By Cindy Haverkamp with Rosalee Mohney, Wildfires UMVIM Coordinator

When volunteers first began responding for calls to rebuild homes in Okanogan County following the worst fires in our state’s history, it was predicted that it would take at least ten years to rebuild the hundreds of homes that were lost. While many home owners could afford to rebuild through their own resources, others were not so fortunate. The task, to rebuild homes for those without the means to do so, was taken on by the Pacific Northwest Conference of the United Methodist Church through the “Rebuild: Up from the Ashes” project. Through the efforts of hundreds of people, the end is in sight – in about five years instead of ten!

A completed “Rebuild: Up from the Ashes” home. This home represents a “non-standard” Rebuild home with unique design client-driven features.

Rebuilding after these fires has taken a massive effort from a variety of faith-based organizations and other volunteers. In fact, nearly 500 United Methodist Volunteers in Mission (UMVIM), to date, have lived out their faith rebuilding homes for people left with nothing.  This recovery effort is a partnership with the Okanogan County Long-Term Recovery Organization. Rosalee Mohney, Wildfires UMVIM Coordinator shares, “The efforts by so many and the on-going partnership with the Recovery Organization are to be recognized and celebrated with joy and gratefulness!”

The finish line is approaching, but volunteers are still needed for the final push to get families into their homes.  These homes are ‘dried in’ which means interior work including wiring and plumbing, drywall, cabinet, flooring, and light installations, painting and more still need to be done. In addition, as winter turns to spring, volunteers will be needed to assist with landscaping and helping create fire-wise spaces around each new home.

UMVIM Stan Norman and Gerri Harvill, standing in a client’s brand-new kitchen, offer a home blessing.

When an owner has taken possession of a new home, “hope” and “new beginnings” are often the words they use to help express their gratitude for the work done on their behalf. The “amazing hope” volunteers provide with each new roof, bathtub or kitchen sink is cause for celebration!  Come, join with others to complete these homes for families that continue to endure the hardship of not having a home of their own!

If you and/or your church are interested in helping to finish these homes, whether you have one day or several days, two people or 20 people, or want more information, please contact Rosalee Mohney at or 206-354-0657.

Leave a Reply