I invite you to join me as I broadcast live March 9-14th from the Cameron, Louisiana and Diamond, Louisiana Mennonite Disaster Service projects.
Let me tell you about the work of MDS. MDS is a channel through which the church can respond to those affected by disasters in Canada and the United States by providing volunteer labor. MDS works to clean up, repair and rebuild homes. While that is the focus, the activity becomes a means of touching lives and helping people regain faith and wholeness. In the words of one homeowner in Point Aux Chenes, LA-“MDS didn’t just bring financial aid and volunteers-they brought hope!”
MDS would not be able to help without thousands of volunteers giving of their time & talents. In 2006 alone, over 6,000 volunteers served with MDS. While the program is supported by the human and financial resources of Mennonite churches in the US and Canada, the organization works alongside multiple faith-based agencies, churches, government and private organizations when responding to the needs of disaster survivors. The mission of MDS is to assist families while allowing them to “see a sermon”. They believe that volunteer action best demonstrates God’s love and the disaster response projects provide opportunities for short and long term volunteers to express their faith through service.
I’ll be in Cameron the evening of March 8-10 and I will be in Diamond, LA March 12-14th. I invite you to listen along on the radio as I bring you live audio as well as video reports to wjtl.com. I have great respect for the work of MDS. I am honored to be able to give you a behind the scenes look at what it means to be a short-term MDS volunteer AND to meet the many people who have witnessed God’s love through the compassion and servant spirit of MDS.
Some of you may be surprised to learn that the rebuilding and cleanup in the region from the damaging effects of Hurricane Katrina (Aug 2005) and Hurricane Rita (2005) and Hurricane Ike (2008) continues today! Here is some information about each project. And look for blog updates Sunday night March 8th when I’m scheduled to arrive in Cameron, LA for volunteer orientation. Talk to you then!
Cameron Parish, in the southwest corner of Louisiana next to Texas , was known as a beach and fishing destination before it was devastated by Hurricane Rita in September 2005. Three years after Rita hit there are still many vacant lots and many residents have not returned to the area.
Update September 2008: Hurricane Ike caused widespread damage to Cameron. Some reports are that damage from Ike is as bad as or worse than damage from Rita. MDS personnel are currently assessing damage for response this winter.
MDS set up a project site on a vacant property east of the town of Cameron. With God’s help over the last three years volunteers completed numerous repair jobs and nine new homes in partnership with Faith Share, an ecumenical group that is working as the Long Term Recovery Committee. Many willing volunteers worked hard to help restore hope to Cameron and it’s surrounding communities.
Diamond is located in Plaquemines Parish, south of New Orleans. Because Plaquemines Parish encompasses the first 70 miles of the Mississippi River it is host to several oil refineries.
Diamond sustained almost a direct hit by the eye of Hurricane Katrina in August 2005. Most buildings were destroyed. Because of the great displacement of the local population, many people are still doing the physical work of rebuilding their communities. MDS is repairing and rebuilding homes in the Plaquemines Parish as well as rebuilding homes of members of the Grand Bayou Community, a Native American community.
MDS has repaired numerous homes and has rebuilt nine homes. The work continues throughout the summer in Plaquemines Parish and more homes in the Grand Bayou will be rebuilt this fall.