MDS rebuilds hope 1 home at a time

MDS rebuilds hope 1 home at a time

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Community members from around Holmes County will gather Oct. 15-16 to rebuild homes for survivors of natural disasters.

The goal is 10 homes in two days.

Volunteers will build the houses in the parking lot at Keim in Charm, starting at 7 a.m. Those who are interested in joining the cause can give a donation at the Keim store.

Also on site will be Mennonite Disaster Service’s “Storm Encounter” exhibit. In this mobile trailer, eight visitors can see, hear, and feel the rain and wind during natural disasters and learn about how MDS helps rebuild communities in the wake of the storms.

“We read headlines every day about new natural disasters, but there are families who have not yet had the opportunity to rebuild from a flood that happened over five years ago,” said Jim Smucker, president of Keim.

In 2016 Marvine Gates was living in the home she inherited from her mother. The West Virginia floods washed away everything but the memories. Gates survived the flood, two hurricanes and much heartache.

“God supplies my need,” she said.

After years of patience and prayer, Gates will finally get the keys to a new home.

The build is a partnership between Mennonite Disaster Service, its local partner Disaster Aid Ohio and Keim. MDS is a volunteer network of Anabaptist churches that responds to people affected by disasters in the United States and Canada. For nearly 70 years, they have built and repaired tens of thousands of houses in North America.

“It has always been important for a community to come together and focus on the things that we have in common,” said Maurice Stutzman from Berlin, the secretary and treasurer for MDS Region 2. “These organizations have access to a diverse group of volunteers that have been coming together. By leaving differences at the door, they have not only benefited those in need, but have grown from the experience of helping others.”

Founded in 1950, Mennonite Disaster Service is a volunteer network of Anabaptist churches that responds in Christian love to those affected by disasters in Canada and the United States.

While the main focus is on clean-up, repair and rebuilding of homes, this service touches lives and nurtures hope, faith and wholeness. In 2020, 6,048 volunteers from across Canada and the U.S. gave their time, skills and compassion to build 79 new homes, complete 280 repairs, finish 91 clean-ups and build three new bridges for households that experienced a disaster.