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 one or two Crew Leaders and two or three co-workers who typically spend a year with us, working as interns under the supervision of the Crew Leaders. 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)
Crew Leaders in Tembo
Tembo Crew Leaders 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.
Matt and Liz Baldwin
Crew Leaders in Aurora
High Spirit welcomed Matt and Liz Baldwin into the community in October of 2021, as Crew Leaders in Aurora House. Prior to joining High Spirit, Matt and Liz lived and worked in Maryland. Liz has worked with people with intellectual disabilities for over 10 years, both in direct care and in management positions.
As Liz tells it, as soon as she saw the posting for the position of Crew Leader at High Spirit, she knew in her heart that this was meant to be. When her husband Matt came home that evening, she said to him, “How would you feel about moving to Massachusetts, to live in community with people with disabilities?” In just a few short months Liz and Matt had moved into Aurora House, along with their cat Reginald. Since then, they have added a dog, Poseidon, to the mix, and High Spirit is home. In their short time since joining High Spirit, Matt and Liz have had a tremendous impact.
Matt has his degree from McDaniel College in Theater Technology/Light Design. Liz owns a soap making business and has incorporated those skills into a weekly soap making crew.
Thank you for choosing High Spirit Liz and Matt! We are so grateful you are here.
Crew Leader in Seekonk
In June 2022, High Spirit Community welcomed Brisa Galarza, who will be taking on the role of Crew Leader in Seekonk house. She is joined with her chihuahua, Sausage Boy.
Drawn to High Spirit because of the relationships she observed during her visit here, Brisa looks forward to learning more about land stewardship and to strengthening her relationships within the community.
Brisa is trained as a trauma-informed practitioner. She has roots in Mexico and California, and consciously walks the path of her ancestors as a student of indigenous medicine and as an advocate of decolonial thought and practice. As a culinary artist, Brisa loves to incorporate natural, indigenous food and nervous system-supporting herbs in honor of ancestral food-ways.
While at High Spirit Brisa hopes to share cultural foods with the community, along with the stories they bring. Brisa is a passionate antiracism educator and advocate. In her previous position at a nearby residential treatment center, Brisa worked to integrate such values into the culture there as well.
A warm welcome to you Brisa! We are so excited to have you.
Courtney and Brett
Co-Directors of Development and Community Engagement
Courtney Santasero and Brett Kane joined us as Crew Leaders in 2021, and transitioned into the new roles of Co-Directors of Development and Community Engagement in June of 2022. Courtney and Brett both have a background in Criminal Justice, with a focus on restorative justice. Brett's work has focused on the importance of community building. His Master's thesis is titled "Restorative Justice and Recidivism: Successful Reintegration through Connection to Community." Courtney's recent work has been helping people resolve barriers to employment and vocational training. Her resume starts with "My mission in life is to provide interactions and experiences that facilitate growth, education and relationship-building. We think that's a pretty good fit for High Spirit!
We are delighted to have Courtney and Brett as part of our leadership team, and part of the community.
To contact the Co-Directors of Development and Community Engagement, you can email them at:
Justin joined the High Spirit team in 2021. Justin is in charge of managing our residents' contracts as well as new admissions. Justin has worked with people with intellectual disabilities for many years, providing job training, residential support and in recent years providing case management for individuals in shared living homes. We are delighted to have Justin at High Spirit!
For admissions inquiries please contact Justin directly at (413) 717-5250.
Robin Chadwell (she/her) has been a friend of the High Spirit community for nearly three years - as a volunteer, a respite care provider, and now, as a full-time Crew Leader. Outside of High Spirit, she has worked as a gardener, livestock farmer, and landscaper. In her role, Robin looks forward to centering justice-oriented land stewardship and community practices that
prioritize native wildlife, the health of our soil, the welfare of the animals that nourish us, and the equitable living of our fellow humans near and far. Robin finds High Spirit to be a place where Voltaire's question of whether we go out into this world full of thorns or simply tend to our own gardens can be answered with a resounding - both! Robin's wisdom and passion for this work do not go unnoticed and we are so grateful she has chosen High Spirit.