Sharon Smith described her stay in Joplin as a vacation.
Remind me to never ask Sharon to book my next vacation.
Sharon, a United Methodist church pastor from Poynette, Wis., is one of 55 members of Wisconsin Volunteers In Mission, helping out in town this week.
The Wisconsin Volunteers in Mission is a made up of generous, hardworking folks from United Methodist Churches from throughout the state of Wisconsin. The organization sends volunteers on mission trips all over the world. The volunteers pay their own way, their own expenses and, most of the time, provide their own tools and supplies.
On Thursday, I caught up with Sharon, Mary Gorman and Nancy Welsch at the St. Peter’s Outreach building at 807 South Moffet Ave. The woman told me that the spent Wednesday painting.
“But they ran out of paint work, so here we are,” Sharon said.
Since Monday morning, the Wisconsin Volunteers in Mission have been working throughout the town. They have painted homes, put up siding and worked on roofs. Earlier in the week, Sharon, Mary and Nancy spent a day working in Parr Hill Park one of several Joplin parks that were damaged during the May 22 tornado.
Teri Giarratano is the executive director of the St. Peter’s Outreach. She said she was contacted earlier Thursday by someone who said there was a group of volunteers looking for some work and asked if she needed flowers planted around her building.
“I don’t need flowers but I could use food. So I asked if they could help plant a garden,” Teri said.
When told that the volunteers could help plant a garden. Teri went out and purchased a variety of vegetable plants. Some time later Sharon, Mary and Nancy along with five or six other people showed up and got to work. They rented a tiller to churn up the ground and then began the garden.
I asked the women if they knew what they were doing and the laughed.
“We’re Wisconsin gardeners,” Nancy said. “We can handle it.”
St. Peter’s Outreach has been helping people in Joplin for 16 years. Operated by the St. Peter’s Catholic Church. The outreach is a nondenominational organization and anyone is welcome come to the center for assistance.
Teri just took over the outreach center earlier this month after long time director Kathleen Newberry retired on April 1. Teri said Kathleen who recently turned 86 was the driving force behind the St. Peter’s Outreach Center since it was formed.
“She is the reason we are here,:” Teri said referring to the new building that the Outreach program calls home. “We rely entirely on donations and Kathleen made all of those donations possible.”
The St. Peter’s Outreach provides food and clothing to anyone in need. People may drop by the Outreach building once a month and pick up what they need. Teri said, that in the past few months, the center has seen a marked increase in requests for assistance which she attributes to the May 22 tornado. Teri said the St. Peter’s Outreach center provided assistance to 1,500 people last year. This past March the center helped 472 people.
“The garden they are putting in for us will be a big help this summer,” Teri said.
I chatted with Sharon, Mary and Nancy for a few minutes about their work and we talked a bit about the storm and then it was time for the woman to go back to work. As I was getting ready to leave Sharon stopped and said “Thank you for talking to us.”
Can you imagine that? Sharon spends her “vacation” helping out in Joplin and SHE thanked me.
Sometimes people are the best.
Sharon Smith described her stay in Joplin as a vacation.
- May 2011 Joplin tornado
City opens new round of shelter applications
Those who operate nursing homes, group homes and residential day care operations for at-risk adults and children may now apply for commercial-sized storm shelters available from the city of Joplin.
- SLIDESHOW: One year later, One day of unity, updated Photos from a day of events commemorating the May 22, 2011 tornado anniversary
Lost tornado photos find home at museum
Joplin resident Flo Taylor has a piece of her life back. Thirty pieces to be precise. “This is such a blessing,” she said as she explored the contents of a manilla envelope Friday morning at the Joplin Museum Complex.
NIST study: Clear communications essential for tornado warnings
After hearing the results of a two-year technical investigation into the Joplin tornado by the federal government Thursday morning, Dale Mermoud still had a question on his mind. He wanted to know this: “Why can’t they be more specific in their tornado warnings?” After a press briefing at Missouri Southern State University on the National Institute of Standards and Technology study, Mermoud posed that question to the people who worked on the study.
Rebuild Joplin celebrates 100th home since 2011 tornado
Nearly two and a half years after an EF-5 tornado destroyed about a third of Joplin, volunteers and supporters of Rebuild Joplin ceremonially cut the ribbons on the organization’s 100th home on Tuesday. “It’s an incredible milestone of progress,” said Chad Carson, executive director of Rebuild Joplin.
Tornado fund seeks new grant applications
The Joplin Tornado First Response Fund has about $275,000 left to give out, but there were no applicants for its third round of grants. Chairman Phil Stinnett told the board on Monday that there was a public advertisement of the grant round but no one applied.
VIDEO: Rebuild Joplin effort started in basement of Illinois church
Housewarming parties don’t get much bigger or more enthusiastic than the one held for Emily Morrison on Thursday morning. As she stood in front of her new house at 1312 E. 24th St. in front of a large contingent of volunteers and well-wishers, she said that it was difficult to put into words what the last few months have meant to her.
Closing of Transform Joplin Warehouse marks milestone
Tornado recovery in Joplin reached an unofficial milestone with the announcement that Transform Joplin has closed “The Warehouse” at the corner of 12th Street and South Wall Avenue.
Applications for storm shelters available; first round is for mobile home parks
Applications are being taken by the city of Joplin for storm shelters that are available from the former temporary housing sites set up by the Federal Emergency Management Agency after the May 2011 tornado.
Lost Photos group slates claim days for July, August
Lost Photos of Joplin has scheduled several claim days in upcoming weeks, with the first of those set for 3 to 7 p.m. today at the Joplin Family Worship Center, 5290 E. Seventh St.
- More May 2011 Joplin tornado Headlines
- City opens new round of shelter applications