World Renew's Disaster Response Services volunteers (a.k.a the Green Shirts) give of their time and talents to help clear debris, assess needs, and rebuild homes after disasters strike.

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

Bill Adams (director)

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)


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

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

Ed & Helen Mulder – Regional Managers
Cell Phone: 219-789-9780
States: Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Missouri

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.

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


World Renew DRS Regional Managers are assisting long term recovery groups in Oklahoma City, Moore and surrounding areas in Oklahoma, where tornadoes devastated the area the spring of 2013. World Renew DRS has an Unmet Needs Assessment team scheduled to go to this area in April.

World Renew DRS also has an Unmet Needs Assessment team going to Austin, Texas in May. October, 2013, flash floods left major destruction in an area of Austin leaving people homeless, and with major damage to their homes.

Regional Project Managers have also been working with the long term recovery group in Kokomo, Indiana where a tornado ripped through their town November 2013. Regional Managers our working with this group to prepare for the arrival of our Unmet Needs Assessment team scheduled for May.

Project Managers continue to work in Larimer County, Colorado as they help communities prepare for unmet needs assessments from recent flooding.

Currently World Renew DRS has an Unmet Needs Assessment team working with several counties in Connecticut helping for an unmet needs assessment team to come to their area.


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 Resources.

LA PLACE, Louisiana
Disaster: Hurricane Isaac, August 2012
Project Managers: Don & Gert Vos

Late August 2012 Hurricane Isaac hit the Gulf Coast and brought high winds and flooding to Louisiana. St. John the Baptist Parish, where LaPlace is located, was one of the hardest hit areas. In January 2013, an Unmet Needs Assessment team was invited into the area to help the local long term recovery group get a handle on the remaining unmet needs in the community. 

During this time DRS realized this community, forgotten because it was no long on the front page of the news, was in need of assistance with rebuilding. In September 2013, a reconstruction site was opened in LaPlace. This is also one of the communities where DRS sends week long volunteer groups.

Read more about our response to Hurricanes 2012

Disaster:  Hurricane Irene, August 2011
Regional Managers:  Rick & Bonnie Wiersma
Hurricane Irene brought strong winds, rain and flooding to the Atlantic coast in August 2011. A DRS Rapid Response team was sent to the area shortly after Hurricane Irene swept through the area.  DRS was then welcomed into the community in February 2012 by North Carolina Conference of the United Methodist Church and volunteers started the work of repairing and rebuilding homes.

Read more about our response to Hurricanes 2011 here.  

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. A long-term reconstruction site opens in 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.


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.

High River - from flooding, June 2013

Various counties - from flooding, September 2013

Walton County - from wind/flooding, June 2013

Brookport - from tornadoes, November 2013

Franklinton - from Hurricane Isaac, August 2012
La Place - from Hurricane Isaac, August 2012

Crisfield - from Hurricane Sandy, October 2012

Joplin - from tornado, May 2011  

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

New York
Schoharie - from Hurricane Irene, August 2011

North Carolina
Hyde County - from Hurricane Irene, August 2011

Eagle Pass - from tornado damage, June 2013
West - from plant explosion, April 2013
Bastrop - from wildfires, September 2011

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.


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’.