CHESTNUT RIDGE, NY (PRWEB) May 30, 2012
For seventy years, Camphill (http://www.Camphill.org) has been building communities around the world designed to meet the needs of children and adults with developmental disabilities through community life, the arts and work on the land. For the past 11 years, AmeriCorps members have played an integral part in those communities by leading workshops, or working side-by-side with people with developmental disabilities in one of the biodynamic farms or gardens, and organizing various activities for residents.
Since 2001, Camphill Association of North America has grown its mission to build communities steeped in culture, and environmental awareness, by recruiting committed individuals from AmeriCorps. The AmeriCorps members live and work in each community and help children to learn and grow, provide a transition to adulthood for young people with developmental disabilities, ages 18-25, and meaningful work for older adults with disabilities.
The decision to participate in the AmeriCorps program came from a growing challenge among Camphill communities in the region: a shortage of qualified coworkers, particularly Americans, with no coordinated effort at that time to recruit American coworkers. In response, the Camphill Foundation funded a comprehensive project that aimed to attract and retain both short-term service volunteers and longer-term coworkers to Camphill. A key element of the project was Camphill’s participation in the federal AmeriCorps program which attracts young Americans who seek service opportunities.
This Foundation-funded project has not only alleviated the coworker shortage but has created an abundance of dedicated and service-oriented individuals. There are currently 100 AmeriCorps members serving in 11 Camphill or Camphill Affiliated communities across seven states —24 of whom are in their second year, with 32 more joining Camphill as long-term coworkers. The seeds planted by the Foundation’s investment in this project have grown into maturity, continuing to ensure a wealth of qualified and dedicated coworkers for existing and future Camphill communities.
“Combining the Camphill approach to community living, service, outreach and support with
AmeriCorps members’ high level of commitment to civic engagement and “giving back” is a great match,” said Lauren Wolff, Camphill AmeriCorps Program Director.
Benefits of Giving Back
The AmeriCorps members provide an added level of capacity that allows for more robust programming activities for individuals with developmental disabilities. In many communities, participation in Special Olympics and other social and advocacy groups are coordinated by the AmeriCorps members. What's more, Camphill has been able to increase its capacity to care for individuals requiring more assistance, such as one-on-one care, and to extend and expand day programs. At Camphill Village, USA in Copake, NY, where nearly 50% of the residents are over the age of 60, members have increased the capacity to care for residents in the community for a longer period of time rather than disrupting their lives and transferring them to nursing homes.
As Bill Briggs, the Executive Director from Camphill Village Minnesota stated, "AmeriCorps members continue to add measurable value in the stability, wealth of qualifications, and competency to our group of coworkers. They are motivated, goal-oriented and greatly add experience and maturity to the work."
A member position within Camphill is challenging but brings great rewards. Members have the opportunity to form deep and lasting relationships with others, and to experience significant personal growth. New college graduates without a job or concrete career plans might be interested in volunteering for a year or two. Public service work for organizations like Camphill or AmeriCorps can be a gateway to a variety of careers, including those outside public service.
U.S. citizens and green card holders are eligible to join a Camphill community through AmeriCorps, and can earn an Education Award of $5550 after 11 months of service. This may be applied to student loans, or to tuition expenses up to 7 years in the future. Student loans are also put into forbearance during your AmeriCorps service.
To learn more about Camphill and volunteer opportunities, go to http://www.Camphill.org.
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For media inquiries, contact Kathleen Ferrari at 646.573.9408 or kferrari36(at)gmail.com.
For Camphill volunteer opportunities, contact Lauren Wolf at 518.610.3179 or Lauren(at)camphill.org.