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Three hundred people gathered on June 9 in Goessel, Kansas to celebrate the dedication of the Mennonite Disaster Service (MDS) cabinet shop and a new warehouse for storing materials. They toured the site, and many of them also experienced a simulated tornado through the MDS Storm Encounter trailer.

A concert by September River—a family band based in central Kansas that incorporates elements of bluegrass, gospel, blues, acoustic rock, Irish, and folk—capped off a festive day of fellowship.

Cleo Koop, coordinator of the cabinet shop, said the open house event exceeded his expectations. “To see this many people come for the open house was very gratifying and exciting,” he said. “To see all the people visiting and interacting with cabinet shop volunteers was truly a highlight for me.”

He expressed deep appreciation for all the support. “The strong support from our constituency is very affirming of the work and ministry of MDS and the cabinet shop,” Koop said. “A special thank you for all the support and donations we received from our supporters.”

The cabinet shop has become a model of local volunteer engagement for the nation.

During a sermon at the Alexanderwohl Mennonite Church in Goessel the day of the dedication, Koop described how the shop has brought hope to disaster survivors and to him personally.

Bad things happen to good people,” he said. How do we understand that?”

He recalled how, in February 2022, MDS Kansas Unit, with support from regional and national MDS, purchased the cabinet shop.

My ‘what now?’ has become the cabinet shop,” said Koop. It’s given me renewed energy, purpose, and direction.”

In its first year of operating, the shop set a goal of shipping 50 cabinets—and shipped 75. In our second year we shipped 85 cabinets,” said Koop. It’s a miracle.”

Cabinet makers in training

Shortly before the dedication, sixth-graders from several Mennonite Churches in the Goessel, Kansas, area visited the MDS Kansas shop to help construct cabinets that will be sent to MDS homes across the country.

Participating in a service-oriented vacation Bible school project, the sixth-graders rotated through different building stations, including boring holes, sanding, staining, and shrink-wrapping.

This is the third year that Bible school students have visited the cabinet shop.


Susan Kim, MDS Writer 

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