Inaugural Class Graduates from Homeland’s Nurse Aide Training Program


CNA Training Graduation graduate and teacher posing together

Graduation days are special for graduates and everyone involved in their learning. Getting to the “big day” takes hard work and sacrifice by students and support from family members. Graduation also is a time for educators to celebrate the success of the learning process. Homeland Center recently held its first graduation day from its accredited Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) program.

“We are very proud of our first class of graduates,” says Kathy Kuchwara, RN/Clinical Instructor. “CNAs are the backbone of our work.”

In 2019, Homeland began developing its own Nurse Aide training program to develop current talent at Homeland as well as recruit and train new employees interested in becoming CNAs. Prior to this, Homeland used a program provided by an outside entity. Homeland staff members Dawn Mason, Quality Assurance CNA Manager, and Nicol Brown, Chief HR and Corporate Compliance Officer, worked with a health care education consultant to create a program specifically designed to meet Homeland’s core principles and values, while meeting the accreditation guidelines established by the Pennsylvania Department of Education. This was a comprehensive and focused effort slowed only due to the Covid-19 Pandemic.

“Our program is stringent and demanding,” Kathy adds. “It takes focus and dedication to complete the course.”

Homeland offers two CNA training sessions. Kathy leads a three-week session during the day with extended hours. Raechelle Sanford, RN/Clinical Instructor leads a five-week evening class. The flexibility of sessions provides options for students who are working at the same time as they are pursuing this important education advancement.

Prior to starting the course, prospective students meet with Dawn Mason, QA CNA Mgr/Program Administrative Assistant, to assess their skill level, interest, and level of compassion they have for others. This is to ensure that not only the CNA profession is a good fit, but they have a heart and ability to mesh with Homeland’s organizational culture. The goal is to provide a pipeline of committed CNAs to share their time and talents with Homeland. Once accepted, students begin the course. Kathy and Raechelle offer a fast-paced and intense curriculum to mirror the pace of daily work and social interactions required of a CNA.  The curriculum also includes Classroom and Clinical instruction, along with tests, mid-terms, a final exam, and a clinical skills assessment.

Upon successful completion, the students attend a graduation ceremony, complete with caps, gowns, and family attendance. Graduates must then schedule and pass a written exam and a skills exam administered by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, to obtain their official certification.

Homeland has completed two training sessions and has more planned to keep up with the high demand for CNAs. The pandemic coupled with the aging Baby Boomer generation have caused the need for CNAs to skyrocket.

For Kathy, the Nurse Aide Training Program is a true labor of love. She has worked for Homeland for more than 18 years and has deep admiration and love for the residents she has worked with during her tenure. While Kathy has technically retired from her career at Homeland, she continues to work part-time on the CNA program to help more students reach their career aspirations.

“Homeland is always in need of talented CNAs,” Kathy says. “Compassion is the key to success.”

Homeland Center, which occupies a full block in uptown Harrisburg, is a licensed not-for-profit Continuing Care Retirement Community offering exceptional personal care, skilled nursing care, memory care and short-term rehabilitation. Homeland consistently receives CMS’s highest recognition for quality care, staffing, and safety – ranking it among the best in the country.

For more information on the CNA training course, contact 717-221-7797.

The Love of Old Glory: Ellsworth Miller’s Life of Patriotism


Ellsworth (Ells) Miller, World War II veteran, Homeland Hospice

In loving memory of Ellsworth Miller as he passed peacefully in May 2023.


“Good morning Old Glory,” are the first words Ellsworth (Ells) Miller, 96, has said for the past seven years. His daily routine began and ended with a salute to the American flag he proudly hung on the balcony of his apartment at Church of God Home in Carlisle. His apartment balcony faced the Army War College which plays Reveille to begin the day and Retreat in the evening to end duty. Ells, a World War II veteran, rarely missed a chance to honor the flag and the country he loves deeply.

Ells recently moved from his independent living apartment to a skilled nursing room at Church of God Home as his medical needs have called for additional care. He receives daily care from Homeland Hospice, a nonprofit hospice program that serves communities throughout Central Pennsylvania. Ells’ team includes daily visits from a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) and routine visits from a nurse and chaplain.

To know Ells is to know a kind and gentle heart filled with unconditional love for his God, country and family. He is quick with a joke and dreams of sunny days fly-fishing at his cabin in Pine Creek Gorge. At 96, Ells is part of the Greatest Generation which includes people shaped by the Great Depression and World War II.

Ells was drafted by the United States Navy when he was 18 years old and earned the rank of Third-Class Motor Machinist. The United States was embroiled in battles in Europe and the Pacific Theater, which included the waters on the Pacific Ocean near Japan. Ells completed basic training in the Great Lakes and pre-ship trainings in Norfolk and Boston before leaving Fort Pierce in Florida aboard the USS Francovich for its maiden voyage.

“We were close to Cuba and we heard about the atomic bomb,” Ells says. “We were relieved the war was over.”

As the USS Francovich began its return trip to Fort Pierce, a hurricane hit the region causing three days of treacherous travel for Ells and his shipmates.

“We were bounced around the ship nonstop,” Ells adds. “All we saw was rain and waves of water.”

Following his time on the USS Francovich, Ells served our country in a variety of capacities before his honorable discharge when he was 20 years old. He left the Navy on July 25 and married his beloved Dottie the next day proudly wearing his Navy uniform. Ells and Dottie were married for more than 70 years and had two children, two grandchildren and several great grandchildren. They are the loves of his life.

After his service, Ells became an electrician and was employed by the Carlisle Barracks followed by Naval Support Activity in Mechanicsburg. Following his retirement in 1981, Ells worked in the pro shop at the Carlisle Barracks Golf Course until 2003. His career challenged his intuitive mind and fulfilled his sense of duty by continuing to support the military efforts of our country.

Homeland Hospice recently honored Ells with a special pinning ceremony for his military service. Homeland honors all who served through its 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 nine years.

The ceremony ends with a salute to the honored veteran, which brought tears of pride and remembrance to Ells. The flags from the ceremony along with a special certificate he received is proudly on display in his room.

While Ells’ health varies from day to day, there is no such thing as a bad day. He approaches each day as a gift from God and feels fortunate for his countless blessings. As he continues on his end-of-life journey, he recounts his time of service with astounding clarity while imagining where his next steps might take him as he longs to reunite with his darling Dottie who died in 2021.

For Ells, Psalm 118:24 has been and continues to be his guiding light. “This is the day the Lord has made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.”