Mike and Sheila Davis worked on various Grand Forks homes, doing carpentry, drywall, painting and more. But they quickly realized their efforts were about so much more. (UnSplash photo0

Trail couple helps rebuild Grand Forks

Retired husband and wife volunteered for two weeks with Mennonite Disaster Service

For some people, doing service means going far away—maybe to Mexico or Africa on a service trip with their church.

But for Mike and Sheila Davis of Trail, this past summer it meant driving just over an hour away to help people affected by 2018 flooding in Grand Forks.

The retired couple volunteered for two weeks with Mennonite Disaster Service (MDS), an organization the rebuilds and repairs homes for people affected by natural disasters like hurricanes, floods, earthquakes, tornados or wildfires.

This year MDS responded to needs in Grand Forks, which experienced severe flooding in 2018 when the Kettle and Granby rivers that flow through the city overflowed their banks. Over 2,800 people were forced from their homes.

Earlier this year, emergency officials in Grand Forks invited MDS to come help people who needed a hand. MDS, in turn, asked for volunteers to help it respond to the needs in that community. Mike and Sheila, members of the Trail Alliance Church, answered the call.

“Since we live a short distance from Grand Forks, we were able to respond right after the flood when people needed help mucking out,” says Sheila, a retired teacher, of time spent with Samaritan’s Purse, an organization that responds in the immediate aftermath of a disaster.

While there, the couple was impacted by the devastation in the community—so many people were forced out of their homes.

Later, when they heard MDS was going to help with rebuilding, they immediately signed up.

While in Grand Forks, they worked on various houses—doing carpentry, drywall, painting and more. But they quickly realized their efforts were about so much more.

“Our being there brought hope to people that experienced a natural disaster,” says Mike, retired from the mining industry.

“It is so much more than just rebuilding a home. It was restoring hope.”

Adds Sheila: “It was an opportunity to serve them and help restore their lives, spending time with them, listening to their stories and getting to know them.”

They saw that hope in people’s eyes as their house was restored.

“We could see people begin to dream and plan again,” she says of times spent talking with clients. “Their house was once again becoming their home.”

For both, it was also a way to put their faith into action.

“MDS was a way for us to show Jesus’ love to others,” says Sheila. “We saw how that love in action can change lives.”

Would they recommend serving with MDS to others? The answer is an enthusiastic yes.

“Not only is it a great opportunity to give hope to those experiencing a traumatic event, but your world is broadened as you meet other volunteers and make new friends from across North America,” says Mike.

“You get to know the clients, and you have the privilege of them allowing you into their experiences,” says Sheila, adding “you also learn new building skills.”

On that point, Sheila notes that MDS welcomes anyone—even if, like her, they have no construction skills.

“That’s not a problem,” she shares. “The crew leaders teach us what we need to do. They’re good at teaching.”

This month, the couple has decided to go a bit further to serve—to Ukiah, California, where MDS is rebuilding houses destroyed by wildfires.

But they still have warm memories of Grand Forks. “It was such a feeling of community as I walked along the streets of the city,” says Sheila. “I knew people by name. I can call them my friends and neighbours.”

Service with MDS “gave us an opportunity to serve God and show love our neighbours,” adds Mike. “We are very thankful for that. We had the time of our lives.”

MDS has volunteer opportunities for weekly volunteers in the U.S. and Canada. If you are interested in volunteering, call 1-800-241-8111 or visit https://mds.mennonite.net/.

Story courtesy ofJohn Longhurst, Communications Coordinator, Mennonite Disaster Service Canada

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

Mike Davis

Sheila Davis

Mike Davis

Sheila Davis

Just Posted

Mayor Taylor to ask Grand Forks council to develop Bare Ass Beach

Taylor says making the beach more accessible to public will discourage future trespassers

Grand Forks demonstrators call for sustainable logging across the Boundary

Protest was one of many across British Columbia Friday, Sept.17

Grand Forks residents suing province, logging companies on behalf of 2018 flood victims

Lawsuit alleges B.C’s forest ministry and logging companies contributed significantly to devastating freshet

Two men killed in Hwy 3 collision west of Castlegar

The single-vehicle incident happened Thursday morning

March to protect old growth, stop industrial logging coming to B.C. Legislature

Organizers say they want to give frontline communities a bigger say in nearby logging

Grand Forks demonstrators call for sustainable logging across the Boundary

Protest was one of many across British Columbia Friday, Sept.17

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg dies at 87

The court’s second female justice, died Friday at her home in Washington

Emaciated grizzly found dead on central B.C. coast as low salmon count sparks concern

Grizzly was found on Gwa’sala-‘Nakwaxda’xw territory in Smith Inlet, 60K north of Port Hardy

VIDEO: B.C. to launch mouth-rinse COVID-19 test for kids

Test involves swishing and gargling saline in mouth and no deep-nasal swab

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Young Canadians have curtailed vaping during pandemic, survey finds

The survey funded by Heart & Stroke also found the decrease in vaping frequency is most notable in British Columbia and Ontario

B.C. teachers file Labour Relations Board application over COVID-19 classroom concerns

The application comes as B.C.’s second week of the new school year comes to a close

CHARTS: Beyond Metro Vancouver, COVID-19 cases in B.C. haven’t increased much recently

COVID-19 case counts outside of Metro Vancouver have been level since July

70-year-old punched in the head in dispute over disability parking space in Nanaimo

Senior’s turban knocked off in incident at mall parking lot

Most Read