Humble heroes

Right after I saw the movie Witness, I've always wanted to assist the Amish in a barn-raising.

Seeing a worthy project like this from groundbreaking to completion in one day, watching the whole community pitching in to help a young couple, it all brought tears to my eyes. I've been fascinated with the Anabaptists since, visiting Lancaster county multiple times and reading about them whenever possible.

I watched a documentary recently and saw how, after some maniac shot a bunch of Amish children, they had pity for the shooter's widow and attended his funeral.


In yesterday's Times, I read an article detailing how, ever since Hurricane Sandy, 1,300 Mennonites have been volunteering in Far Rockaway and Staten Island, rebuilding destroyed homes. Some are even commuting from their Lancaster County farms after putting in a full day's farm work, then volunteering for another day and commuting back the three hours. Others are coming in from Ohio, staying in temporary housing built by Amish carpenters and trucked to the sites.

abin Botsford/The New York TimesMennonite volunteers are living in Far Rockaway in trailers built by Amish carpenters.

They assist the neediest cases: cancer victims, wheelchair-bound, handicapped. They plan on helping out for two to five years. And there is no proselytizing. They are here only to rebuild other's homes. Humble heroes indeed.