Sarah Brightfield Worksite Leader
I first came to Bethlehem Farm in August 2021 to be the ETHOS (Engineers in Technical Humanitarian Opportunities of Service Learning) intern through the University of Dayton for the fall semester. My main project as the ETHOS intern was designing and ordering materials for the Danny Keith Maintenance Garage loft. While this project was an important part of my ETHOS semester, the relationships, community engagement, and growth in my faith were some of the most enriching takeaways from my experience.
I fell in love with Bethlehem Farm’s mindset of prioritizing people, relationships, and the needs of the community first and felt the Farm’s values deeply resonated with mine. As I prepared to graduate from UD, I began searching for my next step. I felt drawn to the Farm because I wanted to combine my background in corporate construction with my passion for service. In May 2022, I graduated from UD with a degree in Civil and Environmental Engineering and a minor in Sustainability and joined the Bethlehem Farm Caretaker Team. When I’m not gardening barefoot or on a worksite, I can be found exploring the country in my yellow campervan named Peace Blossom. I love exploring the hiking trails of Appalachia, playing guitar, journaling, reading, and dreaming of my next big road trip.
Anna Koshiol Hiring Coordinator, Worksite Leader, Animal & Garden Teams
Hello, I’m Anna! I was born and raised in central Minnesota (a.k.a. Minne-snow-ta). I graduated from the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities in May, 2021 with a degree in sociology, and I’m looking forward to trading in my backpack for some power tools! As I was searching for post-graduation work, I told everyone, and assured my parents, that I would stay close to home and find work in Minnesota. However, after searching for a while, and attending several interviews for jobs that were seemingly good fits, I was reluctant to commit, and was passed over for several job offers. Frustrated, I turned myself over to prayer as I was searching for Catholic volunteer opportunities. Immediately after telling the Lord what I wanted, I found Bethlehem Farm. I was (am) searching for the chance to have an adventurous life of service, and to integrate my daily work with my Catholic values while caring for the land around me. After staying at the Farm for a week, I felt more at peace than I had in a long time as I saw the work of the community at the Farm in action. I’m beyond excited to be a part of the community at Bethlehem Farm and immerse myself in prayer, explore the beautiful landscape, and serve the people that I live with as well as those that I will welcome home.
Molly Sutter House Manager, Catechetical Coordinator, Gardener, Animal Friend
On a Friday in June of 2015, as a high school volunteer concluding my week-long service retreat, I journalled that while leaving was an important part of my journey, I was reluctant because I felt that “the farm is my home.” I returned to my familial home in Narberth, Pennsylvania, to finish my senior year at Merion Mercy Academy, but I knew I’d return. I continued my education at Goucher College in Towson, Maryland, studing Environmental Studies, Education, and Psychology. Each summer throughout college I spent time as a Summer Servant, finding joy while planting onions and dancing in the rain. As I prayed for post-grad guidence, I felt God whisper “go home.” I was not being called to move back to Pennsylvania, but to return to Bethlehem Farm as a Caretaker. I continue meet God as I co-create in the garden, participate in community renewal, respond to Appalachia’s beauty through art, embrace community living, and welcome others home.
Steve Rassa Volunteer Coordinator, Community Outreach, Worksite Leader
I began as a full-time volunteer Caretaker on November 1, 2018. After a two-year period of discerning a life of service, I was led to Bethlehem Farm by the Holy Spirit, although still not clear on my mission or purpose at the Farm. How could 20+ years in corporate supply chain be useful at the Farm? From the first day at Bethlehem Farm I felt welcomed and at peace, knowing that God’s purpose for me would be revealed, even if quite slowly. I am finding that my life experiences have enabled me to embrace the four cornerstones of community, prayer, simplicity, and service. The Farm continues to be a source of personal and spiritual growth, enhancing my health physically, mentally, and spiritually. Every day I receive much more than I give and continue to be excited about what each new day will provide and reveal. I have found good and holy spiritual soil at Bethlehem Farm, nourishing my relationship with God.
Will Fair Project Director
With over 15 years in the field, Will brings a variety of construction site experience. As Project Director, he trains Caretakers coordinates our low-income home repair program. He has experience in all nearly aspects of the construction field and served in the U.S. Army in power generation. Will also works on the farm cars and has etensive mechanic knowledge. Will is a patient teacher, sports enthusiast, and Cornhole champion.
My husband Eric and I have been living at Bethlehem Farm since May 2007. I went to college at Loyola University Chicago, then spent two years working at Nazareth Farm (Bethlehem Farm’s sister farm) as the Project Coordinator. Eric and I got married in 2005, moved to Morgantown, WV, and I graduated with a Master’s Degree in Social Work from West Virginia University. I love working with my hands, whether it’s working on the farm vehicles, framing walls, or creating unique quilts. Some of my favorite Farm activities are tending the honeybees, canning and preserving food, and learning about growing fruit on the Farm. In the meantime, I love raising our kids on the farm, trying to live authentically, and continuously growing from the experiences we have and the people we meet here.
Eric Fitts Director, Garden Team, Capital Projects
I grew up in Wauwatosa, WI, and earned rank of Eagle Scout in 1992. I was introduced to this work and lifestyle through the Encounter and Search retreats, and a service-immersion trip with Loyola University Chicago to Nazareth Farm in 1997, followed by involvement with soup kitchen work in Chicago, as well as service-immersion trips to Guatemala in 1998-99. Graduated with BS in Biology from Loyola in 1999. Experienced in nonprofit home repair, service-retreat work, farming, and community living since 1999. After college, I volunteered and worked at Nazareth Farm in Doddridge County, WV, from 1999-2002, and worked as the mentor of the Mother Jones House Christian service community at Wheeling Jesuit from 2003-2005, where I also studied theology. Colleen and I co-founded Bethlehem Farm with a small group including Tom Ruggaber, Julie Tracy, Russ Plywaczynski, and others in 2004-5. I married my lovely wife Colleen in 2005 and we both attended West Virginia University, where I earned a Master of Public Administration and Certificate in Nonprofit Management in 2007. I have served as a Caretaker and Director at Bethlehem Farm from 2007-present. Currently serving as soccer transportation manager for three children and Cubmaster of our local Cub Scout Pack. Interested in care for creation, stargazing, farming, backpacking, raising good kids, healing sciatic pain so I can run again, transformational experiences, creative ways to get kids outside and/or engaged in family chores, and being a good ancestor.
Clare Fitts Farm Comdedian
I was born at the Farm during community night (but at my own house), on October 18, 2016. I love to move and explore and make people laugh.
Isaiah Fitts Great Soccer Player
I arrived at the Bethlehem Farm community on September 22, 2013, and have been charming everyone since. I love playing with legos and trucks. I help at worksites and am the goalie when we play soccer. My parents, Eric and Colleen, think I’m pretty great. (written by Isaiah)
Miram Fitts Junior Chef, Farm Helper
Hi, I’m Miriam. I have lived at Bethlehem Farm my whole life. I love reading, exploring, and biking. I sometimes draw in my free time. I love making new friends on group weeks and when people visit. (written by Miriam)
Assistant to the Farm Dog, Vehicles, Social Resource Coordinator
Hi, I’m Pat. My sister Goose (current farm dog) started working here in March whilst I was finishing up school for the semester. I judiciously finished my online classes, stayed on as a summer servant, and looked forward to returning to college for my junior year. God threw me a tinse of a curveball, I know, sounds a lot unlike him (just kidding, see: Book of Job, story of Abraham, entire development of Israel) and started to plant seeds of a more lifegiving year away from college. Through a long process of discernment this past summer, I found that the Holy Spirit was calling me to become a caretaker and take a year off school. That means Goose and I will be staying! I continue to feel God’s guidance and affirmation of this path as I involve myself more heavily with the community through home repair and flood relief. I am more than excited to serve as a home repair site leader and social resource coordinator this year and build on the skills and interests the farm has already helped to curate.
Home Repair Project Assistant, Sustainability Team, Asst. Office Manager
Hello! My name is Gemma and I originally come from Milwaukee, Wisconsin but spent the past four years in South Bend, Indiana studying Civil Engineering, Resiliency and Sustainability, and Catholic Social Tradition. I participated in several service-learning programs throughout college, including a volunteer week at Nazareth Farm, which taught me about the two feet of love in action: charity and justice. A passion for social and environmental justice paired with a desire to encounter others in community inspired me to align my spiritual beliefs with my everyday work. I am excited to engage this inspiration at Bethlehem Farm by helping out as a home repair site leader, project assistant and sustainability coordinator, and embracing whatever other adventures come my way. I also love learning about local Appalachian culture through the natural beauty and folk music. In my free time, I like to run, eat, hike, talk about concrete and bridges, and play fiddle and ukulele.
House Manager, Beekeeper, Local Food Liaison
I was born and raised in Green Bay, Wisconsin…goah Pack. During the last ten years of my life I have worked as a custom goldsmith, a professional cook and gained my bachelor’s at UW-Stout. Simply put, I applied to be a Caretaker because I was in search of my vocation and I had nothing to lose. My search thus far has led me to the desire to serve. I have been looking for adventure, a simple lifestyle, learning from great people, a better understanding and deepening of my faith, sustainable practices, cooking, and gardening. Bethlehem Farm encompasses all of these desires and so much more.
In May of 2018 it was a whirlwind jumping into the middle of the busiest group week season but sometimes that’s the best way to learn. As the main cook I’m in heaven with all the beautiful vegetables, fruits, and herbs available from our garden and from our local community. As the co-beeper with Colleen, the complex bee colony continues to blow my mind. As the Local Food Liaison, I am enjoying conversing with the farmers and learning where our food is coming from. As a worksite leader it is a joy working with the local community and improving my construction skills. As a member of the church choir at St. Catherine of Siena Catholic Church in Ronceverte, I have gained a deeper sense of belonging. When I have free time, I enjoy the intensity of biking in these beautiful mountains and playing piano. I’m relieved that this first whirlwind has passed but I am also grateful for the experience because my life has been enriched by it.
Garden Team, Social Media and Website Manager
Hi there! My name is Tori Llorens, and I come to the Farm all the way from Los Angeles, CA. In the Summer of 2019 I graduated from Notre Dame where I was a Great Books major in the Program of Liberal Studies and completed a minor in Sustainability. If I have learned anything in my 23 years of life, it is that building relationships with others, God, and the community of species we share Earth with is the only way to be truly human. I look forward to the flood of information from the minds of those around me and the from the numerous books on the shelves. I am stoked to work in this community and experience the beauty which only this part of Appalachia provides. I am blessed to dedicate this step in my life to serving others and living intentionally through my actions, thoughts, and conversations. My goal is that my time at the Farm provides me with lifelong friendships, skills, and values which carry into the rest of my life.
Hello Everybody! I’ve been excited to learn with my hands instead of a pencil in my new life as a professional volunteer now that I’ve retired from a 17-year stint as a professional learner. Bethlehem Farm has been picking away at the back of my brain since 2010 when I first heard of its existence from my youth minister. A series of conflictual events precluded my arrival until early summer 2015 on a college week with my home parish. I distinctly remember rounding the corner of the old garden tool shed and experiencing the simplicity and the beauty of Our Lady of the Bathtub for the first time. At that moment everything about the Farm clicked for me. I may not have known all the details about the place, but I knew I would have to be spending more than just a week here. After a week of memorable conversations, worksites, chores, and reviews of the day, I found myself disappointed that I could not experience the entirety of the Farm that summer. But I knew I would be back. As a Summer Servant in 2017, I learned more about community living and was reminded of the beauty and joy I had found here two years prior. I also learned that the Farm wasn’t yet done with me. I began the Caretaker application process that October and accepted the offer to join the community in April, 2018. The wild ride has only gotten better since then.