The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

May 2011 Joplin tornado

December 11, 2012

Mike Pound: Church demonstrates spirit of Joplin

I wasn’t surprised Monday to get an email from Stephanie Everitt about First Community Church’s annual Christmas Dinner for Others.

If the 2011 tornado that severely damaged the church wasn’t enough to force the congregation to cancel the dinner last year, it stood to reason that another one would be held this year.

Stephanie is married to Jim Everitt. They are among the 40 or 50 church volunteers who help serve the Christmas meal, which is now in its 38th year. When I chatted with Jim about this time last year, contractors had only recently turned the church’s Fellowship Hall back over to the members after months of repair work. At the time, Jim told me that the workers did a “yeoman’s job” getting the hall repaired in time for the Christmas dinner, and he also said that had been the plan since the night of the tornado.

“There had to be a 37th dinner,” is what Jim told me last year.

In her email Monday, Stephanie said that after 19 months of restoration, the church at 2007 E. 15th St. is finally able to hold services in the sanctuary. Stephanie said a rededication ceremony for the new sanctuary was held Sunday, Dec. 2.

“It is now time to start planning for our 38th Annual Christmas Dinner for Others,” Stephanie said in her email.

That’s the neat thing about folks in this area: They don’t spend much time twiddling their thumbs. By the way, I’m a great thumb twiddler. I think that comes from spending a lot of time on the bench when I played high school basketball. When it came to bench-sitting during a basketball game, thumb twiddling and knuckle cracking were the two most popular activities on my high school team.

Fortunately, there aren’t a lot of bench-sitters in the Joplin area. Folks in Joplin, instead of sitting on the bench, choose to get involved. They clean up, they rebuild and they reach out to others.

Some of that may be because folks in this area have seen so many people from outside of Joplin show up to help, but a lot of it, I think, is because we are fairly decent people.

We just finished a presidential election that supposedly showed us to be a sharply divided nation. I guess, on one level, that may be true. But I don’t know. I happen to know several people who attend First Community Church, and I know that those people are on opposite sides of the political world from me, but in the real world — in the human world — those people are on the same side.

Stephanie mentioned, in her email, that the annual Christmas dinner is very important to the members of First Community Church.

“It’s our way of giving back to the community as our name implies,” Stephanie wrote.

In the past, 650 to 800 meals have been served up at the Christmas dinner. Last year, Jim told me that each volunteer’s day begins very early and doesn’t end until very late, and when the day is finally over, everyone is exhausted.

“We’ll be so tired we won’t think we can crawl home, but we’ll also have a good feeling,” Jim said.

The Christmas Dinner for Others is open to anyone looking for a nice meal on Christmas Day. The dinner will include ham, turkey and dressing, mashed potatoes and gravy, cranberries, salad, green beans, and desserts. It will be served from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m. Those who need a meal to be delivered or picked up at the church may call the church at 417-781-1800 from 8 a.m. until 3:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 21, and from 8 a.m. until noon Monday, Dec. 24.

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
  • 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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