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Humanitas Horgen ( was founded in 1976 and is a residential care facility and workshop for mentally and physically challenged individuals primarily from the Horgen area. Located on a picturesque spot overlooking Zurich Lake, Humanitas Horgen is closely affiliated with the insieme society and is dedicated to providing an optimal environment that provides its residents not only a home but also the greatest possible degree of independence and self-determination.

Lake of Zurich

Anke Cristale, IP Formalities Specialist at the IBM Research – Zurich Laboratory, spent her Centennial Day of Service at Humanitas Horgen and reported her unique experience to w3.

Q. Anke, most of your colleagues were out planting trees on the Centennial Day of Service. What made you choose Humanitas Horgen?

A. (Laughs) Well, gardening isn’t exactly my thing, and I saw that plenty of people had signed up for that activity. Then I found out about the option to spend a day at Humanitas Horgen, and thought that would be intriguing. I wanted to take this opportunity to experience something completely different.

Q. So you selected a project that only you participated in. Were you happy with your choice?

A. It was even better than I had anticipated. It was an extremely intense experience that I’ll never forget. I don’t regret it in the least.

Q. Tell us how you spent the day at Humanitas Horgen.

Complex-tone-bassinet_200A. Well, Humanitas Horgen comprises four different entities: a residence in Horgen, one in Rüschlikon, a workshop in Horgen, and an occupational facilitation workshop in Horgen, where I spent my Centennial Day of Service. The five residents in that group, who are referred to as “associates”, are all mobility-impaired and attended to by four caregivers. Three of the associates have such special needs that they require a dedicated caregiver. I was there on a Wednesday, which is Music Morning. A pianist visits the facility and plays for the associates, and there are other musical activities as well. For example, I was very impressed by the so-called “complex tone bassinet”, which is a wooden cradle with harp-like strings on the sides (right). A particularly mobility-impaired associate lying in the cradle can not only hear the music played on the strings, he or she can also feel the vibrations through the wood.

Q. That sounds fascinating.

A. Oh yes, it was. I was particularly impressed by how the caregivers accommodated the individual needs of each associate, whose abilities span a broad range and require highly specialized care. The caregivers work very, very calmly, gently and patiently with the associates, which is extremely time-intensive.

Q. What did you do in the afternoon?

Painting-utensils_200A. I was allowed to visit a different group that was engaged in a painting activity. This very heterogeneous group of five associates was ambulatory and required only two caregivers. For the painting activity, the caregivers attached various natural materials such as grass, grains or a sponge to a pole. The associates dipped these homemade brushes into the paint and everybody contributed to one painting at a time. The associates Paintings_200enjoyed this activity so much that we ended up spattered from head to toe with paint. It was lovely. They spent about an hour on their project, which demands quite a bit of concentration.

After that, it was story time, and one of the caregivers told a charming story with the help of an illustrative poster.

Q. What impressed you most about your day at Humanitas Horgen?

A. I was fascinated by the calmness and patience of the caregivers. I’ve never seen such loving care and sensitivity. The individuals and their special needs are given the utmost priority. The Humanitas Horgen foundation provides a life of dignity and humanity to persons with special needs. I became acutely aware of how little contact most of us have with people like the associates at Humanitas Horgen. It’s a completely different world.

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