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.