Barbara and Phil Talarico’s Carpool Love Story


A love connection often begins at the most unexpected time. An ordinary day can be the start of an extraordinary relationship. Call it destiny or luck, 40 years ago on a cold and wintry day, Phil Talarico saw his now wife Barbara waiting for the bus to go to work. He offered her a ride and the two have been together ever since. The couple has created a beautiful life filled with faith, family and love of serving others, including volunteering with Homeland Hospice.

Before that momentous winter day, Barbara and Phil knew each other from their coworkers. On Thursday nights, Barbara and Phil would join their friends who worked at various departments at the State of Pennsylvania for a night out. Conversation was easy on their first ride to work and soon the couple was carpooling regularly.

“Most people looked forward to the weekends,” Barbara says. “I looked forward to the weekdays so I could see Phil.”

Barbara and Phil were married a year and half later. They recently celebrated their 38th wedding anniversary and have two grown children. For the past three decades, the couple has lived in Mechanicsburg. They began volunteering for Homeland after retiring more than 10 years ago. Barbara’s mother had received excellent care through a hospice organization in Altoona and the couple had a friend living at Homeland Center.

“Several signs pointed us to Homeland,” Barbara adds. “We were ready to jump right in to helping out.”

Barbara and Phil completed a comprehensive volunteer training program provided by Homeland before visiting patients receiving hospice care. Barbara’s first patient was Charlie who quickly became a grandfather figure to her. Charlie was under care for more than two years which gave Barbara time to get to know him and hear his life story.

“Charlie was family to me,” Barbara says. “I was heartbroken when he died.”

Phil understands the heartache and wonderment of life that comes when you walk with a patient on their end-of-life journey. Phil’s most memorable patient was a young man who passed away at 30-years-old.

“I cried my eyes out when he died,” Phil says. “It was one of the saddest moments in my life.”

During his time with a different patient, Phil was by the man’s side as he was actively dying. The man told Phil he saw an angel standing close to Phil. The utter awe of this moment stays with Phil to this day.

“I have read books about people describing their experiences as they are close to death,” Phil adds. “I was blessed to hear this firsthand.”

In addition to patient visits, Barbara and Phil participate in the Wreaths Across America event held each December across the country. Locally, Homeland Hospice holds a wreath-laying ceremony at Dauphin County Cemetery. Volunteers place wreaths and flags on the fence outlining the cemetery. The flags represent each branch of the military, soldiers missing in action and prisoners of war.

The couple has also helped support countless Homeland events like the Homeland Hospice 5K and Memory Walk and remembrance dinners. This shared volunteer experience helps the couple further connect and bond.

“I learn so much from the patients I visit,” Phil adds. “I enjoy telling Barbara about my experiences.”

Barbara has also taken on administrative duties at Homeland’s office. She volunteers to make bereavement calls and helps with mailings and general office duties. This has given her added insight into the scope of Homeland’s work.

Barbara and Phil exemplify the power of compassionate volunteerism in action. Their positive spirit and love for others fill the hearts of those around them, especially those of the hospice patients they serve.

“We love Homeland,” Barbara says. “We can’t imagine our lives without this organization.”

For more information on how to volunteer with Homeland, call (717) 222-7890.