Posts tagged charity
Posts tagged charity
Miles Traveled: 205
States: 1 (Missouri)
Drove down to Joplin early in the morning. On the way, I contacted AmeriCorps and let them know I’d be coming. Once I arrived, they set me up with Catholic Charities at a distribution center.
At the center we passed out donated items to residents who had applied for aid and been approved for specific items, such as kitchen goods, food, clothing, toys, and hygiene products. I spent half a day at the center, passing out items and getting to know the staff. I worked that first day with Nick and Tony. Both of them were from Pennsylvania and had served in the armed forces - Nick in the Army and Tony in the Air Force. They were a lot of fun to work with and it was very entertaining to hear them bicker back and forth about their respective branches of service.
After my day was done at the center, I had a talk with my dad in which I recall saying while I was happy to be doing what I was doing, for some reason I had let myself run with the assumption that I’d be doing something like clearing debris and building houses. I didn’t feel like I was doing the “big stuff.” My dad, as he tends to do, put it in perspective for me by reminding me that for people whose homes were destroyed and who had nothing left, receiving a set of dishes, bedding, food, and toys for their children was the big stuff. Many of the people we helped had just finally gotten their FEMA trailers. They were finally getting to feel a sense of “home.”
I had dinner at the Red Onion Cafe in town. My server was great, and talked with me a bit about the city, the disaster, and the recovery process. The food was delicious and I didn’t have to wait long at all.
On my second day, I arrived at the distribution center in the morning, only to find out they needed help at a construction site where they were building a house. After spending an hour or so at the center, they sent me over to the job site where I spent the rest of my day. The crew building the house was from Wesbecher Construction, from Marble Hill, Missouri. They were donating their time to come out and work on the house. They were a really great crew and made me feel like I was welcome. I didn’t (and still don’t) know much about building a house, so for the most part my job was just to be a go-fer, but that was fine with me. We also got to meet the home owner whose house we were rebuilding. That was a very moving and humbling experience.
The experience did drive home some of what Mike Rowe was talking about in his testimony before congress, which is linked on the My Inspirations page. My dad built houses, and yet, I know almost nothing about it. I don’t think I know more than a handful of people who do. That bothers me. I think I’d like to learn.
I met up with the crew for dinner at Pitchers, the restaurant attached to my hotel. The food was quite good, though the service was lacking. It was nice to get to know some of the crew a bit more, too.
The next day I woke up to a call asking me if I could head over to the build site as soon as possible because they were preparing to raise the trusses for the roof. I rushed over and we set to work. Four of the volunteers worked out a system for carrying and raising the trusses, and the crew set them as fast as we could carry them. We finished them very quickly and then began adding the decking to the roof. We managed to get the roof almost entirely decked.
Over the span of the two days I was on the build site, the house went from not even having all of the walls up, to having almost the entire roof done. It was such an awesome experience.
The last night in Joplin, the local Methodist church provided a big dinner for all of the volunteers. There was so much food and everyone was so nice. I also learned about a clean water non-profit called Poured Out, which provides purification systems and clean water facilities to communities in need around the world.
All in all, it was an incredible experience. I was honored to be able to help out this community still so much in need, and to work with such wonderful, caring people. I learned a lot about myself and about the needs of a community still reeling from disaster.
I highly encourage anyone interested to contact AmeriCorps and see what help is still needed. The volunteer intake hotline number is (417) 625-3543. More information can be found on their Facebook page.