Amy Unruh was a full-time university student and part-time worker at The Meeting Place church in Winnipeg when she received the diagnosis of Type 1 diabetes in 2006. “My diagnosis affected my life in every way – emotionally, physically, spiritually and mentally,” she says. But with the help of mutual aid funding and the support of family and friends, Unruh has been able to control her health with an insulin pump.
Mutual aid functions beyond the connection to an insurance policy by collaborating with the local congregation, the larger church, and church-related agencies to positively affect people facing a crisis or burden.
Coinciding with Unruh’s graduation and new job as office manager, her diabetes educator encouraged her to consider an insulin pump to better control her condition. Convinced it would enhance her health and lifestyle, she faced a financial hurdle.
Unable to afford the cost on her own, she decided to ask for financial and prayer support. “But how does one ask loved ones and friends for financial assistance?” she says. “I feared that people would feel obligated to give and I didn’t want them to be disappointed in their investment in my life.”
When fellow church member and her insurance broker Tim Friesen heard of Unruh’s decision in spring 2009, he contacted the mutual aid ministries program of MAX Canada Insurance Company, which serves the Anabaptist community, and organized a Share Fund grant for her. Unruh sent out 80 letters to her church community, family members, and friends.
The support was “overwhelming.” Within a few weeks, she received 38 contributions, reaching her required goal to purchase the insulin pump, cover training, and other start-up costs. The funds from the MAX Canada Share Fund were quickly matched and exceeded.
People were grateful to be asked for help. “One person thanked me for asking, suggesting that the church is the place to support each other in hard times, but unless someone asks, we often do not know where the need is,” says Unruh.
Unruh has been part of The Meeting Place for 17 years. “I love being involved and investing my time and energy into the church,” says Unruh, who oversees 60 volunteers in the early childhood department.
While Unruh was surprised by the generous response she received, it was no surprise to those who know her. By giving generously of herself over the years, Unruh laid the foundation for generous response to her need for financial assistance.