The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

July 20, 2011

Mike Pound: There is no stopping the St. Mary’s backers

By Mike Pound

JOPLIN, Mo. — For a woman who is raising some serious cash, Tracey Welch doesn’t like to talk much about money.

In response to a question this week about how close she and the other folks raising money for St. Mary’s Catholic Elementary School were to Tracey’s $25,000 goal, she sort of dodged the question.

“I think we’ll make it but I don’t want to talk about it,” she said. “When you talk about something, sometimes it falls apart.”

In other words, Tracey doesn’t want to jinx things.

She did tell me that somewhere in the neighborhood of $12,000 has been raised since the third week of June. The money raised by the St. Mary’s supporters will be used to help purchase teaching supplies and classroom decorations for the school’s teachers when the school opens at a yet to be announced location.

The St. Mary’s school was destroyed in the May 22 tornado, as was the St. Mary’s Catholic Church. It was a tough deal for the small, close-knit parish and school, but it wasn’t such a tough deal that it destroyed the spirit of St. Mary’s.

The folks at St. Mary’s are strong and they are confident St. Mary’s will be fine. It won’t ever be the same, but it will recover. I’ve mentioned Tracey and her $25,000 dream before. Tracey used to be the principal at St. Mary’s, and her children all attended the school. It’s fair to say Tracey has some emotional ties to the school.

Not long after the tornado, Tracey dreamed that the school raised $25,000 by running, of all things, a lemonade stand. She told some friends and fellow St. Mary’s supporters about her dream, and before long a plan was developed. During a monthly downtown Third Thursday event in June, the group set up a lemonade/baked goods stand in front of Instant Karma Gourmet Hot Dogs, 527 S. Main St. In addition to the lemonade and homemade baked goods, the St. Mary’s gang also sold really cool T-shirts designed by Shelly Tarter and Tracy Borgmeyer.

Tracey said there was no set price for the lemonade and baked goods.

“It was all on a donation basis,” she said.

As it turns out, most everyone paid well above market value for the lemonade and baked goods. In fact, some folks just walked up and handed Tracey money and walked away.

I thought that was neat.

One woman set up a little hair booth featuring hair extensions and “hair feathers.” I’m not exactly sure what a “hair feather” is, other than the fact that my 13-year-old  daughter, Emma, has one and desperately wants another.

They’re important to a certain demographic is what I’m saying.

At the end of the June Third Thursday, the woman closed her booth and handed Tracey all the money she had earned.

“She handed me $350 and left,” Tracey said. “I have no idea what her name is.. All I know is that she said she would be back for the next (Third Thursday) one.”

For those of you who don’t have calendars, today is the third Thursday of the month, which means that at 5:30 p.m. the army of St. Mary’s backers will set up in front of Instant Karma again. They will be selling lemonade, baked goods, T-shirts and hair feathers. They will also give folks the opportunity to take a lap quilt or full quilt home with them.

In August, at the invitation of the Knights of Columbus from St. Ann’s Catholic Church, the St. Mary’s folks will take Tracey’s dream to the annual Marian Days festival at the Congregation of the Mother Co-Redemptrix in Carthage.

Tracey said she thinks the $25,000 will be reached, but, like I said, she doesn’t want to jinx things. Technically, Tracey is only about 3,000 bucks from her goal, since Winco International Fireworks — the parent company of Joplin’s Blackcat Fireworks — has pledged a $10,000 match to the school.

But Tracey is not counting Winco’s pledge. She also said $25,000 is her goal. It’s not her stopping point.

I’m thinking Tracey likes the way $50,000 sounds. But I don’t know, since she won’t talk about that.