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Three volunteers work on painting trim outside during spring time.Three volunteers work on painting trim outside during spring time.

Her first time volunteering, she stayed five weeks. Hannah Grace Steffen, 23, recalled when her grandmother heard about MDS from a friend—and then her grandmother decided she’d like to cook for volunteers. “But that would have involved traveling on her own, either flying or driving, and she wasn’t quite comfortable with that,” said Steffen. “I basically went along as her companion.”

So, while her grandmother cooked, Steffen joined the volunteers working to repair and rebuild homes in Jennings, Louisiana.

That was back in October 2022. A month-and-a-half later, Steffen traveled to eastern Kentucky, this time on her own, where she became an MDS crew leader. She stayed for a month. “I went because I just really enjoyed volunteering,” she said. “I was nervous about being appointed a crew leader, but I had a great project director who encouraged me.”

Steffen lives in eastern Ohio, where she helps her family operate a dairy farm. “Our workload is lighter in the wintertime,” she explained.

That allowed her still more MDS time! She traveled to Arcadia, Florida, in December 2023, then Crisfield, Maryland, in February 2024—each time staying a month.

Now that springtime has arrived, she’s staying put on the farm for now. “Since I’ve been home, we’ve had 125 calves!” said Steffen.

Looking back on an intense time of volunteering for MDS, she sees it as expanding her horizons. “Since I wasn’t going to college, my parents were pushing me to do something instead of just the farm,” she said. “Volunteering with MDS is still a protected environment so I felt comfortable.”

She’s planning to volunteer again, although she’s not sure when. “I also have some younger brothers who will need their time away,” she said.


Susan Kim, MDS Writer 

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