Greater Harrisburg's Community Magazine

Musical Milestone: Homeland Hospice marks 10 years of serving the community.

It’s something that Mark Twain once said was as certain as taxes. Others have described it as entering another room, switching vehicles or mounting a common, inevitable path.

Whatever your views are about the end of life, chances are that it’s not the same as your neighbor’s—or even your own family’s.

It’s been 10 years since Homeland Hospice initiated its end-of-life services for terminally ill patients and their families in central Pennsylvania. Today, the hospice care service, a community outreach of Harrisburg’s Homeland Center, tends to more than 200 patients every day in 14 counties.

The hospice is comprised of 14 full-time case managers, two medical directors, certified nursing assistants, social workers, counselors, chaplains and a crew of volunteers.

To mark its 10th anniversary, Homeland Hospice is holding a live-performance fundraiser called “Guitars, Gifts and Gratitude,” scheduled for Nov. 10 at Scottish Rite Theatre in Harrisburg. Scheduled musical artists include area native and Nashville recording artist Ben Gallaher, as well as Buffalo Mountain Bluegrass Band, which features fiddling siblings Autumn and Canyon Moore from Perry County.

For musical artist Gallaher, performing at “Guitars, Gifts and Gratitude” truly hits home because Homeland provided services to his grandmother, said hospice Director Deb Klinger.

“Our (hospice) program just continues to evolve,” said Klinger, who’s been with the Harrisburg-based care service for six years. “As a 501(c)3 nonprofit, we are afforded the opportunity to provide additional services, such as hair, nails, art and music therapy. We also provide massage therapy.”

There are regular home visits from medical professionals certified in hospice and palliative care, a nurse case manager on call 24/7 and spiritual counseling. End-of-life care is provided wherever a patient resides, including nursing facilities.

Hospice is intended for terminally ill patients who have been diagnosed with six months or less to live, but services can be extended beyond six months if necessary.

Patients’ families aren’t overlooked either. Homeland Hospice offers in-home caregivers up to 32 hours each calendar month of solitary respite.

“Caregivers can do whatever they want during those hours,” Klinger said. “It gives them time to refresh and regroup.”

Homeland Hospice also offers bereavement counseling for families up to 13 months after a loved one’s death. The free service also is available to the general community, as well as Homeland families, said Noelle Valentine, one of the hospice’s two bereavement counselors.

“We always follow up to see how the (surviving) family is doing,” she said. “Everyone is feeling a mix of emotions, but sadness is usually the most prevalent. Everyone’s grief is different. It’s people trying to cope and make sense of where their life is.”

Fundraisers like “Guitars, Gifts and Gratitude” are important to the hospice program because the Homeland organization spends almost $3 million annually on charitable and benevolent care. Patients and their families are never charged for costs not covered by insurance, and no one is ever asked to leave due to a lack of funds.

“We have a very low overhead,” Klinger said. “Our goal is to turn it back toward our patient and therapy care. Our goal is to make the patient as comfortable as possible.”

Months prior to the concert, Homeland Hospice initiated a guitar sponsorship fundraiser similar to the “Cow Parade,” which was conducted around 15 years ago throughout the Harrisburg area to raise funds for Whitaker Center. Wendy Shumaker, director of marketing, said Homeland continued to accept reservations for guitar sponsorships past an initial deadline due to popular demand.

“People are embracing this,” she said. “As long as they can get guitars to us three or four days prior to event date of Nov. 10, we are okay with that.”

 “Guitars, Gifts and Gratitude” takes place Nov. 10 at Scottish Rite Theatre, 2701 N. 3rd St., Harrisburg. Doors open at 12:30 p.m. Performances start at 2 p.m. For information, visit

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