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
Local new-home construction catches up to previous pace
After a slow start early in this fiscal year for Joplin, the construction of new houses has resumed at the pace that existed in fiscal year 2013, when permits for new houses averaged more than 16 per month. Since November, the beginning of Joplin’s fiscal year, permits for 118 houses have been issued for a total cost of $12.8 million. The average value has been about $108,000.
- SLIDESHOW: One year later, One day of unity, updated Photos from a day of events commemorating the May 22, 2011 tornado anniversary
Farmers Insurance writes manual based on experience from Joplin disaster recovery
Joplin’s housing recovery from the 2011 tornado is one for the books. Jeff Dailey, CEO of Farmers Insurance, announced Tuesday that not only will Farmers Insurance stick with Rebuild Joplin to repair and replace the homes left on the local group’s waiting list, but the company also will kick off a similar recovery effort today for the city of Sea Bright, New Jersey, based on a book it has written to expedite disaster recovery that is based on its experience in Joplin.
New park feature opens on tornado anniversary to encourage healing
Cunningham Park has become an emotional place for Pamela Praytor. The name of her son, Christopher Lucas, is engraved on a monument that stands in the park in memory of the 161 people who were killed in the May 2011 tornado. “Even though I cry when I come, it’s OK,” she said. “It’s part of the healing.”
Home, business cited as examples of energy efficiency, strength
Ramona and Charles “Hugh’’ Shields were not the least bit reluctant on Monday to open their new house in the tornado zone to a bunch of strangers who had a lot of questions. “I used to live in a house where I had to wear two pairs of socks in the winter to keep my feet warm — not anymore,’’ said Ramona Shields. “This house is nice and warm in the winter, and nice and cool in the summer.’’
Mercy Health System to receive $23 million FEMA grant
The Federal Emergency Management Agency will provide Mercy Health System of Joplin with $23 million in public assistance funding by the end of the year. The disaster relief was announced Friday by U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill.
Joplin pays it forward with flowers; residents asked to return bulbs ‘fostered’ for other towns
Suzan Morang’s front yard bloomed brightly last year from a colorful array of bulbs that she will happily pass on to someone else this year. Morang, 1207 Xenia Court, is a participant in America Responds With Love, a national nonprofit organization that distributes bulbs to disaster-stricken cities.
Creator of Joplin-based ‘Dear World’ exhibit features Boston bombing victims in new work
The messages written on the skin of some Boston Marathon victims may be different, but Joplin residents will recognize the handwriting. Robert X. Fogarty, the creator of the “Dear World: From Joplin with Love” exhibit, took his signature style of photography and inspiration to Boston. Fogarty traveled to Joplin in 2011 and took pictures of community members with inspirational messages written on their bodies in black ink.
Opening of nursing home another recovery milestone
Gladys Dutton has done a lot of things in her life, but Monday’s dedication of the Communities at Wildwood Ranch nursing home marked a first. “I’ve never cut a ribbon before,” she said. “I hope I do a good job.” Dutton was one of four residents to participate in the opening of the $8.5 million nursing center that eventually will be home to 120 people.
Joplin Redevelopment Corp. preparing for first property sale
The first sale of property from the Joplin Redevelopment Corp. to Wallace Bajjali Development Partners is scheduled for May 16. The city staff will be working to prepare for that sale, it was discussed on Tuesday at a meeting of the JRC.
- More May 2011 Joplin tornado Headlines
- Local new-home construction catches up to previous pace