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Polio Leads to Handicap Accessibility for Churches

Marjorie Haskins was described as a sweet, kind lady with a loving soul. She grew up on a farm outside of Oldham, South Dakota before moving to Madison, South Dakota in her adulthood. Marjorie had a love for music. She taught piano lessons for over 40 years, was a faithful member of the Harmonica Katz, and accompanied several singing groups and individuals. Marjorie was an active member of the Madison United Methodist Church, where she played organ for many years, was a part of the UMW, and various other committees.

Marjorie Haskins

At the young age of 2, Marjorie contracted polio and lost the use of her right leg. Having grown up with a physical handicap, she was aware of what could be done to help those with limitations. Because of her love for the church, Marjorie wanted to make sure that people were not stopped from knowing God because of the physical limitations that churches have. In 2002, Marjorie established the Foster, Ethel, and Marjorie Haskins Endowment to provide grants for United Methodist Churches to make their buildings more handicap accessible for all.

Many churches have made upgrades to their buildings to make them more welcoming and accessible for all because of Marjorie’s generosity. Aberdeen North Highland UMC installed a lift chair for those that struggle with stairs. Milnor UMC addressed several safety and accessibility concerns throughout their building. Wessington Springs UMC installed automatic doors so that entering the building wouldn’t prevent anyone from joining them for worship. Marjorie’s dream to provide barrier-free spaces for worship continues to inspire churches to address accessibility so all are welcome.

Marjorie passed away in September 2021, but not before thinking about how she could continue to support the ministries she cared about. She named both the Madison United Methodist Church and the Dakotas United Methodist Foundation in her estate to receive undesignated gifts. Marjorie not only wanted to make sure that her local church was taken care of, but also wanted to ensure other ministries and churches throughout the Dakotas United Methodist Conference would be looked after for years to come.

We are grateful for Marjorie’s dedication to her faith and her commitment to making churches accessible for all.

*If you are interested in applying for a handicap accessible grant through the Haskins Endowment, contact our office.


Dakotas Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church 605.996.6552 1331 University Ave. Mitchell SD 57301-0460 US 43.69689310 -98.03291320 122 W. Franklin Avenue Ste 400 Minneapolis MN 55404 US 0.00000000 0.00000000 1331 W University Ave Mitchell SD 57301 US 0.00000000 0.00000000 1331 University Ave Mitchell SD 57301 US 0.00000000 0.00000000