PCHF recognizes those that serve others
Bernie Wolf was nominated for Phoenixville Community Health Foundation’s Champions of the Community Awards Program. The award recognizes those that serve others in a way that contributes to the overall health of our community.
The Phoenixville Community Health Foundation honors the hard work, special achievements, and good deeds of these Phoenixville area “unsung heroes.” The Foundation held a special awards luncheon and invited all those nominated.
Bernie was nominated because we believe he is a great example of the focus of their program, which is to:
- Honor adults, and youth, at the grassroots level who voluntarily give their time, talent, and resources absent of any personal gain.
- Recognize adults, and youth, who provide leadership in their neighborhood or ethnic community.
- Honor adults, and youth, who support those less fortunate or those facing insurmountable circumstances.
Nomination narrative Bernie Wolf came to Camphill Special School in 1972, a young volunteer from Antioch College. He was inspired by this community, founded a decade before, comprised of a group of volunteers who support children with special needs. The Camphill ideal is to engage all the members of each community in meeting their own needs, as well as those of the community at large, to whatever extent their abilities allow. He is a wonderful example of the Camphill ideal in action. With an interest in community building and the commitment to long term individual relationships, Bernie he has made a positive and lasting impact on his colleagues, the children who have attended the school and their families, and the Phoenixville community in general.
Camphill Special School is a licensed and approved private school. We offer academic and prevocational programs and therapeutic care to day and residential students. The school is located on an 85 acre campus in East Nantmeal. Our campus has over a dozen houses, all organized by house parents who oversee all aspects of life in the homes and supervise resident volunteers and interns who have direct responsibility for care of the children. Bernie and his wife Else raised five children of their own while living in a home on campus with students and other long term volunteers. This role requires round-the-clock active involvement in the lives of various individuals 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Through this role, he has formed decades-long relationships with students and their families. He remembers details and stories; in talking with Bernie you are quickly aware of the lasting impressions and fond memories he hold dear and shares with a smile.
Over 44 years Bernie has done more than live at Camphill Special School. He is the face of the school in his role as Director of Admissions. He developed the administrative infrastructure that we use today- while keeping the children served by the school as the top priority. Bernie has kept the school current with changes in education law and regulations. He is the first person to go to with questions, and he is always happy to share his vast knowledge on processes and procedures. Camphill Special School has an international reputation, much in thanks to Bernie.
He is a special education teacher and supervisor. Bernie has provided professional education in Anthroposophic Curative Education, Social Therapy and related fields at a faculty member of Camphill Academy. He has served on the Board of Directors here at Camphill Special School for 35 years. Additionally, he has also served on the Board of Directors at Camphill Village Kimberton Hills, offering insight and wisdom since 1993.
Bernie has served the school in a professional capacity as a Director for all these years. However, it is his involvement in the daily lives of the students, fellow residential volunteers, and staff where he is truly exemplary. When he isn’t at his desk in the office Bernie can be found cooking meals, helping with chores, and filling in for teachers. Bernie serves as the school’s “unofficial rabbi,” bringing Jewish traditions and holiday celebrations to the vibrant cultural life in our school community.
He is without a doubt a favorite for many of our children. Our Master Storyteller in Residence, Bernie has the ability to cast a magical spell over a room of hundreds. He weaves his words in such a way that both children and adults sit on the edge of their seats in anticipation and cheer joyfully together! Bernie takes on the role of St. Nicholas in the annual celebration for the students. He doesn’t just share a story, he tells it in full costume. A favorite memory of many at the school was his time as the genie when Bernie was dressed head to toe in bright blue, even going so far as to paint his face to match. Magical indeed!
Bernie is a great lover of music- in particular brass instruments. He is a favorite performer making regular appearances at the school’s Thursday afternoon recitals. The students enjoy his classical and more popular pieces played on trumpet, sousaphone, and tuba. He is also a member of the West Chester Community Concert Band, an all-volunteer Community Concert Band performing in and around West Chester. They have a reputation for performing several holiday concerts in December as well as other concerts throughout the year in a variety of locations. Our school community enthusiastically goes to support Bernie when he plays at a local mall or park.
Bernie supports organizations, in the immediate area and beyond, with practical advice and encouragement. He has extensive experience lecturing, not just locally, but at conferences across the country. Often noted for his characteristic humor and breadth of knowledge on topics involving children and young adults with special needs, he has presented at Youth Conferences, Jewish Education and Outreach Partnership conferences, and for the Anthroposophical Society in America, to name a few. He is an active long-term member of the Southeastern Pennsylvania Branch of The Anthroposophical Society in America.
It was our honor to nominate Bernie Wolf on behalf of his colleagues and friends at Camphill Special School. His character, service, leadership, and friendship make him a champion of our community.