April 20, 2022

Dear {First Name},

It is not uncommon for me to travel to a disaster soon after it hits. No, I am not the first to arrive – that is usually done by other MDS teams. But I often visit the project when a location has been found for early response and, possibly, for long term recovery. The long term recovery group is in its infancy, if it’s even formed at all, and I meet with local leaders offering any advice that may be helpful or connect them with key partners. It is a way to cheer them on and bring encouragement.

In late March I travelled to the Florida panhandle, namely the Marianna area, where MDS has had a significant presence. This trip seemed to close the books on this project. I recall going there three weeks after the disaster hit in 2018. And now this trip was like the bookend. I left with encouragement. Life moves on. I was impressed with the resiliency of nature – how the trees are green again, yet with visible scars and broken limbs.  The community leaders stopped to reflect with me how traumatic those days were when the storm hit.  The highlight for me was speaking with staff of the North Florida Inland Long Term Recovery Group and also with Kevin Yoder, outreach pastor of Rivertown Community Church. 

Kevin Yoder shared some of my same memories of the early days of response, when MDS volunteers brought chainsaws and heavy equipment to clear the area so that rebuilding could begin. “They kept coming back!” he said. “Over the last three-and-a-half years, Mennonite Disaster Service has been consistently serving to help families in our community rebuild.” 

I want to pass on his words of thanks—and add my own word of appreciation—to our partners and volunteers who worked in Marianna. After the early response phase, MDS set up three recovery sites: Panama City (Storm Aid), Chipley (RV), and Marianna (RV and traditional). Overall, 1,619 volunteers worked 15,350 days. What a satisfying way to close the door—by opening so many doors of hope. 

Executive Director
Mennonite Disaster Service

MDS seeks family volunteers this summer

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Through the MDS Family Program, families can work and serve together in Canada and the U.S.

The projects have age-appropriate work for everyone; even the youngest family members can participate in an MDS volunteer experience! 

The days are filled with a balance of family fun, work, good food, activities, campfires and spiritual growth. It's a great way to introduce children to the work of MDS and the spirit of volunteerism.

Click here to read more.

MDS responding to wildfires in B.C.

In May MDS will begin rebuilding homes in Monte Lake, located about 50 kilometers/30 miles from Kamloops in the B.C. interior.

“While we are responding to help people affected by the floods in Princeton and the Fraser Valley, we also want to help those impacted by the fires,” said Ross Penner, Director of Canadian Operations.

At Monte Lake, 28 structures were destroyed by the White Rock fire, which displaced thousands of people in the area.

Click here to read more.


MDS completes work in Florida panhandle

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MDS first offered an early response, then a long-term one, in the wake of Hurricane Michael, which made landfall near Mexico Beach, Florida on October 10, 2018 as a Category 5 hurricane with sustained winds of 160 mph.

By the time it reached Marianna, 50 miles from the coast, it was a Category 3 hurricane. It was the third-most intense Atlantic hurricane to make landfall in the contiguous United States, causing at least $14.5 billion in damages.

Click here to read more.

Mennonite Disaster Service recruits, organizes, and empowers volunteers to repair and rebuild the homes of those impacted by disasters in the United States and Canada. We have opportunities for you to volunteer with MDS at various projects this spring!
Click here to volunteer
Thank you for your support!

MDS has volunteer opportunities for Spring 2022.

Your continued support helps with recruiting volunteers, moving equipment, setting up accommodations, replenishing supplies, and many other things needed to get going.

MDS Binational Office
583 Airport Road,
Lititz, PA 17543 USA

T: (717) 735-3536
T (toll free): 1-800-241-8111
F: (717) 735-0809
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MDS Canada Office
200-600 Shaftesbury Blvd
Winnipeg, MB Canada R3P 2J1

T: (204) 261-1274
F: (204) 261-1279