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
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.
- SLIDESHOW: One year later, One day of unity, updated Photos from a day of events commemorating the May 22, 2011 tornado anniversary
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.
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.”
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.’’
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
- More May 2011 Joplin tornado Headlines
- Local new-home construction catches up to previous pace