Strong bonds with family and friends are a common theme in Sara Slothower’s life. Loving and supportive parents shaped her childhood, and brought her to Harrisburg where she met her husband and raised her family. Friendships formed through her volunteer work ultimately brought her to Homeland Center where she has lived for the past three years. In October, Sara will celebrate her 100th birthday.
Sara grew up in Brownsville, Pennsylvania, a small town close to Pittsburgh. She was the eldest of four children and fondly remembers attending a small country school and playing baseball in her youth.
“I had wonderful parents,” Sara recalls. “We loved swimming and having picnics in the summer.”
Her fondest memories are her family’s annual visits to Kennywood, a popular amusement park.
“I rode the merry-go-round and ate ice cream all day,” Sara remembers. “It was the highlight of my summer.”
At 17, Sara moved to Harrisburg after her father took on a new job. She completed her senior year at John Harris High School, now known as Harrisburg High School. Sara remembers the challenges of adapting to an urban school after growing up in the country.
“My father often reminded me of the opportunities available at a larger school,” Sara adds. “I struggled to adjust until I met my husband Wilbur.”
After marrying, Sara and Wilbur moved to Paxton Street where they raised their children Janet, Tom and Richard (not pictured).
Like her childhood, Sara loved summers with her husband and children. The family owned a cottage in Stoney Creek. Wilbur would spend weekends at the cottage and return to work while Sara and her children enjoyed the outdoors.
When her children were in school, Sara went to work at Sear’s Service Center and then Feller’s Store in Harrisburg.
Sara’s love of people led her to volunteering at Dauphin Manor. For 10 years, she volunteered at the gift shop and helped plan birthday parties for the residents. Sara enjoyed selecting the perfect cakes and making gifts to ensure residents felt special on their birthday.
While volunteering, Sara met Barry Ramper II, now Homeland Center President and CEO. At the time, Barry was Administrator of Dauphin Manor. Sara and Barry became friends and stayed in touch over the years.
In 1997, Sara’s beloved Wilbur died. She lived independently for years, always making important life decisions with confidence. At 95, she decided to stop driving and at 97 chose to move to Homeland. Knowing Barry made the transition easy.
At Homeland, Sara enjoys playing bingo, pokeno and the occasional game of pinochle. Her most cherished time is spent with her daughter, Janet, and son, Tom. Her son Richard lives in Georgia, but makes regular calls to stay in touch. In addition to her children, Sara has four grandchildren and nine great grandchildren.
This spring, Sara and Barry were featured on billboards for Homeland Center. For Mother’s Day, Tom drove his mother around Harrisburg to see the billboards. Sara proudly displays the photo used on the billboards in her room.
As she approaches her 100th birthday, Sara is grateful for a life filled with family and friends.
From her years of planning birthday parties for her children and the residents of Dauphin Manor, Sara knows what she wants for her 100th birthday celebration.
“Carrot cake with cream cheese icing and vanilla ice cream,” Sara says with a smile. “Cake with my family would be a perfect birthday.”
Homeland Center has a 150-year tradition of caring for residents like family. Located in Dauphin County, Homeland is a five-star skilled nursing and personal care facility. Since opening its doors in 1867, Homeland has served thousands of individuals and families. Today, 145 residents call it home.