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
Farmers Insurance extends tornado recovery commitment
After investments that included stationing a company executive in Joplin for eight months last year, officials with Farmers Insurance said the company will continue its post-tornado commitment to Joplin in 2014. “We’re going to stay until the end,” said Doris Dunn, director of community relations for the company, on Wednesday. “That includes sending in another 100-plus volunteers and making some additional financial investments.”
- SLIDESHOW: One year later, One day of unity, updated Photos from a day of events commemorating the May 22, 2011 tornado anniversary
Author prepares for release of children’s book featuring heroic Joplin rescue dog
Carolyn Mueller is both a dog lover and a storyteller. So when she got the opportunity to write a story about a Joplin dog named Lily who helped search for survivors after the May 2011 tornado, she jumped on it. “Dogs like Lily can be heroes, too,” she said.
VIDEO: Lost photos claim day to be held at museum
National Disaster Photo Rescue and the Joplin Museum Complex have scheduled a public viewing and photo claim day for 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 22, at the museum complex in Schifferdecker Park. The project, originally known as Lost Photos of Joplin, was organized in the weeks after the May 22, 2011, Joplin tornado to reunite storm victims with photos displaced by the storm.
Building-permit total since tornado nears $1 billion
The building of new homes in Joplin continues at an average pace of 16 to 18 per month, according to a building permit report released for December by the city of Joplin. Eighteen building permits for new homes were issued in both November and December. In fiscal year 2013, permits for new homes averaged more than 16 per month.
FEMA official recognized by city
A retiring official of the Federal Emergency Management Agency who directed much of that agency’s response to Joplin’s 2011 tornado was recognized Friday by the city of Joplin. Richard Serino, the deputy administrator of FEMA, was presented a proclamation by Mayor Melodee Colbert-Kean during his last visit to Joplin before he retires on Jan. 23.
Two Joplin men sentenced to two years for tornado fraud
Two Joplin men convicted in separate incidents of disaster fraud related to the May 22, 2011, tornado on Monday were sentenced to two years in federal prison and ordered to pay restitution. Andy Eric Brownlee, 32, was ordered by U.S. District Judge Brian C. Wimes. to pay $2,750 in restitution, and Leslie Lynn Williams, 54, was ordered to pay $1,196 in restitution.
Tornado fund board hears grant requests
Trustees of the Joplin Tornado First Response Fund heard proposals Tuesday from 11 organizations for grant funding. The board is to decide how to spend about $225,000 remaining in the fund in what may be the final round of grants. The fund was established shortly after the 2011 tornado to receive donations from those who wanted to give direct aid to Joplin for recovery.
Joplin community publishes book of tornado experiences
Leaders in the Joplin community have published a collection of stories about the 2011 tornado and the recovery efforts that followed. First-hand accounts for the book, titled “Joplin Pays It Forward,” were written by city and school leaders; officials from health care centers and public utility companies; leaders in the business and media communities; representatives of churches and nonprofit organizations; and individuals with federal, state and local disaster relief groups and agencies.
New fire stations being readied for opening
After 2 1/2 years in temporary quarters as a result of the 2011 Joplin tornado, firefighter crews are moving into newly built replacement stations ahead of schedule. Firefighters last week began preparing a new Station No. 2 at 2825 W. Junge Blvd. for occupancy. It replaces a station at 2216 S. Maiden Lane that was destroyed in the tornado.
- More May 2011 Joplin tornado Headlines
- Farmers Insurance extends tornado recovery commitment