World Renew's Disaster Response Services volunteers give of their time and talents to help clear debris, assess needs, and rebuild homes after disasters strike.

2015 DRS Sunday materials now available! 
On DRS Sunday, March 1, remember those who survived hurricanes in New Jersey and North Carolina, and flooding in Alberta and Florida. Join World Renew DRS volunteers by Offering Hope to people in need after a disaster.

Preview the materials available, and order yours today: Bulletin Cover | Insert | Poster | DVD | Powerpoint


About World Renew Disaster Response Services (DRS)


World Renew Disaster Response Services (DRS) responds to disasters in a variety of ways. These include the following and are made possible by volunteers. 

  • Early Assessment - In the days and weeks immediately following a disaster, trained volunteers provide spiritual care to survivors, network with other responding organizations and gather information that will be used to plan longer term support.

  • Rapid Response - This phase of DRS' response addresses the clean-up needs through trained volunteers by mucking out flooded homes, removing downed trees and completing minor repairs after a disaster, especially covering roofs to protect homes from the elements.

  • Unmet Needs assessment - An Unmet Needs Assessment is the process of conducting a community survey to identify those with unmet needs, generally several months after a disaster when the local recovery group is operational and most homeowners know the financial assistance they will be receiving from insurance and the government. This information is then used by the local recovery group to respond to and meet the needs of those in their community.

  • Organizational Capacity Building - This phase of DRS' response provides training and guidance to local recovery groups, equipping them to expand their ability to help disaster survivors over the long term.

  • Reconstruction - When a relationship is built with a local recovery group to such a degree that DRS is invited to set up a long-term reconstruction site, a contract is signed and DRS sends continuous teams of skilled construction volunteers to repair and rebuild homes.

  • Group Mission Trips - Groups of volunteers from churches, schools, families or businesses work with a local recovery group in a disaster affected area doing work from cleanup to reconstruction.

  • Community Development Consultation - Helping local recovery organizations move from disaster response to addressing the long-term needs of their community is the last phase of DRS's work.

  • Construction Estimating - Trained volunteers make personal visits to homes to determine appropriate materials, skills and time required for repair and construction. This information is then provided to the local recovery group to use for planning the recovery process. 

World Renew DRS works in partnership with the National Voluntary Agencies Active in Disasters (National VOAD) and Church World Service (CWS) and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Periodically, stories of our activities may be seen on the Disaster News Network (DNN).


  • To show God’s love and bring hope to disaster impacted communities in North America by restoring the homes and lives of those who are most vulnerable,
  • To help communities build their capacity to prepare for and recover from disaster, and,
  • To provide opportunities for Christians to honor the Lord by using their time, talents and financial resources in service to others.


Disaster Response Services
400 76th St SW, Ste 17
Byron Center, MI 49315

Toll-free: 1-800-848-5818 ~ Local: 616 965-2355   Email Address

Ron Willett 

Pauline Mitchell
Program Coordinator

Kellie Scholma 
Communications Manager

Sue Kuipers 
Systems Coordinator

Luanne Mellema 
Administrative Assistant

Becky Purdom 
Volunteer Program Manager

Art Opperwall 
Program Manager

Shirley Ritsema 
Assistant to Volunteer Program Manager

Stephanie Kroll
Office Coordinator
Mike Gorchynski
Construction Coordinator - High River, AB
Sarah Bruinsma 
Senior Case Manager - High River, AB
Stephen Deuck 
Case Manager - High River, AB


The Regional Project Manager (RPM) establishes relationships and logistics with local recovery groups, government bodies, and others. The RPM supports and advises local recovery groups during the formation stages, helping them to progress from an idea into an organization with the human and financial resources needed to carry out effective case management. In addition, they provide ongoing support for the On-Site Managers and Construction Supervisors for the duration of a DRS managed reconstruction site’s working agreement with the local recovery group.

Henry & Linda Visscher - Regional Managers
Cell Phone: 780-668-0700
Yukon, Northwest Territories, Nunavut, British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba

Tony & Jennie DeWeerd – Regional Managers
Cell Phone: 905-975-3190
Provinces: Ontario, Quebec, Labrador, Newfoundland, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island

Len & Carrie Blauwkamp – Regional Managers
Cell Phone: 616-826-3737
States: Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Puerto Rico, Texas, US Virgin Islands

Jay DeBoer – Regional Manager
Cell Phone: 253-209-5186
States: Alaska, Idaho, Montana, North Dakota, Oregon, South Dakota, Washington, Wyoming

Garry & Lynne DenBesten – Regional Managers
Cell Phone: 616-881-1540
States: New Jersey, Ohio, Pennsylvania, also New York City and Long Island, NY

Rich & Pat Grasman – Regional Managers
Cell Phone: 616-450-6403
States: Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, Missouri, Indiana, Illinois

Doug & Pat Guikema – Regional Managers
Cell Phone: 616-745-3035
States: Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Hampshire, New York State, Rhode Island, Vermont

Eric & Nancy Johnson – Regional Managers
Cell Phone: 269-598-6483
States: Florida, Georgia, South Carolina

Mark & Carol Martin – Regional Managers
Cell Phone: 319-330-3030
States: Colorado, Kansas, Nebraska, New Mexico, Oklahoma

Don & Gert Vos – Regional Managers
Cell Phone: 209-815-8312
States: Arizona, California, Nevada, Pacific Rim, Utah

Rick & Bonnie Wiersma – Regional Managers
Cell Phone: 616-460-3238
States: Delaware, Kentucky, Maryland, North Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia, Washington DC


Volunteer Opportunities


World Renew DRS depends heavily on volunteers to fill a wide range of roles in the process of disaster recovery. 

Volunteers are needed for all services DRS provides (see above) and there are opportunities for anyone to get involved.

Who can volunteer?
Couples, individuals, and groups (church, school, family, businesses). Age requirements vary but depending on the location,high school age and up is recommended. Some special accommodations may be able to be made for younger children depending on location.

For how long will I volunteer?
Generally it will be one to three weeks at a time depending on the assignment, location, and your schedule. There are opportunities for longer or shorter assignments as well.

What skills are needed and what roles can I fill?

  • Click HERE for a summary of role responsibilities
  • All construction skill levels
  • Reconstruction and non-reconstruction roles
  • Clean up after a disaster
  • Equipment and vehicles
  • Cooks
  • Management/team leaders
  • Advocates/representatives
  • Photography
  • More


  • Various locations across the United States and Canada as disasters occur
  • See the Current Activities section below for details on the locations available
  • In the Byron Center, Michigan office and warehouse

Can I volunteer at home?
Yes, contact our office to talk about becoming an Area Representative.

What can I expect on a DRS-managed reconstruction site or when planning a group mission trip?
Please see the “Volunteering at a DRS-Managed Site” or “Planning a Short Term Mission Trip” under Resources below.

Do I need to fill out an application?
Yes. There are two different applications, depending on what you are interested in:

  1. If you would like to plan a short term mission trip for your church, school, family, etc, you will receive a customized application once your trip dates and location are finalized.
  2. For all others, if you would like to volunteer for the other DRS services (needs assessment, DRS managed reconstruction site, etc.), please fill out the Volunteer Application (located below under "Resources") and send it into our office.

What are the most urgent needs?
See the latest Opportunity Link at the bottom of the page for current urgent needs under Resources. 

How do I get started? 

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us at 800-848-5818 or 616-965-2355 or email We look forward to hearing from you!

Thank you for your heart of service and we look forward to working together to share the love of Christ, rebuilding the hope and homes of disaster survivors.


Current Activities


What is a Unmet Needs Assessment?
World Renew volunteers conduct community wide surveys to identify the disaster related needs of those who may otherwise fall through the cracks—construction and household needs as well as emotional and financial needs.

There are no needs assessments this month. 


DRS has committed to sending back to back teams of volunteers to the following communities.

To volunteer at any of these locations as a reconstruction team member or cook, please fill out and return the DRS Volunteer Application under ResourcesYou can also email or call 800-848-5818. 

Disaster: Flooding, June 2013
Project Managers: Henry and Linda Visscher
Massive flooding caused much of the High River area to experience a disaster no one could anticipate. 14,000 people were displaced from their homes. DRS volunteers from local churches helped with initial clean up. An Unmet Needs Assessment was completed in September 2013 and plans for reconstruction are underway. The long-term reconstruction site opened January 2014. 

Read more about our response to the flooding in Alberta here

Disaster: Super-storm Sandy, October 2012
Project  Managers: Rich and Phyl Grevenstuk
Super-storm Sandy ravaged the east coast in October 2012, leaving years of work to be done, long after it is forgotten by the news. DRS sent early response coordinators, rapid response teams, numerous needs assessment teams throughout New Jersey, New York, and Maryland. In September 2013, a reconstruction site was opened; teams are working in Ocean County as well as Atlantic City.

Read more about our response to Super-storm Sandy here.

Disaster: Flooding, April/May 2014
Project Managers: Don and Gert Vos

“The Florida panhandle was affected by four weather systems from April 7 through May 2, 2014, that produced historic rain fall, severe storms, tornadoes, and straight line winds. According to 30-year PRISM ( data, rainfall exceeded norms by 200 to 600 percent. More than 25 inches of rain fell over a 36-hour period, and five panhandle counties received a federal disaster declaration (sic),” said Andrea Krieger, president of the United Way of Escambia County in Pensacola.

World Renew DRS sent rapid response teams to do cleanup after the storms and a September 2014 needs assessment team interviewed 300 families—identifying many vulnerable families who need help to return their homes to safe living conditions. The first reconstruction team begins January 10, 2014.

Read more about our response to this flood, click here.


World Renew DRS is currently sending volunteer groups from churches, families, schools, and even businesses to the following areas to do reconstruction.

Interested in planning a mission trip for your church, school, family, business? Please fill out the following form to get started: Getting Started: Planning a Group Mission Trip . 

For answers to your initial questions, please read through the ‘Planning a Short Term Mission Trip’ at the bottom of this page. You can also email or call 800-848-5818. 

Boulder County - from flooding, 2013

Panhandle Area - Storms and flooding, April 2014

Brookport - from Midwest tornadoes, November 2013

Franklinton – from Hurricane Isaac, August 2012
Houma Area - Severe Storms and Flooding - 2013

Hattiesburg - from tornadoes, 2013

Joplin – from tornado, May 2011

North Carolina
Hyde County - from tornadoes, Spring 2014

New Jersey
Union Beach - from Super-storm Sandy, October 2012

New York
Schoharie - from Hurricane Irene, 2011

Oklahoma City Area - from tornadoes, 2013

Eagle Pass - from flooding, 2013
Austin - Flooding, 2013

How does this volunteer opportunity differ from a “World Renew DRS-managed reconstruction site”mentioned above?
World Renew DRS partners with organizations across North America to host group mission trips on disaster sites. These local organizations provide both housing and work coordination, which allows World Renew DRS to be very flexible in accommodating volunteers of different ages and skill sets, number of people and date preferences.


World Renew case managers and construction coordinator are working in High River to line up more reconstruction work for volunteers. Volunteers resume work in February. 

United States

World Renew Area Managers are working with churches in Mesa and the greater Phoenix area to get homes repaired from flooding.

World Renew Regional Managers continue to work with the Napa community on forming an long term recovery group in response to the August earthquake.

World Renew is responding to the September 2013 flooding. We have a volunteer coordinating repair work using local volunteers in the Boulder area. 

World Renew opened a reconstruction site in Pensacola in response to the Spring 2014 flooding. There ar Construction Estimators in Pensacola this month. Regional Managers are working with the long term recovery group in Oskaloosa/Walton. 

World Renew has group missions trips in Brookport in response to tornadoes in 2011. To-date World Renew volunteers have worked 11,176 in Brookport. 

World Renew is sending volunteers to the Rock Valley area to assist residents in repairs to get them in their homes before winter sets in.

World Renew Regional Managers are working with the long term recovery group in the Detroit area in response to flooding.

World Renew has a group mission trip in Hattiesburg in response to the 2013 tornado. To-date World Renew volunteers have worked 6,474 hours in response to this tornado. 

New Jersey
In response to Hurricane Sandy, World Renew has a reconstruction site in Ocean County. To date World Renew volunteers have worked 50,200 hours. 

North Carolina
World Renew is working in the Washington area to repairs homes damaged from the May 2014 tornado. This month, group mission trips will also be in the Washington area. 


Preparing for Disasters


Help your family and congregation understand and put into practice preventative measures to prepare for the event of a disaster. Visit the Preparing for Disasters webpage to learn more.






Celebrate DRS Sunday
Celebrate and support what the Lord is doing through DRS. Order materials (poster, DVD, and bulletin inserts and covers) for your church and collect and offering designated to ‘DRS Sunday’.