Landis Homes residents partner with MDS to create a good night’s restBy Barbara Weaver Mennonite Disaster Service
Mennonite Disaster Service learned it needed a bunk trailer when multiple tornadoes ravaged the U.S. in the spring of 2011.
The historic year for tornadoes made for a historic year of MDS responses. More than 6,100 MDS volunteers worked more than 26,000 days at MDS projects.
After a disaster strikes, the phones at MDS headquarters in Lititz, Pa., ring off the hook. Many calls are from volunteers, ready to help at the disaster location.
Some are day volunteers, driving in to work, then heading home to sleep. Some volunteers work for a week or more, and in a tornado-devastated area, sleeping accommodations can be difficult to arrange.
The 51-foot-long solution is not a typical trailer, RV or camper. The bunk trailer has 44 feet of livable space and can sleep 18 people. It has three showers, dressing rooms, two restrooms, a utility room and two sinks.
It’s big enough to sleep a very large family, but a different sort of family will be using it. The trailer will be towed to communities where MDS volunteers are working to help disaster survivors clean up and rebuild. The MDS volunteers will sleep in the bunk trailer at night and work in the community during the day.
The bunk trailer project was born after a number of factors converged.
A donor gave $10,000 and challenged executive director Kevin King to find matching funds. Residents of Landis Homes, a retirement community near Lititz, raised more than $29,000, and the original donor added another $3,000.
Around the time of the donation, Travis Eby, vice president of operations for MH Eby trailers, had contacted King about what MDS’s future trailer needs might include.
Thanks to the work and heavily discounted rates of MH Eby and Haller Enterprise, the bunk trailer became a reality.
After a showcase stop at Landis Homes April 4, it headed to West Liberty, Ky., to be parked at West Liberty Mennonite Church, which was struck by a tornado on March 2. MDS volunteers have been working in the area, and having a place to sleep will allow more of the MDS volunteers to help residents rebuild their lives.
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