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.”