Ms. Stephanie Branca
Gould Farm, America's oldest non-profit therapeutic community for adults (ages 18+) with mental illness, is located on a 600-acre working farm in the Berkshire Mountains of western Mass. Licensed by the Department of Mental Health, Gould Farm's psychosocial sub-acute treatment program promotes hope, autonomy, and empowerment for the people who come for care. Gould Farm is a successful model in alternative mental health care and has been studied and efforts have been made to replicate the program in other areas. Admission is open to people of any ethnicity, religion, race, gender, sexual orientation, ability or economic status. Financial aid is made available to those who demonstrate need for financial assistance.
With both staff and guests living on the Farm, everyone takes part in the day-to-day necessary work of community life. Work teams address various areas of responsibility, including cooking, working in the forest and gardens, running a dairy, maintenance, social/educational activities, clinical practice and administration.
The Farm was founded in 1913 with a strongly Christian spiritual orientation and continues to encourage spiritual awareness today, but has never been a sectarian or under the auspices of a religious organization. Steeped in a tradition of social service and spiritual fellowship envisioned by its founder, and reaching out in an ever-changing world to those suffering in mind and spirit, Gould Farm's mission is to help the people who come here find the inner strength and outer resources needed to meet the challenges that life imposes. Well-known and respected theologian and Harvard professor, James Luther Adams, sat on the board for many years during his lifetime. Several former Executive Directors have been theological school graduates, including Executive Director, Brian Snyder, who was a graduate of HDS.
Guests are eligible to move from the Monterey campus to the Boston Area Program (nicknamed the "Fellside" house) located in Medford, MA when they can demonstrate an adequate understanding of their strengths and vulnerabilities. By this time they will have reached a sustainable level of engagement with their support circle, will be able to self-administer their medications, manage daily living skills (self-care, social courtesies, and maintenance of personal space), work skills and time management. Residency in the Boston Program provides the environment in which to strengthen these skills and put them to the test in the larger community. At the same time, the program reduces the level of therapeutic support and residents assume greater responsibility for creating a vital community spirit within the household. Staff is there to serve as mentors and advisors, assisting them in developing new resources and coaching them as they articulate new goals. The Fellside Program is relatively short term, acting as a springboard for residents who wish to practice the skills necessary for living in an urban environment. Residents who have made the transition to independent living and have demonstrated the ability to manage their lives with appropriate support, can transfer to the Extended Community Program. This program is available on a long-term basis to clients who have settled in the communities near the program; it includes a weekly meeting with a case manager, access to respite at Fellside or the Farm, and a social network of alumni and families who support the Farm's values and mission.
Opportunities for Student Involvement:
Student's internship would take place at Gould Farm's Medford site with the Boston Area Program. Student will support the development of program participant's ongoing spiritual health through some or all of the following activities:
- provide informal spiritual and/or grief counseling to program participants;
- support program participants in accessing local resources;
- assist program participants in meeting their short and long term goals;
- initiate spirit-lifting activities that benefit and draw on the resources of the entire community (25+ people) such as facilitating a weekly meditation, spirituality and/or yoga group, and/or nature & spirituality walks, art or journaling;
- offer blessings or short readings at meals and/or religious holiday celebrations;
- facilitate memorial services when needed;
- update informational binder of local area religious communities;
- post weekly prayer or reflection from different denominations on bulletin board;
- accompany program participants who wish to visit possible places of worship;
- augment a small library of spiritual books available to program participants;
- organize an event for National Mental Health Awareness month;
- organize program participant involvement in annual NAMI (National Association for Mental Illness) Walk;
- contribute words of wisdom, comfort and motivation to monthly newsletter;
- join efforts with staff to actively cultivate a nurturing community culture through activities listed above as well as others to be collaboratively determined.
In addition to these experiential learnings, student would receive ongoing training on how to effectively assist and communicate compassionately with people coping with varying states of mental wellness. Student would gain a greater knowledge of major mental illnesses such as schizophrenia, schizo-affective disorder, bi-polar and major depression, as well as current traditional and alternative therapeutic approaches. Other specific training provided to student would include: boundaries, human rights, policies and procedures.
Site is a 10-15 minute bus ride from Davis Sq. via the 94 or 80 bus.
Arts of Ministry Competencies Offered:
- Administration and Program Development
- Pastoral Care and Counseling
- Public Leadership, Community Organizing, and Planning
- Religious Education and Spiritual Development
Student will receive on site supervision from the Clinical/Program Director (including an hour of weekly theological reflection). Student would be expected to participate in weekly clinical staff meetings (group supervision) on Thurs. from 12:30-2:30, as well as the weekly Community Supper & Meeting with residents and staff on Thurs. from 6-8.
- Number of Students: 1
- Total Compensation: $5000.00
- Type of Compensation: Work Study
- Additional Notes: An additional summer internship may be available.