Join us in the work/play of health-enhancing community-centered joyful service in Gesundheit’s Rural Volunteer Program! An ongoing experiment in the therapeutic role of caring community, the Gesundheit! Institute brings students, volunteers, educators, cooks, gardeners, builders, and program attendees together from around the world.

Our Mission

Our goal is to enhance personal, family and community well-being through collaborative work, play and care. We provide settings for volunteers desiring the experience of working in a joyful, caring community and developing community-building skills.

We take our play as seriously as our work, which helps us keep our work as fun as our play. Together, we aim to get things done while at the same time getting along. Join us if you’re serious about a fun volunteer experience.


Our Practice


We each take responsibility for our own delight, at the same time we take responsibility for the group atmosphere. How to negotiate conflicting ideas, needs and wants is challenging, when we each need a sense of control and participation. Caring for each other requires good communication. Curiosity, thoughtfulness and love are essential ingredients for community health and harmony. Volunteers have experienced life-changing moments during their time here. Our program and projects are not designed for those needing sanctuary, healthcare or therapy as a primary focus. We expect our volunteers to dive into what can be physical and emotionally demanding work of living in close community. We will stimulate dialogue, expose people to new ideas, listen intently to each other’s dreams, sing and ponder, find our fun and run, be ourselves, and encourage the same freedom in others.

How the Volunteer Program Works


Volunteers must be at least 18 years old or be accompanied by a parent or guardian. Volunteers contribute 35 hours per week of work in exchange for room and board. We host several work camps during the year. All long-term volunteer positions require an initial interview visit of 3-4 days. Occasionally, we have need of short-term volunteers with building, carpentry, grounds maintenance or house painting experience.

Expect the lines between work and play to blur during your stay here. Primarily, we work on the land and actively contribute to our local community. Most of the time, you will be working on a variety of projects and will be involved with general upkeep of the land such as household cleaning, laundry, cooking, chopping wood, etc. Long term volunteers may be asked to help guide activities with short term volunteers.

Organic Gardeningworkshop
In years past volunteers have built garden fencing, developed new and repaired existing raised beds as well as planted seeds, transplanted starts and nurtured perennial and annual food crops through watering, weeding, harvesting and preserving. You can learn about organic gardening while providing food for Gesundheit’s future. One may also learn lessons in permaculture, biodynamics and bioregionalism. Experience with gardening is helpful but a passion for learning about growing food is more important.

Grounds Maintenance
We need muscle to maintain our forests, meadows, trails, springs and lawns. Help with invasive species, bailing hay, brush hogging, weed wacking, spring house maintenance and mowing.

Cooking Staff
A dedicated cooking team will be needed to prepare vegetarian meals during the month of June. If you have experience cooking for large groups of people (up to 40) and can do so the month of June, this could be a great volunteer opportunity.


Where You’ll Stay While You’re Here

In the summertime, two Yurts and the EgalDorm will house volunteers and special program participants such as those attending School for Designing a Society. The EgalDorm has space to sleep up to 12 people, the larger Yurt will house up to 10 and the smaller Yurt sleeps up to 8. Sleeping is on bunk beds that were built in the workshop by volunteers.

The Dacha is an architectural delight. The Dacha was designed by Dave Sellers and currently houses staff and also frequently volunteers and special program participants throughout the year. In winter, two showers are available; three in the summer when the outside upper porch shower is functional. Three of the six toilets are in the Dacha. Because the Dacha is used primarily for sleeping and very quiet activities we ask that people observe the 10:00pm-7am quiet hours while in the Dacha and use library voices during these hours. The lowest level and the first floor of the Dacha are always open to people on the land.

Our built environments are stimulating, however; the natural environment in which the buildings are cradled is even more inspiring. With more than two miles of established trails, a three-acre lake, two waterfalls, numerous springs, small and vast meadows and many acres of forest, your stay will be filled with connection and reconnection with natural patterns

Volunteer Weekends

Volunteer weekends are for those who want to check out the land, contribute to the project and do some work prior to making major time commitments. To help defray costs please consider making a monetary donation for these weekends. Complete the volunteer application and write the weekend dates you wish to attend in the space for dates available. Application deadline for volunteer weekends is 30 days prior to the first day of the weekend.

Does this sound like the place for you? If so, please fill out the volunteer application. The more complete your answers, the better chance you have of being selected as a volunteer. Once we’ve received your application we will follow up with you as soon as we can!

How to Apply

Fill out the Online Volunteer Application by clicking the link below OR mail your completed application by snail mail if you prefer!

Apply Now!

-OR- Please download, print, & mail the completed Volunteer Application to:

I Wanna Volunteer! Applicant
Gesundheit! Institute
2234 Locust Creek Rd.
Hillsboro, WV 24946

Patch Adams MD & Gesundheit Institute, P.O. Box 307, Urbana, IL 61803

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