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New home a symbol of a larger community

A house fire is a devastating event, especially one that leaves a family’s home unable to be saved.

In July, Tom and Roberta McGregor lived through just such a nightmare, when the Franklin Township home they lived in for more than 50 years caught fire. Despite the efforts of multiple fire departments, the home was a total loss.

“What was left wasn't fit to do anything with,” Tom McGregor said of the home.

In the Tuesday, Nov. 21, edition of the Butler Eagle, we learned of the efforts by a group from a nearby Amish community to help the McGregors rebuild. The offer for help came shortly after the fire, but it took several months to find time when enough people would be available to help.

McGregor said he’s been close with members of the local Amish community for decades, and he speaks some Pennsylvania Dutch, the German dialect spoken by members of the Old Order Amish.

“I’ve been acquainted with the Amish around here for years,” McGregor said. “I do a lot of stuff with them. I even speak part of their language and understand it.”

The Amish are justly famous for their ability to build structures in short periods of time. McGregor told the story of an Amish person’s home that was damaged badly in a fire but rebuilt within a week.

The Amish community is sometimes stereotyped as closed off from anyone on the outside, but anyone who has actually lived near and interacted with Amish people know that isn’t the case. They are focused on their community above all else, a focus that comes directly from their religious faith.

And while that community is largely made up of other Amish people, the project to rebuild the McGregors’ home shows that it isn’t limited to that.

In a world so often filled with bleak stories, it’s a comfort to see members of one community reaching out and helping those in another.

— JK

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