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Mennonite Disaster Service (MDS) has welcomed Michele WhiteEagle as the new Region 4 board chair. The region includes Arizona, California, Idaho, Oregon and Washington, as well as Alaska and Hawaii.

WhiteEagle is MDS’s first female regional board chair. After spending most of her childhood in Bakersfield, California, she lived in Washington state before settling with her husband in Kamiah, Idaho.

WhiteEagle first learned about MDS in 2015, when a large wildfire struck Kamiah.

In the wake of the fire, she had assumed the roles of both caseworker and vice chair of the local long-term recovery committee when “a group of smiling faces extended their hands in an offer of help.”

They were from MDS, and she remembers asking, “what is a Mennonite?” when they showed up in the small community.

Throughout the Kamiah project I was impressed by the caliber of people I met and the work they did,” she said.

WhiteEagle went on to serve with MDS in Saipan in November and December of 2016.

“I was simply a wife and mother but suddenly a new door was opened to me and I loved it from the first moment,” she said. “Even though I enjoyed using the tools, and seeing homes and lives made whole, I knew right away that if I really wanted to give my best it would be through a leadership role.”

After a second trip to Saipan in April 2018, she submitted her application for MDS leadership.

“Serving with MDS is not only something I consider a calling from the Lord to do, but as they say in the commercials, I am a client, too,” she said of how MDS repaired her own house after a flood in 2017.

When friends in Region 4 heard insurance wouldn’t cover the damage, “they sent a small team to rehab our house,” she said.

WhiteEagle expressed appreciation for the relationships she has formed and the joy that comes from serving.

“Stepping into the role of regional board chair is another answer to God’s call and leading,” she said. “I am excited about learning a new role, serving others from a new platform, meeting new people and exposing myself to a new avenue so different from the lanes I have traveled.”

Her mission motto, she said, has always been “just go with the flow.”

She added: “I’m in a new river and enjoying the scenery.”

WhiteEagle replaces Roger Sharp, who was regional board chair for three years. Sharp continues to serve as the Brethren in Christ representative for MDS California. Prior to his leadership role, he was a teacher who volunteered for MDS on projects in Alaska, Hawaii and Idaho.

“I’m taking six months to enjoy retirement,” said Sharp, who also spends time on his family’s goat farm in Rancho Cucamonga, California.

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