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MVS Canada seeks alumni

   

Feb 10, 2003
-by Dan Dyck

 
MVSers met for a retreat last fall.
   

Winnipeg, Man.—Mennonite Voluntary Service (MVS) Canada is looking for you … or someone you know.

More specifically, voluntary service coordinators at Mennonite Church Canada are updating their lists of MVS and Service Adventure alumni in an effort to reconnect a community that has become scattered over the years.

The challenge of maintaining current lists is part of the nature of participants; they are typically young and extremely mobile. “Our files and lists become dated the minute a participant completes their term. I’ve run into former volunteers in many different cities and careers – frequently far removed from where one might expect to find them. I’ve met them in the airport as Canada/US customs workers, and other surprising places,” said Brad Reimer, associate director of Christian Service Ministry for Mennonite Church Canada.

To help update the list, Reimer is asking all past voluntary service participants to file their names and contact information with Monika Selluski at the MC Canada office (1-866-888-6785; mselluski@mennonitechurch.ca). “And if you know someone who knows someone who served, we’d like that information as well,” said Reimer, adding that all information collected is confidential and exclusive to the use of MC Canada.

The list should be sizeable. Reimer has been directly involved in managing the MVS program nationally and bi-nationally for 8 years and estimates that several hundred people have participated in Canada alone. And even decades later, participants cite their voluntary service experience as life changing. “It’s interesting that in congregations proposing new MVS units, the initiators themselves, in many cases, have had a voluntary service experience,” he added, noting that two new units are in development in Toronto (Danforth Mennonite Church) and Ottawa (Ottawa Mennonite Church).

Reimer hopes to reconnect the MVS/Service Adventure alumni by developing a newsletter and special events. In Manitoba, one MVS alumni wants to plan a summer BBQ for any past and present participants that live locally. An alumni supper gathering will be held for all Christian Service Ministry alumni at the St. Catharine's Assembly on the Thursday evening.

MVS has a long history of voluntary service in Canada; in recent years shorter term programs such as Service Adventure have been added to the mix. “Volunteers carry their community experience with them all their lives, and we’d like to build on that by keeping them connected,” said Reimer.

Sidebar: MVS at a glance

  • The first MVS work in Canada began with the Welcome Inn in Hamilton, Ontario (1966). It is the oldest living MVS unit in North America.
  • In addition to Hamilton, there are currently MVS units in Edmonton, Montreal, Winnipeg, and Riverton (Manitoba). There have also been units in St. Catharines, Brandon, and Saskatoon. New units are currently in development in Toronto and Ottawa.
  • By summer of 2003 there will be seven units in Canada, the highest number ever at any given time.
  • By fall of 2003, there will be twenty-five volunteer openings for MVS Canada units.