National Random Acts of Kindness Day is the day to do something special for another person. Scientific evidence shows that doing kind acts for others as well as receiving or even witnessing kindness has a positive effect. Even the smallest act of kindness can change a life.

We encourage everyone to make kindness a way of life. It can be just a small act … it does not need to be a grand gesture. Open and hold the door for someone. Talk to the store clerk as they ring up your purchases. Pay for someone’s coffee behind you in line. Take the time to share a compliment. Send a card to someone who has been going through some challenges. The ideas are limitless!

The care Homeland provides is all about random acts of kindness. Our staff perform them every day. From stopping at a local restaurant to picking up a patient’s favorite hamburger or bringing Christmas dinner to a patient’s family to regularly emptying the kitty litter box, or helping a patient find a private caregiver. Another example is assisting a fellow nurse after hours to bathe a patient who has passed away, or making an extra stop on the way home to offer some extra reassurance. Kindness is bringing a big bag of jellybeans … just because, and seeing the patient’s face light up; or bringing peanuts so the patient can feed her squirrels.

Hands pulling laundry out of a basket

Homeland volunteers also perform daily acts of kindness … like driving more than 55 miles (one way) to visit a patient and bringing him/her a favorite snack such as vanilla crème wafers and peaches; decorating a patient’s home for the holiday; picking up groceries every Tuesday morning; or, washing and drying a patient’s laundry.

It is this way of life, these random acts of kindness, that families remember when reflecting on our services. They are what prompt them to say their experience with Homeland was “peaceful and beautiful.”

It is an honor to work alongside people who not only live the Homeland mission to “provide the highest quality of care,” but who go above and beyond every day of their lives to provide simple acts of kindness.

“No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.” ~ Aesop


Pete and Pat Crosson: A Love That Knew No Bounds


Pete and Pat Crosson in Formal AttireTelevision commercials portray Valentine’s Day as a time of grand gestures with red roses, jewelry and expensive dinners as the manner to express one’s love. Pete and Pat Crosson of McVeytown always knew what really mattered in love and lived everyday like it was Valentine’s Day. The couple demonstrated their love for one another through mutual respect, friendship and support for 57 years. They joined together as two individuals in their teenage years to form one unshakable and remarkable union.

“We did everything together because we loved each other’s company,” Pat says. “We never needed expensive vacations, just time together as a family made us complete.”

This Valentine’s Day will be the first Pat will not celebrate with Pete, who died last April after a brief and heroic battle with leukemia. During his final days, Pete received services from Homeland Hospice, a nonprofit hospice program that serves communities throughout Central Pennsylvania.

For the Crosson family, the work of Homeland is personal. Pete and Pat’s daughter Buffie Finney is the Assistant Director of Clinical Marketing for Homeland Hospice and their granddaughter, Bethany Traxler, is the Assistant Director of Activities for Homeland Center.

The story of Pete and Pat began at a summer “hop” held in their community. They married and had two children, Rick and Buffie. The couple moved into their home more than 50 years ago and filled the house with cherished memories. Their home was the place of family dinners on Sunday afternoons where hunting and fishing stories were shared and grandchildren and great grandchildren were doted on.

From their house, Pete and Pat often watched a white deer, a rare and beautiful creature, through their window. During Pete’s end of life journey he found comfort and peace watching the deer gracefully approach his home. After his passing, Pete’s family purchased a headstone with an etching of the home he and Pat shared. The white deer stands like a proud sentinel in the engraving.

Pete and Pat’s love extends beyond the couple’s time together and is a living legacy for their beloved granddaughter Bethany.

“My grandparents cherished the good times, but also took on the challenges of life together,” Bethany says. “The longer they were married, the more in sync they became.”

For Bethany, the lessons of a marriage filled with love and a life well lived are among the gifts she has learned from her grandparents and strives to emulate in her own life.

“My grandfather was a hardworking man,” Bethany adds. “He liked to say no one should ever call off work just because it’s a sunny day.”

These words of wisdom have guided Bethany in her career. Bethany began her time with Homeland as a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) before moving on to serve as a marketing liaison. Around the time of her grandfather’s death, Bethany was thinking about the next step in her career and decided to return to college to advance her degree. While her plans were underway, she hadn’t shared this information with her grandparents.

Nurse Bethany and Pat Crosson at Homeland Hospice 5kDuring Pete’s final days, he frequently asked for Nurse Bethany to come to his aid. Bethany remained vigilant by his side for emotional support, allowing this hospice team to handle his direct care. While she wondered why he referred to her as a nurse, this warm and loving term of endearment let her know her grandfather saw Bethany as someone who would always be there for him.

Weeks following his death, Bethany shared her college plans with her grandmother. Bethany is a studying marketing at Central Penn College. Her ultimate goal is a degree in Health Care Administration. Like her grandfather, Bethany’s hard work is tested every day as she balances her education with her new position as assistant director of activities for Homeland Center.

“One of Pete’s final wishes was for Bethany to further her education,” Pat says. “I think he was trying to communicate this message to her by calling her Nurse Bethany.”

As February 14 comes closer and many of us frantically send cards and place orders for flowers, Bethany and Pat will honor Pete by simply loving their family without limits or boundaries. As Bethany takes on her new role with Homeland, she will undoubtedly find herself staring at Pete’s wedding ring, which she has worn since the night he died. Pat is transforming Pete’s shirts into pillows for his grandchildren and great grandchildren.

“It’s the little things that add up in a lifetime,” Pat says. “These are the memories I will always cherish.”

Homeland’s Bereavement Team Offers Comprehensive and Compassionate Support

Noelle Valentine, MSW, LSW - Bereavement Team

Noelle Valentine, MSW, LSW

Learning how to navigate the unchartered waters of grief after the death of a loved one requires a strong support system and the development of coping mechanisms to find hope for the future. Homeland Hospice provides a holistic approach to grief support using a team of compassionate counselors. Homeland Hospice is a nonprofit hospice program that serves communities throughout Central Pennsylvania.

Recently, Homeland Hospice reorganized its bereavement counseling team after longtime counselor Brian Medkeff-Rose retired after 28 years of service. Noelle Valentine, MSW, LSW, now serves as the lead bereavement counselor and Alexis Conkle, MSW, provides administrative support while Noelle mentors her to learn the hands-on demands of the job. Alexis looks forward to taking on counseling duties as her time with Homeland progresses.

For Noelle and Alexis, the team partnership and their shared dedication to Homeland provides a strong foundation to help patients and families during their grief journey.

“Bereavement support is rewarding work,” Noelle says. “I’m humbled by the strength and compassion I learn from every family.”

While the steps of grief may form a pattern to healing, everyone’s process and timing is tied to his/her personal story. Through the shared understanding of loss, many people find comfort in Homeland’s bereavement support groups, while the individual process of handling heartache can often best be addressed through individual counseling. The duality of support needed on a pathway through grief is why Homeland offers one-on-one consultations and support groups.

While Alexis is new to her role, she has been part of the Homeland team since 2018 when she started as an intern. After earning her degree, Alexis was a social worker with Homeland before transitioning to the hospice bereavement team.

Alexis Konkle, MSW - Bereavement Team

Alexis Conkle, MSW

“I look forward to working directly with families and helping them through the challenges of grief,” Alexis says. “I admire the strong bonds the Homeland team forms with families, as it makes this work a calling and not a job.”

For many people, the grieving process has become more difficult because of social distancing measures in place through the COVID-19 pandemic. Noelle connects with clients via phone calls instead of in-person visits. During these calls, she not only focuses on the grief caused by loss, but the added loneliness of isolation.

During the winter months, Homeland’s popular men’s breakfast series and women’s luncheon series have been placed on hold. During the summer months, the groups met outside where they could socially distance and still spend time with one another.

For many people, comfort is found through the consistency of these support groups. It’s not uncommon for strong friendships to form during this time together. Support group sessions focus on the various stages and aspects of grief. Most importantly, the meetings provide a safe space for people to be around others who understand what they are experiencing.

Noelle and Alexis find their new partnership to be a rewarding learning experience. As Alexis learns new components of her position, her questions and observations spark a new perspective in Noelle. Together, the team is committed to providing the most comprehensive support possible.

“We understand healing takes time,” Noelle and Alexis remark. “We will walk with you through your bereavement journey.”

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 Noelle Valentine at Homeland Hospice at (717) 221-7890.