To the editor:
For the past two days, I have worked as a volunteer in the village of Fort Plain. Throughout both days, I have had the opportunity to work with two Amish families. Take a ride through Fort Plain and it would be very difficult not to spot the dozens of Amish men and women working toward helping the people of Fort Plain recover from this recent devastating flood.
During a short lunch break, I asked the father why he would bring five of his boys down to work all day knowing he has so much work on the farm with this being his growing season. His reply was simple: "They are our neighbors." What a caring and sincere response.
I wish I had more time to spend getting to know them. I only learned two of the boys' names. But to all of the volunteers who come to Fort Plain every day, it's not about names. They're not there to pose for pictures or to be interviewed by a TV network. They're there because people need help.
In 2011, I spent several days in Schoharie and Middleburg after their flood. The resolve of the people in those towns was remarkable. I see it again in all those who have been affected in Fort Plain. Total strangers coming from all over the area helping any way they can. Companies like National Grid and Telecon, to name a few, donating food, supplies and employees to assist in the cleanup. Local churches feeding hundreds of displaced families and tired volunteers every day.
But stop and ask anyone from the town what has impressed them the most and they are all quick to say the Amish. Dozens of families have put their own lives on hold to help out. The men working in the flooded basements all day and the women volunteering in the kitchens and aid stations. Their work ethic is the best I've ever seen and their humble approach to life is refreshing.
To anyone reading this letter, I encourage you to take that short ride out to Fort Plain. The people will greatly appreciate your efforts. Whether you can still do some manual labor or would like to pass out water at the relief station, I assure you it will be a very satisfying experience.
I don't claim to know very much about the Amish or their chosen lifestyle. I never felt it was fair to judge someone until you first walk in their shoes. I do know that the qualities of respect, humility and caring for other people run deep in the families I had the privilege to work with. Wouldn't it be a much better place if we could all live with those standards?
And to all the people in Fort Plain, I'd like to thank you for making me feel so welcomed and say "stay strong." Look at your neighbors in Schoharie and Middleburg. They have come all the way back. You are not in this alone.