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For The Aging, A Commune-like Alternative In NY

"We're an age-integrated community built around the central mission of care of the elderly," Bosch said. "The members want to be of service. They come because they know this is a place where they can contribute."

So Karp, the 81-year-old, teaches music and entertains the community at the piano.

"I think the reason people really appreciate this place is because they can be active and they can contribute and there's always something that needs doing," Karp said. "And it's nice when kids are glad to see you."

Other residents, or members, as they're called, have found similar niches.

Gwen Eisenmann, 91, a retired poet, leads poetry discussions and also likes to set the table before meals. Larry Fox, 74, a psychologist, treats patients at the Fellowship's medical office and said, "Where could I be at my age and be so happy to get up in the morning and look forward to the day?"

It's difficult, Bosch said, to find people to sign up for the communal life and work. It appeals to "people who are dismayed with the materialism of the world and are trying to get above it," he said. "People who are interested in an alternative lifestyle , not based on pocketing the most money they can for the least amount of work."

When elders come in, they pay a "life lease" of $27,500 to $50,000, depending on the space they will occupy in the adult home or the "lodges" surrounding it. In addition, they pay $700-$1,500 per month in rent, and up to $3,000 a month for care, depending on what they need.

Revenue from the adult home provides 60 percent of the nonprofit Fellowship Community's $3 million operating budget, with the rest coming from donations and the sale of produce, milk and crafts, home officials said. Donations completely fund the capital budget, make up any annual shortfall and subsidize the adult home.

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