The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

May 2011 Joplin tornado

November 24, 2012

Juvenile system officer organizes group to assist in storm recovery

JOPLIN, Mo. — April Foulks remembers clearly the day she was told by Joplin Area Habitat for Humanity it would take $50,000 to sponsor a home build. It was almost exactly a year ago.

She thought, “That sounds like a lot. There’s no way we can raise that.”

But she also remembers clearing debris last summer for a co-worker who lived on Grand Avenue and thinking it would take years to clean up the tornado zone.

On both counts, she underestimated a bit.

The tornado zone was clean that fall, and by this fall the group that came to be known as the Justice League had raised $50,000 with which to sponsor the home at 2630 S. Wall Ave.

“It took a golf tournament, dinner, dance and silent auction, and a lot of asking friends and family,” said Foulks, who lives in Webb City and works in the Jasper County Juvenile Court office.

Foulks used to work at the Joplin Police Department, and her husband, Derek Walrod, is a captain with the Jasper County Sheriff’s Department.

They reached out to those they knew in the judicial system and law enforcement in surrounding communities.

“It took everyone knowing someone,” she said.

It also took stepping outside her comfort zone and learning new things.

“Only one of us on the committee had actually ever played golf. I had driven a beer cart at several tournaments, but other than that, we were green,” she said.

The same was true of building a home.

“A group of 15 of us put on the siding,” she said. “There were only two guys and the rest girls, and we had to have a lesson and a prayer in the middle of it because we were making some mistakes. But we laughed and got to know each other, and had a good time.”

There also was a learning curve when it came to scheduling volunteers.

“We might have a group of four needed to put in windows, for example, or tomorrow we’ll need six volunteers to help put soffits in,” she said. “I basically send out an email statewide to everyone connected with justice or law enforcement — every court in the state of Missouri gets a notification. Then I organize those who reply for work days.”

The challenge to managing it all is that this is her busiest time of year as a juvenile officer and as the mother of three sons all involved in fall sports.

But she said she’s gained a lot in return.

“No matter how your life is going, how many stressors you have, you walk away from this at the end of the day and you say, ‘I made a difference that day,’” she said.

Now, she’s focused on passing that feeling on to the juveniles with whom she interacts.

“When they say they don’t have friends or interests in sports or other activities, I’ve encouraged them to stop and look around. There are so many associations, so many nonprofits, and I tell them to take some time and go meet them. I say, ‘You might find there is something inside you that connects with one of those places and what they’re trying to achieve,’” she said.


April Foulks’ involvement in Joplin Area Habitat for Humanity led her to joining the organization’s Fund Development Committee, which is planning a 5K race next April and a golf tournament next October.


Text Only
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.

    June 11, 2014

  • 052212 unity walk1_72.jpg SLIDESHOW: One year later, One day of unity, updated Photos from a day of events commemorating the May 22, 2011 tornado anniversary

    May 22, 2012 1 Photo

  • 060314 Farmers rebuild 1_72.jpg 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.

    June 3, 2014 2 Photos

  • r052214butterflygarden.jpg 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.”

    May 22, 2014 2 Photos

  • r051214greenbldgs3.jpg 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.’’

    May 12, 2014 2 Photos

  • 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.

    April 25, 2014

  • Respond With Love flower.jpg 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.

    April 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • 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.

    April 21, 2014

  • r041414wildwood.jpg 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.

    April 14, 2014 1 Photo

  • 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.

    April 9, 2014

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