The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Local News

August 27, 2013

Closing of Transform Joplin Warehouse marks milestone

Tornado recovery in Joplin reached an unofficial milestone with the announcement that Transform Joplin has closed “The Warehouse” at the corner of 12th Street and South Wall Avenue.

“It’s very bittersweet for us,” said Amy Ipsen, who with her husband, Bryan, purchased the 20,000-square-foot building a few months after the tornado in an effort to streamline recovery and rebuilding efforts, and put multiple groups under one roof.

It became a headquarters for faith-based ministries seeking to aid in the rebuilding effort: Immanuel Lutheran, Baptist, Christian, Catholic and Methodist churches shared the space, as did Joplin Area Habitat for Humanity, and Hammers and Hearts.

Inside, volunteers built shelves, organized resources and built two rooms as a secure, central location for a $150,000 tool lending library donated by DeWalt.

Immanuel Lutheran formed a nonprofit called Transform Joplin. It organized volunteers and streamlined home rebuilding and repair efforts. It even conducted a baptism in the warehouse.

“But this spring, we started talking about what was going to happen over the summer, because we knew that most all of the tornado relief is finished,” Ipsen said.

Immanuel Lutheran’s relief director, Trent Davis, left in May. Hammers and Hearts left last fall.

“We spoke to others, and they were in the same situation, they were wrapping up, so we made a plan that at the end of the summer we’d close,” Ipsen said.

The last of the groups have cleared their belongings, so the warehouse is again empty.

But Immanuel Lutheran and Transform Joplin are not closing up shop.

“The closing of one door has opened up another,” Ipsen said.

After donating “a significant portion” of the tools to the Pittsburg State University construction program, which had ties to the group through the Joplin Extreme Home Makeover build, the group purchased a trailer for the remainder of the tools and loaded it with supplies.

“Our goal for Transform Joplin is to now be a response team, to be able to go if somebody else needs it,” Ipsen said. “We have a stocked trailer, we have experience, and we’re ready to go if the need arises. It’s opened a new door for us to have a new opportunity to serve others.”

Ipsen said a good thing was borne of a tragedy.

“I don’t have words to describe my gratitude to the teams of volunteers that came here, or the partnership between the churches and the various nonprofits. It really tied us all together as one community and showed that we can work together across denominational lines,” she said. “It meant so much to see that happen.”

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