I can't remember the proper term but they used to have volunteers come serve for a week or two at the Farm. I had some friends serving at Bethel at the time, the Grimsley family, and they sponsored me to come up there for a week when I was 16. I flew up and stayed with some friends of theirs a few miles away from the Farm.
All in all it wasn't a bad way for a 16 year old Georgia boy to spend a week before school started back. I got to work with a pretty cool group of folks that week and I made a lot of new friends, none of whom I ever got to stay in touch with though unfortunately. The Grimsleys loaned me one of their cars and I'd get up in the morning, eat breakfast at a nearby diner, then go spend my days working at Watchtower Farms. The first thing I learned was that you can't go into a diner in New York and order grits for breakfast. Yes, I did that. The waitress just gave me a blank stare and I did hear a few snickers from the other patrons. I got to work out on the farm, picking blueberries and vegetables and doing menial farm chores. The work was easy and the days weren't very long at all. A little in the morning, then go get cleaned up for lunch. And lunch was the bomb as far as I was concerned. Plenty to eat and it was some damn fine food.
Now of course, it was annoying to have to go wash up and change into "meeting clothes" just to eat lunch. But the food IMO made up for that little inconvenience.
It wasn't the best time I've ever had either though. Some of the bethelites supervising us were pretty stuck up. It became clear that the whole arrangement was unofficially a way for Bethel boys to meet single girls. When I started getting a little too close to a couple of the cutie pies a few of the Bethel boys got pretty hostile towards me. I was just a "publisher" and I was horning in on their action. One night a group of us "volunteers" went out with some Bethelites to a German restaurant. One of the Bethelites in particular went out of his way to make me feel unwelcome. Well he was just plain rude and obnoxious in general. Even rude to the sweet waitress. I left there pretty embarassed to be seen with that group representing Bethel.
But being sponsored by the Grimsleys paid off a little for me. One afternoon we went out in service in the Cadillac belonging to one of the Governing Body, or had belonged to one of the GB. Think it was Grant Suiter's Cadillac (or maybe it was a Buick?). How Bobby had gotten access to it is beyond me. I got to tour the auto repair shop at the Farm that Bobby Grimsley Sr. ran. And I got to see the ambulance. Did y'all know that the Farm had its own ambulance? Well at least it did back then, in the 80's. It was a 50's model Cadillac ambulance. I want to say '59 but memory is a little fuzzy. But I can tell you that that ambulance was one sweet ride! That car was in showroom condition! And knowing Bobby, I have no doubt that it ran as good as it looked. Do they still have that old relic?
That made the second time I'd been to Bethel. The first time was when I was like 14. Our family took a trip up there and stayed a couple of nights in one of the guest cottages. (the green one across the street from WT Farms proper). On that one we also drove to NYC to see Brooklyn Bethel. I thought that was pretty cool because I got to see at least a little of the Big Apple even if it was only driving thru. And we didn't go on any of the regular tours. The Grimsleys took us on their own personal tour.
So who else has done temporary or volunteer (or whatever they called it) work at the Farm? I heard that program was ended not too long after I went. Do y'all remember that *one* house right near the Farm? Really crummy looking shack with hubcaps hung all over the outside walls and junk in the yard? I remember asking about it and being told "they're worldly" and how the Society had many times offered to buy the property but the owners wouldn't sell. Is that place still there?