With activities accessible for all abilities, Harvest Festival returns

Since opening in 2010, Benjamin’s Hope’s has hosted an annual Harvest Festival, a family-friendly event accessible for people of all abilities. 

This year’s event returns Saturday, Sept. 30, from 3-6 p.m.

Harvest Festival will be held on the Benjamin’s Hope 52-acre campus and feature live music. It also will include the Holland Model Train show, with a full HO-scale train layout set up indoors and a barrel train around campus.

Other activities and attractions include hayrides, pumpkin decorating, visiting with first responders and seeing fire trucks up close. There will be games and hands-on activities as well as antique cars and free food. 

Attendees also can visit the animals, including alpacas, rabbits and goats, that are cared for by the residents of the campus. 

Open arms to the community

Founders Krista and Dave Mason moved to Holland 20 years ago  with a vision to develop an embracing farmstead community with open doors for the whole community. Their youngest son, Ben, now 27, is profoundly affected by autism.

“Ben had a very intensive early intervention,” says Krista Mason, executive director of Benjamin’s Hope, “As he moved through years of specialized programming, Ben made progress. Yet, he did not develop the ability to speak or function independently.” 

The couple began to think about Ben’s future less in terms of independence and more in terms of interdependence, and the vision for Benjamin’s Hope, a “live, learn, play, worship” community, was born.

The non-profit now serves over 32 adults in six farm-style, semi-independent homes with big front porches and individual apartments. With autism on the rise, now affecting 1 in every 36 children born, Benjamin’s Hope receives multiple calls each week as families and individuals seek support and engagement. 

In response to this growing demand, the no-profit is fundraising to build two
additional homes that will create an opportunity for 12 more people to call Benjamin's Hope home. 

The Church of Ben’s Hope is flourishing as well, with more than 150 people from across the county and beyond attending services every Sunday at 6 p.m. The nonprofit welcomed 14 participants into its new program called NEXT, which is focused on whole-person growth and development. 

For Dave Mason, Harvest Festival is the fullest expression of the vision for an inclusive community where all people are valued and celebrated. 

“This is our way to say thank you to the community that has made all of this possible,” he says. 

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Read more articles by Shandra Martinez.