Lifesharing community for all abilities in Columbia County marks 60 years

Special Reports

COPAKE, N.Y. (NEWS10) — Camphill Village is a vibrant lifesharing community in Columbia County consisting of service volunteers and people with developmental disabilities who live, work and prosper together. This year they are celebrating their 60th anniversary.

“We’ve become an alternative for life outside the village. They make friends, meet face-to-face, eat together, share their lives together so I think what they find here what’s gotten to be missing from the outside,” said Ben Matlock, a community member of 20 years.

A large portion of the Camphill population are young people seeking an alternative career path, signing up as a long-term or short-term volunteer. 

“We live with people with special needs, and we kind of support them in the living situations. We usually have dinner together, keeping them community, helping them shower, take a bath if they need. I help one of my roommates brush his teeth every day and shave. It’s actually very nice; it’s very intimate cool thing to do,” said Keenan Blough, a new short-term volunteer at Camphill. 

Together, all villagers learn to contribute to the betterment of Camphill.

While you can find technology in the village, villagers are encouraged to communicate face-to-face and not screen-to-screen.

The camphill movement was started in 1939 as a way to reform how society treats people with special needs. In 1961, the movement made its way to the United States in Copake as the first and largest camphill community in the country.

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