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
Illinois youth group arrives in Joplin to assemble house
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- SLIDESHOW: One year later, One day of unity, updated Photos from a day of events commemorating the May 22, 2011 tornado anniversary
Last of 586 FEMA trailers in Joplin to be prepared for move
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Civil engineers release study of Joplin tornado damage
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Rescuers, tornado victims reunite at Quapaw station
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Quapaw tribe’s firefighters, EMS personnel meet with children rescued at Home Depot in 2011
There were hugs, stories and the occasional tear this morning when two children who were trapped and seriously injured after the 2011 Joplin tornado met for the first time the Quapaw Tribe firefighters and emergency medical workers who pulled them from the wreckage and saved their lives that night.
New members take seats on redevelopment board
Three new members took their places on the board of the Joplin Redevelopment Corp. in a meeting Thursday. The panel welcomed as new members Laurie Delano, vice president of finance for Empire District Electric Co.; Gary Duncan, retired president and chief executive of Freeman Health System; and Phil Stinnett, a former Joplin council member and mayor.
Tornado grant trustees look to shelter placement
Trustees overseeing a Joplin tornado fund hope to use some of their remaining money to move FEMA-financed tornado shelters to areas where they are needed.
Documentary about Joplin Globe coverage of tornado wins 2013 Mirror Award
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Oklahoma photo collection to begin with ‘Picture Patrol’
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- More May 2011 Joplin tornado Headlines
- Illinois youth group arrives in Joplin to assemble house