Community Gem: Nancy Bernotaitis launched Good Works Farm

Nancy Bernotaitis, does yoga with a camper at Good Works Farm. CONTRIBUTED
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Nancy Bernotaitis, does yoga with a camper at Good Works Farm. CONTRIBUTED

Nancy Bernotaitis couldn’t find a day camp for special needs that suited her son Sam. So she decided to make one herself.

Bernotaitis and her husband, Bob Bernotaitis, own Good Works Farm in Spring Valley Twp. The Greene County farm is meant as a haven for adults and children with mental disabilities, but also accepts the siblings of children with special needs.

Sara Neace, a former special education teacher, nominated them for the Community Gems project.

“Nancy’s teaching them how to plant, how to communicate, how to respect others in the community, how to function in the community,” Neace said. “You know, just lots of things that they can’t get in a typical school setting.”

Bernotaitis said her goal is to create a village on the farm where people with special needs can live. For now, her clients are learning how to plant seeds, woodwork, collect eggs from chickens, do yoga and more.

Her neighbors and church also have helped her with the farm, she said.

Bernotaitis said she is passionate about the farm because she knows what it’s like for families to worry about their child with special needs. Her son is now 23.

She said she plans to work at the farm until she dies.

“I know the fear of dying and leaving your child in a world that doesn’t understand them,” she said. “And so it’s important to me to help as many other families as I can while we’re helping our own son.”

If you know a person in your community who has done something great in the community, go to DaytonDailyNews.com/CommunityGems and nominate them.