The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

May 2011 Joplin tornado

May 18, 2013

Therapy dogs

Any question that Louie was bred to put people as ease is put to rest when the golden retriever trots over to where a visitor sits and puts his head on their knee, the dog’s eyes filled with a gentle affection.

In terms of an ice-breaker moment, it’s a winner.

Louie is one of two therapy dogs that has been used since the tornado by Immanuel Lutheran Church.

“After the tornado, our church had a relief center going and we supplied a lot of needs such as medical care, counseling, clothing, food and supplies,” said Jason Glaskey, one of the handlers for the church’s dogs.

“One of the things that happened soon after is that we got a call from Lutheran Church Charities in Addison, Ill. One of their ministries they have to help and serve people is through comfort dogs. They brought them to our gym and we noticed how effective they were in breaking down the barriers of communication, helping people to smile even though they had just gone through something horrific.”

The dogs are bred from an early age to put people at ease, allowing them to be comforted and maybe work out some of their feelings during a trying situation.

By the end of the summer of 2011, staff members at Immanuel were convinced that the two dogs, Louie and Jackson, needed to stay in Joplin.

Glaskey — the church’s youth and family minister — was among the initial church members who trained to become certified handlers for the two dogs, who are credentialed to go into hospitals, stores or anywhere else service dogs are allowed.

“I’ve always been a dog person, but dog handling and using dogs for ministry was a brand new concept for me,” Glaskey said. “But they come into work each day and we put on their working vests. It’s their job to be welcoming, comforting and put people at ease.”

Trained since they were 8 weeks old, the dogs have their own personalities. Jackson is the “hider” and Louie is the “sniffer,” said Glaskey.

The two golden retrievers have made visits all around Joplin over the past two years, from hospitals and nursing homes to schools and even the mall. In January, church members took Louie and Jackson and made a trip to Newtown, Conn., to help bring comfort to the community still reeling from the December school shooting.

Sandy King, an Immanuel member who survived the Joplin tornado, also made the journey to Connecticut and was amazed at how the dogs interacted with people.

“It was an affirmation of what we’ve seen in our own congregation,” she said. “A peace and stillness would come over them and for a while they could forget everything ... all of the horrors and all of the pain. It’s unique and very rewarding.”

Glaskey said the church plans to make Louie and Jackson a permanent part of the church’s ministry.

“Our goals are to use the dogs here in our ministry as our people continue to recover and go through the healing process,” he said. “In another way, our vision is to use them to pay forward the grace and love that has been shared with us.”

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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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