The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Local News

March 6, 2013

Tornado services center to close soon

JOPLIN, Mo. — Whenever Randall St. Pierre needs something, he hops on his bicycle and pops over to the Human Services Campus that serves tornado survivors.

His bike is his only transportation as a result of his losses in the 2011 Joplin tornado. He’s still living in one of the few remaining mobile homes installed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency to provide temporary housing to people who were displaced by the storm.

But because the number of those still homeless has dwindled to 35 or fewer, the Human Services Campus operated by the Joplin Family Y is preparing to close. There will still be access to some services for the displaced tornado survivors until May, but they’ll have to go to the Y’s location downtown at Fifth Street and Wall Avenue to get assistance.

“Them moving is going to be a complication for me,” said St. Pierre when he stopped at the campus on Wednesday to ask workers to fax a document he needed to send.

When the campus was put in at 5708 N. School Ave. next to the FEMA mobile home parks on Highway 171 and Prairie Flower Road, it served about 500 families that had no place else to live. It allowed agencies, faith-based organizations, service groups and others to bring their services under one roof for those in need as the result of the tornado.

About 40 agencies and nonprofits, including Access Family Health Care, Ozark Center, Legal Aid of Western Missouri and Rebuild Joplin, used the campus to meet with those who needed help.

Mercy Hospital held community dinners there twice a month. Senior Connection held socials there. There were block parties, barbecues, events to entertain children and a lending library for books.

People who needed professional services — things like counseling or support groups, legal advice or General Educational Development classes — could go there.

Want to search for a house or a job? Computer access is available for that.

Need child care when you’re looking at houses or going to a job interview? That can be arranged.

All are examples of the access that tornado survivors had through the campus.

“There are still people who don’t know we’re here,” said Kellee Shepherd, campus director, even though there has been advertising of the location since the campus opened a year ago. And though the campus building will close on March 29, “we’d like to encourage whoever hasn’t seen us to come here before we close,” she said this week.

About 4,000 contacts have been registered there for everything from faxing a job application to seeking trauma counseling. “Some are repeat, some are not,” Shepherd said of the people who have come for things like job-skill coaching or even just a meal and some company at one of the social events.

But with the most of those 500 families and individuals relocated now to permanent housing, traffic into the campus is down to a trickle that doesn’t justify keeping the resources there anymore.

Darlene Harper, who with her husband, Thomas Harper, and 17-year-old son, Greg Lamp, has been living in a FEMA trailer near the campus, feels lucky for all the help she and her family have received since their home was destroyed in tornado.

“We’ve gotten used to it,” she said of the way of life of displaced tornado survivors. “We were staying in a pop-up camper in our backyard” immediately after the tornado until the summer heat drove them to search for other housing. They stayed with some friends and rented motel rooms as they could afford it until they got the FEMA home. “This was like the Taj Mahal coming from a pop-up camper,” she said.

By living in the FEMA park near the human services campus, the family made contact with the faith-based organization Samaritan’s Purse after the organization left a flier on their door. That organization is building the family a replacement house with volunteer labor on the lot where their house was destroyed at 2201 Empire Ave. Their new house will be ready in April or May, so they are one of the last few families preparing to leave.

“Our involvement with them has completely changed our lives,” Harper said of Samaritan’s Purse “Now, we want to do this work.” She and her husband plan to repay the help they received by using vacations from their jobs to go to other places to volunteer with groups like Samaritan’s Purse.

Another resident, Kurt Myers, said his future is not as clear yet as the Harpers. Since the tornado destroyed the home he was buying on contract for deed, he got sick and as a result of his illness lost his job. Now he’s hoping his application for disability benefits will be approved to help him firm up a plan for living quarters for himself and his 13-year-old daughter. His alternative is to find income-based housing, though there is little of that available, he said.

Until then, Myers, who said he never wanted to have to ask for help, has finally learned that there are times he must ask for assistance from his Salvation Army case worker, another service accommodated through the human services campus.

Still open

The Human Services Campus is open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Information is available on Facebook at The phone number is 417-553-4691.

A closing reception for the campus will be from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Friday, March 15. Any resident who has participated in activities or any former employee who has worked there may attend.


Text Only
Local News
  • Pseudoephedrine sales in Pittsburg to require prescription

    Starting Friday, those who purchase pseudoephedrine and related products in Pittsburg will need a prescription to do so.

    July 22, 2014

  • Cherokee County Commission accepts general counsel's resignation

    Kevin Cure, who has served as general counsel for the Cherokee County Commission since 2005, submitted a handwritten resignation to the board on Monday in the aftermath of a landfill controversy.

    July 22, 2014

  • Mike Pound 2010.jpg Mike Pound: Parents can get help with school supplies

    I don’t know much about demographics other than the fact that I no longer belong to a “targeted demographic.” When I was younger, I was bombarded by commercials and ads from companies that were trying to sell me things that I not only needed but wanted.

    July 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • Jasper County Commission reviews traffic plans

    The Jasper County Commission will hold public hearings today and Thursday on a number of traffic changes proposed in the county. No one spoke when the first hearing was held Tuesday as part of the regular commission meeting, according to Jim Honey, Eastern District associate commissioner.

    July 22, 2014

  • Joplin school board reviews audit procedures

    A team from the Missouri State Auditor’s Office has begun requesting documents in its task to audit the operations and management of the Joplin School District, the audit manager told the Board of Education on Tuesday.

    July 22, 2014

  • Joplin man to stand trial in accident case

    A passenger accused of causing an accident on Interstate 44 in Joplin that injured three others as well as himself was ordered bound over for trial Tuesday on three felony counts.

    July 22, 2014

  • r072214soroptimist3.jpg Volunteers spend week providing camp experience to foster youths

    Karen McGlamery is a massage therapist. Terri Falis-Cochran is a finance manager. Jane McCaulley is a retired art teacher. But for a week each summer, the three are among dozens of area residents who become camp counselors.

    July 22, 2014 2 Photos

  • Neosho school board hires company to manage substitutes

    Citing its hopes of shifting health care costs and utilizing more time from retired teachers, the Neosho Board of Education granted a contract Monday to a temporary employee company to manage its substitute teacher program.

    July 22, 2014

  • Main Street TIF district study to begin

    A measure that allows the city to charge its $15,000 in administrative costs for studying a proposal to create a tax increment financing district on South Main Street was approved Monday by the Joplin City Council.

    July 21, 2014

  • Carthage man pleads guilty in sexual abuse case

    A Carthage man pleaded guilty Monday to sexual abuse of a 12-year-old girl in a plea agreement that would cap the length of his prison term at no more than 15 years.

    July 21, 2014

Must Read


A state lawmaker who is one of two doctors in the Oklahoma Legislature is insisting that unaccompanied immigrant minors being housed at Fort Sill be quarantined. Do you think those kinds of measures should be taken?

A. Yes.
B. No.
     View Results
Twitter Updates
Follow us on twitter