Board of Trustees member Ellen Brown: A shared devotion to service


Board of Trustees member Ellen Brown sees parallels between her life and the history of Homeland.

She and Homeland are “deeply rooted in Harrisburg” and committed to serving the community.

Ellen’s mother was a Homeland Board of Managers member, and her family’s longtime church – historic Grace United Methodist Church in downtown Harrisburg – was a founding church of Homeland in 1867.

Today, as a Homeland Board of Trustees member, Ellen contributes her expertise in nonprofit development and fundraising.

“All the dots connect,” she said. “There’s no other organization like Homeland in the community. It started with women from nine churches who came together to help the disadvantaged women and children of the Civil War. That’s the foundation that Homeland was built upon. It’s part of the progression of my life. I know how important Homeland is to our community and was honored to be asked to be part of it.”

Ellen, who grew up in Paxtang, is a fundraising consultant and community volunteer whose experience stretches from the presidency of the Harrisburg Rotary Club to running Harrisburg’s legendary Cow Parade.

Her father, who had a law practice in Harrisburg, led United Way campaigns and served on the Allied Arts board. Her mother was a devoted community volunteer with the Junior League and her Homeland service.

“I was raised to believe that when you were asked to serve, the answer was yes,” Ellen said. “You figured out how you would fit it into your life. We were taught that we have to make sure that the next generation has a community that’s thriving, and you give back. We’ve been very fortunate and blessed in our lives, so we pay it forward.”

A Dickinson College graduate, her early career was in broadcast and billboard sales. One day, a cousin called to introduce a project some people thought she should lead.

“I went to lunch, and they showed me a Cow Parade presentation,” she said. For the next 18 months, she enlisted sponsors for the creation of 123 fiberglass cows decorated by artists and arrayed throughout the city.

“It was a wonderful time in the history of Harrisburg because it was something the entire community embraced,” she said. “On any given Saturday during that summer, hundreds of people were up and down Front Street. Some people literally had to have their pictures taken with every single cow. What else can you attach your name to that people in Harrisburg still talk about?”

That experience led to her working in nonprofit development before she went out on her own as a development consultant. That work continues while her commitment to the community remains steadfast. As president of the Harrisburg Rotary Club, she leads efforts to increase the organization’s visibility and attract younger members.

“We have to begin thinking about what Rotary will look like in 10 years,” she said. “It’s steeped in Harrisburg history, just like Homeland. We are the 23rd Rotary organization in the world.”

Ellen and her husband, David, own a horse farm in Grantville, where they breed show jumpers. Horses have been part of their lives since early in their marriage, when David, a native of Boulder, CO, suggested getting a couple. After he retired, he became fascinated with breeding. Together, they learned through immersion, once having eight foals in one year.

The farm is winding down its breeding operations, but Ellen calls the time she spends with horses “an unbelievable privilege.”

“It’s lovely to be able to go home and shift gears,” she said. “Here I am with this animal that trusts me completely and is reliant on me for everything. It’s almost a spiritual experience. When I’m not in a hurry and l’m leading a 1,500-pound animal that we raised out to a pasture, I appreciate the level of trust and connection that’s going on. The bond you create with a horse is quite extraordinary.”

As for her Homeland service, Ellen hopes she contributes to the stability of an organization that has lasted 156 years and will continue standing as a community mainstay.

“I hope to be able to do whatever I can using my background and my relationships in the community to help make Homeland secure and sustainable.”


Homeland Center ( offers levels of care including personal care, memory care, skilled nursing and rehabilitation. Homeland also provides hospice, home care, home health and palliative care services to serve the diverse and changing needs of families throughout central Pennsylvania. For more information or to arrange a tour, please call 717-221-7900.

9th Annual Homeland Hospice 5K and Memory Walk ‘Best One Yet’


Homeland Hospice hosted its 9th annual 5K and Memory Walk on Saturday, Sept. 30, at the Rossmoyne Business Center in Mechanicsburg. More than 300 walkers, runners, staff and volunteers – an event record – gathered for this special annual Homeland tradition, which gives families an opportunity to remember those they’ve lost and raises funds to support those who need care today.

“This year’s 5K and Memory Walk was the best one yet,” said Myra Badorf, Assistant Director of Development for Homeland Hospice. “The weather was great and the turnout was even better.”

The Homeland Hospice 5K and Memory Walk raises funds for benevolent services for hospice patients and their families. Homeland Hospice depends on the generosity of donors for its enhanced care for hospice patients such as massage therapy, music therapy, and extra in-home-relief hours for caregivers, as well as for residents at Homeland Center whose financial resources have been exhausted.

The Homeland Hospice 5K and Memory Walk began in 2014 when a group of staff and board members at Homeland wanted a signature event that would shed a different light on hospice and be an outreach to the surrounding communities they serve.

What was initially a competitive 5K run and walk has transitioned to include a Memory Walk focusing on patients and the family members that Homeland serves throughout Central Pennsylvania.

“The foundation of the event is to remember,” Myra said. “The event is for families to remember their loved ones and for us, as an organization, to remember and honor the community and people we are blessed to care for on a daily basis.”

The 5K and Memory Walk was open to runners, walkers, friends and family members of all ages, as well as their four-legged friends. Over $50,000 was raised, exceeding the event goal.

“We couldn’t have done it without our sponsors, staff and volunteers,” Myra added. “All of us at Homeland are deeply grateful for their support and generosity.”

After the event, attendees enjoyed light refreshments and cash prizes were awarded to the top three 5K male and female champions. Ribbons were also presented to the top three male and top three female finishers in eight age brackets, and additional prizes included largest team, oldest and youngest participants, and treats were given to all the adorable dogs.

Community Outreach: Donation drives bring the Homeland touch to children and families


Stored neatly in boxes and ready for delivery, school supplies fill a corner of Tracey Jennings’ office.

“Altogether, we have about 30 bookbags,” Jennings said. “We have a ton of spiral notebooks. Looseleaf paper, crayons, pencils, highlighters, pencil cases, folders, erasers.”

Why is a retirement community loading up on the basics of back-to-school?

It’s all part of Homeland’s Community Outreach, tapping into employees’ generosity and filling needs that help local families thrive. This fall, the back-to-school donation drive assures much-needed school supplies for the students of Hamilton Elementary School, a few blocks south of Homeland.

Community Outreach is the brainchild of Jennings, Homeland’s assistant director of human resources and a devoted community volunteer through her church. Around 2019, she approached her boss, Director of Human Resources and Corporate Compliance Nicol M. Brown, with her idea for community outreach that generates team building and spreads Homeland love. Brown loved the idea, as did Homeland President and CEO Barry Ramper II.

COVID put the effort on hold, but now, Jennings is leading two or three drives a year. Each raises awareness of often-overlooked needs in the community. One drive brought a flood of duffel bags into Jennings’ office, all intended for foster children and youth.

“As foster kids move around, it’s known that they transport their things in trash bags,” Jennings said. “It’s a dignity issue, so they can have something nice to put their items in when they’re going from foster home to foster home or foster care facility.”

When she announces each drive, Jennings suggests places to find new and affordable items, with Walmart, Target, and Amazon being the stores of choice.

“Amazon is so perfect because they can deliver them directly to work,” she said.

This fall’s back-to-school drive benefits the students of one school in Harrisburg School District, a Title I district where every family qualifies for free meals. Studies show that students with basic supplies at the start of the school year are better prepared, more likely to participate in class, have higher self-esteem, and show more interest in learning.

Teachers say that when their students have the right supplies, the classroom learning environment is more equitable, the focus remains on learning, and they can offer a wider variety of projects and assignments for students to dive into, such as artwork and science fairs.

Unfortunately, parents struggling to pay for food and household bills might be forced to skimp on school supplies.

“Not everyone can afford supplies, or parents maybe can’t afford to supply all they need,” Jennings said. “Students come to school not prepared. This is the school’s opportunity to identify those students and provide them with what they need to succeed.”

Homeland employees love the drives: “They’re really encouraging and supportive.”

Homeland Director of Utilization Review Lisa Browne feels fortunate to donate and participate in the drives.

“I just want to do what I can,” she said. “I’m very blessed and want to help as much as I can.”

Outreach “means the world” to Homeland, recalling its roots in community service, Browne said.

“Homeland was started over 156 years ago as a building that primarily helped the orphans and the widows of the Civil War,” she said. “To go into the future as a skilled nursing facility and provider of personal care while including kids and the families in the neighborhood is a wonderful thing.”

Up next, a holiday drive offering another new spin on a traditional effort. Jennings is planning a spice drive, collecting cinnamon, garlic powder, onion powder, sage, and all the other spices that bring flavor to the table.

As any grocery shopper knows, spices are expensive, and families struggling to buy groceries often skip them and resort to unhealthy fats and sugars to add flavor. A spice drive brings zest to family meals – and to the gatherings that occur around them.

“A lot of the food banks in the area have food, but they don’t have anything to give the people to spice up their food,” Jennings said.

Jennings thanks every Homeland employee who joins in extending Homeland’s renowned care to families in the community.

“Homeland is, of course, well known,” she said. “This adds a special touch to everything.”

Homeland Center ( offers levels of care including personal care, memory care, skilled nursing and rehabilitation. Homeland also provides hospice, home care, home health and palliative care services to serve the diverse and changing needs of families throughout central Pennsylvania. For more information or to arrange a tour, please call 717-221-7900.

Kandy Melillo Helps Hospice Patients Tell Their Life Story


Volunteer, Kandy Melillo
The smell of warm chocolate chip cookies coming out of the oven or lilacs blooming in mid-spring signifying summer is on its way. Scents can trigger a flood of memories from our past. Often the memories come back to us so clearly, we can see ourselves eating the cookies with our loved ones or the exact location of the lilac tree. For Kandy Melillo, a volunteer with Homeland Hospice, these nuggets of information help tell the story of a person’s life through the My Life, My Legacy program. Homeland Hospice is a nonprofit hospice program that serves communities throughout Central Pennsylvania.

My Life, My Legacy is an opportunity for hospice patients to tell their life story to a volunteer who records the responses and allows the family to add their thoughts and recollections, as well as photographs. The end result is a printed book for the patient to help find peace and pride in their life story. The book also helps families preserve memories after their loved one dies.

Since 2021, Kandy has completed books for three patients. Through the process, Kandy has heard what is most important in a person’s life and how we all want to be remembered for showing kindness and love to others.

“Everyone talks about the importance of family,” Kandy says. “It is special to hear this because of the love I have for my family.”

Along the way, Kandy formed a special friendship with Rita Van Meter of Lewistown, who no longer needs hospice services. Kandy completed Rita’s book in February of 2022 after many lively phone calls and visits together. Rita is often called the “Miracle Lady” for overcoming medical milestones.

“Rita’s life is one of perseverance and resilience,” Kandy adds. “I learned so much about inner strength from our time together.”

Making personal connections with others, like Rita, is what called Kandy to volunteering with Homeland Hospice. Kandy’s mother passed away in a hospital without hospice services. The setting felt cold and detached and left Kandy with a spark to help change someone’s end-of-life journey. She became a Homeland volunteer soon after retiring from her career as an administrative law judge in Harrisburg.

Through her experiences with the My Life, My Legacy program, Kandy has created a six-step outline to serve as a roadmap for volunteers to use as they interview patients and their families. The steps include questions about one’s early life, school years, higher education or vocation, work history, family history and further reflections. Kandy has found these questions frequently evoke treasured memories and stories.

“Patients have shared with me beautiful stories about milestone events in their lives,” Kandy says. “Often the memories are so vivid they can remember distinct sounds and scents.”

Kandy interviews patients three to four times before drafting the final book. This process gives her and the patient time to reflect on their conversations and make edits or additions to the piece. The final product is a treasured gift for the patient and a rewarding experience for Kandy.

The concept for My Life, My Legacy was based on feedback from volunteers who heard remarkable stories during their visits with patients. Laurie Murry, Volunteer Coordinator for Homeland Hospice, used the “life review” process as a framework for the program. During a life review, volunteers learn about a patient’s life to help the Homeland team best serve their needs. Volunteers and staff believed this process could be enhanced to better tell a patient’s story.

“Our volunteers guided the creation of the program,” Laurie says. “Their insight has been invaluable.”

My Life, My Legacy continues to grow and improve thanks to the insight of its volunteers, like Kandy, and the families who participate.

“Homeland provides wonderful support for its volunteers,” Kandy says. “I am grateful for my experiences and the stories I have heard.”

For more on becoming a hospice volunteer or more about the My Life, My Legacy program, call Laurie Murry at (717) 221-7890.

Betty Hungerford: A Homeland resident and cherished friend


Homeland resident, Betty HungerfordSipping a Coke float delivered by a kind Homeland Center aide, Betty Hungerford shared why life is better in a top-rated continuing care retirement community.

“When you reach a certain age, you’re better off in a place like Homeland than you are at home because you build friendships and relationships and have opportunities you couldn’t have if you lived alone,” she said.

At Homeland Center, Betty is a resident, and she is a treasure. For 20 years, she was Homeland’s development director, raising the funds that propel Homeland’s growth and sustain its stellar reputation for unmatched care.

Betty recently retired at the age of 90! Even as a Homeland resident, she volunteers to serve on the Board of Managers and advises the Board of Directors chair.

A native of Kentucky, Betty was born in a tenant house on her grandfather’s farm. Her father worked in local shoe factories, rising to supervisor, until he moved the family to Palmyra, PA, to work in a plant there.

“He was a learner,” Betty said. “He was a reader. He liked people. He talked as much as I do and lived to 40 days short of 100.”

He was also married to Betty’s mother for better or worse, as he once told a psychiatrist who advised him to get a divorce. Betty’s mom was mentally ill with manic depression and schizophrenia. She was institutionalized for 13 years until new medications helped her manage. Some friends didn’t know about her struggles in her final years.

“That’s her miracle story,” Betty said. “It’s a story I don’t mind sharing because it can give some people hope and understanding about mental illness. It’s a good lesson in never giving up your faith.”

Betty is a proud graduate of Lebanon Valley College, where she majored in economics with minors in political science and English. Music always played a central role in her life, and she sang with the LVC Glee Club.

After graduating in 1954, Betty married and had the family she had always dreamed of – a houseful of three boys and one girl.

“Everybody came to our house,” she said. She laughs about when one son got permission to invite “a few friends” after graduation rehearsal, only to bring the whole class of 125 kids.

Betty’s professional life began in the Pennsylvania Department of Highways (now PennDOT) communications office. She learned to stand up for herself, once telling her boss to stop slamming his door in anger because it disrespected her and the women she supervised.

“He was so shocked, I thought he was going to fall out of his chair,” Betty remembers. “We became long and fast friends.”

It was the beginning of a career devoted to communications and development. She learned fundraising as a March of Dimes volunteer. When she believed in the cause, she didn’t hesitate to ask for money. “If you tell your story and get people to understand how important it is, then it makes them want to give,” she said.

Betty was an independent contractor for Homeland projects. But Morton Specter, the late Homeland board chair, and Homeland President and CEO Barry Ramper II “just wouldn’t give up until I came to work here.” She relented in 2002 and started her remarkable run in an office equipped with a wingback chair and a telephone table.

She built connections to the community and raised funds as Homeland grew. Homeland Center’s 155th Anniversary Celebration Event in 2022 wasn’t meant to honor her, she insists, but she was humbled when organizers and her kids convinced her to let it become a tribute to the “Queen Bee.”

The event raised record amounts for Homeland’s benevolent care fund, ensuring that no resident is ever forced to leave Homeland due to depleted resources. The outpouring of love was “a little overwhelming,” she said, but it served as a testament to her love of people.

Betty Hungerford Story continued…

No profile of Betty is complete without her love story with Paul Hungerford. They first knew each other through friends, but in those days, she thought he was a snob, and “he thought I was a ditzy blonde.”

Then again, he had a dry sense of humor and “always looked like a million dollars.” In 1974, she joined him in Florida to get married. Until he died in 2010, they played cribbage before dinner, attended concerts and theater, and enjoyed each other’s company.

“We truly adored each other,” Betty said. “Everyone should be so lucky.”

Today, Betty provides fundraising guidance for Homeland Board Chair Carlyn Chulick – “She is marvelous,” said Betty. Betty also serves on the Board of Managers to help maintain Homeland’s homelike feel.

“I’ve never worked with such a dedicated group of volunteers,” Betty said. “Never. They all believe in Homeland and what we do.”

As a Homeland resident, Betty enjoys the activities, including musical performances. She loves reading as much as she did as a child when she hid under the covers with a flashlight and a book. Her room is filled with photos of Paul, her children, and grandchildren. The people of Homeland, she said, “have very kindly taken care of me.”

“I feel very secure and well-cared for,” she said. “I know that if my needs change, they will be met. I feel I’ve been blessed.”


Homeland Center ( offers levels of care including personal care, memory care, skilled nursing and rehabilitation. Homeland also provides hospice, home care, home health and palliative care services to serve the diverse and changing needs of families throughout central Pennsylvania. For more information or to arrange a tour, please call 717-221-7900.