The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Local News

May 12, 2012

Rotary Club members join Habitat for Humanity to construct new home

Volunteers from the Joplin Daybreak Rotary Club began work Saturday on a new home for a Joplin family displaced by the May 22 tornado.

According to Valerie Searcy, Rotary Volunteer Projects Committee chairwoman, the three-bedroom, two-bathroom home at 2323 S. Kentucky Ave. is being built in cooperation with Joplin Area Habitat for Humanity and will provide a new home for Jenny Coleman and her three children: Jayda Johnson, 17, Devon Coleman, 14, and Andrew Coleman, 13.

Coleman’s mother, Connie Wedell, of Pittsburg, Kan., said Coleman was working at Denny’s on Range Line Road when the tornado struck the family’s rental home at the corner of 21st Street and Pennsylvania Avenue. She said her three grandchildren hid under a mattress in an archway as the storm blew over.

“I’m really proud,” Wedell said. “She’s never owned her own home, so this is a big deal for her and the kids too.”

In a telephone interview Saturday afternoon, Coleman said the project was “just fantastic.” She said the family was looking forward to having a “home base.” Coleman said daughter Jayda is about to go off to college, but is still excited about her new home.

“Every time we talk about it, she bawls, so she’s just as excited about it as me,” Coleman said.

Searcy said the project coincides with the Rotary Club’s dedication to community service.

“Rotary has done a lot of projects in the community since the tornado,” she said. “Some Rotarians worked on the Ten for Joplin project last year, and we thought it would be fun to do our own Rotarian house where we pay for the house, then have volunteers come out and build it.”

Searcy said the 1,148-square-foot house was paid for by donations from Rotarians from around the world and will be built by members from Missouri, Arkansas, Kansas and Oklahoma. She said the group hopes to have the home completed within 12 weeks, weather permitting. Searcy said the group of volunteers working Saturday was focused on getting the floor in and the walls framed  

According to Scott Clayton, executive director of Joplin Area Habitat for Humanity, the search for permanent housing could become easier for Joplin families in need. Clayton said his organization will build more homes in 2012 than it has in all the years it has been in existence.

Clayton said that since Habitat came to Joplin in 1989, the organization has built 35 homes in the Joplin area, but this year hopes to build as many as 65 homes in the community. He said Joplin Habitat has plans to build 16 houses independently. Additionally, Habitat will partner with Missouri’s professional sports franchises to construct another 35 homes as part of the Governor’s Joplin Challenge this summer.

Clayton also said Major League Baseball, State Farm Insurance and the Players’ Trust will construct five homes in Joplin and four in Tuscaloosa, Ala. Two of those homes will be constructed in the parking lot of Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City as part of the 2012 All Star Week festivities.

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