July 3, 2019
Hooked on MDS
Roman Heuft went to Williams Lake, B.C. last year to serve for just a week with Mennonite Disaster Service (MDS)—it was a way to use his career skills in construction management to help people whose houses were destroyed by wildfires.
Then he got hooked.
Now the 66-year-old retiree from Blind Bay, B.C, is the project director in Grand Forks, B.C., supervising crews as they work on homes damaged by flooding in 2018.
When he told his wife, Charlene, about how much he enjoyed serving with MDS, she told him “’you have do this,’” he said. “She said ‘your whole life has prepared you for this.’”
Due to various construction accidents and other mishaps, Heuft can’t do much physical labour.
“My skills are better used now as a project manager,” he said.
As for MDS, Heuft said he “likes everything about it—the camaraderie with the volunteers, getting to know the people we serve. It’s all very rewarding.”
He also likes the opportunity to teach construction and repair skills to volunteers. “As leaders, we’re also teachers,” he said, adding “we always want to make sure every volunteer has meaningful work they can do.”
As director, he also tells volunteers their time with MDS is about more than building and repairing.
“I tell them the most important thing they will do each week is put down their tools and listen to clients,” he said. “That is an important part of their healing process.”
That and to keep hydrated, work safe, have fun, and “get the job done for the Kingdom of God.”