By Rich Brown
JOPLIN, Mo. —
The devastating effects of the May 2011 tornado are still being felt today. That’s the bad news. Christians for World Peace and First Baptist Church of Joplin have the good news.
Thanks to foresight by CWP President Roger Gladden and a partnership his Joplin-based organization formed with First Baptist, funds continue to be provided to many tornado victims.
Program created with future in mind
In the days and weeks following the tornado, Gladden said he saw the overwhelming response in providing aid to the victims, but he wanted to ensure help would still be there in the long term.
“I wanted to set up a program to start having impact six to eight months after the tornado,” said Gladden, a retired Leggett & Platt executive who formed CWP over a decade ago to serve the needs of Christians in the Holy Land. “I felt like ... there would be less focus and less funds available, and that is just the way it turned out.”
Gladden asked Jamie Tickel, pastor of First Baptist, if his church would be willing to administer the program, if CWP provided the funds in the form of grants. Tickel agreed, and a committee was formed to review grant requests from victims, then either approve or deny them.
Tickel said there are three requirements for approval: Applicants must be actual victims of the tornado; there must be evidence of legitimate financial need; and they must demonstrate a desire to remain in the area.
Checks amounting $1,000 to $2,000 per family, depending on the need, have been distributed to victims during three separate lunches hosted by First Baptist. In all, 29 families have received financial gifts totaling $31,000 since last March.
With a remaining fund balance at $14,250, the program will stay active as long as CWP donations continue, said Gladden. He is also a member of First Baptist, along with his wife, Kreta, and daughter, Kolleen, who is a junior at College Heights Christian School.
Gladden, who set an original goal of $100,000 for funding over several years, estimated that the amount of donations should at least reach $60,000 to $70,000, which includes the $31,000 already distributed.
“As long as we have money coming in, we still may achieve that $100,000 goal,” he said. “And as long as we have families and money available, the program will be ongoing.”
Travel plans put on hold
Gladden had been preparing to make his annual trip to the Holy Land last November but canceled it in order to redirect his organization’s efforts in Joplin.
“The mission field had been moved to our own backyard,” he said.
The partnership with First Baptist allowed a process that Gladden felt necessary to meet the needs of tornado victims down the road, rather than right after the tornado occurred.
“The world is a big place, and every place you go there are some people who have needs but don’t know how to fill them,” Gladden said. “(There are) people who have resources but don’t know how to reach them. And this is what is so important about what Pastor Tickel and the First Baptist group are doing. That is, finding the needs to match the resources.”
Committee members are Sallye Miller, David McKibben, Matt Greene, Jane Broadwater, Kolleen Gladden, Roger Gladden, Kreta Gladden and Tickel, pastor/committee chairman. Grants were awarded to 14 families on April 14, nine on May 19 and six on Oct. 13.
Anyone wishing to apply for a grant may call the church office, 624-4585, or contact one of the Tornado Victims Assistance Committee members who will help them with the process.
Address correspondence to Rich Brown, c/o The Joplin Globe, P.O. Box 7, Joplin, MO 64802, or email email@example.com.