In mid November I took the opportunity to travel to Joplin, MO with a group of volunteers from church to take part in the ongoing rebuilding effort following the deadly tornado of May 2011. We loaded up the two vans with our duffels and sleeping bags and left Thursday evening.
Robin and her band of volunteers (me in back in red)
Our home-away-from-home was at Christ’s Community Methodist Church, south of Hwy 44 from Joplin. Our hosts pretty much gave us free reign, and the facilities were much appreciated. I was struck by how nonchalant the parishioners were to see “strangers” in their church, but they’ve had many months of housing volunteers there. Still, their hospitality was on display at all times. The Saturday AM breakfast that the men’s group served us before their own gathering was much enjoyed.
We had a briefing Friday morning by the coordinators with Americorps — a great organization. They were very much in tune with the rebuilding effort in Joplin, and the folks we met during the day were an empathetic and caring bunch.
Our group was split up on Friday morning, and I worked with four others helping to fill a couple large dumpsters with the rubble from Marcella’s home. The grandmother’s house was recently demolished to allow for the rebuilding to start. We were able to cut the pile roughly in half.
our morning challenge
The rest of the day was spent mudding and sanding drywall inside Bobbie’s house. While I can safely say that none of us were exactly cheerful, we still found a spot and did what we were able…or what someone thought we were able! We worked side by side with a handful of other volunteers, including a energetic young guy and gal with the Jewish Disaster Response Corps who were “scouting” to lead future groups of college student volunteers from eight NY universities.
I know Allen didn’t enjoy this, but he still dug right in!
On Saturday we pitched in at Byers Avenue Methodist Church, painting and sprucing up a large stairway and cleaning out and repainting a room that would be housing someone through December.
baseboards and walls
The church has housed over 3000 volunteers since the tornado, and it was time to return a little TLC to the facility that has been home base for so many hard workers.
walls and doorframes
Sunday morning we stayed for to worship with our hosts at Christ’s Community, then hit the road for the journey home. Would I do it again? I sure hope to!