January 26, 2022
MDS Annual Celebration brings joyful connections near and far
The Mennonite Disaster Service (MDS) Annual Celebration, held January 21-22 in Sarasota, Florida, drew nearly 400 joyful participants, some in-person and some through a livestream. Together, they reminisced, reconnected, and shared their vision for the future.
Exploring the theme “Restoring Hope With Love,” the celebration included opening remarks from MDS Executive Director Kevin King, who reflected on how he and other MDS leaders were put to the test during 2021.
“At the very least, 2021 convinced me anew that MDS volunteers can do hard things—together,” he said. “We often see innovation come out of these periods of change and upheaval. We can restore hope with love.”
During Fiscal Year 2021 (August 1, 2020-July 31, 2021), 3,393 MDS volunteers from across Canada and the U.S. served 25,286 days. They gave their time, skills and compassion to build 74 new homes, complete 114 repairs, finish 343 cleanups, and build five new bridges for households who experienced a disaster.
“The volunteers are our most prized asset,” King said. “Their creativity, tenacity and willingness to serve in all kinds of situations never cease to amaze me.”
The celebration, held at the Palm Grove Church. also featured singing, stories from all MDS regions, personal testimonies from people MDS has helped, and special entertainment from folk singer and songwriter John Schmid.
MDS thanks the Region 1 Board and the Florida Unit for hosting the celebration. The Annual Celebration Committee included Phil Troyer, Region 1 board chair; Ervin Miller, MDS Florida Unit chair; Joyce Burkholder, Region 1 administrative assistant; Jesse Huxman, MDS communications manager and Brian Pipkin, executive assistant.
Next year the Annual Celebration will be held in February 2023 in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. Stay tuned for a save-the-date!
Friday Evening Session
Saturday Session 1
Saturday Session 2
Saturday Session 3
Saturday Session 4