By Connie Farrow
JOPLIN, Mo. —
Amy Jump watched intently Tuesday as two movers carried her new coffee table from the furniture truck through the sliding glass doors and into her new home at 2424 S. Joplin Ave.
“We’re not going to have room for all of this stuff,” she declared as the movers set the wood table down in the living room. A three-piece leather sofa sectional and two end tables already crowded the room.
Jump, 33, considered it a good problem. The home of Jump, her husband and three children was destroyed last May 22. The family purchased furniture in September in anticipation of moving back in by Thanksgiving, but moving day was delayed after she ran into contractor problems. The Jumps turned to Catholic Charities of Southern Missouri for help.
“You might be able to make it all fit,” encouraged Norma Hernandez, the disaster case manager from Catholic Charities. She has been working with the Jump family since January to get the house built. “Just wait until all of the furniture is in. Then, we will see what we can do.”
Hernandez is one of nine disaster case managers working for Catholic Charities in Joplin and helping families navigate the web of federal, state and local assistance. The organization received a grant Tuesday for $42,374.50 from the Joplin Recovery Fund to hire a 10th case manager to help storm victims. The grant covers the case manager’s salary and benefits for one year.
“The case manager piece is so important because you need to make sure that there isn’t a duplication of services,” said Michelle Ducre, director of Community Foundation of Southwest Missouri. “They also look at the whole family and the whole person, and connect them with the services and resources that they need.”
Jump said having a disaster case manager from Catholic Charities to help get the construction of her home back on track was critical. The last major hurdle is getting utilities connected. The family hopes to be settled into its new house by the time Joplin marks the one-year anniversary of the tornado on May 22.
“I’ll just be so glad when we get to move in and don’t have to do anything,” Jump said.
The Community Foundation of Southwest Missouri, which administers the $3.625 million given to the Joplin Recovery Fund, awarded a second grant Tuesday, for $100,000 to Lafayette House. The money will be used to hire a care coordinator and a family therapist to assist women at the shelter.
“After the tornado, we were not sure how we were going to make it through the summer,” said Louise Secker, director of community services for Lafayette House. “But thanks to the generosity of these gifts, the sky has opened up. It’s truly amazing.”
Lafayette House earlier received a $100,000 grant from Leggett & Platt Inc. to purchase furniture and flooring. The two grants were badly needed, Secker said. There has been an estimated 40 percent increase in the number of women arriving at the shelter since the tornado, and those women are staying longer and have greater needs, she said.
Lafayette House typically would provide shelter to 30 women and their children at a time, Secker said. Most stay an average of 18 days. In the first three months after the tornado, the shelter housed an average of 60 women at a time. While the number of women seeking refuge has returned to the pre-tornado average, those women stay an average of 25 days now, she said. Most women also need additional counseling to overcome the emotional stress created by the tornado.
“The tornado took the place that they would go to for safety,” Secker said. “They used to go to mom’s house, but now mom’s house is gone. Maybe their next option was to go to a sister’s house, but now the sister’s house is gone.”
THE JOPLIN RECOVERY FUND has received 678 gifts, ranging from $5 to $1.5 million, said Louise Knauer, spokeswoman for the Community Foundation of the Ozarks, the parent organization for the Community Foundation of Southwest Missouri. As of Tuesday, 30 grants totaling $2.43 million have been awarded from the $3.625 million the fund has collected, she said.