Heartbeet in the News: The Daily Front Row



Model Chris Garafola Makes His Special Needs Sister a Star for the Day

By Eddie Roche | October 4, 2017

Chris and Britt in Garden 2017

And the award for best little brother in the world goes to…Boston-based model Chris Garafola, recently named one of Harper Bazaar’s 25 Hottest Guys To Follow on Instagram, is more than just a hottie. His almost 50K followers know his number-one priority is his special needs sister Brittany, who recently celebrated her birthday. On her longtime wish list was to become a model like her brother, so Garafola called in some favors and pulled off a major surprise. He exclusively shares with The Daily how he pulled it together and how Brittany rocked her day on set.

What’s your relationship like with your sister?
She’s my best friend. She’s my birth sister. I also have two stepbrothers. It was just my mom, my sister, and I for a little while because my mom got divorced when we were young. I kind of took the role of the big brother early on and I really had to look out for her and make sure she was okay. We’ve always been good friends and she always brings out the best in me. I consider her my rock. Especially in this industry, you can kind of lose your head, but she always brings me back to center because all she knows is love and all she knows is happiness. She’s a constant source of happiness for me.

Why did you want to make her a model for the day?
People with Down syndrome have different proficiencies, so some of them can read and write, some of them can have jobs… Brittany can’t read or write, she can’t do a lot of the basic things that we take for granted, however she has a superpower, where she can just connect with anybody. She just wants to be able to do something if she wants to do it. In this case, she wants to do everything that I do. I go to prom, she wants to go to prom, if I go to college she wants to go to college. Over the years I always show her my work and she’s like, “That’s cool! I want to model!” She kept asking and asking. I would do these videos with her and put them on Instagram. She started saying, “I want to go to Hollywood! I want a limo!” I was like, “Where are you getting all this stuff from? You don’t want to go to Hollywood, you have the best life in the world.” But she kept going back to the modeling thing so I decided to surprise her for her birthday and make that wish come true and have her model for the day. The priority was to make her day and show her she can do anything that her brother can do and she should be allowed to. My sister’s the most beautiful person in the world.

How did you surprise her?
It was on her birthday. She was like, “What are we going to do?” I said, “Maybe we will go for a hike or something.” She looked at me like, “What?” We didn’t tell her until we got to the set location and the stylist was there, the whole crew. We walked up to this beautiful location about 40 minutes outside of Boston with a beautiful garden. I said, “Brittany, who do you think all these people are?” She wasn’t sure, and I told her that they were all there for her because we were going to have a special photo shoot just for her.

What was her reaction?
She was so excited. She started hugging me and her eyes started to water up. It was really beautiful, and after that, she stole the show. She couldn’t have been happier.

photo 2

Model Hilary Rhoda also participated sending in a video message for your sister with some tips.
I explained to her that Hilary is a supermodel and she took the time out to wish you a happy birthday. Another beautiful thing about Brittany is that it’s not that she doesn’t respect people who are celebrities or supermodels, it’s just that everybody is on the same level and playing field to her.

What was it like for her to have so much attention on herself that day?
She loved it. She’s just a people person, and she just loved talking to people. With Brittany it’s never about her; she’s always asking questions, she’s listening, and she always remembers names. Her favorite thing was meeting all these people: stylists, the photographer, the assistant, the intern, and she was asking them questions like “Where are you from? What’s your name?” She asks simple questions like, “Do you have a boyfriend? Do you have a brother and what’s his name?” Before you know it, she knows everything about you and she hasn’t said anything about herself. She was totally eating up the whole limelight. I was in the one of the shots with her and she was like, “Chris, this is about me today!” I have never seen her before in that light, with makeup and hair and everything. I was in tears. It was the most beautiful thing.

What about the photographer?
Austin Huck was incredible. My mom [onset] kept saying, “I can’t believe how patient he is.” I had put the ask out on Facebook that I wanted to do this special photo shoot with my sister and I had messages from all over the world. So many people wanted to do this. It was a hard decision to make because I didn’t want somebody who was just an amazing photographer—they had to be a good person deep down because they were working with my sister with special needs.

What are you going to do with the images?
I’m going to frame a bunch of them! It’s going to be something that I’m always going to remember when I’m a dad or whatever is down the road. I’m going to remember my time modeling and that I was able to do a shoot with my sister. I’m also going to put some of the images in my portfolio of the two of us together. Sure, I’m a fashion model and I do high-end to commercial, but who I am as a person and who I am as a model and why the way I smile and act the way I do is because of my sister. On a greater scale, this was to show empowerment, beauty, and confidence comes in all different sizes and forms.

What are you going to do next year for your sister?
She’s probably already talking about it. When her birthday month is over, she’s already starts to talk about her birthday the following year. It’s very easy to make her happy. As long as we’re together, that’s all she cares about.

briit 3

britt and mom

britt and chris


photoshoot britt

Briit model

View the full article from “The Daily Front Row” here  

Photos by Austin Huck

Behind The Scenes Images by Sasha Greenhalgh

Awww alert! Don’t miss this video of how the day came together.

HIVE.Studio Team
Producer/Director: Cassie Huck, HIVE.Studio
Photographer: Austin Huck, HIVE.Studio
1st Photo Assistant: Jason Pietroski
2nd Photo Assistant: Claire Roche
Digital Tech: Chris Valites
HIVE.DRONES: Sasha Greenhalgh, Michael Bueno, Holly McHugh
Bear Walk Films
Videographer: Daniela Goncalves, Bearwalk
Videographer: Brian Tortora, Bearwalk
Editor: Vincent Henry, Austin Huck

Ennis Inc
Stylist: Taylor Greeley, Ennis Inc
Stylist Assistant: Christian Adams
Hair and Make Up: Kacie Corbelle, Ennis Inc
Stevens-Coolidge Place Trustees
Site Managers: Kate Bibeau and Kevin Block
Whole Foods Markets of Boston: Matthew Keller
Star Market Cambridge
Trader Joe’s of Cambridge
Boston Photo Rental: Jeff Newman

Eddie Roche
Eddie Roche is the Deputy Editor of The Daily Front Row/Daily Summer/Daily Hollywood

Dr. Temple Grandin to Speak at Heartbeet!

Sterling College is pleased to bring Dr. Temple Grandin to Heartbeet Lifesharing for a free evening talk for the Northeast Kingdom community while she is in Craftsbury Common teaching at the School of the New American Farmstead. Please join us tonight,
Tuesday June 20, 2017 at 6:30pm at the Heartbeet Lifesharing Community Center in Hardwick, VT for a talk about the pressing issues facing community members with disabilities in a rural, farming culture. While in Vermont, Dr. Grandin will teach a course on Holistic Livestock Husbandry as well as offer a guest lecture in The School of the New American Farmstead course Ethical Slaughter and Butchery. The School of the New American Farmstead provides a variety of workshops, classes, and certifications that will inspire, offer marketable skills, and work to provide new perspectives on integrated, community-centered farming and food production. To learn more about the classes that she is teaching by visiting www.sterlingcollege.edu/snaf

To learn more about Temple Grandin’s talk at Heartbeet, please contact Heartbeet Lifesharing at 802-472-3285 or hallevents@heartbeet.org

To learn more about The School of the New American Farmstead and the courses Dr. Grandin is teaching at Sterling College please contact admission@sterlingcollege.edu

*Talk begins at 7pm, doors open at 6:30pm

Heartbeet in the News: The Christian Science Monitor

Hannah and Heartbeet were featured this month in The Christian Science Monitor’s “People Making A Difference” section!

She lives with, and takes an inclusive approach to, those with special needs


In 2000, Hannah Schwartz helped establish Heartbeet farm to offer care and opportunities for growth for adults with developmental disabilities.



In the basement of a house set into the side of green Vermont hills, half a dozen “friends,” or people with developmental disabilities, worked with volunteers to create wool feltings at Heartbeet farm one June afternoon.

In the middle of them was Hannah Schwartz, who established the farm with her husband, Jonathan Gilbert. She needled away at a felting of a small barn with Sequoia Cheyenne, one of the friends, turning away occasionally to check on the progress of others in the craft workshop.

In the midst of content murmurings, giggles, and felting consultations, another friend excitedly reminded Ms. Schwartz that it was her birthday the next day. With a warm smile and equal enthusiasm, Schwartz affirmed, “It’s my birthday tomorrow!”

Schwartz has spent many of her birthdays with these friends, as she lives with them. “I’ve been in Kaspar House since 2005, running this house,” she says of one of the six houses at Heartbeet farm. “It’s kind of the hub of the community.”

Schwartz brings a lifetime of relevant experience to Heartbeet. At the Hardwick, Vt., campus, she’s worked to create an integrated setting where her family, as well as co-workers and volunteers, all live with the residents. Schwartz’s work also goes beyond Hardwick: She speaks worldwide about the kind of model Heartbeet provides for adults with developmental disabilities.

“She’s incredibly dedicated,” says Democratic state Rep. Joseph “Chip” Troiano, who lives in East Hardwick and has been following Heartbeet’s progress. “The residents are so well treated and are well received: It’s like they don’t have disabilities.”

Schwartz’s parents worked at Camphill Village Kimberton Hills in Pennsylvania, and that’s where she grew up. “I loved my childhood,” she says.

Of the lessons she took away: Everyone should be included, Schwartz says, “and self-esteem is key.”

After attaining a college degree in special education and spending some time in the “real world,” Schwartz had some uncomfortable realizations.

“What was shocking was getting into the world and seeing how little is understood about community,” she says. “There’s such a commitment to paid work in our culture that neighborly care becomes almost odd.”

At home at Heartbeet

People looking to embrace a more community-oriented, neighborly lifestyle find themselves at home at Heartbeet. Marcianna Morse and her husband, Dan, are raising their child there.

Ms. Morse, who has been on the staff for 4-1/2 years, says she decided to live at Heartbeet after having lunch there one afternoon. “I stayed because of the commitment to the human relationships and the opportunity to heal and share and grow,” she says.

Her family joins Schwartz, the other co-workers, volunteers, their families, dogs, cats, and 17 residents who live in the Heartbeet houses.

Outside the residences, the farm has a renovated barn for dairy and beef cows, goats, chickens, and pigs. It also has a greenhouse, garden, and wood shop.

In pursuit of sustainability, between 50 and 60 percent of the community’s food is produced on the farm, Schwartz says.

While everyone rotates in and out of barn chores and housekeeping, she says, Heartbeet also runs vocational workshops that are organized according to residents’ interests.

On that June day, for instance, residents Suzannah Dickinson and Ann Blanchard were in the garden helping place wire cages around some wilting tomato plants.

“The reason why I chose this place to live is so I can learn different skills,” Ms. Blanchard says. At one point before moving in 16 years ago, she adds, “I was with my parents, and that was kind of boring: I watched a lot of television and sat around twiddling my thumbs.”

Both women have extended their work past the farm. Ms. Dickinson packages cheese at Jasper Hill Farm in nearby Greensboro, and Blanchard just retired from helping out at the local food co-op.

Residents have other opportunities to be involved in the region, too. The felting artwork – which is framed by residents in the wood shop – gets sold throughout the Northeast, and residents can lead demonstrations in community classes.

Never lonely

Loneliness, Schwartz says, is never a problem at Heartbeet. “You get a group of people and you learn how to create meaningful lives,” she explains. To help with that process, each house meets weekly to discuss social events and conflicts, and each person gets a three-minute “check-in” to talk about how he or she is doing.

“We end up being able to take care of each other,” Schwartz says.

That care can go both ways. Co-worker Nora Demuth, who moved to Heartbeet this year, says being there is “life-affirming.”

“This is actually what [life is] about,” Ms. Demuth says as she does a felting with a resident. “It feels genuine to me. It’s a good life.”

Schwartz cofounded Heartbeet in 2000, after coming upon two people with developmental disabilities who were living in Hardwick. Seeing the inadequacies of their two options – home care or independent living – she felt there was a better way.

“Their lives were so deeply dysfunctional,” she says. “Both of them would have really thrived in community living, but there wasn’t a setting.”

At that moment, she was “called” to bring the Camphill model to Vermont. The groundwork was already in place: The state is made up of small towns, emphasizes direct access to elected officials, and values the environment.

“The embedded values of the state, the natural fabric of community – that still exists,” Schwartz says. “It made so much sense.”

She chose the site of a former 150-acre dairy farm in Hardwick, a onetime quarry town. It was located on Town Farm Road, on land previously used for the “town farm,” where work and shelter were provided for those on the periphery of Vermont society during the early 19th century.

Town farms aren’t necessarily a good chapter in the state’s history. “Very minimal services, no care,” Schwartz says. But, she adds, “It was the beginning of awareness that we need to take care of our vulnerable population.”

Two centuries later, she says, state officials worked with her to build upon – and improve – that legacy. But establishing Heartbeet wasn’t exactly easy, she notes: “It was a long journey both for the state and us.”

Now, Schwartz is working to bring more people from the region to Heartbeet. The organization just bought 58 more acres in the neighboring town of Craftsbury, with plans for a new house and therapeutic riding center that will be open to the public.

Heartbeet also has an almost-completed community building where various organizations, businesspeople, and performers will hold events. “Every event will include adults with developmental disabilities,” Schwartz says.

A standing ovation

This past spring, she and some residents visited the Vermont State House at the invitation of Representative Troiano.

“It was just heartwarming,” he says. “They got a standing ovation, which is not out of the ordinary. But boy,… there’s nothing like it.”

Troiano says he has been continually impressed with what Schwartz has built. “This is the model,” he says.

Schwartz says she’s gotten a lot of support for that model in Vermont, and she now regularly travels to spread it further. She most recently returned from giving a talk in Israel.

“There’s more now than ever, growing awareness and exchange,” Schwartz says. And yet, “there’s still not enough. We have a long way to go, I’d say.”

For now, she stays positive by living at Heartbeet and interacting with the residents. Noting that she continues to learn from their ability to embrace and love others, she says: “They’re an inspiration.”

Heartbeet in the News: Goddard College Spring E-Newsletter

Hannah was featured in the Goddard Spring E-Newsletter as their featured alumna! Hannah’s connection to Goddard College brought her to the Northeast Kingdom, and we’re sure glad it did! Read the full article below, and check out Goddard online!

Alumna Hannah Schwartz (IBA ‘01) Constructs a Cultural Hub for the Northeast Kingdom

Hannah (right) and Connor, a resident of Heartbeet

Hannah (right) with a resident of Heartbeet


“Goddard is the reason I came to this area,” says Hannah, the executive director and co-founder of Heartbeet Lifesharing, a community that is home to 47 adults, including 16 individuals with special needs.

Heartbeet Lifesharing in Hardwick, Vermont is wrapping up a $2.2 million dollar campaign to build a community center in the Northeast Kingdom that is dedicated to inclusion and the arts.

This building’s mission is collaboration and inclusion; it will be a place for people to come together across abilities to celebrate community and the arts. Future plans for the Heartbeet Community Center include performances, classes, concerts, the exploration of interfaith conversation, and community meals.

Here, Hannah speaks in her own words about her Goddard experience and how she came to live, work, and build this intentional arts community:

Photo of Hannah with her children

Photo of Hannah with her children

“At a turning point in my life I went searching for a college that I could philosophically align with, and one that would allow me the flexibility to be a mother of two. I was living in Canada at the time working for a wonderful community-based organization as the head gardener and doing direct care for adults with developmental disabilities.

“With only two semesters left until graduation, I was excited to finish up my studies. As soon as I encountered the Health Arts program at Goddard I was certain that I had found my home for this next step. Every moment from that point forward was directive in connecting me to this area. The land, the people, the connections and the general mood of the area called to me.

“My family landed in Calais, a small, warm community that encircled us. Goddard learning, with its self-directed study approach and community building residency weeks, fit my learning style, with just enough freedom within a clear framework to get it all done! I can honestly say that I would not have found this area without Goddard and can’t imagine where I would be at this time.

My Goddard experience definitely birthed my leadership skills and helped me form my adult vocational contribution. I have gratitude for a very a magical two years confirming that higher education can be woven in with life.”


For more information about Heartbeet Lifesharing, or to join a community tour, call (802) 472-3285, or email info@heartbeet.org. Also visit them onFacebook, or at their website, www.heartbeet.org

Heartbeet in the News: The Stowe Reporter

Connor Henesy was featured in the Stowe Reporter this week, giving an interview about his experience snowboarding with Friends of Stowe Adaptive Sports!

Stowe Adaptive Sports: Catching up with Connor Henesy

Posted: Thursday, March 3, 2016 6:00 am | Updated: 3:06 pm, Thu Mar 3, 2016.

Connor Henesy is 29 years old. He has lived at Heartbeet Lifesharing in Hardwick for the past 10 years.

Heartbeet is an adult community where people with developmental disabilities live and work side by side with co-workers and volunteers.

Connor is an avid farmer and loves having meaningful work. He takes pride in providing milk and eggs for the people he lives with.

This is Connor’s first year snowboarding with Friends of Stowe Adaptive Sports. We caught up with him to ask a few questions:

Q. Connor, is this your first time snowboarding?

A. No. I have tried a few times with my friend Jonathan but this is the first time I am having lessons.

Q. Will you stick to snowboarding or do you want to try skiing next winter?

A. Snowboarding all the way! It’s so cool! (hang-ten hand gestures)

Q. Who is your adaptive instructor?

A. Eileen. (This is Eileen Sinopoli’s first year as an adaptive coach at Stowe Mountain Resort)

Q. What is the best thing about snowboarding for you?

A. That my instructor Eileen is so awesome!

Q. Do you enjoy any after shredding treats?

A. Hot cocoa, yum!

Kaylin McCarthy, who runs Connor’s house, said: “Connor’s enthusiasm for life knows no bounds. He greets each new day and activity with a refreshing energy that is a blessing to those around him. He hopes to be involved with the Special Olympics snowboarding team next year and wants to win a trophy.”

Friends of Stowe Adaptive Sports is a volunteer-driven nonprofit organization that raises money all year to provide athletic scholarships to any Vermont resident with a physical or developmental disability. Funds are also raised to buy equipment and train instructors. To learn more about the Friends or make a donation: stoweadaptive.com or its Facebook page.

See this article on the Stowe Reporter website! 

Heartbeet in the News: Camphill Association Blog

This article written by Heartbeet’s very own Jon Flint was published this week in the Camphill Association Blog! 

The Advent Season at Heartbeet Lifesharing

This post was written by Jonathan Flint, a coworker since 2013 at Heartbeet Lifesharing. Jonathan served in our AmeriCorps program and is also involved in the Camphill Foundation as a Board Fellow. In Heartbeet his responsibilities include management of the grounds and estate, in addition to fundraising and working in forestry.

This year at Heartbeet Lifesharing, a Camphill community for adults founded in 2001 among the scenic hills of Hardwick, Vermont, we will turn our attention in Advent to the abundance of natural gifts (pasture for animals, soil for the garden, rocks and timber for dwellings, wells of clean drinking water) that we have taken over the stewardship of at Heartbeet.  Our Land Group, composed of landscapers, farmers, gardeners and foresters, will share a series of community studies on the four elemental kingdoms of nature-spirits.  We are learning about our responsibility to become co-creators with the spiritual world in reshaping the landscape at Heartbeet.

IMG_1705Advent in Camphill communities has a number of rich traditions.  It is the season of the Shepherd’s Play!  Coworkers and friends prepare for the Christmas plays that are attributed to the Germanic people surrounding the town of Oberufer.  Town players passed down the stories, from generation to generation, the parts in three plays that depict the Nativity story, Creation, and the Three Kings.  The “mystery plays” date back to the earliest dramatic works of medieval Europe, but were only written down and published in the mid-nineteenth century.  The Heartbeet players will present the Shepherd’s Play this year for the ninety children at our local Waldorf school.

A group of coworkers read the Paradise Play this year, which tells the story of Adam and Eve and the fall of humanity from abundance and innocence.  This reading occurs prior to the performance of the Shepherd’s Play.  In the play, the birth of Christ offers the shepherds an opportunity to “shift” perspectives, from their anxiety of unmet needs and fear of not having enough, to appreciating the daily work each of them does and recognizing the abundance in each man that he can offer to this new baby.  As one shepherd, Muckle, reminds the others in reflection on meeting the child:

On Earth is he born in this poor fashion
So that on us he have compassion
And make us rich in Heaven great
That like to angels shall be our state
Yea, poorly is he born this day
That so from pride men turn them away,
And choose not riches and glorification
But to live content in humble station.

What will I take away from this advent season?  A deep sense of gratitude, for all the gifts of this past year, and particularly for the gift of being able to work on the land.  I lead the endeavors of the estate crew.  This year, we completed landscaping projects, recovered from flood damage and cleared new pasture, harvested apples and raspberries, built new structures, and created a beautiful safe play area for the youngest members of Heartbeet.  Advent also means the promise of winter in Vermont, when snow covers the past years’ work in shades of white and grey, and hides any unfinished projects from sight and mind.  My anxieties and accomplishments will be buried for now, and what remains is to try to live content, through the winter, in humble station.

To read more from the Camphill Association Blog click HERE!

Breaking Ground for the Heartbeet Community Center!

The Heartbeet Community is delighted to announce that we are breaking ground for our long awaited Community Center! We hope that you will join us for a celebration of this event on October 23rd, 2015. All are welcome! Please RSVP to info@heartbeet.org so we can count you in!

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