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Homeland Chaplain Todd Carver: Choosing a life of service and helping others

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Though Todd Carver grew up watching his father serve as a pastor in Hagerstown, Maryland, he wasn’t sure whether he wanted to take a similar path.

When his parents offered to pay for one year of Bible college, he took them up on their offer and attended Lancaster Bible College – and found his calling.

“The defining question of my life went from ‘What do I want to do’ to ‘God, what am I here for?’ and that is when everything changed,’’ Todd said. “I’m now 24 years living out that question.’’

Today, Todd is one of four chaplains with Homeland Hospice, an outreach program that cares for patients in the comfort of their homes or wherever they live. A former chaplain in the Army reserves, Todd also helps run Vet to Vet, a program helping Veterans who are served by Homeland Hospice, as well as residents of Homeland Center.

“I refuse to call what I do a job,’’ said Todd, who came to Homeland last fall. “To me, this is what I’m put on this earth to do.”

After graduating from Lancaster Bible College, Todd initially took a position as a full-time youth minister at Groton Heights Baptist Church in Connecticut. He then served as assistant director of the Monadnock Bible Conference in New Hampshire, a year-round non-denominational camp and retreat center for children and adults.

In his mid-30s, Todd felt the need to answer a parallel calling: serving his country, a desire harbored since his teens.

“I felt I could combine my love of country with my ministry skills,’’ he said. “I believed it was a combination that could be very effective in supporting soldiers and their families.’’

As a chaplain in the Army reserves, Todd and his family lived in Virginia, and he often spent weekends and months during the summer away from home. In 2015, he had a choice: take a promotion to captain, which would entail at least one deployment, or find a position that would give him more time with his wife, Holly-Mae, and their children, Cassie and Calvin.

“The children were entering their teenage years, and they wanted me home, so the result was saying we should do something we can together, and let’s do something where we have family,’’ he said.

His wife’s sister lived in Lancaster, and when they saw an opening for residential house parents at the Milton Hershey School, it seemed a perfect fit.

“It was something we could do together, and we are already parenting and have a good foundation for our kids, and we thought we had something we could offer to other kids,’’ Todd said. After four years, however, Todd and Holly-Mae felt it was time for a job that allowed them to focus more on their own teenagers.

Holly-Mae took a full-time position at the Hershey Medical Center, and Todd worked on getting his chaplain credentials at the hospital. Then, the director of chaplains told Todd of an opening at Homeland Hospice.

“I found the mission of helping patients and families finish well to match my education and experience in pastoral care,’’ he said. “It all merged, and I found it so easy to make connections with patients and families and remind them of their spiritual beliefs, which they can draw from as they face the greatest challenge of their life.’’

Soon after his arrival, Homeland Hospice began the Vet to Vet program as part of its work with We Honor Veterans, which offers hospices and community organizations guidance on assisting veterans. It was yet another way Todd’s background and experience allowed him to serve veterans receiving care from Homeland Hospice and those living at Homeland Center.

“I wake up every day excited to come in,’’ Todd said of his work as a Homeland Hospice chaplain. “I am on a phenomenal team of like-minded ministers who are passionate about serving patients and families in times of crisis.’’

For more information about our outreach services at Homeland at Home, call (717) 221-7890.

Palliative or Hospice Care: Which Service is Best for You?

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Palliative vs Hospice

Homeland at Home strives to help patients and families make the most of their moments together. Through teams of dedicated and compassionate professionals, Homeland provides a continuum of care for changing life circumstances. Earlier this year, Homeland launched a Palliative Care program to enhance its line of services. The program works in collaboration with Homeland’s other outreach services, including Homeland Hospice. While Hospice Care and Palliative Care programs are often mistaken for one another, they are not the same.

Hospice care is for individuals with a serious illness when a medical cure is no longer possible or the decision to stop aggressive treatment has been made. Homeland Hospice helps patients and their loved ones live as fully as possible during their end-of-life journey by providing comfort and pain relief. In addition to care services, medical equipment and supplies are provided as needed to aid in a patient’s care.

Palliative care may be provided at any time during a person’s illness and is often offered to patients while they are receiving potentially life-prolonging or curative treatments. Palliative care is based on the needs of the patient, not on a specific diagnosis and does not prevent patients from receiving other healthcare services, treatments or procedures. This form of care provides relief to patients suffering from pain, stress or other symptoms due to a serious illness.

“The goal of palliative care is to reduce or eliminate symptoms such as pain, fatigue and other symptoms that may be impacting their quality of life or interfering with their ability to continue to pursue life prolonging care,” says David Wenner, Assistant Medical Director for Homeland Hospice. “This form of care often helps patients avoid unnecessary emergency room visits due to uncontrolled symptoms and other issues related to their disease.”

One similarity between hospice and palliative care is their delivery of services. Both programs are implemented anywhere a patient calls home. The convenience and comfort of receiving care at home brings comfort and peace of mind to patients and their families during a difficult time.

Homeland at Home delivers hospice and palliative services with its hallmark tradition of providing the most compassionate care possible. Central to this approach is putting the patient first. The Homeland team works with patients and their families to understand the patients’ goals and values so they can make the best care choices possible. Both programs understand each patient is different, so the Homeland team often incorporates out-of-the-box approaches to support patients’ individual needs.

Hadiza Fox has been a registered nurse practitioner at Homeland for more than six years. She provides both hospice and palliative care to patients and understands how to make sure patients’ voices are heard during their time of need.

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

The month of November is National Hospice and Palliative Care Month. Homeland is honored and privileged to be part of the lives of patients and their families in central Pennsylvania. We are proud of our outstanding team of professionals who provide the highest quality of care every day.

For more information on Homeland’s Hospice and Palliative Care programs, call (717) 221-7890.

Homeland’s Rev. Dann Caldwell to Speak at Soldiers’ National Cemetery in Gettysburg

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It has been 159 years since President Abraham Lincoln traveled to Gettysburg, the site of one of the bloodiest battles of the Civil War. What he said that day in his two-minute speech and the sacrifices soldiers made on that hallowed ground stay with us today. Every year on November 19, a dedication ceremony and remembrance parade are held at the Soldiers’ National Cemetery in Gettysburg to honor that moment in our nation’s history. This year’s Dedication Day will feature a closing prayer by Rev. Dann Caldwell, chaplain for Homeland Center and Homeland Hospice.

Dann has been a member of Homeland’s team for nearly 10 years. In his role, Dann provides spiritual and emotional support to patients and their families. For Dann, a life-long resident of the region, the opportunity to participate in this year’s Dedication Day is an honor.

“A friend from my church recommended me to the Lincoln Fellowship of Pennsylvania,” Dann says. “I am humbled to be part of this historic event.”

This year’s Dedication Day includes remarks from three distinguished scholars. Dr. Allen Guelzo, author of award-winning books about Civil War history will give the keynote address. Historian and writer Jon Meacham, who won the Pulitzer Prize for his biography American Lion: Andrew Jackson in the White House, will present the Gettysburg Address and provide remarks. Harold Holzer, pre-eminent Lincoln scholar, will introduce Meacham.

For his closing prayer, Dann is drawing on his deep well of faith and pride as a citizen of our nation to deliver a message of peace while honoring those who are buried at the cemetery. As the final resting place for thousands of soldiers, the site summons a variety of emotions from loss to the healing power of faith.

“The day reminds us to bear witness to the tragedy of warfare,” Dann says. “God’s desire is for peace and reconciliation for all of His children.”

Homeland’s history is rooted in the impact of the Civil War. Homeland was founded in 1867 as the “Home for the Friendless” to serve families impacted by the devastation of the war. Today, Homeland Center is a personal care home, memory care home, skilled nursing facility and rehabilitation facility. Homeland also provides hospice, home care, home health and palliative care services to serve the diverse and changing needs of families throughout central Pennsylvania.

This year’s Dedication Day is sponsored by the Gettysburg National Military Park, the Lincoln Fellowship of Pennsylvania, the Gettysburg Foundation and Gettysburg College. The event is free and open to the public. For more information, visit Dedication Day Events.

For more information on Homeland Center and Homeland Hospice, call (717) 221-7890.

155th Anniversary Event an Evening Fit for a Queen

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Betty Hungerford

Homeland Center celebrated its 155th anniversary this past spring at Hilton Harrisburg with an evening fit for a queen. The celebration honored Betty Hungerford, affectionally known as “Queen B,” and was an occasion for Homeland’s history books. Attended by more than 450 people, the event raised more than $1.1 million to support Homeland’s benevolent care programs, which provide assistance for individuals in need of care.

For two decades, Betty Hungerford served as the director of development for Homeland Center. Homeland is a private, nonprofit retirement community in Harrisburg. To know Betty is to know Homeland, for she is a steadfast champion of the organization. Earlier this year, Betty celebrated her 90th birthday. Betty’s birthday, coupled with her decades of service to Homeland Center, made it the perfect time to honor two cherished treasures in our region.

“I am humbled by the outpouring of support for our anniversary event,” Betty said. “It is a privilege to be part of Homeland’s work. Homeland has always been more than just a job to me, it’s a primary passion in my life. It was so humbling to see others recognize and contribute to the work and services we offer. It is because of those who believe in the work we do that we can continue to serve our community with such passion and dedication. For that, I am forever grateful.”

Betty is known to local community and business leaders as one of the greatest of the Greatest Generation. She is a force of compassion, committed to improving the human condition in our region.

“No one can do everything, but everyone can do something,” Betty likes to say.

Betty’s “something” has been to change the charitable giving landscape to advance the causes she is most passionate about.

For Betty, there is little separation between her personal and professional life, for she loves each fiercely and finds true joy and purpose in her work.

As our Queen B, Betty created a remarkable personal and professional life by building and maintaining strong relationships. Betty’s pride and love for her children and grandchildren is abundant as is her belief in her “adopted children,” a name Betty uses for the countless men and women who were friends of her children or neighbors. She has remained by their side as they have grown into adulthood. She is never too busy to stop and appreciate their professional achievements or milestone events in their personal lives.

Betty’s secret to success is simple – love what you do and surround yourself with people who are destined to bloom. Betty has certainly done just that, and has created a legacy that will be remembered for generations.

Homeland was founded in 1867 as the “Home for the Friendless” to serve families impacted by the devastation of the Civil War. Today, Homeland Center is a personal care home, memory care home, skilled nursing facility and rehabilitation facility. Homeland also provides hospice, home care, home health and palliative care services to serve the diverse and changing needs of families throughout central Pennsylvania.

 

We are grateful for the extraordinary generosity of local corporate and individual sponsors who made our 155th anniversary celebration a success.

 

To view event photos, visit our 155th celebration photo gallery at HomelandEvents.org.

8th Annual Homeland Hospice 5K and Memory Walk

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Oct. 22 | Rossmoyne Business Center

Homeland Hospice is hosting our 8th annual 5K and Memory Walk on Saturday, Oct. 22, at the Rossmoyne Business Center in Mechanicsburg and we hope you will join us!

The Homeland Hospice 5K and Memory Walk raises funds for benevolent services for hospice patients and their families. Homeland Hospice depends on the generosity of donors for its enhanced care for hospice patients such as massage therapy, music therapy, and extra in-home-relief hours for caregivers, as well as for residents at Homeland Center whose financial resources have been exhausted.

The Homeland Hospice 5K and Memory Walk began in 2014 as a signature event to raise funds and bring awareness to Homeland Hospice services. It was initially a competitive 5K run and walk but has transitioned to include a Memory Walk that focuses on providing a space where loved ones can remember those who have passed.

“The Homeland Hospice 5K and Memory Walk is an uplifting event we look forward to every year,” said Myra Badorf, assistant director of development for Homeland Hospice. “It is for families to remember their loved ones and for us, as an organization, to remember and honor the community and people we are blessed to care for on a daily basis.”

Registration for the 5K and Memory Walk is open for runners, walkers, friends and family members of all ages. Participants may register individually or with a team, and are welcome to bring their four-legged friends. Registration is required. Participants who register will receive a t-shirt while supplies last. Online registration will close after Friday Oct. 14. Walk-up registrations will be accepted.

The 5K will take place on a relatively flat course at the Rossmoyne Business Center and will begin and end at 5000 Ritter Road, Mechanicsburg. The Memory Walk will be a shorter distance along a portion of the same course.

After the 5K and Memory Walk, we will honor loved ones, provide light refreshments and award event prizes. Prizes include $100 to the 5K overall male and female champions and ribbons to the top three male and top three female finishers in eight different age brackets. Additional awards will go to the largest team, most “decked out stroller” and most adorable dog. So, start decorating your strollers and remember to bring your furry friend! Not only will you have fun, but you may just come home with an award.

Gather your friends, dust off those running shoes, and join us for our 5K and Memory Walk! It will be a fun morning of smiling faces and we can’t wait to spend it with you.

Volunteer David Sherman: Always watching out for others

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When David Sherman retired from civilian service with the U.S. Navy, 150 people signed the framed picture of the facility where he worked for 41 years, attesting to the friends he made and the impact he had.

Now, David can add “Homeland volunteer” to a life full of accomplishment, athletics, and service. Every Thursday afternoon, he is a fixture in the Homeland hallways and gathering spaces, helping residents play dominoes or take a safe walk.

He also volunteers for Homeland Hospice, putting the monthly newsletter in envelopes for mailing. His volunteer service is an extension of his giving nature and a career devoted to protecting people and documents.

“That’s why I’m in security, to help people be safe,” he says.

David is a Harrisburg native, with a life that has taken many interesting turns. At age 2 and a half, he was diagnosed with hearing loss. For 15 years, he received speech and hearing therapy, learning to lipread from a Harrisburg therapist.

After graduating from William Penn High School in 1966, David learned sign language at Gallaudet University and attended the Pennsylvania Rehabilitation Center, in Johnstown. After getting a couple of jobs in Harrisburg, his parents were delighted and proud when he went to the Washington, DC, area and got a job with the U.S. Navy.

That was in 1971, the beginning of his 41-year career at the Naval Surface Warfare Center Carderock Division in Bethesda, MD. He spent 27 of those years in security and document control. Sometimes, his work was classified. He was responsible for picking up documents at the Pentagon for years.

Throughout David’s life, Harrisburg’s Jewish community, and Kesher Israel Congregation, also known as KI, have been constants. He has served on the KI board and had his bar mitzvah in the former synagogue in uptown Harrisburg on July 4, 1960.

In 2022, after the congregation moved to a beautifully renovated new home in Harrisburg’s Riverside neighborhood, David celebrated his 75th birthday with a Kiddush party. As with his bar mitzvah, he received the Aliyah – or call – to read the Torah in Hebrew. Today, David helps provide security at the new synagogue’s entry.

Another thread in David’s life is athletics. In high school, he lettered in cross country and track. He won ribbons for first and second place in the Navy 3K run and walk.

“The walk, I did in 19 minutes,” he says. “I was younger.”

He still runs, winning five ribbons in past Homeland Hospice 5K and Memory Walks and hoping for another at this year’s event on Oct. 22, as long as a bothersome knee heals up. In Bethesda, he also played right field for a softball team that won two championships, including one year when he won MVP.

Even when he lived in Maryland, he would come home on weekends to play basketball at the Jewish Community Center. He also played touch football for a Navy team and flag football for the JCC, where his best friend said he played the best defense.

David is also involved with the Hearing Loss Association of America. For 10 years, he served as treasurer for the organization’s 1,000-member Montgomery County, MD, chapter. He has traveled to 25 association conventions, helping provide security. He attended many of those conventions with his late wife, Deborah Beauregard Sherman, whom he met in a hearing-loss support group.

David retired from the Navy in 2012 and moved back to Harrisburg in 2018. Since 2019, he has filled his days with volunteering – delivering Meals on Wheels Friday mornings, helping at Homeland Center on Thursday afternoons. On Sunday mornings, you’ll find him at the Dauphin County Library System’s East Shore Area Library, where he set a personal record of 92 books shelved in three hours.

For a time, COVID restrictions kept David from coming into Homeland, but Homeland Activities Director Aleisha Arnold invited him back after they were lifted. Now, every Thursday, Aleisha gets a text from David to check that his volunteer shift is still on.

“The residents say how nice he is and warm to them,” Aleisha says. “He’s very pleasant. He’s very relatable to them. He’s very dedicated.”

David returns the compliment.

“I really like it here,” he says. “I’m very happy. Aleisha is happy for me to help people.”

A Lifetime of Love: Carol and Joe Moomaw

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Carol and Joe Moomaw of Mechanicsburg have known and loved each other all of their lives. As children they played together with Joe often pulling Carol’s ponytail to get her attention. The couple dated throughout high school with each going their separate ways after graduation. Some years later, Carol and Joe reunited and married after a six-week courtship. Through their friendship, love and respect for one another, they have created a steadfast bond to sustain life’s challenges. Two years ago, Joe was diagnosed with Lewy body dementia and is receiving services from Homeland Hospice, a hospice program that serves communities throughout Central Pennsylvania

After their courtship in high school, Joe attended the University of Pennsylvania, then law school. His final two years were completed at Dickinson School of Law, followed by three years working in the Assistant Attorney General’s Office in Harrisburg. Joe left his position with the Assistant Attorney General’s Office to open a law practice. He was retained by his father’s company, Interstate Tax Service, Inc., which provided unemployment compensation consulting services for employees, as the General Counsel. This family business, which was one of the first of its kind in the region, grew into a family legacy.

Carol attended Bucknell University for three years after high school, then married and had four children. She would occasionally see Joe at community events in their hometown of Waynesboro. After Carol’s husband died, she connected with Joe at a dinner dance. Carol and Joe’s longtime mutual friend Marilyn helped arrange the date. Marilyn’s match-making was a success and soon the couple was dating.

As a single mother, dating Carol included her children, which Joe loved. Carol often relied on the babysitting services of her friend Mary. After one date, Carol’s daughter Dawn asked her mother how to spell Mary’s name. Carol recited the letters to Dawn who quickly produced a note for Joe. The note said, “Will you Mary my mom?” Joe immediately said yes.

“It was the sweetest proposal,” Joe and Carol recall. “Dawn wrote the words we were both thinking.”

The couple married six weeks later on Christmas Eve. Marilyn and her husband served as the maid of honor and best man.

“I have always known Joe so reconnecting was easy,” Carol says. “It was like no time had passed.”

Joe and Carol’s life blossomed as time passed. They had two sons together. Joe adopted Carol’s four children and they raised a happy, close-knit family. Today, they have 14 living grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren. Professionally, Joe continued to grow Interstate Tax Service, Inc., which is now run by the fourth generation of Moomaws.

Carol and Joe tackle his Lewy body dementia as a team. The disease impacts Joe’s   thinking, memory and movement. When Joe struggles to recollect a memory, Carol is quick to help fill in the missing pieces. With the help of family members and Homeland Hospice, Carol helps care for Joe in the comfort of their home.

Joe’s Homeland team includes a nurse case manager, who has helped the couple secure a hospital bed and other necessary equipment, and a home health aide. Carol and Joe also receive 32 hours of in-home support, which gives Carol time to attend to her own needs. Homeland Hospice is the only hospice agency in Central Pennsylvania that offers an in-home relief program to all patient families.

Carol and Joe’s route to finding one another was not direct, but it was a path they both love and are happy they took. From single businessman to father of four in the course of a few months, Joe always adapts to the challenges and opportunities each day brings.

“I’ve loved every minute of it,” Joe says. “I am a fortunate man.”

For more information about services for patients and families, call Homeland Hospice at (717) 221-7890.

I don’t remember you.

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This article is re-posted with permission. We thank Gabrielle Elise Jimenez, hospice nurse, end-of-life doula, and conscious dying educator, for sharing her experiences at thehospiceheart.net blog.

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Stack of colorful post-it sticky notes isolated on white

Several years ago, I was blessed to be at the bedside of an incredibly kind and generous man. Because of him I was gifted a lifetime friendship with his wife and daughter. After he died, I stayed in contact with them and we had several meals together over the years, until his wife’s memory started to fade, and confusion slowly set in. She was moved into a facility where I was able to visit occasionally, but the space between the visits became longer and longer as her condition worsened. Her daughter and I have been getting together every few months, and she has kept me updated on her mom’s decline, which was happening more quickly now.

About a week ago, she had to move her mom into a new facility that could offer her a higher level of care, which as you can imagine was tough for her. Some of you know this feeling well, you have been in her shoes, and you have had to provide full time care to someone you love. And even though you know it is the right thing to do, there are a lot of emotions that leave you tangled up inside.

I went to visit her at the new facility. I found her on the couch in the dining room, sitting alone. She looked as beautiful as I remembered, smiling, and laughing as though she was just told a funny joke. I sat down next to her, she barely looked at me, and when I said hello, she smiled at me like you do to a total stranger who just said hello, and you are trying to be polite and kind. She didn’t know me. I told her my name, which made her smile, but not in the way I hoped it would. I told her I knew her husband, which got her attention, but it was short lived. She looked right at me, and said, “I’m sorry, but I don’t remember you.” And my heart sunk as I held in the tears. I whispered to myself… “I remember you.”

I asked her if I could come back again for another visit, which she seemed pleased about, and then shook my hand as though she just met me. I realized at that moment we were strangers, or at least I was a stranger to her. As I walked away from her, I reminded myself that this is not about me, and while I wish she could remember me, and that our dinners never stopped, things have changed and what she needs from me, is to meet her where she is, not where I want her to be.

When I first met her, she had just started to struggle with remembering things, so she had post-it notes everywhere. At first there were just a few, but over time I watched as the notes increased, helping her to remember things she needed to do, places she need to be, and the day-to-day life stuff. I am guessing that one day she forgot to write the post-it notes and was left to fumble around her life not knowing what she needed to do or where she needed to be. Her daughter took her hand and provided the most compassionate care and support every single difficult step of the way.

When someone loses their memory, when they do not remember events or faces or even you … it isn’t personal. And while it hurts, it is not about us. Our role in these situations is to be present for them, to remove fear and not remind them of it, and to accept that being in the moment is everything to them, and all they know. We must find a way to let that be enough for us and savor each moment however we have been gifted them. It is okay to step away to cry, and your hurt is valid, so please make sure to take care of you and find someone you can talk about it with. And on those difficult moments, try to go back in time to the memories you have the luxury of bringing up and sit there for a while.

xo
Gabby

Mechanicsburg Teens Launch Charity to Provide Meals for Hospice Families

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A home-cooked meal made with thoughtful intentions can do more than fill one’s belly; it can provide empathy and compassion for a family going through difficult times. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit our region, many of us turned to Netflix to pass the time. Neeti Goel and her children Anishka, age 15 and Arav, age 17, of Mechanicsburg, turned to volunteering to help those in need of a warm meal and a bit of sunshine in their lives. Neeti and her children began preparing casseroles and soups for Homeland Hospice patients and their families. Homeland Hospice is a hospice program that serves communities throughout Central Pennsylvania.

Neeti located Homeland Hospice on VolunteerMatch, an online resource connecting volunteers with projects. Neeti and her children wanted to volunteer safely from their home and Homeland’s need for prepared meals was the perfect opportunity.

“We started with the desire to volunteer,” Neeti says. “It wasn’t long until we perfected our work and began preparing meals twice a month.”

Anishka and Arav quickly took on most of the cooking and expanded their menu to include soups. With practice came perfection. Anishka and Arav created an efficient assembly process to cook, store and package meals for delivery. The siblings also added handmade cards to offer support to hospice patients and their families.

“It felt good to know we were helping others,” Anishka says. “Volunteering for a brief amount of time can make a big difference.”

After months of meal preparation for Homeland, Neeti and her children began helping two additional hospice organizations in the region. As their work expanded, so did their grocery bill. Anishka and Arav decided to start their own nonprofit organization to raise funds to pay for the ingredients needed to prepare meals. The siblings founded Rays of Sunshine to bring a bit of light to families in their time of need.

From working with a lawyer to establish their charitable nonprofit status to creating a website, Anishka and Arav did it all. The experiences provided valuable life skills as well as resources to keep their passion of helping others going.

“We have raised more than $1,500 so far,” Arav says. “The funds will help us continue making meals for families.”

Rays of Sunshine held its first fundraising event earlier this year with Two Sisters’ Mixers, which provided artisanal cocktail mixers. The event not only raised funds, but brought awareness to the power of volunteerism at any age and the work of Homeland Hospice.

Neeti, Anishka and Arav, never dreamed their decision to volunteer would create a transformational experience for the family. They simply set out to make someone’s day a bit brighter.

“We were so pleased to learn how much the families enjoyed our cooking,” Neeti says. “It has been wonderful for us to work together as a family.”

Homeland Hospice is a hospice program that serves 14 communities throughout Central Pennsylvania by providing end-of-life care either in a person’s home or wherever they reside, including nursing facilities. Homeland also provides bereavement support to families for a full 13 months following the death of their loved one. This service is available to anyone in the community who is experiencing grief.

For more information about Rays of Sunshine visit rays-of-sunshine.org. For more information about Homeland Hospice call (717) 221-7890.

Homeland Hospice’s We Honor Veterans Program Receives Four-Star Ranking

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Homeland Hospice recently earned its fourth star out of a five-star ranking system for its quality of care for veterans through the national We Honor Veterans program. We Honor Veterans, created by the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization (NHPCO) in collaboration with the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), works to improve the quality of health care for all veterans. Homeland Hospice is a nonprofit hospice program that serves communities throughout Central Pennsylvania.

“We are honored to recognize the service and sacrifice of our veterans,” says Laurie Murry, Volunteer Coordinator for Homeland Hospice. “The program is part of our organization’s tradition of caring for those who have bravely served our country.”

Homeland was founded 155 years ago as the Society for the Home for the Friendless to help women and children destitute in the aftermath of the Civil War.

Homeland’s involvement in the We Honor Veterans program began nine years ago to recognize the service of veterans during their end-of-life journey. Hospice organizations earn their “stars” by completing education and engagement activities for each level. The star rating system provides Department of Veterans Affairs staff, as well as local veterans, an easy way to identify hospice organizations that are committed to providing compassionate care specific to the needs of veterans and their families.

As a We Honor Veterans partner, Homeland has opportunities to learn from other organizations as well as access a bank of valuable resources like information on pinning ceremonies, which is one of the unique ways Homeland honors veterans.

“The program is an excellent source of new ideas for us,” Laurie says. “We continue to find innovative ways to improve our work and educate our staff to better serve our veterans.”

Through its collaboration with the We Honor Veterans program, Homeland has formed a strong working relationship with the Lebanon VA Medical Center and participates in the National Wreaths Across America Day program. Each December, Homeland partners with the Dauphin County Coroner’s Office to place ceremonial wreaths and flags representing each branch of the military, soldiers missing in action and prisoners of war on the fence outlining the Dauphin County Cemetery, also known as a Potter’s Field. Nationally, wreath-laying ceremonies are held at Arlington National Cemetery, as well as more than 2,500 locations in all 50 states, at sea and abroad.

While Homeland Hospice is proud of its four-star ranking, the organization has already begun working to expand its efforts to earn five stars. This work includes expanding partnerships within the community and serving as a mentor to other hospice organizations that are new to the program.

“I am humbled by the sacrifices of our veterans,” Laurie adds. “I look forward to enhancing our work and spreading the news about this inspiring program.”

To learn more, please contact Homeland Hospice at (717) 221-7890.