High Spirit's residential programs are lead by individuals drawn to the work of living in community with people with and without disabilities. Each of our lifesharing homes has two Householders and two or three co-workers who typically spend a year with us, working as interns under the supervision of the Householders. For inspiration, we look to Camphill Communities around the world. From them, we've learned the beauty of building a community of people who are interdependent.
Derek and Lesley (and June)
Tembo Householders Derek and Lesley Eshelman joined High Spirit in 2013. They bring rich life experiences to High Spirit's residential and farming programs.
Derek is a graduate of Oberlin College and the Stanford University School of Education, where he obtained a masters degree in secondary education. Lesley is a graduate of Macalaster College. Prior to moving to Massachusetts about two years ago, Derek taught high school and Lesley worked as a social worker, dedicated to bettering the lives of the San Francisco Bay area's homeless population.
In 2012, the two settled in the Great Barrington area to devote their considerable energy and enthusiasm to farming and life sharing. Before coming to Tembo House, they worked at Blue Hill and North Plain Farms in Great Barrington, dairy farms loosely associated with the North Plain Farm life sharing community.
After moving into High Spirit, Derek and Lesley added a puppy to the mix - June. June is much loved by all members of the household.
Jen came to High Spirit in 2017. Jen is in charge of managing our residents' contracts as well as new admissions. Jen comes to us with over 19 years in the field of case management for people with developmental disabilities and providing administrative support for those who provide direct care. For admissions inquiries please contact Jen directly at 413-717-5250.
Austin and Ashley
Austin and Ashley Smith joined us in 2017. Austin and Ashley first came to High Spirit to visit their friends, High Spirit Householders Aly and Troy. Inspired by that visit, they began thinking about what it would mean for them to make a big life change, to share their lives with people with disabilities.
After more return visits and many conversations with other Householders and Board members they formalized their sincere interest by coming to High Spirit for a three-month internship.
Austin and Ashley then took the leap of leaving jobs and home in Pennsylvania and have been Householders at Seekonk House. We are very glad they did!
Rachel and Matthew
Rachel Cohen and Matthew Scala joined us in 2020. They happened to call to learn more about the community just as High Spirit was looking for more Householders. “During the interview process we met the extraordinary group of people who would become our peer Householders and Crew Leaders, as well as an active Board and a supportive Administration. We saw a vibrant and supportive community that we wanted to be a part of.”
Rachel has been interested in community living since she learned of it in her early 20s, when she was a VISTA volunteer, working to create a cohousing community in Concord NH, and later working with Upward Bound, a residential program supporting teens. Rachel also brings work experience in marketing and technology, training in curative practices including Yoga Dance and Reiki, and the wisdom and skills of a mother.
Matthew has been exploring alternative work and living arrangements for his entire adult life. He is a carpenter, potter and farmer. In recent years he had a farm in Maine, which had “everything I wanted, except love”. He left Maine to be closer to Rachel, finding work at a Camphill-affiliated community in New Hampshire, where he first discovered the joys of working with people with special needs and of community life.
We are happy to have them, along with Rachel's daughter, Liliana and their 2 cats, Calvin and Vinny on board at Aurora House!