By Mike Pound
JOPLIN, Mo. —
I was trying to thank Josh Saunders and wound up confusing him.
“It’s great that you guys came to help out here even though you’re not getting anything for your work,” is what I said.
I was trying to point out that Josh and the other 35 folks with Expedia.com were spending time working in Joplin with no thought of rewards or credit. But, when I said what I did, Josh looked at me as if I was crazy.
“What are you talking about?” Josh said. “We’re getting blessings.”
Josh, a senior market manager in Expedia’s Colorado region, said he and the other company volunteers were attending a business meeting earlier this week at a company call center in Springfield. The group learned that several people from the call center had been volunteering in Joplin on weekends.
“We figured that since Joplin is just down the road, we should come here and do some service,” he said.
Do some service. I like the sound of that.
By now, most folks know that a lot of people have traveled to Joplin to “do some service.” In many cases, those folks aren’t sure what they can do, or what they will do, when they get here. They just know that they have to do something.
So they keep coming. Day after day. Week after week. And pretty soon, I’m sure, month after month. There is a lot of work yet to be done in Joplin, and every one of those volunteers means a great deal to those of us who live and work here.
On Thursday, the volunteers from Expedia were helping clean debris from destroyed homes on South Pennsylvania Avenue.
The volunteers, Josh said, came mostly from the western part of the country. Many of them hailed from Arizona, Colorado and California. Working with the Expedia group were several people who work at hotels that are partners with Expedia in the company’s travel planning business.
“We have people from the Hilton in San Francisco and from the Los Angeles Athletic Club here working with us,” Josh said.
Josh and I talked a bit about the support Joplin has received since the May 22 tornado. I mentioned the thousands of people who have volunteered since the storm hit. I also mentioned the thousands of people who have sent money and supplies to Joplin, and I mentioned the thousands of people who have sent messages of support.
Josh nodded while I talked. Then he smiled.
“That’s what makes America so great,” he said.
I told Josh that in the scheme of things, helping a few homeowners clean debris from what used to be their homes might not seem like a big deal, but it is in fact a big deal.
“Be sure to tell the rest of the volunteers how much Joplin appreciates what they’re doing,” I said.
Josh sort of waved his hand as if to shrug off my words of thanks. He told me that he and his fellow volunteers were honored to have a chance to help. He also reminded me about the company’s Springfield employees who have been helping out every weekend since the storm and who have taken vacation time to volunteer in Joplin.
“They deserve the credit,” he said. “We’re just going to be here for a few days.”
Josh and I talked a few minutes more, and then we shook hands. I started to walk away, but then I stopped.
“Be sure to tell everyone in your crew that they are making a huge difference,” I said. “Tell them that Joplin thanks them.”
Josh nodded and said that he would.