May 3, 2023
For West Virginia family, MDS-built home is a safe haven
After living for nearly a year in a small trailer with no running water or electricity, Lisa and Gary England finally opened the door to a new home.
They need a safe place to rest. Lisa has just started dialysis, and Gary recently had heart surgery. Their daughter has been hospitalized with congestive heart failure.
After working to build the home in the small town of Clendenin, West Virginia, Mennonite Disaster Service (MDS) volunteers surrounded Lisa with expressions of love and blessings on the front porch during a dedication on April 29. MDS volunteers also constructed a new driveway bridge so that the Englands can easily access their home across the Jordan Creek.
Through tears, Lisa said, simply: “I appreciate y’all. You’ve done a wonderful job.”
Her home was damaged by flooding in 2016, then all but destroyed in 2020 floods. The Englands moved into a trailer, which burned on Thanksgiving Day 2020, with Lisa barely escaping. After that, the Englands lived in their car before taking refuge in a tiny trailer on their property, which gave them a roof over their heads—but not much else.
Hundreds of MDS volunteers have worked on the home and the bridge, many of them from Disaster Aid Ohio, said Wendy Beaver, an MDS case manager. “When I saw that little camper they were living in—I was pretty much all in,” she said.
Volunteers constructed parts of the home in the parking lot of the Keim Home Center in Millersburg, Ohio, then trucked them to Clendenin.
“It’s amazing what can happen if everybody works together and nobody gets the credit,” reflected Atlee Kauffmann, who coordinated the work for Disaster Aid Ohio.
During the dedication, volunteer Emory Miller, from Ohio, shared a Bible verse, 2 Corinthians 8:9, he had picked especially for the occasion: “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ: Though he was rich, for your sake he became poor, so that by his poverty you might become rich,” Miller read, first in German and then in English.
“Christ extended his grace for us. Did we deserve it? No. Did we earn it? No,” said Miller. “Our duty is to extend that grace to others.”
Miller turned to Lisa England, saying: “In this home, may God bless you and restore you as you go on in life.”
Through tears, Linda said, simply: “I appreciate y’all. You’ve done a wonderful job.”