The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

May 2011 Joplin tornado

March 19, 2013

Open house held at home built by Catholic Charities volunteers

The framed photograph was of a picture of the new house at 2201 S. Harlem Ave. Around the border, it had been autographed by many of the volunteers who had donated their time to build the home from the ground up.

“Congratulations on your new home, and welcome home,” said Michael Adams — construction and volunteer manager for the Catholic Charities of Southern Missouri project — passing the photo to the home’s new owner, Marilyn Brown.

Standing on her porch, Brown took the photo and extended her hand to Adams to shake it. What she received in return was a warm embrace.

An open house ceremony was staged Monday afternoon to celebrate the completion of Brown’s new home.

She was all smiles as volunteers and other invited guests took a tour of the finished home, which she saw for the first time last week.

“I was given a set of blueprints (to show what it would look like), but they built from a different set,” she said. “I was a little freaked out, but I like this house better.”

The 1,200-square-foot home with three bedrooms and two bathrooms sits on the same property as Brown’s former home, which was destroyed in the May 22, 2011, tornado.

Since the tornado, she said she had been living in an apartment across town that her son had rented for her.

Based in Springfield, Catholic Charities of Southern Missouri has had a presence in Joplin since just 24 hours after the tornado, said Maureen Jersak, the organization’s director of communications. Today, almost two years later, the group maintains a disaster case management office as well as a secondary office and warehouse devoted to repair and rebuild projects.

“We rely completely on volunteer labor,” said Jersak, who noted that the organization’s base of volunteers spans church groups from a variety of denominations. Because of spring break, she said, a number of church and college groups were in Joplin last week.

Among the volunteers are a group of Mennonites who have been working with Catholic Charities of Southern Missouri full-time since May of 2012.

“They’re a remarkable group,” Jersak said. “They work for about six months and then another crew comes in to take their place. We’ve been keeping them busy.”

Joining those gathered for Monday’s open house was Al Kopaska, a central Iowa resident who is volunteering in Joplin through the Christian Reformed World Relief Committee, also known as World Renew.

Though his group didn’t volunteer at Brown’s house, they’re currently working with Catholic Charities to rebuild a home on Murphy Avenue during their two-week visit.

 “This is my third trip (to Joplin),” said Kopaska. “It’s a dramatic change from a year ago, when there was still rubble and people picking up.”

Brown said she was almost at a loss for words when it came to what she wanted to say to all of the volunteers who gave their time to rebuild her home.

“I just want to say a prayer for all of them,” she said.

150 homes

To date, it has assisted with the repair and rebuilding of more than 150 homes in Joplin.

 

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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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