Hi! We are Mercedes & Andrew, an artistic couple located in New Jersey. We open our homes and studios to artists and musicians.
Mercedes is an actress, singer and musician and Andrew is a musician and artist. We both like photography and doing art projects. You can improve your English, do creative writing, experiment with cooking, do arts and crafts, or improve your ability to play a musical instrument in our studio during your free time. This year we are working on a very exciting project -- building our first campervan -- and we are searching for people doing << van life >> and can give us advice. Our van is a 2013 Chevy Express and we are stuck on the electrical system. So if you are an electrician that would be great!
Musicians, artists, campervan builders and dog lovers are preferred, but we will respond to anybody who answers the questions on our profile. PLEASE READ THE ENTIRE POSTING. But first we have to give you this very important information before we continue:
******* PANDEMIC UPDATE, August 2022
New Jersey’s statewide transmission rate is 0.91 as of June 21, 2022. When the transmission rate is under 1, this is a good sign! It is probably due to the fact that most people are now vaccinated and that the warm weather allows us to be outdoors more.
The State of New Jersey recommends following CDC guidance: EVERYONE, vaccinated or unvaccinated, should wear masks and distance 6 feet (3 meters) from other people in indoor public spaces or in crowded outdoor spaces. In many places, masks are a still a strict requirement (public transportation, hospitals, etc.).
NEWBIE TIPS: It’s a good idea to have this information in the first few lines of your PROFILE, for example, "Vaccinated on (DATE), traveling to NJ from (YOUR LOCATION) in (MONTH/YEAR)." *****
If flying, you must arrive to NEWARK LIBERTY INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT (EWR) and arrange for us to pick you up during reasonable hours; or if arriving in the middle of the night, you can arrange to arrive from the airport via Uber, Lyft, etc. (costs about $75 USD).
Now that those details are out of the way, here’s more about us!
We have been operating an artist community and retreat in New Jersey since 2015 in our three homes, and trailer. Volunteers may help us continue this program in the warmer months (April through October … in the colder months/winter, everything is quieter here and you might just be the only volunteer). We have been doing some landscaping and building renovation projects. We always look for volunteers with common interests who can also assist us with day-to-day chores, dog sitting and house sitting, and we always appreciate volunteers who are into meditation, reiki, massage, yoga, pilates, tai chi, etc. We're looking for positive people with a peaceful vibe. The mood here is good for meditation or creativity (writing, playing music, drawing, etc.). It's a great place to relax and unwind in your free time. We like to maintain a community vibe. You MUST like old hippies! :-)
This is a quiet place near a lake. There's a lot of nature here and many opportunities for meditation and hiking. Think “retreat.” If you are looking for a LOT of action and noise, you may be more comfortable in a city environment.
We offer a stay of 3-6 weeks, or sometimes longer for experienced volunteers with excellent feedback or excellent references.
You must be OVER 21 with positive Workaway feedback OR 2 WORK REFERENCES. We are seeking those who care a lot about health and the well being of our planet, and who are flexible, care about others, and have an easygoing personality.
You must love dogs. We have 2 that we rescued. Therefore, we are somewhat dog friendly but we have to discuss it before you bring a dog. Due to allergies, we can only host cats in the trailer or if you have your own tiny home (van, skoolie, etc.).
Please read our ENTIRE profile carefully before you contact us. We will respond ONLY if you have answered the questions posted below. American Workawayers have specific questions they must answer. It will prove to us that you actually read our profile and that you are really interested! Thank you!
PLEASE INCLUDE IN YOUR MESSAGE:
(1) Are you vaccinated? Have you also had a booster?
(2) What are your requested arrival and departure dates? Where are you currently living?
(3) What CHORES are you willing to do? (see below for description of work)
(4) Do you have a driver's license? Will you be bringing a car?
(5) What is your level of English?
(6) Are you over 21 years of age?
(7) How would you feel about camping out in a tent or a trailer in the warmer months (April-October)?
(8) Do you play any musical instruments?
(9) What SKILLS and CULTURAL EXCHANGE can you offer? (For instance, can you cook typical food from your region or country? Teach about music, art, language, history, etc., from your region or country?)
Additional questions for AMERICAN WORKAWAYERS: Why do you want to be here? We give preference to artists and musicians who really need our facilities to develop a music or art project. What do you have to offer others? Can you represent American culture from your region? Are you willing to attend community dinners and events, which we take the time and effort to create for everyone's enjoyment? This is separate from help exchange hours and can occupy another 10 hours per week of your free time. If you don't want to participate, then please consider a different Workaway.
We will reply to all inquiries that provide literate responses to our questions. *️️️️️️️️️️️️️️️️️️️️️️️️️️️️️️️️️️️️️️️️️️️️️️️️️️️️️️️️️️️️️️️️️️️️️️️️️️️️️️️*️️️️️️️️️️️️️️️️️️️️️️️️️️️️️️️️️️️️️️️️️️️️️️️️️️️️️️️️️️️️️️️️️️️️️️️️️️️️️️️A Skype webcam interview and a scan of your passport or identification is required. We also require international (or U.S.) medical insurance, which can be purchased through a travel insurance plan. If you have no feedback on Workaway, please be prepared to provide the names, email addresses and phone numbers of 2 people who can recommend you and tell us how you live and help in a communal situation.*️️️️️️️️️️️️️️️️️️️️️️️️️️️️️️️️️️️️️️️️️️️️️️️️️️️️️️️️️️️️️️️️️️️️️️️️️️️️️️️*
Help with Eco Projects
DIY and building projects
Creating/ Cooking family meals
Help around the house
Help with Computers/ Internet
Volunteers from outside of the USA are preferred, as we are primarily in this for the cultural exchange.
However, if you are American, please indicate what you can offer in the way of cultural exchange. For example, art or music, tips for skoolie or van life, vegan or ethnic cooking, representing your region, or sharing a particular skill. For us, Workaway is MUCH more than just exchanging work for a place to crash.
Here's what we have to offer:
If you need to improve your English in a real help-and-play situation, THIS IS THE PLACE TO BE! We offer lots of English practice and sit-down English classes if you want to schedule them.
Musicians, we have 2 full rehearsal studios and lots of instruments to play with ... guitars, basses, keyboard, piano, drums, and even a mandolin, ukelele, cello and a sax. We're musicians who can coach you and give you the experience of playing in a band. We usually have one acoustic jam and one electric jam weekly.
For artists, there is an Art Garage which is great for large art projects in the warmer months. Also, there are many light and bright areas for drawing and painting all over the property. If you are interested, we can teach you lots of crafts, including decoupage, tie dye, crochet, sewing, furniture upcycling, and lots of other projects. We have many crafting supplies.
We love practicing foreign languages, especially Spanish, Italian, French, Turkish, German and Arabic.
We're making short videos about everything in this section for our web site and social media. We can always use input about that.
We also love cultural recipe exchanges and entertaining. You will learn etiquette at community dinners -- for instance, how to set the table and make polite conversation with guests. If you want to learn about American regional cooking, we have an apron and a knife available for your use :-). Take a turn cooking dinner and share a recipe from your country or region.
We recycle and repurpose everything possible here and you are going to learn a lot about how we try our best to take care of the environment and our Earth. We strive to leave a light footprint on our planet.
You will primarily be companion(s) to Mercedes and Andrew on weekdays and help with the following chores:
FREQUENT: Yard help (groundskeeping outdoors) and painting in spring/summer/fall seasons. Cleaning and organizing, general errands, housework, general maintenance, dog sitting, house sitting, snow removal in winter season
OCCASIONAL: Internet marketing, making short videos, photography, organizing items to be sold for fundraising purposes, working on the campervan build
We are growing herbs and tomatoes in the warmer months. Healthful foods are provided Monday-Friday (or on any days you help us), including vegetarian and vegan options.
All food preparation, cooking and cleanup is shared, and is NOT considered work. However, if there are more than 4 volunteers, we usually designate one volunteer to kitchen for the entire work day because there is so much more preparation to do. Mealtimes are important for cultural exchange.
This host offers a language exchange
We are very interested in language exchange. Spanish, French, Italian, Turkish, German, and Arabic are the languages in which we have the most interest. We are native AMERICAN English speakers and are willing to trade formal lessons. Mercedes has a certificate in Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) and an undergraduate degree in television journalism (which required a lot of English grammar and writing).
There are many types of accommodations. During our busy season: Private bedroom, shared bedroom for couples or friends, 2 beds in trailer, air mattress in our office, or tent camping if we are very full. From November through March, there is always a private bedroom and bathroom available. ***The trailer is only open from April to November ***
Please see the Cultural Exchange section for all the things there are to do on our property in your free time.
This is a lake community where there are recreational opportunities all year round (swimming, boating, fishing, ice skating). We are near mountains for hiking. You should view this Workaway as a retreat and an opportunity to focus on your personal growth. For example, working on an art, music or writing project; language exchange; meditation; or perhaps improving your physical condition with hiking, yoga or cycling.
Limited internet access
We have pets
We are smokers
Can host families
We have WiFi in all 3 houses and you are welcome to work on your own projects during your free time. However, WE DO NOT PERMIT PHONES DURING WORK HOURS OR AT MEAL TIMES. We discourage working more than 20 hours a week at an outside digital job during your retreat here because it usually interferes with our work hours and is this is not fair to the other volunteers. But if you can compartmentalize that work so it does not affect our schedule, that is OK.
We have enough parking for campervans, small RVs and skoolies. In certain cases your vehicle may have to be leveled with ramps. There is no dump station nearby, so we ask that you properly dump any gray water and toilet waste before arriving and come inside to use one of our bathrooms during your stay.
We have two small dogs who were rescued from two different abusive situations, so they have a couple of specific challenges that we are helping them get over. They are rat terrier mixes (1 Rat Doxie male and 1 Ratchi female) with strong prey drives, as they are bred to be mousers. The male barks at other dogs, probably because he is territorial and protective of us. We are also training them to control her barking. However, the female is very intelligent and will cuddle up with any human. The male is very shy of strange humans but is a real sweetie. If you want to bring a dog, your dog will have to be calm enough to work through their initial weirdness. We can’t host cats due to allergies unless you can keep it in your campervan, skoolie or tiny home.
More than two
Maximum 4-5 hours a day, 5 days a week
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