California Unit

Welcome to the MDS California Unit. 

Dear California MDS Volunteers and Supporters,

We are reaching out to all California MDSers to join in helping our neighbors in Lake Isabella, east of Bakersfield. MDS recently completed the home for one family whose hillside house burned in the 2016 Erskine Fire.  In July, we kicked off house #2 with a framing blitz on the parking lot of Bethany Church in Fresno. Now construction on this second home is underway.  

What are we asking? We need volunteers from now through the fall so this second family can be back in their home before Christmas!

Come alone, come as a couple, or get a group to travel together.  Please take this opportunity to serve right in our own backyard. Here are the roles we need to fill:

  • Project Directors – commitment of 2 to 4 weeks – past MDS experience required
  • Cooks and assistant cooks – 1 week minimum
  • General volunteers, skilled or willing to learn – commitment can range from 1 day to 1 week

Housing is provided in a 4-bedroom, 2 bath home that has been set up for volunteers. Or, volunteers may opt to bring their RV to sleep in at a nearby campground (at your own expense). All volunteers will share their meals at the MDS house.

To learn more or to sign up, contact Deanne Bell at 559-321-4353 or

Thanks for partnering with us to bring fire survivors back home. 

In His Service,

MDS California Unit Board


For a little inspiration, watch this video of how volunteers in California are impacting community members in Lake County and helping them come back home after wildfires destroyed more than 1,300 houses.

MDS and the California Unit are also working to rebuild homes in Calaveras County after wildfires destroyed nearly 500 homes in the area.

Quick Stats

California Unit Officers 

Unit Co-Chair – Roger and Lee-Ila Riley

Unit Vice Co-Chair (Northern) – Pat and Judy Powell 

Unit Vice Co-Chair (Central) – Steve and Deanne (Dee) Bell

Unit Vice Chair (Southern) – Mel Curry 

Unit Communications Vice Chair – Kathy Heinrichs Wiest

Unit Treasurer – Linda Collins

Unit Secretary – Richard Unruh

Mennonite Brethren Rep – Judy Lopez 

Brethren in Christ Rep – Roger Sharp 

Mennonite USA Rep – Merle Kauffman

News, Updates, & Events

Lake County, CA – Weekly Report – Mar 18-22, 2019

Eight energetic volunteers joined us this week – four students and four adults – from West Point Community Covenant Church of West Point, California. This was their first time serving Read More…

Lake County, CA – Weekly Report – Mar 11-15, 2019

A group of mixed aged volunteers from Vinewood Community Church in Lodi, California joined us this week, along with a volunteer from Canada. The volunteers’ ages ranged from a few Read More…

Lake County, CA – Weekly Report – Mar 4-8, 2019

We were blessed to have 15 volunteers with us this week. Eleven were from Canada, two from Pennsylvania, and two from Virginia. We enjoyed getting to know one another throughout Read More…

We'd love to hear from you!