DAUPHIN COUNTY, Pa. — Volunteers and laid-off staff cared for animals and plants after Hope Springs Farm's day program for adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities was closed due to stay-at-home orders during the COVID-19 pandemic.
All programming for Growers, which are the program participants, came to a halt. This included music therapy, community volunteering, crafts, cooking and more. However, the farmhouses miniature horses, pigs, goats, sheep, chickens, rabbits and other animals still needed care.
Volunteers and laid-off staff continued coming to the farm to care for the animals and plants that are essential to the farm and its program. Volunteer staff also helped repaint and clean buildings used for day program activities.
"I wanted to volunteer even when the program temporarily closed so that when the Growers are able to return, their farm is just like they left it," Lauren Skorupski, a staff member who volunteered on the farm, said, according to a release. "I helped care for the animals while they are gone because animal therapy is so helpful for their sensory skills, and they love getting to take care of them.”
The farm also offered families the opportunity to visit, using social distancing precautions, for Growers to see the animals they care for.
The Bureau for Supports for People with Intellectual Disabilities and the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services announced that the farm would receive retainer payments until the crisis passes, a release said. These payments mean that all staff would have their jobs back, and the farm program would resume once Growers are allowed to return.