Reawakening hope, rebuilding hope or restoring hope, no matter how it is expressed, is at the core of the work and experience of Mennonite Disaster Service (MDS).
This was no more evident than during the recent MDS All-Unit Annual Meeting held February 13-14 at the Hartville Mennonite Church in Hartville, Ohio, where close to 300 MDS volunteers, staff and donors came together to celebrate the work of MDS.
The meeting brought together a broad spectrum of Amish, Brethren-in-Christ and Mennonites all under one roof to share how love awakens hope when disaster strikes.
The theme of the meeting was “A Touch of Love Awakens a Taste of Hope” and was based on Song of Songs 8:7, “Many waters cannot quench love.”
In a short presentation, Michelle Pruitt, owner of a new MDS-built home in Crisfield, Maryland, spoke about her escape from the storm and eventual loss of her home of 30 years. Crisfield is a small fishing community on the eastern shore of Maryland that was devastated by Superstorm Sandy.
For a year after the storm Michelle and her family made the best of it by repairing what they could in their home and using duct tape to keep their house together. “We did the best we could,” Pruitt said. “The foundation had shifted, the bricks were crumbling, and the walls were coming off the foundation.” The house was eventually condemned.
“After about a year we heard that there was a group in town,” she said, “and our two angels arrived, Ray and Martha Zimmerman and said that they could help us.”
The Zimmerman’s, of Turbotville, Penna, are project managers for the Crisfield MDS work and have spent much of the past 18 months working with local authorities and the long term recovery team to build nearly 25 houses.
“This wonderful group arrived October 13 to start banging the first nail into our house,” she continued. “I was a little worried at first as the group was a little older than I expected to be building house. But what these guys did was absolutely amazing. The volunteers came in week after week.”
Following her presentation, the Zimmerman’s handed her the keys to her new home as it had recently passed all local inspections and was ready for occupancy. During 2014 MDS had completed construction of nearly a dozen homes with another 12 to be completed in 2015.
Throughout the meeting, similar stories were shared of communities, families and individuals uprooted because of floods, tornados and fires and the way in which MDS volunteers helped survivors move forward with hope.
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MDS featured in new book
Brenda Phillips, PhD, Associate Dean at Ohio University in Chillicothe, has published a new book titled “Mennonite Disaster Service and the Gulf Coast Recovery“ A long-time friend of MDS, she is a widely published author on disaster recovery and socially vulnerable populations and has received numerous awards and recognition. Phillips is donating all of the royalties of book sales to MDS. To order a book at a download an order form here or call the Binational Office, (717) 735-3536. The book will be “library quality,” so consider donating a copy to your church library.
The book has been described as an “academic study and a story—a truly engaging one—of people helping people in a very special way. This is a close up view of those who experienced the destruction of Hurricanes Katrina, Rita, and Ike and those from the Mennonite Disaster Service who came to help. Together they built a classic therapeutic community. This important book is a valuable resource not only for students and academics who will find rich empirical support for many theoretical concepts, but for anyone who wants to understand and appreciate giving and receiving in disaster recovery.”— Maureen Fordham, Northumbria University
MDS featured on NBC Nightly News! MDS was featured on the NBC Nightly News on March 29, 2011. To see the story that features our Diamond, La. project, click on the link below:
MDS on the News