What it means to be a volunteer?
This article is written by two volunteers who will give you insight on how amazing lifesharing is!
Life within the Cadmus houses can be structured differently but are all in all very similar. The way of Living is based on the Camphill way of Life.
We are not going to tell you much about the residents’ personalities because we want you to experience them in your very own way. But what we can say is that people with special needs are no different than us! They obviously need assistance in managing daily tasks and that’s what the volunteers are there for.
Lifesharing gives you the opportunity to be part of a second family in another country. If you are open-minded you will grow so close to all those people that it will be hard to leave them behind. The residents become like your siblings. Of course you will have your moments with them but they will make your life better every day. People with special needs are just themselves and as you accept them they also accept you for exactly who you are.
You will learn a lot about yourself, too. You experience your boundaries and become more courageous, self-aware and self-confident. You are going to master challenges and get the full support of the people you live with. The houseparents have a lot of experience and know the right amount of guidance and freedom needed by their volunteers. By living with people with special needs you learn to be more creative. When one way to solve an obstacle does not work out, you will have to find another and that means to sometimes be creative. When you have nothing planned you will come up with an acitivity. Having patience and being open-minded you are going to see the world with different eyes. You will get to understand what other people might struggle with.
Another great aspect about lifesharing is learning the basics of being independent. Coming to Cadmus, your life mainly focuses on the house you live in. We learned to cook, to garden, to clean properly so that we are now basically able to live on our own. This is a thing school could not teach. Furthermore, being a part of the great (and very big) community of lifesharing around the town of Great Barrington, your social life and skill will grow. In this area there are three Camphill communities and approximately 12 other lifesharing homes (all with volunteers) who you will become friends with.
All in all we as current volunteers can say that we are happy we did not miss the chance of doing this voluntary service. We appreciate life a lot more than before and understand the opportunities we have. Living with people with special needs taught us to accept and love everybody with all their quirks. Lifesharing had a big impact on our life and we would totally do it again.
Even though there is a lot of experience there are also rules and responsibilities. We collected those in our Coworker Guidelines: