Wiest appointed to MDS Board of Directors
From a report by Bill Mast and Kathy Heinrichs Wiest
The Mennonite Disaster Service (MDS) Board of Delegates, including two USMB representatives, held their annual meeting Feb. 12 in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Bill Mast, of Memorial Road MB Church in Edmond, Okla., and Kathy Heinrichs Wiest, from Kingsburg (Calif.) MB Church, are part of the 20-member advisory group that represents the Anabaptist conferences that make up MDS's constituency.
The Board of Delegates’ annual meeting is held jointly with the 14-member Board of Directors to receive reports and give constituency feedback.
During the business sessions, the Board of Delegates appointed Wiest as a new at-large member to the MDS National Board of Directors. The Board of Delegates also heard financial and project reports.
Ready for large emergency response
MDS is in a strong financial position and in a healthy position for a large emergency response, delegates learned. Total revenue in 2015 was $3.7 million. While MDS policy is to keep a minimum reserve of three months of operating expenses, current reserves are 10 months of operating expenses.
Donor contributions of all types were up 16 percent in 2015. The Cargill Foundation has awarded MDS major grants. MDS's request to another foundation for a $50,000 grant was approved. After learning more about what MDS does, the foundation voluntarily doubled the grant to $100,000.
A summary of the financial report shows that 74 percent of MDS's expenditures go directly to program costs while 26 percent supports administrative expenditures. If the value of volunteer labor is included in the calculation, 87 percent are program costs and 13 percent are support expenses, an excellent proportion in the nonprofit sector.
The projects MDS undertakes are tending to be smaller and of shorter duration than they were before the Hurricane Katrina response. Eight new projects have started since October, including rebuilding five homes destroyed by wildfires in Pateros, Wash., sanitizing basements from flooding in Detroit, Mich., and replacing private access bridges washed out by floods in West Virginia. These kinds of projects require more work on logistics and orientation of volunteers and the establishment of new relationships.
Sharing the MDS story
A new year-in-review DVD is available for churches. It includes a 10-minute review of 2015 plus several shorter pieces with stories from people whose homes have been built or repaired by MDS. A new general brochure for MDS is now available and a new website is slated to be available at the end of March.
More about MDS
MDS is a volunteer network of Mennonite churches that responds in Christian love to those affected by disasters in Canada and the U.S. While the main focus is on clean up, repair and building homes, this ministry touches lives and nurtures hope, faith and wholeness.
The MDS network is divided into four regions of response in the U.S. and one in Canada. Regional officers and a regional director manage each region. Regions are divided into units that often follow geographic boundaries of provinces and states.
Mast, who has been involved with MDS for more than 20 years, is a Region III Unit Area (Oklahoma) coordinator and a contact person for National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster, a coalition of the major national voluntary organizations in the United States that have made disaster-related work a priority.
Wiest, together with her husband, Steve Wiest, serve as co-vice chair for Northern California on the MDS California Unit Board. She has been involved with volunteer recruitment and church relations among constituent churches in California. In 2010 she was part of a Central California corps of volunteers who built an MDS home in rural San Diego County.
The All-Unit Meeting followed the MDS Bi-National Board of Directors and Board of Delegates meeting, as is the case annually.