The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Tornado: Mike Pound

June 3, 2011

Mike Pound: The fundraiser must go on

JOPLIN, Mo. — Mary Schultz said the people in her church never even considered canceling a planned fundraiser for the Joplin Neighborhood Adult Literacy Action organization.

“It was already on our books,” Mary said.

“Yes,” I pointed out to Mary. “But when you put it (the fundraiser) on your books, you didn’t count on the books being blown away.”

“We certainly didn’t,” Mary said with a laugh. “The books may be gone, but the commitment in our hearts is still here.”

Mary is the chairwoman of the Church and Society Committee at Peace Lutheran Church located at 2002 Wisconsin Ave. If the address sounds sort of ominous to you, it should. The church, or what’s left of it, was right in the path of the May 22 tornado and was extensively damaged.

Given that, Marj Boudreaux, in a letter she sent to me the other day, figured there was no way the church would be able to proceed with the planned June 12 Ice Cream and Homemade Pie Social to benefit NALA. Marj, who is the director of Joplin NALA, said that, ironically, one of the first things she saw on her desk when she returned to her office a day or two after the tornado was a flier advertising the church fundraiser.

“I knew they wouldn’t be able to go ahead with it, but all I felt was sadness for the members whose building had been devastated,” Marj wrote in her letter.

Funny thing about the folks at Peace Lutheran: They don’t spend much time feeling sorry for themselves.

“Our mission work has been the focal point of the whole church,” Mary said. “It’s what our congregation is all about. For a small church, we do some amazing things.”

When word of the storm, and its impact on Peace Lutheran, spread, the church received offers of help and support. The people at Bethany Presbyterian Church at 20th and Virginia were one of the first to contact Peace Lutheran offering the use of their basement for services and church meetings.

“We will gather one Sunday a month for joint services with them and on the other Sundays they have allowed us to have services in their basement,” Mary said.

The generosity of the Bethany congregation is what allowed the Joplin NALA event to proceed, Mary said.

“We didn’t think we could have the fundraiser on our parking lot and we were so thankful when the Bethany Presbyterian Church offered us the use of their lot,” Mary said.

You would think that, after almost two full weeks, positive neighbor-helping-neighbor, friend-helping-friend, stranger-helping-stranger stories would become increasingly hard to come by, but, if anything, the opposite has proved to be true.

The fact is, there are positive, uplifting, inspirational stories happening in this community every day. Look, we all know that there have been far too many tragic, gut-wrenchingly sad stories since the storm. But sometimes we need to step back and realize that for everyone of those horrible stories there are 10 positive tales.

It’s important to remember those positive stories as we slowly make our way into some sort of recovery mode. It’s important to remember those positive stories as we slowly begin to heal.

The Peace Lutheran Church Ice Cream and Homemade Pie Social to benefit Joplin NALA will run from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. on June 12 at the Bethany Presbyterian Church at 20th Street and Virginia Avenue. If you get a chance, you might want to drop by. It will give you a chance to help out a very good cause and, while you’re at it, thank some amazing people.

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Tornado: Mike Pound