Every two months, Joplin plays host to some now-familiar faces.
They’re members of Greentree Community Church in St. Louis, and they have “adopted” the city as one of their mission projects since the tornado.
Visits to Joplin by Greentree members now total nearly a dozen, and more than one-third of the church’s adult members have served. Nancy Prott, one of the leaders, estimates that they have collectively donated more than 3,000 total volunteer hours since the tornado.
While in Joplin, church members work closely with rebuild projects at Samaritan’s Purse and at the warehouse of Mission Joplin, an outreach program of Forest Park Baptist Church. They have brought and donated food items and cleaning supplies; clothing, including 1,300 coats; furniture, such as chairs, desks, bed frames and tables; small appliances, including microwaves, toaster ovens and heaters; bedding and towels; and children’s items, such as bicycles, books and toys.
“It’s the full gamut, really,” Prott said.
Some of their work has been a little less traditional, but just as meaningful. During their December 2012 trip, church members “adopted” six Joplin families and provided them Christmas gifts. One of their adopted individuals, a 70-year-old woman, said she wanted only a new toilet for her house, which church members installed for her in return for a few homemade Christmas cookies, Prott said.
The church also conducted a “decoration drive” in St. Louis, collecting donations of strings of lights, ornaments and nearly two dozen prelit Christmas trees that they used to decorate the houses of their adopted families.
The church latched onto Joplin because of its focus on mission work. Church leaders soon made a two-year budgetary commitment to missions in Joplin. Their last official trip is scheduled for July, although many church members will likely continue to visit, Prott said.
When asked why the church has remained committed to Joplin for so long, Prott said it wasn’t an option to leave the city after only a few months.
“We’re not the type of church that does a hit-and-run ministry,” she said.
Although she insists that their volunteer efforts are not about them, but rather about getting local residents back on their feet, Prott said their work has been fulfilling and life-changing.
“I think part of it is coming and seeing empty shelves (at the Mission Joplin warehouse) and knowing we can fill them,” she said. “And to see houses at completion just fills us. ...Once you come, I can’t even tell you of a single person that hasn’t said, ‘I want to come back.’”
Every two months, Joplin plays host to some now-familiar faces.
- 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