Category Archives: Joplin

OKC + Joplin: Partners in Recovery

Two years ago in our division, we saw one of the worst disasters Missouri had ever seen.

We all know about the devastation that occurred in Joplin in 2011; the EF-5 tornado that left miles of destruction and families and neighbors who had lost their lives from the impact. And to this day, they are still working to rebuild their city with the help of The Salvation Army. During this time when families pulled their loved ones out of the rubble, our neighbor to the southwest–the great state of Oklahoma–came to the aid of Joplin and brought supplies, volunteers, and emotional support.

So when Moore, Okla. was hit with an EF-5 tornado two days before the two year anniversary of Joplin, there was no question that we needed to support our neighbors. The Salvation Army’s Joplin Corps Community Center immediately started taking up a collection of supplies to give to those – who just like them – lost everything. Joplin Corps officers Lt. James and Jamie Curry spearheaded the effort and the supplies were taken to Oklahoma.

We are proud to show you the supplies that the Joplin community collected to send to Oklahoma, and we are so proud to give back to those who gave so much to us two years ago.

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New Canteens Bring Hope

Serving more than 200,000 meals, drinks, and snacks each year, The Salvation Army’s canteens are a beacon of hope to those affected by severe storms, tornados, and other disasters.

The hope of these canteens came from a different sort of beacon this week as Beacon Roofing Supply, Inc. donated $100,000 to help replace canteens in St. Louis, Cape Girardeau, and Joplin. The United Way of Greater St. Louis also donated $50,000 towards the replacement of these canteens.

Representatives from Joplin, The Salvation Army, United Way, and Beacon Roofing attended a dedication service at the Midland Division Headquarters on January 28th to celebrate the new canteens. St. Louis Fire Department Chief Dennis Jenkerson, Advisory Board Chairman Mark Abels, and Divisional Commander Major Lonneal Richardson were also on-hand to highlight the work of the canteens.

Responding to more than 90,000 calls every year, the St. Louis Fire Department is always grateful to see a canteen at a disaster site.

“They’re a big part of the emergency response community in this area,” Jenkerson said. “You think of EMS, firefighters, and police; you have to include The Salvation Army in that.”

The canteens aren’t just utilized during times of disaster, though. Regularly used to provide meals, water, and clothing to St. Louis’ homeless community, the canteens are and will now continue to be a vital part of The Salvation Army’s mission of Doing the Most Good.

 

Dynamic Duo Volunteers Make a Difference

By: Becky Kreienkamp, Midland Division

Scott and Dan are more than just coworkers – they are best friends.

As volunteer maintenance workers for The Salvation Army-Harbor Light Center this dynamic duo always is on the move. They do just about everything from plumbing, electrical work, painting, organizing warehouses, fixing trucks and trailers, and disaster relief – always performing these tasks as a partnership.

Both men began their volunteering journey with The Salvation Army by performing construction at the Harbor Light Center. Realizing the poor condition of this location, their hearts were moved to help all St. Louis-area Salvation Army locations in any way possible. They have been working as an unstoppable team ever since.

Their previous projects include fixing up a playground at the Temple Corps, picking up supplies Boy Scouts collected, fixing up the Emergency Disaster Services warehouse where all the disaster relief supplies are stored, fixing up the social services warehouse where furniture for The Salvation Army is stored, among a myriad of others.

Scott (pictured left) and Dan (pictured right) saw what unfortunate condition these warehouses previously were in, so say they knew there was no other choice but to reorganize them.

In fact, upon arrival at the Emergency Disaster Services warehouse, Scott sat down and immediately wrote a list of everything that needed to be fixed. His list grew to six pages.

Following Scott’s new guidelines, every last box and machine was taken out of the warehouse, supplies were sorted through and the warehouse was reorganized in only two weeks, showing his passionate dedication.

“When we get on a job site, we don’t waste time,” says Dan proudly.

Scott and Dan’s biggest undertakings have been disaster relief projects. This unparalleled duo has helped after the tornado of New Year’s 2011, the Good Friday tornado of 2011, the Harrisburg tornadoes and the Joplin tornadoes. These two have had countless opportunities to touch lives.

“…Cleaning front yards from tornados, it’s simple stuff that really touched people,” explains Dan.

But both Scott and Dan realize while this work is rewarding, it is challenging as well.

“I’ve seen a lot of hurt people,” says Dan as he continues to briefly tell a story about a man in Joplin who didn’t even know his house had been hit by the tornado until he saw The Salvation Army volunteers working on his broken home.

They have definitely seen it all. Dan also explains about a tree that had been picked up by a tornado and planted back down, smack dab in the middle of someone’s house.

“It looked like a flower pot!” says Dan with a hearty laugh.

There is nothing they can’t tackle as long as they are together.

“[The most challenging part of volunteering is] explaining to other people how to do a job other than just doing it yourself,” says Dan. “Others don’t have the sense of immediacy that [Scott and I] do.”

While it might be difficult to take a step back and let others join in when you are as talented as these two, Dan sums up the most rewarding part of volunteering for The Salvation Army in a few words.

“Getting away from yourself,” he says as Scott silently nods in approval with a solemn smile on his face.

In addition to being a volunteer maintenance man, Scott has been pursuing his Ph.D. and heading a research project to cure sepsis. Scott previously served in the Army for 34 years, starting in Vietnam and finishing in Afghanistan. He worked as a special forces medic for the last 31 years of his army career.

Since his army days, he has received a Masters degree in microbiology and a Masters degree in public health. Currently, he teaches graduate students at Washington University Medical School while working toward his Ph.D. and continuing his research. In the fall, he will begin teaching full time and will receive his Ph.D. in December.

“At his age, what else has he got to do?!”  Dan jokes with him.

All jokes aside, however, these men inspire people with their big actions and even bigger hearts.

“We’re the only two they have like us,” says Dan “We’re floaters.”

This couldn’t be a more true testimony, as these two are a one-of-a-kind pair. People might hesitate separating them if they want a job done right. They have been working together for only two-and-a-half years and they are already finishing each other’s sentences, helping each other remember details when recalling past projects and laughing about inside jokes.

It’s apparent they like their job best if they can work together. They work as a team to improve the shelters so the shelters can improve the lives of the homeless. Their impressive skill level allows them to be useful throughout The Salvation Army’s Midland Division.

To put it simply, they can truly go anywhere and do anything. These two absolutely love what they do and they are moved by God every day to fulfill His work.

Corporate Sponsorships: Choosing to “Do the Most Good”

By: Andreea Cojocariu, @andreeac_t, Guest Blogger

Let’s take a break from discussing marketing strategy to discuss corporate sponsorships. I think it’s important for companies and their employees to be active in the community. But before I go any further, let me say this. You should want to be involved because you sincerely care about a cause or an organization, not because you have to. It’s important to care about your community, because your community supports you by shopping or utilizing your services. So by supporting your community in return, you’re helping yourself. It’s a nice little cycle. Now that I’ve said, let’s get down to business.

There are many reasons besides caring to get involved.

Builds brand awareness. The more you sponsor, the more your logo gets put in front of your ideal consumers, the more they’ll remember you. It plants a seed so whenever they need your service, they might just look you up and give you a call.

Builds your network. As professionals, networking is gold. You never know when you’re going to meet someone that will impact your business. Whether it’s now or down the road, it pays to be social. Although the people you meet may not be your consumers right away, they may know others who might and they’ll talk about you– good ol’ grassroots marketing.

Team Building. Sponsoring and participating in a nonprofit event builds your team. By working together to help another organization, you’re taking the focus off the grind of sales and increasing the bottom line. It shows your employees that care about other things besides making money, although that’s important too. It tells them you have heart and you in turn care about them as people. That’s a good feeling for an employee. Sponsorships and volunteer activities keeps talent. I know that I work best with companies who give back. On a side note, I’m usually the one organizing these things. Seeing my team work together and people smiling while doing something good for others makes it worth my efforts.

I’m not going to spend a lot of time discussing tax deductions. Yes, Uncle Sam will cut you a break if you choose to help a nonprofit. But that should not be the sole reason you decide to sponsor an event or make a monetary donation. Again, I’m going to tell you that you should choose to help because you care.

I care. I am big advocate for community involvement on all levels. I encourage my employers to get involved, and I personally am involved. In the past, I’ve worked with the Madison County Child Advocacy Center in Illinois, helping them raise money so they can stay open to help child abuse victims. I help promote their events, especially their annual trivia night and silent auction held in February. Helping an organization who helps abused children heal stay open to provide those services is something I’ll continue doing.

And now my focus is on helping the Salvation Army of St. Louis. They need help. I choose to help them because they help others on a massive scale. I say that we can save the world by smiling– one smile at a time, one good deed at a time. That’s unrealistic, but the idea is doing something simple to help others. The Salvation Army of St. Louis’ motto is doing the most good. That is precisely what they do (while smiling of course). They were in Joplin this week during the 1 year anniversary of the tornado that destroyed this town. But let me say this. The tornado destroyed buildings. It did not destroy the human spirit of love and kindness. The Salvation Army showed Joplin how much their neighbors care. It was because of partnerships and corporate giving that allowed the Salvation Army to do the most good in Joplin.

Now it’s time to help the Salvation Army of St. Louis again. The issue is homelessness. St. Louis homelessness is increasing yearly at alarming rates. More and more families are on the streets than ever before. It’s time to do something about it. It’s time to raise awareness and funds so the Salvation Army can do for the homeless what they did for Joplin.

The Garbage Bag Gala is July 27th at the Moonrise Hotel . Attendees will have a fabulous night. For $45, they get to eat, socialize, and watch a fashion show. Models will be showcasing the latest in garbage bag and duct tape designs. I, along with about 30 others I think, will be modeling these trend setting styles. Tickets for the Garbage Bag Gala are on sale.

As much fun as it will be, the Salvation Army of St. Louis still needs corporate sponsors. This is an easy and fun way to get involved and do the most good. All it requires is for your company to write a check. And honestly, the check amount isn’t that much when you think about how many lives, how many homeless people in St. Louis, the Salvation Army will help.

Here is how your company can help and do the most good.

$5,000.00 sponsor: Company logo to be featured on invitation, event signage, promotional flyers, website and social media. Letter from sponsor company in the gift bag (page – to be provided by sponsor). Company name will be listed in press releases, submitted to all media outlets. Company will be recognized from the podium at the awards ceremony. Opportunity to display multiple company banners at the event. Social media recognition. Opportunity to provide a give-away to all participants. First right of negotiation for GBG 2013.

$1,750.00 sponsor: Company logo to be featured on event signage, promotional flyers, website and social media. Company will be recognized form the podium at the awards ceremony. Opportunity to display a banner at the event. First right of regusal for GBG 2013. Social media recognition.

$500.00 sponsor: Strategic social media push before and during the event to showcase the partnership. Logo to be featured on website and eblast.

This is easy. It’s writing a check. What’s not easy is living on the streets of St. Louis, not having shelter when another devastating storm hits the area, not having food for your family. That’s the hard part. We’re lucky that we all we need to do is write a check and attend a gala. Do the most good today and talk to your company executives and become a sponsor for the Garbage Bag Gala.

If you are interested, you can reach out to me on Twitter @andreeac_t. But I’d prefer you reach out to the Salvation Army @salarmystl. I sincerely thank you in advance for choosing to help the Salvation Army of St. Louis raise awareness and funds for the fight against homelessness in St. Louis.

To read more about Andreea, visit her blog.

Day of Unity Video – Joplin

One year ago this week, a tornado changed the lives of thousands in Joplin, and thousands more who gave of their time and heart to work toward rebuilding. It was a wonderful experience this week to take a break from the work and reflect on how far the community has come. We continue to be a driving force in the recovery there daily.

We hold this community in our hearts and prayers, and look forward to another year of even greater strides and impressive improvements.

A Reason to Hope: One Year after the Joplin Tornado

By: Danni Eickenhorst, Midland Division

Every morning since the storm, Doug has gone out to sit on his old concrete porch, all that remains of his former home. “I don’t think I’ve missed a morning. It’s where I can be by myself, gather my thoughts, plan for my day,” he says.

Doug Keeney was uninsured and unemployed when the tornado struck. A construction worker in a down economy, he had long struggled to find reliable work.

Keeney lived in a house he planned to retire in. “It was an old house, but it was paid for,” he remarks. “It was surrounded by a dozen beautiful old trees that I just loved, but because of those trees, I was unable to get insurance for the home. We’d had two ice storms a few years previous and the insurance company required that I had to cut back all trees hanging over the house. At a cost of $300-$400 per tree, I just couldn’t afford to cut them back without a job.”

On May 22, when the sirens sounded, Keeney wasn’t unusually concerned.

“We always get weather alerts, and everybody just goes out on their front porch and looks. I saw there was a tornado north of my house and I wasn’t overly concerned,” recalls Keeney, “but I remembered the employees at the Arby’s near my home didn’t have a TV or radio and probably didn’t know to take cover. I walked across the street and told them to get in their cooler to take cover. They invited me to take cover with them and I told them I’d run home to get my wallet and keys and would return shortly.”

As Keeney arrived home, the wind increased to a dangerous pace and before he knew it, he was unable to take cover. Doug became pinned between his front door and the nearest wall, a lucky place it turned out, as very little else was left when the storm passed.

“When the storm was over, the second story on my home was gone, as was half of the story I was standing on. I dug around and found a few things I needed, then headed out to find my neighbors and friends. That’s when I saw the only thing that was left standing at Arby’s was the cooler where the employees had taken cover.”

Keeney brushes off the thought he might be a hero saying, “I think I just did what everyone else would have done.”

For the next three weeks, Doug came to his home every day to clear debris and find his belongings. “I dug through all of the debris and found every little thing I could. The volunteers were amazing. They helped a lot. They got down in there and dug with me and helped me move what I could.”

Since the storm, Keeney has worked closely with The Salvation Army case managers. “As far as I’m concerned, Dana and her team have really gone above and beyond. When I needed work clothes for my debris clean-up job, they were there. They’re working to help me get a vehicle, and thanks to her team, I’ve been connected with Convoy of Hope, and they are building me my new home.”

Every morning since the storm, Doug has gone out to sit on his old concrete porch, all that remains of his former home. “I don’t think I’ve missed a morning. It’s where I can be by myself, gather my thoughts, plan for my day,” he says.

Around the one-year anniversary, Keeney will move into his new home, built on the same lot.

“I’m gonna miss my trees,” he says a little wistfully, “but this has turned out to be such a blessing, none of which would have been possible without The Salvation Army.”

Joplin: One Year Later

The Crossleys stand on their newly poured foundation, anticipating the day when they can move into their new home.

By: Danni Eickenhorst, Midland Division

Nearly one year after a historic tornado destroyed more than 7,500 homes and 500 businesses, Joplin residents are still finding their way back to normal.

“The mess has been cleaned up,” says David Crossley, manager of The Salvation Army’s homeless shelter in Joplin. “The debris is gone. You see rebuilding going on around town, and people are hopeful.”

Crossley, a 15-year employee of The Salvation Army lost his home when it was badly damaged in the storm. Emerging from a closet where they’d taken shelter, the Crossley family found their roof partially gone, their windows broken, live power lines on their car and no immediate hope for assistance. In the days following the storm, he and his family slept at The Salvation Army Community and Worship Center, at friends’ houses and at a motel.

Today, thanks to the aid of The Salvation Army, his church, family members and friends, Crossley and his family are hopeful their lives will return back to normal.

“We just poured the foundation on a home we are building. We hope to move into it in early June,” he reports.

As Crossley reflects on the long year his family has endured, he is struck by the progress they’ve made. “I was just thinking the other day, our wedding anniversary is coming up and last year we were living in a motel room with no idea where we were going to wind up. Now, we’re living in a comfortable duplex and building a home of our own. In just one year, we’ve lost nearly everything we had, and now we’re almost whole again.”

Just two months after the epic storm, Lieutenants James and Jamie Curry became officers in Joplin. Lieutenant Jamie reflects on life in her new hometown, “Any other place I have ever lived, I’ve never had the experience of stepping out my front door and seeing something different than the day before. Almost an entire year has passed since the tornado, but it still seems like last week to the residents here. While there are significant changes to the landscape as buildings are rebuilt, the emotional toll is still ever present.”

The Currys and their team have been hard at work as part of the Long Term Recovery Committee, a consortium of nonprofits and service agencies working to handle long-term survivor case management. “We have the benefit of seeing first hand how God can work, even in a disaster. There are success stories that come through our doors each day, and when these individuals get helped, it renews their desire to help others.”

Residents of Joplin rebuilding after the storm.

Crossley says that in some ways that storm has been a blessing. “It brought my family closer, and I think it brought many of us in the community closer. Whenever we had a need, The Salvation Army or one of its partners was there to meet it. God’s love has been manifested in so many ways in these days of recovery, and I am so grateful.”

Lt. Curry observes, “There is a greater sense of community among the people of Joplin. As is the case in many catastrophic events, everyone is affected in one form or another which creates in itself a genuine sense of comradeship. Joplin is no different.”

Dana Ross, Case Manager for The Salvation Army Joplin Relief Center, says “We have formed some amazing partnerships. We are one of the primary social service providers for this event, and through these partnerships we can connect our clients with just about anything they need.”

The Salvation Army was recently awarded a contract with Missouri that will allow it to continue long-term case management with residents through May 2013. In the coming weeks, long-term plans will be released detailing The Salvation Army’s strategy for long-term recovery and investment in Joplin.

Hope grows in the shadows

By: Danni Eickenhorst

The Joplin Memorial and newly constructed Cunningham Park are prepared for Joplin’s anniversary events and Day of Unity, in the shadow of the remains of St. John’s hospital.

Today, I arrived in Joplin at a pivotal point in both the city’s and my own healing process following the Joplin tornado, an event that radically changed the lives of thousands in the span of 32 minutes.

I haven’t been in Joplin, minus a very short trip recently, and really toured the damage since August, when I worked on a film for The Salvation Army. On my last trip of any length here, the town had not yet officially begun it’s rebuilding process, as they were only then issuing building permits – but save for a few renegade or priority projects, the landscape was still rather barren, and still dotted with prominent signs of destruction.

Tomorrow, the City of Joplin is hosting a Day of Unity event, and I encourage all those who have a tie to the work in Joplin to attend. Residents, first responders, volunteers alike will stand to benefit from seeing this town in a better state, and the hope that is beginning to grow in the shadows of the bits of destruction that still stand.

Starting at 2:00 p.m., we will depart 20th & Duquesne and walk the path of the tornado, finally ending our journey at 5:15 at Cunningham Park for festivities and an official remembrance at 5:41 p.m., the time the tornado struck last year, changing everything.

As every good reporter does, I previewed my path in advance today and ended my drive at Cunningham Park. I won’t lie and say that things are just as they were before the storm. In fact, I don’t know what Joplin was like before the storm firsthand, though I’ve heard many times of the beautiful tree-lined streets.

The town is still very sparse and there are still many signs of destruction, but there is also a real tangible hope in these people and in this town. Businesses are starting to rebuild and it appears that people have not abandoned this community as we once feared.

On the eve of tomorrow’s events, those that did leave town are returning to make their peace. I sat at the memorial constructed at Cunningham Park, in the shadows of St. John’s Hospital, which still stands in much the same condition I first found it.Sitting there in the park, I watched people trickle in, say prayers and consider what the day meant to them.

In the year since I first arrived in this town, The Salvation Army and other organizations have united to do such good for this community, and it’s with excitement that I await tomorrow’s events. It’s with an eye to the future and a heart for celebrating the many impossible odds they’ve overcome that the City of Joplin will recognize this day.

Tonight, I heard President Obama and Governor Jay Nixon speak at the Joplin High School Commencement Ceremony, and there I heard speaker after speaker share stories of tragedy and triumph.

Governor Nixon said, “Every day the sun sets on a new Joplin, and rises on a better place,” and this, above all the many inspiring speeches heard tonight best embodied what I see in this town. President Obama said, “Some of the bonds that are strongest in life are the ones we forget when all around us seems to be broken.”

I look forward to tomorrow – to the ceremonies of celebration and triumph in the shadows of the ruins of St. John’s hospital, and the good things to come for this great town.

A prayer for Joplin

By: Danni Eickenhorst, Midland Division

In June of this year, members of a Christian art ministry from Kansas City came to Joplin in the days after the historic May 22 storm to find a way that they could give back to those who were impacted by the storm. With little more to offer than their compassion and talents, the group felt led by God to bring a sense of hope to the people of Joplin.

Using their God-given talents, these individuals and many other volunteer artists worked for several months and created a large-scale living memorial to the City of Joplin. The memorial was created for the wreckage of The Salvation Army’s thrift store that was demolished by the storm in May. The 17 foot long by 9 foot tall multi-media piece shows the city resting in the hands of God.

 The “Hope Memorial” was unveiled on Sunday in Joplin at a worship ceremony at the Joplin Family Worship Center. It was dedicated to the City of Joplin and given to The Salvation Army for safe-keeping. Those who attended the unveiling were invited to submit a prayer into the back of the memorial piece where it would remain permanently. They also contributed a painted thumbprint to the multimedia mural.

Salvation Army Lieutenant James Curry and Major Richard Herivel both took part in the ceremony.

“Both had powerful and encouraging messages to say to the people of Joplin,” says Kristin Morris of Set Apart, “The piece itself turned out better than we could have ever imagined! God really had his handon this. It was an indescribable blessing to be able to create this permanent and visual reminder of hope for the people of Joplin. We pray that its presence in Joplin will always remind the people there that He can take the ugliness of disaster and turn it into something beautiful.”

The piece will be on display at the Joplin Family Worship Center through November 21st, and then transferred to The Salvation Army. Supporters are encouraged to visit the Joplin Family Worship Center to view and contribute to this living piece.

Give me your love for humanity.

By: Danni Eickenhorst, Content Specialist, Midland Division

Today, we filmed a portion of a mini-documentary we are creating to memorialize our work in Joplin, following the May tornado. Captain Deb Osborne, who served nearly a week in Joplin delivering spiritual aid in the first days of the disaster was the subject of our interview. She sat in Forest Park with her little red wagon, recalling how she walked the streets of Joplin with a red wagon delivering water, food and prayer to those who needed it, as they gathered their things from the rubble, and stood at the sides of family members and homeowners, providing support as victims were pulled from the rubble.

At the end of filming, our videographer Michael Kilfoy said to her, “You did really well. You really radiate goodness when you speak,” and when she heard him say that, she said, “Oh good! I prayed all the way here that Jesus would shine through me when I spoke!”

Captain Deb is a shining example of all that The Salvation Army exemplifies – “Heart to God, Hand to Man.” She and her fellow officers know that actions speak louder than words and work to show the love of Christ through their outreach work. As I listened to her speak and thought of all of the many wonderful acts I’ve seen firsthand since coming to The Salvation Army, I was reminded of this song by Brandon Heath, especially this line…

“Give me your arms for the brokenhearted/For the ones beyond my reach/Give me your heart for the ones forgotten/Give me your eyes so I can see.”

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