“Work is considered a key element to the recovery process for our model. People feel reward and return on their efforts in seeing a job well done,” says Richard R. Karges, LISW, ACSW, Hopewell's executive director since October 2007. “We see people really growing through the work experience.”
Therapeutic farming communities have roots in the 18th century.
In 1792, Quaker merchant William Tuke founded a “retreat asylum” in Liverpool, England. The retreat was modeled after a simple family farm and focused on emotional and spiritual recovery instead of restraints and punishment. Tuke combined this “moral” treatment with the Quakers' emphasis on a homelike setting, garden walks, reading, sewing, and good food.
After spending more than a year at the retreat, American Dorothea Dix was inspired to advocate for more humane conditions for people with mental illness. Although similar retreats did open in the United States at Dix's urging, by the late 19th century medically oriented state institutions were replacing them.1
Yet the concept didn't disappear. In 1913, William J. Gould founded Gould Farm in Monterey, Massachusetts, now the oldest therapeutic farm community in the country. According to Cory Loder, Gould Farm's program director, Gould was influenced by the moral treatment movement, his interest in creating an “intentional” community, and his religious convictions. Decades after its founding, one man's stay at Gould Farm planted the seed for Hopewell's development.
In the 1980s, a mentally ill family member of Cleveland-area philanthropist Clara T. Rankin stayed at Gould Farm. She was so impressed by how the experience changed him that she decided Northeast Ohio needed a therapeutic farming community. Rankin assembled a board of directors and purchased a farm that also had been a bed-and-breakfast, and in 1996 Hopewell admitted its first resident. Most of Hopewell's residents have come from six counties in Northeast Ohio.
A place to learn and recover
Hopewell has a sliding fee scale of between $150 and 250 per day based on a family's financial status, although more than 90% of residents receive financial assistance (totaling $899,000 in 2007). Hopewell does have government payers, including the VA; Illinois State Board of Education; Ohio county boards of mental health, county boards of mental retardation/developmental disabilities, and child/family service agencies; and the Ohio Bureau of Workers' Compensation. Hopewell notes that its fees are less than half of state hospitals' and as little as 15% of private hospitals' charges.
Hopewell residents can swim and fish on the property. Photo by Molly Nook