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Cabinets go to disaster sites

Staff writer

Goessel’s Creative Wood is now a kitchen cabinet shop for Mennonite Disaster Service.

For the past six months, volunteers have been putting together sets of cabinets that will be installed in new homes at disaster sites across the country.

“The work that you are doing in Goessel meets our mission of touching lives and restoring hope,” Kevin King, executive director of the organization, said during a visit to meet volunteers. “This is the busiest time of the year for us at MDS. We have 17 worksites in the U.S. and four worksites in Canada.”

The first set of cabinets went to Crisfield, Maryland, which experienced flooding several years ago. Volunteers there have built a house and installed the cabinets for a couple unable to rebuild after the flooding. Goessel cabinets also have been sent to Jennings, Louisiana; Paradise, California, and Mount Crawford, Virginia.

One of the original goals was “to energize more people to become involved in disaster response,” Cleo Koop, Kansas Mennonite Disaster chairman, said. “Some people are willing to go to Texas or Kentucky for a week to help when a disaster strikes. But there seemed to be many people in Kansas who wanted to help but were not able to take a week away from work or families.”

The cabinet shop has allowed nearly 40 people from Goessel, Hesston, Moundridge, Newton, Hutchinson, and Hillsboro to volunteer.

Rod Abrahams, who owned Creative Wood, began visiting with the organization about selling his property in 2021.

“To have this shop that I worked in for years stay as a cabinet shop and continue this legacy was important to me,” Abrahams said.

He has volunteered alongside others, brainstorming about how to make production more efficient.

A philanthropic group in Minnesota has paid for materials, and freight also has been donated.

Four representatives from the Federal Emergency Management Agency toured the shop earlier this month.

“Faith-based groups are so critical to long-term disaster recovery,” Andrea Spillars, administrator from the four-state regional FEMA office in Kansas City, Missouri, said. “The more we know about sites like this, the better we can respond when disaster strikes.”

Koop expects to be able to build 50 sets of cabinets a year.

Last modified Feb. 2, 2023

 

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