For 'Columbia for Joplin' volunteers, 'it's a reality check'

Columbia's tornado cleanup volunteers share their thoughts and experiences from Joplin.
Sunday, August 28, 2011 | 7:32 p.m. CDT; updated 4:58 p.m. CST, Thursday, November 10, 2011

JOPLIN — Here are a few more thoughts from some of the 650 adults and children who volunteered with the "Columbia for Joplin" event Saturday:

“It’s unreal. It’s a reality check. You have problems in your life that you complain about, but then you come and see this, and it’s like your problems don’t compare.  You have no room to complain.”
—Shayli Meyer

“We went to New Orleans a couple years ago and did cleanup down there for Hurricane Katrina. I’ve never seen anything like this. Katrina was bad, but most of the houses were still standing down there. This is just devastation.”
—Jerry Reid

“It required some organization to pull this off, but it’s worthwhile with all the people that showed up. It’s great to be able to help these folks out. In the early days they wanted money and supplies, but then they started saying, ‘We really need help.’ We thought, ‘We can do that.’ It’s been gratifying.”
—Rick Royer

“Up to this point I hadn’t really done anything tangible for Joplin yet, so when I heard about it I jumped on it: the opportunity to actually come down here and do some physical labor and make a difference, even if it’s small. When you see this, it’s like, ‘What difference is this going to make?’ But it does, you know? One person at a time, one piece of land at a time and eventually it will get back to the way it was.”
—Amadi Swartz

“It’s very encouraging to see people building back and remaking their lives and that people are willing to help out. I think one of the biggest things when you’re in a very devastated situation is just to feel that people care enough to do something. It doesn’t matter what they do, just that they do something.”
—Annie Humphreys

“It was the first chance I had to get out down to this area.  I’d been feeling for about three months like I should do something and this was just it. It’s the beginning. I heard they’re going to need trees planted and flowerbeds redone, and when that happens, I’ll be here.”
—Jane Bellinghausen 

“A bunch of (my students) wished there was more they could do. So when they had the 'Columbia for Joplin' event and it fell on the first weekend after school, it was their chance. All these guys just jumped on board and said, ‘We want to go help, so where do we meet and when do we go?’”
—Jeff Krug

“I think what’s the most touching thing is to see this number of people from Columbia gather and be willing to set aside their time and their energy and come and serve another town in Missouri. It’s just a powerful thing. It’s good to see people doing good things.”
—Sarah Opie

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Harold Sutton August 29, 2011 | 8:44 a.m.

Thanks to all who went to Joplin. However, News media, there has been a steady stream of volunteers going to Joplin beginning just minutes after the tornado hit.

No discredit to the 650 (more or less) who went this past Saturday but there has been a trickle of people going and helping from this area all along.

(Report Comment)
Clinton Harding August 29, 2011 | 11:03 a.m.

KUDOS also to those who were early-on responders, but I think the real value of this group is that as with the immediate followup to most catastrophes & holidays... they tend to be the only times when those in need are assisted in this way. Its the 'long haul' that victims need that lasting assistance with.

(Report Comment)
Roxanne Foster August 30, 2011 | 9:21 p.m.

Hi there, this is one of the reporters that went this weekend. Harold, I say "Kudos" to any and all who have trickled to Joplin to help those affected by the tornado. I know a few who have done so myself. As Clinton pointed out, the great thing about this group is that this was the nudge many needed to get involved for the 'long haul'. Going into it, I knew that the organizers were really hoping to encourage that desire in those who volunteered, so it was great to hear so many people say that the workday brought the people of Joplin to the forefront of their minds and that they'd like to return.

(Report Comment)

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