Goshen News, Goshen, IN

Local News

August 11, 2011

Tara’s Country Library a hit with Amish neighbors

GOSHEN — Every Monday and Friday from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m., 29-year-old Tara Miller unlocks the side door of her garage and opens Tara’s Country Library for business.

Her neighbors can stop in and browse through a selection of over 100 books that Miller, who has a developmental disability, collected, stamped and stacked on a couple of shoulder-high bookshelves.  

“I’ve always been a bookworm,” she said. “I just started and never stopped.”

Miller lives with her parents in Clinton Township and works part-time as a dishwasher at Das Dutchman Essenhaus in Middlebury. Her mom, Joyce Miller, said Clinton township, which is directly east of Goshen, has no public library. Residents — many of whom are Amish — had to make a nine-mile trip into Goshen in order to visit a library. She saw a chance for her daughter to fill a need.  

“She felt significant that she had something to offer someone,” Joyce said. “I thought this would give her something to do with the cards and the books — she just took it and ran with it. She followed through, and it just is so good to have the library because it brings joy and new purpose. She just glowed when anybody needed something from her.”

Because of her developmental disability, Miller works with a case manager from the Indiana Professional Management Group, which operates under Indiana’s Family and Social Services Administration. Marcie Brabender has been Miller’s case worker for four years.

“Tara needs assistance with money management and personal hygiene and some of those daily living skills that by the time an average 29-year-old reaches that age, they’ve developed those skills and abilities to be self-sufficient,” Brabender explained.

Brabender donated a box of children’s books to Miller’s library and said she is glad Miller started the project.

“I think she’s very proud that she’s put it together and has people coming,” she said. “I think she knows that she has made a difference in other people’s lives.”

Miller opened the library in February, and had 37 visitors on the first day. Business has slowed a bit since then, but Miller expects it will pick up again as the weather gets colder.

“They really enjoyed it and checked books out,” Miller said. “One time this Amish lady came out and she just checked out the same book over and over again. She really liked it.”

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Three Goshen elementary schools — Chandler, Chamberlain and West Goshen — are providing free meals to all students during the school year as part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Community Eligibility Provision of the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010. Nearly 80 percent of students at Chandler, 89 percent of students at Chamberlain and 78 percent of students at West Goshen already qualify for free or reduced-price lunches based on their family income. How do you feel about the new lunch program?

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