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 (www.homelandcenter.org) 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.