July 20, 2022

Hello Jesse,

This month we'll try something different. MDS has a history of nearly 73 years of responding to disasters. How well do you know MDS? 


True or false…

1. MDS was a part of Mennonite Central Committee (MCC). 

2. MDS responds to disasters all around the world. 

3. MDS is first on the scene as an early response agency. 

4. All MDS work is coordinated out of Lititz, Pennsylvania.

5. MDS does not receive government grants for staff salaries.

6. MDS responds only to floods, fires, tornados, earthquakes, and hurricane disasters.

7. MDS is only for men, except for cooks.

8. Leadership volunteers are required to stay for a minimum of one year.

9. About half of MDS volunteers are 35 or younger..

10. All MDS projects close down during hot weather so there is no need for volunteers during the summer.

11. Our support cost in the last five years has averaged under 20%. 


1. True. However, in 1993 MDS was incorporated as a 501(c)3 non-profit organization in the U.S. and amiably separated from MCC. Now on its own, MDS relies on some 4,000 volunteers from Mennonite, Amish and Brethren in Christ churches to annually carry out its ministry.

2. False. MDS takes the lead in responding to disasters in Canada, US, Puerto Rico, and the protectorate states and territories i.e. Micronesia, etc.

3. False.  MDS is primarily a long-term response agency that repairs and rebuilds houses by providing free construction labor. It is true that MDS workers often arrive on the scene soon after the disaster to assess and clean up. MDS does chainsaw work and covers roofs to prevent secondary damage—but we are there for the long haul.

4. False. We are based on a grassroots structure of nearly 50 units and four regions throughout Canada and the U.S. Work in Canada is coordinated by MDS Canada, which is separately incorporated in that country.

5. True. Our primary support comes from donations from our constituency to support staff, fund travel, provide stipends for long-term volunteers, and keep our vehicles, tool trailers, and RVs in safe condition.

6. False. MDS has also responded to drought-stricken farmers in both Canada and the U.S., the 9/11 terrorist attack, and the African-American church fires in the U.S., and COVID-19 to name a few “nontraditional” disasters.

7. False. Women are not only found in the office and kitchen, but serve as project directors, crew leaders, construction workers and crisis support workers.

8.  False. Many leadership volunteers stay for as little as four weeks.

9. True. On average, over the last five years, 49% of our volunteers are 35 or younger.  20% are 66 and older.

10. False. At the time of this writing there are nearly a dozen locations with volunteer responses.

11. True.  If we were to add the value of volunteer labor to our balance sheet, support cost would average 8%.

Executive Director
Mennonite Disaster Service

Trauma, toughness, and joy: what Paradise holds for MDS volunteers

More than three-and-a-half years after the Camp Fire killed 85 people and destroyed 18,000 structures in Paradise and surrounding areas, the grim burnt skeletons of large trees still loom over the mountainside—but green undergrowth and colorful wildflowers have returned.

“At first glance, it may not look like a burned-out place because the green is here, but if you look carefully you’ll see driveway after driveway—without houses,” said MDS Project director Don Lichti.

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 fall!

Click here to volunteer
Thank you for your support!

MDS has volunteer opportunities for Fall 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