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The Advance Project Profile - United Methodist NOMADS

 

Wayne Mahan installs insulation prior to putting a new ceiling in a mobile home sponsored Community of Hope, an outreach of Caswell Springs United Methodist Church in Moss Springs, Miss.
Wayne Mahan installs insulation prior to putting a new ceiling in a mobile home sponsored Community of Hope, an outreach of Caswell Springs United Methodist Church in Moss Springs, Miss.
COURTESY EDIE MAHAN

"I love having the opportunity to help others as a way of repaying God for the blessings he's given us," say Perry and Jeannie Hansen, seven-year members of a group of mostly United Methodist retired couples who travel the United States building and repairing churches, homes and other structures.

The group, called Nomads On a Mission Active in Divine Service (NOMADS), has more than 1,100 members.

"We are blessed with health and the physical ability to work, so instead of spending our retirement vacationing or cruising we use our energies to the service of others...and we are blessed by it," says the couple originally from West Haven, Fla.

NOMADS (#982658) help with new construction and remodeling and repairing churches, children's homes, camps, colleges, outreach missions. They also help with rebuilding after disasters.

Since 2008, NOMADS have contributed more than $11 million in labor costs. In 2012, they completed 152 three-week projects in 31 states, says Edie Mahan, chair of the promotions committee, assisting more than 43 agencies with more than 7,600 volunteer hours. On a typical project, each person works 24 hours a week or four six-hours-a-day shifts. Team size varies from six to 20 volunteers.

After natural disasters, NOMADS (www.nomadsumc.org) may serve on site from one week to several months. In 2012, they worked 12,209 disaster-project volunteer hours, says Mahan.

Individual couples sometimes assist "drop-in" projects as they travel, usually in their personal RVs, through areas served by United Methodist agencies. Most winter projects are in southern California, Arizona, South Texas and Florida. Mahan and her husband, Wayne, have been volunteers for 13 years. The couple says NOMADS "gives meaning to our retirement."

The Hansens have volunteered at retreat centers, church camps, children's homes, community outreach projects and disaster relief areas.

NOMAD Edie Mahan paints the exterior of the parsonage for El Mesias United Methodist Church in Alice, Texas.
NOMAD Edie Mahan paints the exterior of the parsonage for El Mesias United Methodist Church in Alice, Texas.
COURTESY EDIE MAHAN

"While every project is rewarding as we are helping rebuild lives with God's love," says Perry, "some projects are held nearer and dearer to our hearts. My wife, for example, loves helping with children's homes. And I love rebuilding homes that were totally destroyed by floods, tornadoes or hurricanes. It's very fulfilling to offer a new house and opportunity for new life."

Perry also recalls a memorable spring project when he and his wife helped a Christian-based boys' home in Lampe, Mo. "We are told, ‘thank you' all the time when we work for NOMADS," he says, "but it's really we who are the ones being blessed."

Heather Peck Travis