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Campers working on a fire at the Amigo Centre in southern Michigan.Campers working on a fire at the Amigo Centre in southern Michigan.

Summertime in southern Michigan, anyone? That’s where Mennonite Disaster Service (MDS) is seeking families to volunteer for weeklong service to help rebuild and repair the Amigo Centre, which offers retreats and children’s ministries.

The MDS Family Program response will run July 11-14 (Monday through Thursday) and July 25-29 (Monday through Friday). Hosting two or three families per week, the Amigo Centre will provide lodging, food and work appropriate for families.

Cheryl Mast, who coordinates the Amigo Centres outdoor education programs, said that families who volunteer will be doing basic construction, including rebuilding woodsheds, repairing benches at fire circles, and constructing fire extinguisher boxes.

Other projects will likely include cabin repairs—roofing, painting, and rebuilding steps,” she said. We will match the ages of children and skills of parents with the various projects.”

Mast said she was excited to host families to assist the Amigo Centre with repairs, in part because families who learn and improve their construction skills are positioned to serve again with MDS or other organizations in the future.

Volunteers are also playing a vital role in helping us care for repairs after an August 12, 2021 storm, and helping us care for general maintenance because of the staff cuts that happened during the pandemic,” said Mast, who has been an MDS volunteer herself for many years.

“Volunteers are also playing a vital role in helping us care for repairs after an August 12, 2021 storm, and helping us care for general maintenance because of the staff cuts that happened during the pandemic,”

— Cheryl Mast, Amigo Centre’s Coordinator of Outdoor ​Environmental Education ​and Volunteer Coordinator

The August 2021 storm struck in the pre-dawn hours with straight-line winds that pummeled the area. The storm destroyed hundreds of trees as well as two cabins. The winds also damaged other buildings and left the beautiful trails impassable.

Local MDS volunteers have been repairing buildings and trails since then, and the Family Project will continue that effort.

Ronn Frantz, an MDS regional board chair, said he is pleased to be able to offer a family project in the U.S. as a pilot initiative he hopes will be replicated in the future. MDS Canada has been offering family projects for more than a decade, including this summer in Princeton, B.C., where families are invited to help with landscaping and building garden sheds for those impacted by last November’s flood.

I hope we can continue to offer this on an annual basis in the U.S., perhaps moving around between all the regions,” he said. I think its gong be lots of fun.”

In addition to the Family Program site at Camp Amigo, MDS Canada is offering a Family Program service opportunity in Princeton, B.C.

For more information, or to volunteer, contact Deanna Frey at 1-800-241-8111.

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