The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Local News

June 12, 2012

Mike Pound: Local landscapers help tornado victims move forward

When the May 22 tornado hit, Mary Grissom’s family business, like a host of other Joplin businesses, took a severe hit.

That business, Inside Out Designs, specializes in home ponds and landscaping and the storm temporarily wiped out 65 percent of its customers. Rather than sit around twiddling their thumbs until new construction began, the family looked for ways to help.

“They needed us in other directions,” is how Mary put it the other day.

Family members helped with the rebuilding of Cunningham Park. They helped out on “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition,” and they put a pond in at the Freeman Cancer Center.

When I chatted with Mary on Tuesday the family was installing a pond at Parr Hill Park as a memorial to the children who were killed, injured or otherwise impacted by the storm.

“We are putting in the basin right now and tomorrow we will work on the waterfalls. It will have five waterfalls,” she said.

Money for the project came from donors, and the Grissoms are giving their time as are a host of volunteers. Mary said that once the waterfalls are complete work on landscaping will begin.

“We hope to be done and out of the park by the end of the week,” Mary said.

I told Mary that I loved Parr Hill Park and that when I first saw the park shortly after the storm I was heartbroken.

Mary told me that if I loved the park before the tornado, I will also love the new park.

“It makes us feel good to be putting water back in the park. When the city gets finished it will be just gorgeous,” she said.

Mary doesn’t seem to be one of those “woe is me” types. She also doesn’t seem to be the type to get too wrapped up in the past. Nope, Mary and her family seem to be the “let’s get going, let’s move on” sort of folks

“That’s what I like about Joplin. We didn’t wait for help. We just went to work and now we’re moving on. We aren’t going to let that tornado stop us,” she said.

On June 23 area residents can get a look at how some people are moving on.

For some time, the Grissoms have sponsored home pond tours as a fundraiser for the Joplin Business Women’s Association. What the Grissoms do is put together tours of home ponds in Joplin. For obvious reasons, there was no ponds tour last year but the fundraiser is back this year.

Stephanie Everitt, with the group, tells me that this year’s tour will include nine home ponds throughout Joplin. The event will run from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, June 23. Tickets are $5 and may be purchased at Inside Out Designs, 1416 Virginia Ave.; Dixie Printing, 1418 S. Main St.; and the Wild Flower, 1932 E. 32nd St.

Stephanie says tickets will serve as maps to each pond on the tour. Proceeds will assist women’s education. For more information, call Mary at 417-483-4319.

For Mary, the return of the tour is just one more sign that Joplin is moving forward. Many of the ponds on the tour are new but two of the ponds hold a special place in Mary’s heart.

“There were destroyed in the tornado and were on opposite ends of the storm. One is on West 28th Street near where the storm began and the other is out by Flying J near the end of the storm,” she said.

Mary hopes the tour will give folks ideas for their own backyards. She also hopes it will boost morale and help folks look forward rather than backward.

I think it will.

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