The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

December 1, 2012

Habitat sponsor’s help aids fellow parishioners

By Andra Bryan Stefanoni
Globe Staff Writer

JOPLIN, Mo. — Editor’s note: The Joplin Globe, in an ongoing series, is telling the story of the many hands that play a role in recovery from the May 22, 2011, tornado by following the construction of a Habitat for Humanity home at 2630 S. Wall Ave. Every piece of the home and every volunteer has a story.

The bathtubs and sinks in the home under construction at 2630 S. Wall Ave. arrived there the same way many plumbing supplies do — in a truck from Joplin Supply Co. But the story begins well before that truck arrived and ends with a coincidence.

In 1899, Joplin Supply Co. took up residence at 319 Joplin Ave. and began providing what miners, builders and car buyers needed.

“We used to supply the mines in the area with all of the pumps, chisels, iron works stuff, and we were the first manufacturer of Model T’s west of the Mississippi River,” said the company’s general manager, Ron Hall, who joined the company 45 years ago.

The company stopped selling those autos in about 1937 and now operates at 302. S. Michigan Ave. But its mission hasn’t changed — it still supplies Joplin with what it needs to build and grow, like sinks, tubs, stools and plumbing items, as well as electrical, heating, ventilation, air conditioning and refrigeration products.

About 10 years ago, it added to that list providing supplies for homes being built by Habitat for Humanity at a discounted cost or, in some instances, no cost.

“We’ve always done something for Habitat — if not on every house, close to every house,” Hall said. “We believed it was important.”

After the 2011 tornado wiped 7,000 homes from the Joplin landscape, Toto Manufacturing donated $300,000 worth of stools, lavatories, tubs and sinks to the rebuilding efforts. Joplin Supply Co. became the distributor and gave items to anyone rebuilding a home that had been destroyed in the tornado.

Of that inventory, 10 to 15 items remain, Hall said, which he plans to give to Habitat if the items remain unused by the end of the year.

So it wasn’t unusual for Hall to say “yes” when asked last year by the Jasper County Bar Association if Joplin Supply Co. would help sponsor a Habitat home. It was being built by the Justice League at 2630 S. Wall Ave.

But a coincidence made this Habitat project “more special,” as Hall put it, than past homes.

Hall has attended First Christian Church at Fourth Street and Pearl Avenue with fellow parishioners Ed and Angela Kunce since 1985.

About the time he was asked to sponsor a Habitat home, he learned the Kunce family had been approved for one but never knew the address. He was thrilled for his friends, who had lost all that they owned in the tornado, and loved hearing updates on their application process.

Then the Justice League called Hall with the date of the groundbreaking for the Habitat home he agreed to sponsor and gave him the address: 2630 S. Wall Ave. The Kunces also called him with the date of their groundbreaking, and gave him the address: 2630 S. Wall Ave.

“It was the same date,” Hall said. “I thought I was sponsoring a home for complete strangers, but it turns out it was Ed and Angela.”

Hall invited the couple to the Joplin Supply Co. showroom to allow them to pick out more higher-end items than usual.

“I wanted their house to be a little unique,” he said. “They are very deserving, no question. As God puts it, there are no coincidences in life. I’m just thrilled that all of this coincidence came together as it did — like it was meant to be.”