Mennonite Disaster Service

Canadian faces of MDS in Texas

Brianna Wiebe of Austin, Man., helped paint doors in Bloomington, Texas. (Photos by John Longhurst)

What do you get when you put Mennonites from all over Canada, and from all sorts of different Mennonite conferences and churches—along with Christians from other denominations—in the same place? A Mennonite Disaster Service (MDS) unit—that’s what.

In February, I visited volunteers in three communities in Texas hit by Hurricane Harvey in 2017—La Grange, Bloomington and Wharton. 

Mennonite organizations help Montreal church with renovations

Peter Kroeker, a Mennonite Disaster Service volunteer from Vineland (Ont.) United Mennonite Church, works on the exit stairs during renovations at Hochma Mennonite Church to bring its basement homeless shelter up to code. (Photos by Nicholas Hamm)

Silvain L’hereault, Hochma Mennonite Church’s shelter coordinator, gives a thumbs-up in thanks for the 30 quilts from Mennonite Central Committee Ontario that will be enough to carry the ministry through the season and allow it to discard some of its threadbare bedding. (Photo by Nicholas Hamm)

Every night, from November to April, volunteers from Hochma Mennonite Church in Montreal open its doors as a warming centre for some 40 people who are experiencing homelessness. The church wants to become a licenced shelter operating year-round, but its building needs roughly $200,000 worth of renovations to bring it up to code. 

MDS volunteers build second cabin at Shekinah

Volunteers raise the timbers of the second timber-frame cabin to be built this year at Shekinah Retreat Centre. (Photo courtesy of Priscilla Epp)

From left to right, volunteers Ryan Siemens, Curtis Wiens and Gord Siemens cut a board to be used in the timber-frame cabin constructed during the MDS Family Project held at Shekinah in August. (Photo courtesy of Priscilla Epp)

The families pictured here volunteered from Aug. 5 to 10, 2018, during Week 2 of the MDS Family Project at Shekinah Retreat Centre. They helped assemble wall units for the timber-frame cabin. (Photo courtesy of Priscilla Epp)

These volunteers helped with construction of the second timber-frame cabin at Shekinah Retreat Centre from Aug. 12 to 17 during Week 3 of the MDS Family Project. (Photo courtesy of Priscilla Epp)

MDS volunteers worked alongside Shekinah campers and counsellors to carry all the lumber to the building site during the MDS Family Project held at Shekinah Retreat Centre in August 2018. (Photo courtesy of Priscilla Epp)

Ike and Priscilla Epp aren’t quite sure how many people volunteered to help build the second timber-frame cabin at Shekinah Retreat Centre, but they know there were many.

The project took place during the month of August at the Mennonite Church Saskatchewan-owned camp north of Waldheim, and was designated a Mennonite Disaster Service (MDS) Family Project.

MDS Canada moves to new location

Cutting the ribbon at the dedication of Mennonite Disaster Service Canada’s new office on June 15 are: (from left) Harold Friesen (MDS Canada board chair), Ross Penner (director of Canadian operations), Kevin King (MDS executive director), Grace Loeppky (MDS Canada board secretary and volunteer) and Gerald Loeppky (MDS volunteer). (Photo by Kelsey Friesen)

On June 15, 2018, Mennonite Disaster Service (MDS) Canada hosted a dedication for their new office space located on the second floor of 600 Shaftesbury Blvd. at the Canadian Mennonite University campus, followed by a lunch and open house.

MDS Canada decided to move to a bigger space when they added several staff to their team and their lease at 1325 Markham Rd. was coming to an end.

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