When the trucks from Elgin, Ill., roll into Joplin in early June, they will be carrying more than just volunteers and a lot of good will.
The youth group from Elgin’s First United Methodist Church also will come bearing a house.
The group first traveled to Joplin in July 2011 and helped with debris cleanup after the May 22 tornado. In October of that year, the group returned to help a resident put siding on her house. Members came back for a third time in the summer of 2012 to help with rebuilding work.
“We worked on a couple of houses then, doing some rewiring and building stairs,” youth group leader Keith Duncan said of the last trip. “We decided, ‘Why don’t we try to build our own house?’”
Since February, members of the group have been framing sections of the house that will be assembled in the 1300 block of East 24th Street. They have been using their church basement as their work space, and they will begin another trip to Joplin on June 9 to build the house. When it is finished, it will be given to a resident who lost her home in the tornado.
“We’re excited because it’s something that hasn’t been done before,” said Doreen Finnie, development director for Rebuild Joplin, which has been working with the church group. “It’s such an interesting concept to have a group of volunteers give their time, their talent and bring a house with them.
“They had contacted us about volunteering, and through that conversation, they decided that they wanted to take it one step further. Thomas Corley, our client services director, went up there to give a presentation and meet them. It was a wonderful experience to meet them and see the enthusiasm of the group.
“We had an architect give them some basic house plans to facilitate the project, and they chose one of those plans.”
There are about 15 members of the youth group, ranging in age from 11 to 20. Duncan said that when they come to Joplin in June, they will be accompanied by at least that many adults who will help assemble the home.
“We’ve found that we have a lot of synergy between the adults and kids,” he said. “The adults can serve as mentors, and the kids give energy to the adults.”