The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

May 2011 Joplin tornado

November 8, 2012

Mike Pound: New York veterans reach out to help Joplin

Before I tell you about some great guys who are heading to Joplin, I need to make a correction. This morning’s breakfast for veterans at Eastmorland Elementary School, 1131 S. Highview Ave., will be served after the school assembly, which begins at 8 a.m., not at 7:30 a.m. as I wrote in Thursday’s column.

Now about those guys heading to Joplin.

After Hurricane Sandy, the New York hamlet of Mahopac was without power for eight days, and while the community didn’t suffer the major damage that some other areas did, there is still work to be done there.

So why were Joe Toleno and 10 other members of the town’s American Legion Post 1080 preparing to board a motor home Thursday evening to drive to Joplin?

“We made a commitment,” Joe said when reached by phone Thursday afternoon.

Joe was on his way to the Legion post when I called him Thursday. He said the group planned to leave Mahopac at 8 p.m.

“We’ll drive straight through,” he said. “When we stop for gas, we might get out and pick up a few things, but that’s about it.”

I first heard about Joe shortly after the May 2011 tornado. Howard Spiva told me about him. Howard is the commander of Joplin American Legion Post 13. After the tornado, the Joplin Legion post sent out a plea for donations to assist veterans and their families who were affected by the storm. The Mahopac Legion post responded in a big way, sending a truck loaded with supplies and cash to Joplin.

Joe, who was the commander of the Legion post at the time, said the donation to Joplin was a no-brainer.

“We were sitting one day having a few cocktails, and we saw it (news of the tornado) on TV,” he said. “I looked at the other guys and said, ‘We have to do something for the people out there!’ And the guys said, ‘OK, let’s do it.’”

Joe said the residents of Mahopac donated supplies, and Legion volunteers collected them, boxed them up and sent them to Joplin. He said reaching out to others is something that comes naturally to the Legion.

“We happen to be very fortunate here to have a prosperous (American Legion) post, and we do a lot,” he said. “We help sponsor Boys State, and the Boys & Girls Club, the Boy Scouts, the Girl Scouts. We sponsor two Legion baseball teams. It’s just something we do.”

The Mahopac contingent is coming to Joplin to take in the weekend’s Veterans Day activities. And the members aren’t coming to Joplin empty-handed. Their motor home is packed with supplies that will be used to put on a barbecue at noon Sunday at Memorial Hall for Joplin-area veterans and their families. Joe said he already has ordered hamburger, hot dogs and Italian sausages from Cramer’s Rangeline Meat Co. in Joplin.

Joe said his Legion post was inspired, in part, by the way the Joplin American Legion and everyone else in Joplin responded to the tornado.

“They have become really, really great people to us here,” he said. “We just love them for what they do.”

I don’t know Joe well. I chatted with him for only about 20 minutes on the phone. But I sense that Joe and his buddies are a lot like the folks here in Joplin. Joe said that when the guys get back to Mahopac, they will get to work helping families hit by Hurricane Sandy.

Joe mentioned that he recently was honored in New York for his work on behalf of the American Legion. He said that when he received his award, he mentioned that people talked about his military service in Vietnam and other things in his background.

“But I said, ‘That’s not the issue. The issue is: What have I done lately? What have I done for the community?’” he said.

Yep, I’m thinking the folks in Joplin are going to like the folks from Mahopac.

DO YOU HAVE AN IDEA for Mike Pound’s column? Call him at 417-623-3480, ext. 7259, or email him at mpound@joplinglobe.com. Follow him on Twitter @mikepoundglobe.

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May 2011 Joplin tornado
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    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

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    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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