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What happens to the information I give MDS?
When someone pledges/donates to MDS, the information is entered into the MDS database. This information is not shared, sold, rented or disseminated to any other company, agency or individual, and is meant to represent the information by which only MDS would utilize to contact you. All information given to MDS by someone contacting us through this website is kept confidential. We strive to be responsible with any information that is given to us.
All credit card information is handled in a highly secure manner and is not retained beyond the time of credit card processing.
How will my gift be used?
The money you give to MDS will be used to house and support our volunteers while they are in the field. While MDS does not pay for homeowner's building materials, funds may be used to purchase the supplies and equipment that are needed to keep our construction projects running smoothly.
What percentage of MDS' budget is used for administrative overhead?
In recent years about 27 percent of the MDS budget has gone for administrative costs such as office maintenance, staff salaries and overhead.
When I designate giving, how much of my money gets to the project?
When money is designated to a specific project, 100 percent of the first $25,000 goes to the project. Following that, 90 percent will go to the project and 10 percent is allocated towards administrative costs.
Do I need to bring any special clothing with me?
Closed toe shoes must be worn on job sites.
We request that all volunteers are covered from shoulders to knees.
Is MDS only for persons from Mennonite churches or backgrounds?
No, MDS invites persons from all faith backgrounds to serve with us. In some cases, Mennonite, Amish and Brethren in Christ groups may be given priority.
Are there any costs associated to serving with MDS?
MDS provides housing, meals and have work and materials organized at no cost to volunteers. Transportation to and from disaster locations are the responsibility of the volunteer.
Are there age restrictions?
MDS strongly encourages that students are at least 15 to serve on MDS sites.
Does MDS provide more than volunteer labor?
Mennonite Disaster Service specializes in managing volunteer labor. While we are unable to provide direct material or financial donations to disaster survivors, we work closely with other responding agencies to make sure that the needs of our clients are met.
What causes a disaster?
Disasters are commonly caused by fire, flood, tornado, hurricane and earthquake.
Disasters can happen at any time, but there are times and places when a disaster is more likely to occur.
Fires occur most commonly in the West following the dry summer months.
Floods occur year-round when heavy rains or melting snow cause rivers to rise.
Tornadoes are most common in the Midwest and the South during late winter and through spring.
Hurricane season affects coastal areas from late summer into the fall.
The Western coast is currently at the most risk for an earthquake.
How can I help?
You can support MDS with a contribution of time or money.
As a volunteer, you will be rewarded with an experience that fosters both personal and spiritual growth. As a donor, your financial contribution to MDS will be used for volunteer support.
MDS has volunteer opportunities for short and long-term volunteers. Short-term volunteers average a week of service at a time while long-term volunteers serve for 1 month or longer, maintaining an MDS presence in a community.
What does the MDS logo represent?
The MDS logo displays a handshake in front of a cross.
The cross is a the center of our logo because Christ is at the center of our work. MDS volunteers serve in the name of Christ.
Effective disaster response begins with working partnerships between organizations, agencies and individuals. Many of these partnerships begin and end with a handshake. The handshake in the MDS logo represents the primary relationship between MDS volunteers and the clients we serve.
What’s the difference between MDS and Mennonite Central Committee (MCC)?
MDS is responsible for organizing disaster response in Canada, the United States and their territories. Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) is responsible for organizing disaster response efforts in international settings.
The two organizations work together closely in determining how each can help the other in responding when this is beneficial.
How do I sign up for a volunteer opportunity with MDS?
To determine the current projects that are open for volunteers, check the Projects page or contact the MDS office at 1-800-241-8111 to find out where there are openings. Book your time at an MDS project site using this same number: 1-800-241-8111.
How should I prepare myself or my group for our week with MDS?
Find out about the area where you are going. Study and read about the geographic area you will be working in.
MDS Volunteers build more than houses: The homes that MDS repairs are owned by people; people who laugh and cry, who have good days and bad days. MDS provides an opportunity for you to walk alongside the needs of these disaster survivors, bringing the dignity and respect of God's love to their recovery. Do everything you can to preserve their dignity and sense of worth. Be a sensitive listener. Be careful about simple answers to the very complex confusion and grief that follow disaster. Treat the disaster victims as equals.
Please remember that MDS often works in culturally diverse areas. Let you conversation and actions bring hope and healing to all persons you interact with.
A volunteer booklet is available to download. Click here for the Volunteer Information Booklet.
What are the accommodations like that I will be staying in?
Every project set-up is different. MDS looks for facilities that accommodate our specific program, where both long and short term volunteers can be housed and fed. MDS has been set up in vacant hospitals, churches, convents, schools, strip malls, available empty houses, camp grounds and church camps. Sleeping is usually bunk room style with separate quarters for men and women. Generally there are no rooms for couples. MDS makes every effort to make sure accommodations are comfortable and adequate, but they will likely not be like home.
Do I need to share accommodations with others if I am volunteering long term?
Every effort is made to provide long term volunteers with a semi-private space. This may take the form of an RV or small room. Restroom facilities will most likely be communal.
What kind of schedule can I expect for my week of service?
Typical Weekday Schedule
6:00 wake up
6:30 prepare own bag lunch for job site
7:00 hot breakfast in dining room (prepared by cooks)
8:00 travel to work site with tools, etc.
12:00 bag lunch
4:00 clean up worksite
5:00 return to camp
6:00 supper in dining room (prepared by cooks)
What should I bring with me?
List of items to bring:
· Sleeping bags, sheets or blankets and pillows. Most of the beds are single bunks.
· Towels, washcloths and shower supplies.
· Pack a variety of clothing. In winter you will need to layer the clothes you are wearing, as the mornings are often cool but it will be warmer by noon (even in the Southern US states). You may need a jacket and sun shade (ball caps). Remember to bring enough clothes for the week as there is no washer or dryer.
· Closed in shoes (for work sites)
· Flip flops (for walking to showers, ect)
· Bible and devotional guides to lead morning devotions.
· Health insurance card.
· Small tools and tool belt.
· Sun tan lotion and insect repellent.
· Games-cards, puzzles etc to do in the evenings, if you wish.
Shall I bring my own tools?
MDS has tools on each project site, but if you wish you may bring small tools and personal tool belts.
Hard hats, safety goggles, ear plugs, gloves and masks are provided.
Check with the project a few days before you leave to see if there are specific tools that might be helpful to bring along.
I am heading to a project to volunteer and I have special dietary needs, what shall I do?
Please feel free to call either the project site you will be going to or the Lititz office to discuss your individual situation.
Will there be any spiritual emphasis during the week?
MDS volunteers serve in the name of Christ. A short devotional is held after breakfast each morning. This may take the form of singing, scripture reading, sharing a testimony or prayer. We celebrate the goodness and faithfulness of God formally and communally one evening each week. This may take the form of a client sharing their story, devotionals, singing, volunteers sharing or prayer.
Groups/individuals are welcome to bring musical instruments, and or prepare their own devotional/sharing/debriefing times.
What happens if I would get hurt while on the work site?
MDS staff will assess the immediate needs of the individual and obtain the appropriate care needed. MDS has neither health nor accident insurance. MDS strongly encourages that volunteers carry their own insurance.
Is there time to sight see?
Volunteers are expected to work approximately 40 hours per week. We encourage that if you would like to do some site seeing that you plan to do this in the evenings or before or after your time of service with us.
What kinds of jobs will we be doing?
Groups or individuals can expect to be involved in the many aspects of disaster response. This may include clean-up, especially if volunteering soon after a disaster or with any phase of rebuilding from pouring foundations to framing to hanging sheet rock and painting. A willingness to help where needed and learn are key components to disaster response.
What kind of work is available for women?
MDS invites all persons, both men and women to serve on sites. Work varies from site to site, but we try hard to have projects in different stages. Work may include framing, insulating, drywall and painting or finish work. All volunteers should come prepared to work hard, be stretched and learn something new.
Who serves with MDS?
Mennonites are a diverse group of Christians who share a common desire to follow Christ's example of peacefulness and service to others.
MDS volunteers are male and female, young and old. While MDS volunteers vary in their dress and religious practice, the majority of MDS volunteers are Anabaptists, people who belong to a family of peace churches that includes the Mennonites, the Amish and the Brethren In Christ.
MDS receives funding from a variety of sources including individuals and Anabaptist churches.
MDS volunteers are known for repairing and rebuilding homes damaged by disasters. But it takes more than construction skills to serve with MDS. During the time that you serve as a volunteer, you will learn that MDS also restores lives.
Your contribution will help to connect volunteers with disaster survivors who need assistance on their path to recovery. MDS depends on the support of people who believe that disaster response is an important part of helping those who are in need.
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