As part of a national service movement, Americorps members, working with Camphill residents, are in the midst of trail building, grading and sealing around three newly constructed buildings, transplanting 20 blackberry bushes and planting various shrubs on the property.

The mission of Camphill Village Kimberton Hills is to "create a living and working environment where adults with handicaps learn to live with their limitations, rather than suffer from them, and to discover and develop their abilities to the fullest extent," according to an Americorps press release.

Residents, including those with developmental disabilities, have lived and worked side by side in family settings at the 432-acre Camphill Village since 1972.

The organization was formed in 1993. Americorps members are aged from 18 to 24 and must complete 1,700 hours of service during a 10-month commitment. In exchange for that commitment, they receive a small stipend and $4,752 to pay for college tuition or to repay student loans. Travel, food and lodging is paid for by the national organization.

Team members originate from Florida, Montana, Oregon, South Carolina, Washington and Wisconsin.

The Americorps volunteers typically spend most of their work day building trails.

"This project is completely different from anything before," said field team leader Esteban Quinones. "We treat the 'villagers' the same way as anybody else. You hear that all the time, but it's different in practice."

"Most villagers try to make you laugh," said Americorps member Michelle Watts. "They're full of all this information that baffles."

Americorps member Piper Castor said that he "loves to help people."

"This is my opportunity to do and experience new things and challenge myself," said Castor. "Everyone should do something like this."

Member Steve Nguyen is preparing to attend medical school.

"I enjoy helping people," he said. "This experience helped me have a nice break from school."

"At the Camphill community everyone is equal," said Quinones. "It's' wonderful to be a part of this and to treat everyone the same way. It's great for the soul."

Nguyen said that in the end, Americorps members become "one big happy family."

"We turn into brothers and sisters," said Watts.

Project supervisor Rich Mangan is from the local area and said that the Americorps members are "very capable young people who do a lot."

Watts helped to explain her motivation of working for the benefit of others.

"I wanted to give back to the community and see what's out in the world," said Watts. "And maybe figure out what I want to do with my life."

Today is the group's last day at the village.

comments powered by Disqus