Called to Serve Others: Meet Volunteer Coordinator Tamara Jaroszewski


As a young woman, Tamara Jaroszewski of Harrisburg experienced the profound impact of hospice services when her sister died of breast cancer at age 40. For Tamara, hospice work became a beacon of hope and inspiration. She felt called to help patients during their end-of-life journey. Her call was recently answered when she joined Homeland’s Hospice team as the volunteer coordinator. Homeland Hospice, a nonprofit hospice program, serves communities throughout Central Pennsylvania.

“I proudly do this work in honor of my sister,” Tamara says. “I couldn’t imagine doing anything else.”

Tamara joined Homeland after working as a volunteer coordinator for a large hospice organization that served a sizable region. Her work with Homeland gives Tamara the opportunity to build relationships with patients and their families and the dedicated cadre of hospice volunteers. Homeland’s life-changing work is made possible by volunteers who share their time and compassion with others. From working directly with patients to helping with administrative tasks, volunteers are the lifeblood of the organization.

“I am getting to know our volunteers personally,” Tamara adds. “I am overwhelmed by their kindness and dedication to our work.”

Many volunteers find personal satisfaction from the relationships formed through patient visits. Often, patients think of volunteers as an extension of their family. Tamara helps support these relationships and assists volunteers to ensure they feel supported in their roles. When a volunteer returned to her scheduled patient visits after a reprieve to grieve the death of her father, Tamara was by her side.

“I knew her first visit back could be difficult,” Tamara says. “We approached it as a team.”

While Tamara has been with Homeland for only a few months, she is impressed by the longevity of service and creativity volunteers bring to their work. Many individuals have dedicated years to the organization and continue to raise their hands to take on new and different projects to bring comfort to patients and their families.

Tamara is excited to see more people participate in My Life, My Legacy, which gives hospice patients an opportunity 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 him/her find peace, and pride in his/her life story. The book also helps families preserve memories after their loved one dies.

“The books are beautifully written,” Tamara adds. “Our volunteers put their heart and souls into these projects and it shows.”

As Tamara grows in her tenure with Homeland, she looks forward to shepherding new projects as they evolve to benefit patients. For her, each day is a new and wonderful opportunity to build on Homeland’s rich history of service.

“You know when you are in the right place,” Tamara says. “I feel I was destined to do this work.”

For more information on volunteer opportunities with Homeland Hospice, call Tamara at (717) 221-7890.

Homeland Palliative Care Enhances Continuum of Support


A hallmark of a successful organization is its ability to evolve to meet the needs of its community. For more than 156 years, Homeland Center has structured its programming to meet the needs of its patients and their families. In 2022, Homeland started offering palliative care, a new and valuable outreach service, to provide a greater continuum of care for its patients. The addition of palliative care services helps patients with a serious illness have a better quality of life.

Palliative care may be appropriate if a patient suffers from pain, stress or other symptoms due to a serious illness. These diseases may include cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), congestive heart failure (CHF), liver disease, kidney disease, Parkinson’s, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), dementia, stroke, HIV/Aids and other serious illnesses. Palliative care is based on the needs of the patient, not on a specific diagnosis, and can be provided along with curative treatment.

The goal of palliative care is to reduce and eliminate symptoms such as pain, fatigue, depression, anxiety, difficulty sleeping, shortness of breath, constipation, nausea, vomiting and loss of appetite.

“Offering palliative care services is another critical line of support we can offer patients,” says Dr. David Wenner, Assistant Medical Director for Homeland Hospice. “This form of care often helps patients avoid emergency room visits due to uncontrolled symptoms and other issues related to the disease.”

Similar to Homeland’s other at-home services, palliative care can be administered any place a patient calls home. The convenience and comfort of receiving care at home has driven the demand for the creation of a palliative care program.

“For patients who are homebound because of a serious illness, this service brings them comfort,” says Hadiza Fox, a registered nurse practitioner at Homeland. “We provide our patients the highest quality of care in their personal space.”

“Each patient is unique and requires a personalized approach to care,” Dora Butler, a registered nurse practitioner at Homeland, adds. “The Homeland team works together, along with a patient’s other health care providers, to ensure that care is consistent, compassionate and individualized.”

In their roles with Homeland, Hadiza and Dora help patients with palliative care support. They work with each patient to provide a comprehensive evaluation of the patient’s medical condition as well as the needs of the family. They then set goals for the type of care needed to ensure the best quality of life possible.

Hadiza shares an example of when she met with a patient who was homebound and in significant pain. She evaluated the patient’s immediate need for symptom management and contacted the primary physician, pharmacy and insurance company. In one visit, she helped solve the patient’s immediate needs and addressed the ancillary concerns.

“I like to think we are the glue that holds the pieces of care together,” Hadiza says. “It is a privilege to help people when they need it most.”

Palliative care is sometimes mistaken for hospice care; however, they are not the same. Hospice care is provided at the end of life. Palliative care may be provided at any time during a person’s illness and is often offered to patients at the same time they are receiving potentially life-prolonging or curative treatments. Palliative care does not prevent patients from receiving other healthcare services, treatments or procedures.

Palliative care also helps patients and families better understand an illness and assists with complex medical decision-making. Central to palliative care is that a patient’s care team fully understands the patient’s goals and values, so they can make the best care choices possible. Homeland’s Palliative Care team consists of board-certified nurse practitioners, a licensed social worker and a physician medical director.

For more information on Homeland’s Palliative Care program or to request a consultation, call (717) 857-7403.

The Power of Music In the Lives of Hospice Patients


“You, my brown eyed girl.” The lyrics of “Brown Eyed Girl,” Van Morrison’s nostalgic and catchy song from 1967, is familiar to many and a portal to another time for others. For anyone growing up in the 1960s, this song and others from this era evoke memories of times with friends and the feeling of freedom that comes with youth.

Music has the power to connect us to memories hidden in the recesses of our brain and ignite energy in our mind and body. Homeland Hospice, a nonprofit hospice program that serves communities throughout Central Pennsylvania, uses a music and memory program to bring patients comfort and peace during their end-of-life journey. Through this program, volunteers work with a patient’s family to create a playlist specific to the patient’s interests.

For Stephanie Douglas of Carlisle, the song “Brown Eyed Girl” has a new meaning after she played the song for a hospice patient. Stephanie has volunteered with Homeland Hospice for several years. A self-described hugger, Stephanie believes human touch relieves stress and restores calm in the body. When “Brown Eyed Girl” was played, the patient’s demeanor changed.

“The tension disappeared from her face,” Stephanie says. “I could feel her lightly squeeze my hand.”

Stephanie’s patient was nonverbal. She conveyed her emotions through facial expressions and the occasional tightening of her hands. Music was a lifeline to connect her to her past. Stephanie’s patient loved musicals and would often sing and dance throughout her home during her younger years.

“We filled the playlist with musicals and her favorite songs,” Stephanie adds. “We even added holiday songs since my visits were close to Christmas.”

The music helped transport the patient’s memory to a time when illness did not exist. The stress in her face and occasional tears were replaced with lifted eyebrows and wide eyes of excitement. In addition to “Brown Eyed Girl,” holiday songs like “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer” and “Up on the Housetop” changed the patient’s demeanor.

“Her face looked peaceful and her eyes grew wide with excitement,” Stephanie says. “I could see her shoulders shimmy ever so slightly.”

Hearing is widely thought to be the last sense to decline during the process of dying, making music the ideal way to connect and ease worries. Music also provides comfort to caregivers.

For Kelly Willenborg of Florida, educating people about the power of music and memory has been her professional life’s work. Kelly is a brain health gerontologist, a researcher who studies the impact of aging. Among her many accomplishments in this field, Kelly launched the Healing Jukebox to bring musical engagement to senior living homes. She also is part of the documentary “Alive Inside: A Story of Music and Memory” and has developed a series of questions to help guide family members when creating a unique playlist. She uses a free Spotify App for ease of use.

Kelly connected with Homeland Hospice several months ago to bring this organized and purposeful approach of music and memory to Homeland.

“Homeland is one of the first hospice organizations to use this program,” Kelly says. “I hope this is the spark to encourage people across the country to try this approach.”

While more music therapists are in need to keep up with the aging Baby Boomer Generation, the music and memory program is an easy and free approach anyone can use to care for their loved one.

For Stephanie, her experience with music and her hospice patient was a powerful lesson she used when caring for her father during his final days earlier this year. Stephanie developed a playlist of her dad’s favorite music including music from the Four Freshman.

“Music took my dad to a place of comfort,” Stephanie says. “The songs helped all of us find peace during a difficult time.”

The power of human connection brought Stephanie to Homeland as a volunteer. The opportunity to make meaningful connections and utilize new services, like music, has given her a volunteer experience like no other.

“I love my time with Homeland,” Stephanie adds. “I am thrilled to add music as another way to connect with patients.”

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