A people person: Homeland Director of Personal Care and Director of HomeCare embodies trust


When Jennifer Murray gives tours to potential personal care residents and their families, she shares Homeland Center’s amazing 156-year history of devotion to the community.

“We’re not going anywhere,” she said. “A lot of times, people like our homey feel. It’s cozy and comfortable here. When I’m doing tours, everyone stops and says hello, and that makes visitors feel welcome. It’s all genuine. That’s how it is all the time around here.”

Jen’s role has expanded since she first joined Homeland in 2016. With a career in nursing – the only thing she ever wanted to do – and 11 years in administration, she stepped in as Director of Personal Care in 2017.

Now, she is in the dual role of Director of Personal Care and Director of HomeCare. Like the Homeland Center personal care staff, the CNAs of Homeland HomeCare help clients through their daily tasks, ensuring they take their medications, eat right, and get any help needed with bathing, dressing, or other needs.

Maintaining Homeland’s stellar reputation for quality across a new front isn’t hard because the foundation of quality “was already there,” Jen said.

“The staff we have in place are exceptional in HomeCare and Personal Care,” she said. “The HomeCare clients absolutely love their caregivers. They care. They get involved. They will let us know if something seems wrong. Their relationships with families are so good that the families will often call the caregiver to tell them that a loved one has been hospitalized before they call the HomeCare office. That’s the level of trust they have in the staff.”

Speaking of trust, Jen is the person you’ve seen in Homeland Center’s television commercials. She is proud to raise awareness of Homeland’s exceptional care, whether at Homeland Center or in clients’ homes.

Her dual role lets her give inquiring callers more options – perhaps letting them know about home care if a loved one isn’t ready for a facility or pointing out available personal care suites for someone who can no longer live at home.

Once in Homeland, residents flourish. Jen works closely with the maintenance department, housekeeping department, and the dietary staff to uphold living and dining standards. She also collaborates regularly with the activities department, cooking up a roster of fun that keeps residents engaged. For Assisted Living Week 2023, Homeland held a fashion show, and residents’ family members got in the spirit, wearing everything from a Rosie the Riveter costume to Hawaiian shirts and leis.

“I love that our families get so involved,” said Jen. “If we invite them to things, tons of family members show up. I’ve never worked anywhere else where families were so involved. Our staff love the residents so much that it’s not work to do special things for them.”

Outside of Homeland, Jen and her husband enjoy traveling to regional sights such as the Poconos, Niagara Falls, and the Finger Lakes. A Florida fishing trip her husband dreams of, postponed by COVID, is back on for next year.

Jen also loves to cook, and she carries on her childhood tradition of Sunday dinners with family, including her daughter and son, who recently returned home from military service.

With her love of decorating, she also brings seasonal cheer to her office in Homeland’s original 19th-century building. Fall décor includes pumpkin figurines and a plaque saying, “I love fall most of all.”

“Fall is my favorite season,” she said. “I like the cooler weather. I love everything pumpkin spice. I just love all of the smells and colors of fall.”

Jen can say, with complete honesty, that work is fun. She carries on the Homeland tradition of treating staff respectfully, recognizing that they have family and obligations outside of work. In turn, the staff focuses on the residents’ needs.

It all comes back to that word — trust.

“Our families trust that their loved ones are going to get the care they need,” she said.

“I’ve had people come up to me and just say, ‘Trust,’ because they hear me say it in the commercials. People see our name, and that’s what they will think of,” Jen said. “You want to have someplace where you can trust the staff and know your loved ones will be cared for. It’s part of Homeland’s legacy.”

A guiding light: Volunteer Susan Stillman’s tech expertise helps Homeland focus on care


Volunteers come in many forms, and Homeland loves them all. They bring a helping hand to activities. They lend a listening ear.

Then there are those like Susan Stillman, behind the scenes but playing a vital role in ensuring that Homeland runs smoothly, and staff do their best for the comfort and care of residents and patients.

Susan retired in 2021 from a career in business analysis, but soon began to use her skills for Homeland, working closely with the development and marketing staff to help transform the customer relationship management (CRM) experience. With sleeker, more efficient systems, staff gets more time to create innovative programs, develop resources, and communicate directly with partners, families, and donors.

“It’s all of the things I loved about my previous job that I’m getting to do again for Homeland,” Susan said.

Susan, a native of Arlington, VA, majored in anthropology and English literature. She said with a laugh that she “was able to parlay those into a career in business analysis.” It started early in her career when she worked at a library that needed to automate its card catalog.

“They didn’t have anybody with the computer skills to do it,” she said. “I said, ‘I don’t have them, either, but I’m willing to learn.’”

From there, she went into tech support, training, and business analysis. Susan explains that business analysts help organizations find and incorporate the software needed to solve problems. It’s a beginning-to-end process involving research, collaboration, testing, and training.

Susan was a business analyst for about 22 years with the American Cancer Society’s Pennsylvania division, based in Hershey. She had come to southcentral Pennsylvania to escape the over-congested Washington area. During the pandemic, her job was downsized.

“I realized I didn’t have to go back to work, so I didn’t,” she said.

Susan fills her time with volunteering that’s meaningful and substantial. With Loving Care Cat Rescue (LCCR), she adopted a pair of cats and began performing volunteer technical work. Today, she manages the adoption application process, serves on the board, and provides resources that cat foster care providers need to succeed.

“With everything, I get to do to help the fosters, assist with the adoption process, and get our kitties into good homes … it’s very rewarding,” Susan said.

Searching for an additional volunteer opportunity, Susan learned about the Homeland Hospice position on volunteermatch.org. She knew she didn’t have the “emotional fortitude” to work directly with patients, but she knew data entry was in her wheelhouse.

Soon, Homeland Hospice staff learned about her professional background, and they happily accepted her offer to help adopt the new CRM system. It was a challenge. They had to unify the separate systems used by Homeland Hospice and the development and marketing departments. With Susan’s help, they found a system that meets the needs of all three operations.

“Susan has been awesome in steering us in the right direction with which system to choose, and she continues to provide support and training as we learn to use this new platform,” said Homeland director of marketing Wendy Shumaker. “It has been a very big project, and we are immensely grateful for her involvement.”

Susan helped merge three databases, run data reports that reveal fresh insights into Homeland operations, and train staff in using the new system.

“I love being able to solve problems, make people’s lives easier, and give them the tools they need to be effective,” said Susan.

The Homeland team is a pleasure to work with, she adds. She credits Homeland Hospice Volunteer Coordinator Laurie Murry with keeping volunteers engaged and training them in “the knowledge they need to support the organization.”

“She stays in touch with everybody, so regardless of your role, you always feel connected,” Susan said.

Susan also enjoys cooking global cuisine and is a regular blood platelet donor. She lives in a circa-1935 home in Susquehanna Township, which her husband is “single-handedly rebuilding,” she said.

Even amid her volunteer duties, the avid reader dives into a murder mystery daily. Susan counts Louise Penny and Margaret Maron as her favorite authors.

“I spend about an hour or two a day reading, taking advantage of the fact that I am actually retired.”

Homeland Center offers levels of care including personal care, memory care, skilled nursing, and rehabilitation. The outreach services of Homeland at Home provide hospice, palliative care, home health, and home care 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.