Both COVID-19 cases and the temperature continued to rise this week, but that didn’t stop a dedicated group of young volunteers from serving their community.
Eight local students spent the week working with volunteers to build Little Free Libraries through the Joplin Youth Volunteer Corps. The book-sharing boxes will be put up, in partnership with One Joplin, in neighborhoods across the community.
It was a terrific sight to behold — these young women working (under their mentors’ supervision) with power tools and learning the tricks of the construction trade. The end result will be just as wonderful — new Little Free Libraries in high-needs neighborhoods where youngsters lack regular access to books.
The Kansas City-based Youth Volunteer Corps, now in its third summer in Joplin, is a service learning organization for preteens and teenagers. It has had to adjust its programs this summer as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, but it is still planning projects with other nonprofits such as Special Olympics and the Joplin Humane Society.
This is a great collaboration of agencies coming together to make life a little bit better for our friends and neighbors. Job well done all around.
Walk of Solidarity
Speaking of terrific sights to behold, we must mention another one that took place earlier this week — Monday night’s Silent Solidarity Walk through downtown Joplin.
Residents marched from City Hall to two locations of past racial injustices to remind themselves of how far the city has come from its sometimes painful roots and to celebrate the efforts they are making to move toward a more diverse and inclusive Joplin.
Locations identified during the walk were the old Fox Theater, 415 S. Main St., where the lack of a balcony meant black residents were excluded, and the corner of Second Street and Wall Avenue, where on April 15, 1903, a 20-year-old black man named Thomas Gilyard was lynched after he was accused of killing a local police officer.
But marchers also looked to the future, organizer Sergio Rizo said.
“I think the main point to take away is this: We really do value diversity, and in order to do that, we have to be able to dialogue and have difference. Otherwise, we just have uniformity,” he told the Globe.
The peaceful march was a powerful sight and a good reminder of what can be accomplished when we work together toward a more diverse and inclusive city. Keep it up, Joplin.