In February, Ginger Ford Northshore Fuller Center for Housing hosted about 50 Amish volunteers who worked in teams of 10 to 14 on various Greater Blessing projects in the Hammond, Louisiana, community.
Earlier this week, Ginger Ford Northshore Director Tamara Danel and her ReUse Store manager, Kimberly McDonald, headed to Arthur, Illinois — “the heart of Illinois Amish country” — to thank the volunteers in person, share with others stories of their successful work and to soak up the quiet life off the grid.
“We had come up here to Amish country on their request to attend their volunteer appreciation dinner on Tuesday,” Danel said. “They wanted us to come do a slideshow of their projects and talk about the families that they worked with while they were there in Hammond. So that’s what we did.”
Danel said that while some of the younger members of the Amish teams are a little shy, they are very productive.
“They are very highly skilled, highly motivated, and they did not need a lot of instruction and supervision,” she said. “I could give them a task, and they could do it without a lot of instruction.”
While in the Arthur area, Danel and McDonald stayed in the home of Howard and Dorothy Chupp. Howard Chupp is an expert buggy maker, and a buggy ride into town was one of the highlights of the women’s trip.
“We got to ride in a buggy to Miller’s Dry Goods Store, and that was fun to sit in the back seat of a buggy while our Amish hosts drove the horse from the front seat,” Danel said. “Our hosts actually make Amish buggies, and he had a collection of buggies that he was either working on or had built over the years. His family owns like six buggies. They’re a six-buggy family. The kids have to go to school and work and stuff. They have summer buggies and winter buggies, big buggies and little buggies.”
Danel talked while she and McDonald were driving back to Louisiana, happy to have experienced a taste of Amish life yet longing for a few modern comforts.
“We got to live without electricity for a couple of days,” she said. “So I’m driving home after not having used a blow-dryer after washing my hair this morning. It was enlightening. We are both happy to be going back to our modern conveniences, but it was refreshing and enlightening.”