WTVB reports that an Amish family with two children with special needs will receive funds for a custom-made buggy from Michigan’s Children’s Special Needs Fund.
There isn’t a lot of info in this article, but the story is interesting, on a couple of counts. From wtvbam.com (Branch County, MI):
HILLSDALE, MI (WTVB) – An Amish family in Camden is getting some help for two children with Muscular Dystrophy thanks to the Children’s Special Needs Funds from the State of Michigan.
Personal Health and Disease Prevention Director Yvonne Atwood told the Branch-Hillsdale-Saint Joseph Community Health Agency Board of Health in Hillsdale on Thursday that they helped the family apply for the funds and they were awarded the $14,000 needed to have a handicap buggy built for them.
The buggy will be built lower to the ground to enable ease of access. It will also have a box in the rear for wheelchair storage.
You sometimes see buggies which are equipped for disabled riders. Here is a Lancaster buggy with a wheelchair carried in a rear box:
Also, in 2013 a reader shared a photo of an unusual buggy in the Shipshewana area. A member of that Amish community suggested that it may have been created for a disabled rider:
Amish will sometimes make allowances within the Ordnung for the aged or medical situations, such as air conditioning in homes in some special cases.
Help from outside the community
What’s rather unusual is the acceptance of funds from this ostensibly governmental organization to address this need.
Generally Amish don’t accept state aid. This is exemplified in things like their practice of community mutual aid and in their non-participation in the Social Security program. Amish believe that they should not be yoked to the state by becoming dependent on government funds.
However, in practice things can be different. There have been cases where Amish have been open to government assistance.
For example there are the unemployment claims made by Amish in northern Indiana who were affected by the 2008-09 economic downturn and its impact on the RV industry. Reportedly a large number of Amish in the area filed for such aid.
How do Amish typically deal with excessive medical expenses? Besides community-run aid programs in some settlements, financial needs are often met through benefit auctions and similar events. They also negotiate with hospitals for better terms, for instance by making prompt payments in cash.
The description of the CSN fund notes that it is actually privately-funded, though it appear to be managed by the state. Grey area?
In this case, it’s possible the family and/or community felt this was more acceptable since the source of funding is private, though going outside of the Amish community for aid is still unusual. Though on the other hand, non-Amish people do also privately support things like Amish benefit auctions.
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First I want to thank you for these emails they are very informative. I have always been interested in how the Amish live their lives, I love it. This money is going to help them make their children’s lives a whole lot better, it doesn’t really matter where it’s coming from, it’s for the children.
Thanks Irene! Glad you enjoy them. Stories like this make me realize what I take for granted. Also hope this buggy will make this family’s situation better.
I have an Old Order friend who was paralyzed when he was a boy. His church allows him to use an electric golf-cart to get around as it’s so difficult for him to get into his buggy, and his home has a solar-powered elevator in it.
I have never heard of a solar-powered elevator. I appreciate that Amish churches can be flexible on this sort of situation. Thanks for sharing this Annette.
Why in this case?
The first thing I thought was, why not hold a benefit auction as they do for any high medical expense? I guess we can’t know why they compromised their beliefs unless someone interviews the family or their leader. I for one would be interested in their thinking on this.
I am curious as well Debbie. Compared to some medical expenses, $14,000 is not much. Might be a lot more expenses that the public doesn’t know about though. In any case, good that the kids will have it.
There are always exceptions
While the Amish seldom accept outside aid, I still remember how after the terrible school shootings some years ago the Amish families, after consultations with their bishops, decided to accept funds collected by patrons of their markets around the D.C. area for the enormous hospital bills of the survivors. As I recall, they decided it wasn’t right to not allow their non-Amish patrons the gift of assisting. In the end, I know the collection came to hundreds of thousands of dollars, all collected by the patrons after obtaining permission from the bishops. I was incredibly moved by both the patrons’ generosity and the bishops’ acceptance of it.
So there are special circumstances where outside help is accepted. I suspect that for severely disabled children, exceptions are more easily made.
Great story after that awful event. Thanks for sharing this one Laura. I guess we can think of being able to help as a gift.
Whilst we are on the topic of Amish transport, have you seen this? https://wwmt.com/news/local/amish-man-starts-uber-ride-service-with-his-horse-and-buggy With regards to the state funding the special needs buggy, I’m not exactly a “big government” person, but I am very glad these folks are getting help.
I did catch that Adam – check out the latest post today! But thanks for sharing it, occasionally stories fly under my radar. I think the guy doing the “Amish Uber” hit on a pretty good marketing idea 🙂
This was a good read.
Amish friends of ours have a son with CP and he is now 20 years old. I haven’t seen their son in a few years and wonder now how they get him in the buggy. Benny went to kindergarten in public school which surprised me. OT, PT and speech therapy all came out to the farm to get their plan in order. The school bus driver came out to meet Benny and did a dry run to see how it would all go. Mom bought him a swimming suit so he could go into the pool for PT.
After school had been in session for a few months, I stopped to visit. I asked Benny’s mom how it was going with their new scholar and she said it was going just fine. Then I commented, All your worry was for nothing, and she agreed. To take an Amish child to an environment that is totally new to him would certainly be scary. So, for a while Benny had a foot in both worlds.
In all of this I have to praise the school and community for their outreach to help a special needs child from an Amish community. and the parents were ok with it. In some Budget letters I will read about schools for “God’s special children”.
So Erik, I’m still waiting for your visit to Wisc so we can go Amishing!
Safe in Christ,
Thanks for sharing about Benny Terry. Great story.
And also a thanks that you don’t forget to keep mentioning that…I will hold you to it if/when I get out there 🙂