Determined to Serve

Posted By Katie Kowalchuk
August 15, 2016

Here at the MCC BC office, we’re heading into the home stretch of preparations for the MCC Festival for World Relief, coming up on September 16 & 17.

A little while ago, I had the opportunity to sit down with Dora Hoeppner, our Relief Festival Coordinator. For the last 13 years, Dora has been pouring her heart and soul into this event.

Under her leadership, this event has more than doubled in size, and expanded from a community sale to a full-on festival. Not only that, “it’s become so much more than just an MCC event. It’s more like a family reunion.”

erwin and the park family- edited down

Attracting over 20,000 people from across the province over the course of just 24 hours, this weekend of food, fun and fundraising has grown to be one of Abbotsford’s biggest events.

Of course, it hasn’t always been like this.

In fact, when it all got started 47 years ago, it wasn’t so much a festival as a gathering. A group of people from the Mennonite community got together and decided they wanted to raise funds to support uprooted and vulnerable people around the world through Mennonite Central Committee’s work. So they used their skills to craft, sew, bake, grow, and harvest items they could sell to the community.

This “MCC Relief Sale” grew and grew until it became much more than a sale. It became a time to reunite with old friends, to show off one’s handiwork from the quilting room or the garden, and to hear about the amazing impact their fundraising had made since the previous year’s gathering.

As we sipped on our coffees, Dora told me stories of the unwaveringly dedicated volunteers she works with; the woman who comes in to clean the cafeteria trays, the man who makes over 400 hats by hand to sell each year, and the countless others, who, despite what’s going on in their lives, are “determined to serve” year after year.

IMG_7932After this year’s festival, Dora will be stepping down to pursue some of her other hobbies, like raising chickens and growing blackberries with her husband out in Chilliwack.

While she’s looking forward to this new chapter in her life, and seeing how the festival will continue to grow in the coming years, she’ll miss it. “What will I miss the most? The people. Definitely the people.”

We’ll have some big shoes to fill without her here at the office, and we want to take this opportunity to say a huge THANK YOU to Dora for her determination to serve. Dora has devoted countless hours to this event, and it wouldn’t be what it is today without her.

Look out for her smiling face at the Festival and help us say thanks to Dora for her years of service!

Stay tuned for more stories about the MCC Festival for World Relief! Don’t forget to RSVP to the Facebook event here, and be sure to follow us on Instagram for the latest behind-the-scenes pics.