MCC photo/Matthew Lester

Christiana Moses (foreground) pumps water at the new borehole in the village of Tuli-Koma in northeastern Nigeria. MCC supported the establishment of the borehole and a latrine in this village and 11 other villages through its partner organization Go International Mission. Southern California Festival & Sale for World Relief recently raised enough funds to help build a borehole in memory of the late Les Guengerich, a long time MCC supporter and volunteer.  

Upland, Calif., -- Working as a citrus famer, Les Guengerich understood the value and importance of water. For years, Guengerich and his wife of 65 years, Dorothy, faithfully gave donations to MCC’s water projects to help provide clean water to people in need.  To honor the late Guengerich, friends at the Southern California Festival & Sale for World Relief decided to auction off pledges for shoppers at the sale to give towards a MCC water project in eastern Nigeria. 

The combined water pledges given in memory of Guengerich raised a little over $6,000 dollars.  A gift that will make a meaningful impact for people living in village of Tuli-Koma in eastern Nigeria.  Even after his death, Les’s desire for people to have access to clean water will become a reality because people choose to give in his memory.

The funds are enough to have one borehole (water well) built for the community in Tuli-Koma.  Go International, a MCC partner, seeks to reduce illnesses associated with unsafe water and poor sanitation practices through drilling wells and building latrines, accompanied by education in good sanitation practices. They sponsored rig operators to drill a 115- to 130-foot deep, narrow borehole through rocky soil to reach the aquifer.  The new borehole has the potential of reaching around 7,000 individuals in 5 villages. Click here to learn more about MCC’s water project. 

Women use one of the new wells that was built in the village of Tuli-Koma in northeastern Nigeria.  MCC photo/Matthew Lester

“Nothing would make Les happier to know that people were giving gifts of water in his name,” shares Dorothy.  She is pleased that people gave money to MCC to help people have access to clean water in his memory.

Since the beginning, over 22 years ago, Les and Dorothy worked at the Southern California Festival & Sale for World Relief as volunteers.  Les was also one of the founding board members of the Rancho Thrift Shop, a MCC thrift shop in Rancho Cucamonga, California.  Volunteering with MCC is another way that many chose to partner with MCC to make a difference for people in need globally.

“I appreciate being able to be a small part of what MCC is doing around the world,” explains Cathy Musser, a relief sale volunteer for over 22 years.  “The first number of years, I was involved in volunteering during the sale," shares Musser.  “I served as Quilt Chair for about six years, then 10 years ago, I took over as Auction Coordinator, and have served in that capacity since then.”

Allison Hughues Heeney (left) and Gloria James (right) helped organize the antique booth at the Southern California Festival & Sale.MCC photo/Krystal Klaassen

Volunteers like the Guengerich’s and Musser are invaluable to MCC and help make events like relief sales around the U.S. and Canada possible.  This year at least 150 people signed up to help and over 16 Mennonite Church USA and Brethren In Christ churches participated to make the Southern California Festival & Sale a success. 

“I have gained a greater appreciation for the work of MCC,” shares Musser. “It is so great to be working together with so many different churches and to see what we can accomplish together.”

Together volunteers and donors can make a big difference.  In the last five years, the Southern California Festival & Sale has donated over $385,000 to the work of MCC.

Volunteers greet people with a smile at the food ticket booth  .MCC photo/Krystal Klaassen

Kate Wentland understands the importance of the relief sales, donors and volunteers to help keep the work of MCC going. She is another faithful volunteer of the sale since the beginning, except for the years she served with MCC in China.

“It meant so much to us (MCC service workers) to have people across North America raising funds for us through relief sales and thrift stores,” shares Wentland.  “Sometimes when I had a particular expense that MCC was covering, I would think about the number of bowls of homemade ice cream which would cover the cost… relief sales keep people connected and help one be a part of something bigger than oneself.”

This year Wentland will take over as Auction Coordinator.  “Now that I'm back from serving with MCC in China, I was asked to join the board for the sale and take on the Auction Coordinator role, explains Wentland. “I shadowed Cathy Musser this year and will take over next year.”

“It feels really good to still be able to serve MCC at home in this new way, and to pay it forward, helping to support the next generation of service workers.”