Care givers or Professional Advocate Lifesharer (PALs) work and often live with the Residents receiving services.
Sarah always liked to rise early with her mother before coming to Many Hands at the age of 35, but now her mother is ill and needs caregiving herself. Sarah is paired with Jill who is a PAL because she is also an early riser. Jill helps with Sarah’s personal care including dressing as needed and then they go together to the kitchen. They like to have a cup of tea on the screened-in back porch, watch the sunrise and wait for others to rise. When the rest of the household awakens, they come together to make a full breakfast, each contributing as they can, whether by scrambling eggs, pouring pancakes, or setting and clearing the table. Making a fresh healthy meal together is a great start to the day. After breakfast, it is time for Learning Blocks which provide Residents with the opportunity to explore different interests. Each resident is encouraged to spend at least a couple weeks in different Learning Blocks so they can discover activities they might enjoy. Sarah tried different activities when she arrived and decided that she definitely does not like farming but loves to bake. She walks a short distance on the community's road to the commercial kitchen and bakery located in the Community Center. She's able to do this all on her own, something that would not be safe for her anywhere else. As a member of the Bakery team, Sarah helps to measure ingredients, mix dough, knead and shape bread as well as mix up delicious granola or cookies. Sarah enjoys making bread that will be used in the community's homes and available for sale through the Cafe Shop. The community's cafe is open in the morning to lunch time and again for a couple hours in the afternoon for people to come visit, get a bakery item (cookies are the favorite) and a drink while socializing.
Kevin bounces in his chair at breakfast in his eagerness to get outside and move some muscles. Kevin and his PAL, Josh, walk together to the farm. Kevin tends to get excited and run ahead, but this is okay because it is a safe place for him to run. Once at the barn Kevin opens the gate to allow the goats and the friendly alpacas out into the field for the day. He turns the water faucet on and takes the hose to fill up the water trough for all the different animals. When it is milking time, each goat has their own spot on the milking stand. To keep them happy during milking they are given grain to eat. Kevin's favorite job is to scoop the grain from the large barrel, carry it over to the individual feed station, pour it out and then go back to get more for the next goat. He squeals in delight at how happy the goats are to have the treats that he has given them.
Troy, who lives in another house in the Village, greets his friend Kevin. Today is produce pick-up day. With help from his PAL Cam, Troy puts the same amount of lettuce, carrots, eggplant and raspberries into each pickup box. Troy likes to see people’s excitement when they come to get their boxes of fresh vegetables. It's time for lunch. Everyone in the village takes a break and heads to the Community Center where tables and chairs are set up for a village-wide lunch that other Residents and PALs have been preparing during their morning Learning Block in the commercial kitchen. The kitchen provides many tasks that residents can learn. They wash vegetables and fruits and then chop, slice, or peel them. They grate cheese and peel garlic. They stir and ladle soups. They set up and wash pots and pans when done. Giving a hug to a friend with a hurt foot after dropping a pan on it reinforces the importance of empathy and compassion. Becoming proficient at kitchen jobs comes in handy for Residents at home. The skills they develop in the community kitchen can be used in their home kitchens where they can also help prepare meals. People don't necessarily sit with their housemates at lunch; this is a time to hang out with friends and catch up. After lunch there is another Learning Block. Activities include art in the craft house, music therapy, animal therapy, recreational exercise or walks through the many trails in the community. At painting time everyone gets to learn the importance of sharing space and tools. Each home has their own large van that is used for grocery shopping or special excursions to the wider community for visits to the library, bowling alley or ice cream shop. Wednesday and Saturday mornings are extra busy in the Village. It's a time when people and families come on site to visit, pet the animals, see the farm and pick up their weekly box of produce. Some pack a blanket and a lunch box to spend time here.
Steve will be helping to set up chairs for people to sit and enjoy the music. This Sunday a local band is going to be playing under a tent in the festival celebration area. One of Steve's old teachers from school loves to come here for the music. Steve is excited because he knows he's going to see one of his favorite people soon. A few people from each home return early to start preparing dinner which is served family style around a large table. At dinner Sarah looks around with pride as her housemates compliment and enjoy eating the amazing bread she made that morning. This is a special moment of joy for her. After dinner is when the lifesharing advantages really are highlighted. It's when the lifestyle is most keenly felt. Quiet time doing puzzles together or making music and other games together these events draw out individuals away from the need to rely on electronics for entertainment. Tonight the whole village is going to have a large bonfire in the central field. Some people are bringing their instruments to play and others are looking forward to a chance to dance. After an exciting evening together, it’s time to go back home and get ready for bed. Each home has a designated PAL to stay up and be aware of any needs of the residents that may arise during the night. Speaking of PALs, each has two days off in a row to do as they please. There are community-owned cars available to use. Classes are held each week that PALs are expected to participate in including required learning for internships or training on Biodynamic farming. PALs choose lifesharing because they are seeking a way of life, not a typical job.
There's much to learn here. So, take your time, look around, and learn all there is to know about us from our website then contact us to discuss how you can help us make these days a reality.