It’s been more than a month since an F-5 tornado swept through Joplin leaving a path of destruction and loss in its wake. Even so, debris still clutters the neighborhoods and residents work to repair what remains of their lives. But hope springs forth from the support of willing volunteers, who come back to offer help and encouragement. The reflections below detail one employee’s experience as a volunteer, and serve to remind us all of the impact we can have in the relief effort, no matter our size.
The Joplin tornado has changed my life forever and I want to tell you why:
I have a 10-year-old son and a six-year-old daughter and I want them to know how important it is to serve others. I feel that is why we are here on earth. We are here to make sure we let people know how special they are and how much they are loved. I was blessed to grow up in a very loving environment and cherish the idea that my kids will feel the same.
I currently attend North Point Church and was very excited when their June outreach (also known as Second Saturday, because every month North Point does something for the community) was to work at Convoy of Hope. I quickly signed myself and Mason up for the opportunity. We both loved it and it felt great knowing we were helping in some way. ]
Trina volunteering in Joplin during the OCH Joplin Week of Caring.
The next week, I began calling places to see where Mason and I could be used to serve Joplin. I finally found a place that would love for a 10-year-old to help: Forest Park Church located on Rangeline. Mason and I headed out that Saturday and were very excited, but still uneasy about what we would see. I cried driving down Rangeline just seeing the damage and knowing that people lost their lives there. It was unbelievable, even several weeks after the disaster had happened.
When we got to Forest Park Church the parking lot was packed. We walked in and signed right up, it was an awesome environment, and you could really feel love all around. Our job was to sort through the used clothes (by sizes, gender, and seasons). There were about 60 of us working outside doing this and we made many friends. There were so many people working that we wrapped it up before lunch time, much to the church’s amazement!
The house where several OCH employees worked to remove debris.
About two weeks after our first visit, we went back to Joplin and were shocked that the parking lot only had about 10 cars in it. My son and I went in, signed up and they assigned us to help in the store behind the church set up donation items (food, kitchen items, toiletries, etc.). We stocked shelves and then the staff trained me to be a personal shopper. This has blessed my life tremendously! I met with families and got to hear their personal stories. I prayed for them and took them shopping. It was an awesome experience to be able to love on these people who have lost a lot if not everything and see how strong they are.
The thing that shocked me the most was the drastic change in volunteers from the first time we went to this last. The last time we volunteered, there were about 40 people (most of who were out-of-state volunteers) who traveled to help serve. This was a drastic decrease since out first visit in which there had been close to 150 people (if not more)!
If you have ever thought about volunteering or were unable to help during the OCH Joplin Week of Caring (Sunday, July 17 through Saturday, July 23), Forest Park Church is a wonderful opportunity. The need for more people to help all over Joplin is huge. It is definitely a part of me that I will never forget!
-Trina, OCH Admissions.
For those who were not able to volunteer during the OCH Joplin Week of Caring, or for those who are interested in going again, OCH will be hosting a Saturday Joplin Day of Caring on August 20 from 7am – 11am. To sign up please contact OCH Communications at 417-874-4523 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Family and friends are welcome to volunteer.