Vermont: Pownal Woman Will Open Home to People With AIDS

Revolutionary, innkeeper, caregiver: Sunshine Wohl is taking on all those roles as she fearlessly opens her spruced-up Pownal, Vt., farmhouse to AIDS patients who are facing the end of life. Residents will stay free at Wohl's Chrysalis Community, which has five guest bedrooms. While there, Wohl says, they will experience physical and metaphysical renewal through conventional medicine and complements such as reiki healing touch, drumming, yoga, and healing circles. Wohl's goal? To bring about healing -- and to create a place "where people can live and die with love."

Wohl's type of community will be the first of its type in Vermont, according to those who work with AIDS patients. Vermont CARES, an AIDS service organization in Burlington, has apartments for people with AIDS, but participants have to pay a third of their income to live there, said Executive Director Kendall Farrell. About 220 people in Vermont have HIV, Farrell said.

Wohl will start working hands-on with people with AIDS at Chrysalis Community starting late this winter or early next spring. Wohl will choose who lives in the house. There are only two requirements: that they have health insurance, and that they be open, physically and psychically, for the kind of healing that Wohl espouses.

Chrysalis Community is a nonprofit. Wohl is the founder and director; her 28-year-old son is the vice president. Because no medication will be administered there, Wohl does not need to undergo a lengthy permitting process to open her home to AIDS patients. People needing medical care can go to Bennington Hospital, said Wohl.

She used the money from selling her Williamstown, Mass., house to buy and renovate the farmhouse and its 108 acres, but says donations and volunteering are what will keep it going. If things work out, Wohl would like to expand the community to other homes she would build on her land. She sees Chrysalis as a national movement, if not an international one, that will catch on as treatment of the terminally ill moves away from hospitals and hospices and toward communities that emphasize natural and spiritual healing.

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