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Published June 02 2012

Hope Village puts volunteers to work

MINOT, N.D. – Volunteers from across the nation are arriving in North Dakota to bring back hope to the Magic City.

One year after the Souris River flood displaced more than 11,000 residents, recovery is far from over. But with a giant leap of faith and a little marketing, hope and help are on the way for those struggling the most.

Hope Village is a camp on the property of Minot’s Our Savior Lutheran Church that provides housing and meals for volunteers helping with flood recovery.

Since opening in April, Hope Village has attracted more than 1,300 volunteers from 26 states and three Canadian provinces to help Minot recover. To date, Hope Village has supplied an estimated 18,200 hours of volunteer labor in Minot.

The focus is to help the poor, people with disabilites and others who will have a harder time recovering. Organizers assign projects and match volunteer skills, as well as supply tools and equipment.

The cost to volunteer is $20 per night, which covers housing, food, tools and management.

The goal is to provide $3.2 million in volunteer labor throughout the city this summer, which was declared the Summer of Hope in Minot.

It became clear at the beginning of flood recovery that there would need to be housing for volunteers if the city expected to get help, said the Rev. Paul Krueger of Our Savior Lutheran Church.

The city already faced a housing shortage last year because of North Dakota’s oil boom, and the flooding of more than 4,000 homes worsened the situation.

So leaders of area faith organizations decided to pool their resources and talents and to work together to make a difference.

The project brought together Lutherans, Methodists, Baptists, Episcopalians, Mennonites, Presbyterians and other Christians to make Hope Village a reality. In addition to start-up funding and support from religious and private foundations, Hope Village secured a

$3.5 million North

Dakota Retain and

Rebuild grant to provide

building materials.

The village is capable of putting up to 250 volunteers into the city each day to help families, Krueger said. Hope Village volunteers don’t do a total rebuild, but focus on ensuring a home is safe, sanitary and secure with essential living space, he said.

Each of the organizations involved has a marketing arm helping to attract volunteers, Krueger said.

Cathy Bartle arrived in Minot with her Burnsville, Minn., church group to volunteer through Hope Village in early May. She worked on two Minot homes, helping remove mold-infested drywall in one.

In this case, a man in his 60s was trying to rebuild his home on his own, Bartle said.

“He finally reached the point where he knew he just couldn’t do it himself anymore,” she said.

Bartle said it was gratifying to help homeowners. It’s amazing what a handful of people can get done in a couple of days that would take one person weeks to do, she said.

“The thing that struck me about all of these people was just how overwhelming it must have been for them,” Bartle said. “I just can’t even imagine.”

She was also impressed with Minot residents who weren’t flooded who stopped by Hope Village to serve meals or drop off food. She encourages others to volunteer at Hope Village.

“I think that, as you’re talking to people, you’re going to find that you came away with more than what you gave,” Bartle said.

The Mid-Dakota Red Cross is in discussions to work with Hope Village to provide water and sandwiches as people work in the flooded neighborhoods this summer.

Although Hope Village will close for the year in October, rebuilding help will go year-round, Krueger said. Housing will be available for a smaller number of volunteers during the winter. The plan is for Hope Village to open again from April to October in 2013.

The focus now is on about 500 families with the greatest need for help, Krueger said. As donations grow, the number of people helped will grow, he said.

“It is important that we do it (provide help). People are crying out. They’re crying out,” Krueger said. “If the churches working together don’t step up to do it, then who else will? We have to do it, and we have to give our best. We can’t stop until we’ve done the job.”

Ways to help Minot

• For more information on how to volunteer or to donate money to support Hope Village, visit www.hopevillagend.org.

The Hope Village Volunteer Service Center can be reached at (701) 240-1495.

The mailing address is:

Hope Village

c/o Our Savior Lutheran Church

3705 11th St. SW

Minot, ND 58701

• To support Minot flood recovery efforts through the Mid-Dakota Red Cross, send donations to:

Mid-Dakota Red Cross

2021 4th Ave. NW

Minot, ND 58703

Specify the donation is to help flood recovery. For more information, call the Mid-Dakota Red Cross at (701) 852-2828.


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Finneman is a multimedia reporter for Forum Communications Co.