Our week in Joplin comes to an end. Even though the volunteer activities seemed a little chaotic at time, they are having a positive effect on the community. Work is going on all over the tornado ravaged area, but there is still so much work to do. It seems that the commercial establishments, especially the national chains are all pretty much up and running. Homes, like BJ and Charlie’s, that weren’t completely destroyed are gradually being put back together, but many of the people are living in the houses while work goes on. Not the most comfortable situation. I can’t imagine what it’s like to live out of boxes in part of your home while you try to rebuild the rest of the house for over a year now. BJ and Charlie fight a daily battle with contractors, insurance company, and the bank to make sure work gets done and they get paid so they can pay the contractors and suppliers.
Among the lucky families in Joplin were those that were selected to get new houses courtesy of ABC’s Extreme Makeover late last year. The Extreme Team built 7 houses in 7 days. I remember seeing the show in January of this year just a month after I got home from the Triangle Tour. The homes are only a couple of blocks from where I drove through the damage zone. We drove by the other night and got some pictures.
I was able to recruit a "guest" writer for this post. She gives her impressions of a week in Joplin below:
While Vince worked out in the 100+ degree temp., I was working at the Joplin R-8 School Administration offices. I worked for the Bright Futures org. that brings together the business community, the human services organizations and the faith-based community to provide resources to “at risk” students. Their mission: Partnerships inspiring educational achievement and developing community success. Bright Futures had only been up and running for a year when the tornado hit Joplin. Luckily, within that first year, they had made many connections within the community and they were able to start helping immediately. I remember sending school items out to Joplin at that time and Bright Futures organized all the supplies sent from around the country and the world which filled several warehouses. Also, volunteers were arriving from around the country to help. I was working on the back to school stuff the bus event, hoping to fill two school buses with supplies requested by teachers by grade level. They gave me the lists of volunteer sign-in sheets from Aug. 2011 which had names and phone numbers. That’s where I saw area codes from all over the country of people who traveled to help Joplin. I had to call all the 417 area code numbers and ask if they would be able to stand outside at the Walmart or Walgreens for a hour or so and accept the donations and “stuff the bus” with the donations between the hours of 8am to 8pm on July 27 and July 28. I was amazed how many people said, “Yes” and that they had groups of people they could organize to help out for a few hours. A few were unable to help that weekend because they were moving back into their home or they were receiving a Habitat for Humanity house. I was so excited for them. They all said to keep them on the list for the next event because they want to help when needed. Bright Futures works closely with the school district. Teachers and staff identify the needs of the schools, classrooms, students and families. The administrators’ submit the requests to Bright Futures and they make it happen with an army of volunteers. I truly enjoyed working and meeting the spirited people of Joplin. They have come a long way and still have a long way to go, but I know they will succeed. However, I won’t be back in the summer again. Maybe fall or even winter? It’s hotter than H – E double hockey sticks out here!!!!! Get me to the ice arena.
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