Tag 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.





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.

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.

Answering the Call: Salvation Army EDS in 2012


This entry is from Anthony DiStefano, Director of the Midland Divsion’s Emergency Disaster Services

The April floods of the Mississippi River in Southeastern Missouri stretching from Cape from Girardeau to New Madrid; the floods of the same month of the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers in both Southwestern and Southeastern Illinois encompassing the entire lower portion of the State from Chester to Shawneetown; the Missouri tornados in Sunset Hills and Sedalia; the flooding of the Missouri River in July of the northeastern portion of the state all the way to the interior of the state at Washington; about three dozen auto accidents; an almost endless parade of residential and business fires; and the devastating Joplin tornado: The Salvation Army Emergency Disaster Services (EDS) department of the Midland Division was present at all of these events.

I expect 2012 to be much the same.

Canteens, trailers, communications equipment, food, beverages, clothing, temporary housing, organization, discipline, motivation, and the most important ingredient of all, the life-blood of The Salvation Army’s EDS department – our volunteers.

Even though each and every disaster is unique in its own right, the variables for dealing with each disaster change very little, and the goals never change.

The goal we are all striving for in the EDS department is getting as much help and support as quickly as possible to as many men, women and children affected by the disaster they are currently living through.

To have the EDS department prepared to meet any disaster, I have instituted monthly training across the Midland Division and in every Corps and Service Extension unit; required new crews to be formed in all Corps and Service Extension units and to work in tandem with existing crews from the same areas; begun to refurbish all canteens, vehicles and trailers, and replace those that have seen enough service already; started to acquire new, more powerful and farther-reaching communication equipment; instituted a recognition program for our volunteers, who are as I said earlier, the life-blood of The Salvation Army’s Emergency Disaster Services department. This is all done with the one goal in mind: Doing The Most Good.

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.

Support BSA Food Drives in November

The Salvation Army has addressed unprecedented need in Missouri and Southern Illinois, both in response to natural disasters and the general economy.

The Greater St. Louis Boy Scouts of America will host their annual “Scouting for Food” event this month. On Saturday November 12, 1.4 million bags will be distributed to as to homes throughout the St. Louis area. On November 19, Scouts will pick up non-perishable donations and deliver them to the St. Louis Area Foodbank.

The Salvation Army and many other local food pantries will benefit from the bounty that you give to this very worthy youth organization. The initiative has the very lofty goal of collecting more than 2 million cans for 500 pantries, and it cannot achieve that goal without your support.

Please visit http://www.stlbsa.org/programs/sff/Pages/Scouting-for-Food.aspx for additional information on this event and how you can help.

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.”

St. Louis Supply Drive for Joplin Begins Saturday

Nearly three months after the devastating tornado in Joplin, residents are in the slow process of rebuilding their lives. As time wears on and the media moves on to other events, the need continues. The Florissant Knights of Columbus, City of Florissant and The Salvation Army are teaming up to help fill the need. They will be collecting items during the month of August and volunteers are needed to sort and box donated items. The items will be delivered to The Salvation Army in Joplin on Saturday, August 27 th.

They are looking to collect cleaning supplies, household items and non-perishable food. Clothing items are not needed at this time.
Volunteers are needed Wednesday-Friday, August 24-26th. Two hour shifts are available each day: 8am-10am; 10am-Noon; Noon-2pm; 2pm-4pm; 4pm-6pm and 6pm-8pm. The location will be the Knights of Columbus – St. Rose Philippine Duchesne Hall at 50 Rue St Francois, Florissant, MO, 63031. This is great volunteer opportunity for all ages. Children under the age of 14 years are welcome to volunteer as long as there is an adult guardian with them.

If you are interested in helping please sign up by clicking here: Or contact Sheila Davis at sheila_r_davis@usc.salvationarmy.org or 314-646-3166.

If you are interested in donating items, please review the list below. Suggested items for donation (new or gently used items only):

  • Cleaning Items: Bleach Dishwashing Liquid
  • Diapers and Training Pants (Pull-Ups) all sizes
  • Dental Cleaners (such as Efferdent)
  • Brushes/Combs
  • Can Openers
  • Towels
  • Blankets
  • Dishes
  • Lamps
  • Coffee Makers
  • Silverware
  • Glasses
  • Pots and Pans
  • Shower curtains
  • Blinds
  • Cooking utensils
  • Pillows
  • Bedding

A Texan with a Big Heart: “Never Know When It Might Happen to You…”

By: William Becker, Communications Director, Midland Division

A Texan with a big heart delivered $10,000 in checks and cash to The Salvation Army Friday afternoon, June 24.

Matt Hilton of McKinney, Texas, saw the damage in Joplin and knew he wanted to help. As an employee of Keller Williams Realty in Texas he heard of a Joplin resident who worked for the same company in Missouri that lost his son in the tornado.


“I wanted to come up here and help find his son,” said Hilton. “I wasn’t able to assist in the search because I was not trained, but I had raised $750 in a couple of days that we gave to The Salvation Army. When I returned home I felt I needed to do more.”


He did just that. A little more than a month after the tornado he returned with $10,000 in checks and cash he collected from individuals and businesses. He also brought three trailers of supplies that included paper products, baby wipes, dog food and other hygiene products with nearly 20 people to volunteer.


“We wanted to make sure what we donated would get to the people impacted by the storm in Joplin,” explained Hilton. “It was a Joplin Relief effort and The Salvation Army keeps those donations local. You never know when this may happen to you. We hope others will pay it forward.”


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