HOLMES COUNTY, Ohio — The Amish community is coming forward to help out Ohio hospitals in the fight against COVID-19.
- Deep in the rolling hills of rural northeast Ohio in Holmes County, even the Amish community is feeling the impact of the coronavirus
- Over 500 Amish seamstresses are making PPE for the Cleveland Clinic and University Hospitals
- Hundreds of thousands of masks, gowns and other PPE have been sent to the hospitals
"It’s been a pretty drastic change. It completely changed us. I mean, and people started realizing well, we can’t have church services as we’re used to, we can’t have our youth gatherings, and so that was kind of a struggle to mentally adapt to it, oh, we have to change our way of life," said Abe Troyer, executive director of sales with Keim.
Abe Troyer is a member of the Amish community and he’s made the trip up to Cleveland in the past for two surgeries at the Cleveland Clinic.
The healthcare system has also had to change its way of life to battle the coronavirus.
"It was becoming increasingly difficult to get and secure some of the PPE," said Sarah Stamp, general manager of operations and administration at the Cleveland Clinic Foundation. "We need seamstresses, we need sowers, what are we going to do?"
The Cleveland Clinic needed PPE in a short period of time. Through connections, John Miller, president of SUPERB Industries, owner of Stitches USA and cofounder of a business owners group in the area, got in touch with the clinic.
"The latent talent that we’ve got here, is seamstresses. Because amish still produce most of their own garments, so it’s not like you have to go out and train people on how to sow. They already know how to do that. So it was simply a matter of organizing them," said Miller.
Miller decided to bring members of the community together to see if there was something they could do. It didn’t take long for them to mobilize.
Businesses like Keim, where Troyer works, were brought in to help. Within a week, about 500 Amish seamstresses were making PPE — an effort Keim President Jim Smucker is proud to be a part of.
"It’s a wonderful community here and the Amish are very service-oriented. And the Amish also do not take unemployment when they’re out of jobs. And so this is a great way in which we can bring some income to the Amish families, as well as meeting the larger need in society right now," said Smucker.
"They came forward and they were willing to do whatever it took to help our organization in this amazing time of need," said Stamp.
Troyer says this is business as usual for the Amish community.
“It was awesome. It was absolutely awesome," said Troyer. "It’s a way of life. Basically for us, if a barn burns down, everybody jumps in and helps build a new one, so take that concept in a bigger world concept, it’s the idea of how can we jump in and help.”