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June 30, 2016

From Hopewell with Light and Love

Enriching and adventurous was my four month experience at the farm and cottages of Hopewell, Ohio. Open fields, wooded trails, and quite an active farm. Waking up, you join the others for a community breakfast, which is always enjoyable because there is live morning music and songs to wake the day. From there, you choose your duties and head off for the day. I chose to work at the farm because of the animals, multiple tasks, and how the work would change up day by day. I chose to work at the farm, but there are numerous other assignments within Hopewell that a person can sign up for.

The farm is really neat and special. It’s up to us to take care of these animals, these little lives. When I was there, there were chickens, turkeys, sheep, pigs, cows in the fields, and three very healthy horses. It was up to us to feed, clean, refresh hay, get them their water, sweep out the barn, repair any fences, and sometimes adjust and work on the chickens’ sun shade “huts.” One of the main daily tasks was collecting the chicken eggs from the chickens in the coop. Then to the kitchen where we would wash the eggs and put them in their crates. We had baby chickies while I was there, and we had to keep them warm and protected with an incubator.

Farm work is very satisfying, because of the animals and working together as a team- and you get a daily experience of the fruits of your labor. The daily routine was very beneficial to me and kept me looking forward to each day. The surroundings are particularly beautiful: open fields and pastures, rolling hills, encompassed by woods. After work, we would go into town to a wonderful Amish country store and get something to drink and a snack. On certain days we would take the pickup to the feed store to load up all the feed for the animals. Working the farm is challenging and fulfilling, with new surprises each day. Overall, all the duties at Hopewell are rewarding and purposeful.

After I left Hopewell, I moved back to Florida and began writing. It came slowly at first, but now I have published my first book of poetry. Hopewell helped me so much to harness and focus my energy, and I used these skills to focus on writing. It is poetry for star travelers and vagabonds. If you would like to check it out, I would be most grateful. You can find it on, you can access it here, or search Cosmic Poetry and look for Matt Sauls.

The staff and mentors I found at Hopewell were truly excellent and really left an impression on me. The quality of communication and care exceeded my expectations. They really are a great group of guides, caretakers, and they are truly engaged with the residents. Add to that a great group of college-age volunteers who are top-notch. My experience at Hopewell left me healthy, capable, and enhanced. I owe Hopewell a great honor, for I know they have helped many, many people find their purpose and direction. I am so grateful I found Hopewell, and that there are people like this in this world - those who sacrifice so much to help other people. Hopewell helped me chart my course, and my experience there still inspires me.

Matt Sauls

Diagnosed Bipolar/affective 2001

Former Benedictine monk

Hopewell resident July-October 2013

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