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Westwold community hall MDS base camp siteWestwold community hall MDS base camp site

For Joanne Caldwell, Vice-President of the Westwold, B.C. Community Hall, there was no question about letting Mennonite Disaster Service (MDS) use the hall for free as its hub of operations for house building in nearby Monte Lake.

“It’s amazing for us to see people we don’t know coming here to help,” she said about the decision.

The hall is in the village of Westwold, about 10 kilometres/six miles from Monte Lake, which was devastated by the White Rock Lake fire in August, 2021.

MDS volunteers, who are rebuilding four homes lost to the fire in Monte Lake, call the community hall home when they aren’t on the job.

The large space, which is usually used for weddings, dances, shows and other events, today is used for meals, recreation and socializing by volunteers.

The stage has been converted into three rooms; other volunteers stay in RVs or MDS bunk trailers in the parking lot.

An MDS shower trailer is also parked at the hall, along with tool trailers.

The couches in the hall were supplied for free by Habitat for Humanity in nearby Vernon.

Although nobody in Westwold had heard of MDS before, there “was a lot of support from the community” to let the organization use the hall, Caldwell said.

That’s despite losing about $5,000 in rental fees while MDS volunteers are using it from May until fall, this year.

“It’s worth it,” Caldwell said. “They’re giving their time. We can give them this space.”

MDS Canada needs more weekly volunteers in Monte Lake. If you can help, check out the volunteer opportunities!


John Longhurst, MDS Canada communications

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