Hope Village in Minot expects to host up to 250 volunteers each week through Oct. 1, said Our Savior Lutheran Church pastor and Hope Village board director Paul Krueger during a ribbon-cutting ceremony held Saturday.
Hope Village is billed as a one-stop service center for volunteers traveling to Minot to assist flood-affected families in the Souris Valley who are rebuilding their homes. The complex on the grounds of Our Savior Lutheran Church includes mobile bunkhouses, hookups for recreational vehicles, a food tent and a shower trailer and other amenities. A group from Southern Baptist Convention Disaster Relief of Kansas was in the cook car at the site during the ceremony. It was funded through a combination of grants and fundraising.
Krueger said the idea for Hope Village came about last fall, when it became clear that the tight housing situation in Minot would make it hard for volunteers to come to help flood victims. Krueger described taking calls from groups from out of state who were interested in volunteering in Minot, but decided to go to Joplin, Mo., the site of another disaster, instead when they learned that the closest housing to Minot was 40 miles away.
Andrea Johnson/MDN • A ribbon-cutting ceremony was held for Hope Village in Minot on Saturday. From the left are Gov. Jack Dalrymple, Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., the Rev. Paul Krueger and Mayor Curt Zimbelman.
The Hope Village site has been in operation since early April and has already hosted 1,000 volunteers from 70 volunteer groups hailing from 26 states and three Canadian provinces. Krueger said the groups are faith-based and service groups and their length of stay averages about a week.
"We hope by the end of the summer to be able to give close to $3.2 million worth of volunteer labor to our community," said Krueger.
While Hope Village will be dismantled in October, the group will also maintain some housing for volunteer groups through the winter months. They hope to provide Hope Village for the next couple of years.
Krueger said the board also will shortly be able to offer assistance to local groups that want to help with the rebuilding effort.
Volunteers are needed to help with the effort at Hope Village. Locals can volunteer in the kitchen to help provide food for the volunteers or drop off goodies for them. People with handyman skills can volunteer their time to fix things that are broken in Hope Village, such as air conditioners or steps, said Krueger. Others can help out with the rebuilding effort.
A fundraiser for the Souris Valley Long Term Recovery Fund, the group's partner organization, was held at the North Dakota State Fairgrounds on Saturday night. It featured performances by bluegrass bands and a barbecue.
The ribbon cutting was attended by volunteer groups as well as city and state officials, including Gov. Jack Dalrymple, Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., and Minot Mayor Curt Zimbelman.
"This is one of the coolest ideas, one of the most interesting models I have heard of," said Dalrymple, who said he thinks Hope Village will help the recovery effort move much faster.
Other speakers lauded the volunteer effort and said that, while the city has received hundreds of millions in recovery aid and in low interest loans, it will take the work from volunteers to help the city recover.
Krueger said people who are interested in having volunteers help them repair their houses will be put in touch with the Resource Agency Flood Team, one of the Hope Village board's partners. People who receive assistance are RAFT clientele. The number for Hope Village is 240-1495. People who are interested in volunteering can also contact the group by email at (firstname.lastname@example.org).