There are a lot of elements to what happens in your town after the worst U.S. twister in the last 50 years rips through it. You see literally every extreme of human nature surface. Yes, there are bad things…. there are looters, there are those taking advantage. But far, far more abundant are the selfless folks from within the community and those outside of it who have poured in to help. They have been cooking hamburgers, sorting clothes, delivering water, clearing rubble, and so much more for the past 5+ weeks, and I know they will be continuing to support this community and set it back on its’ feet over the coming months.
Here’s the first round of portraits I’ve snapped of volunteers.
This is my friend, pastor TJ. He brought a crew from Greensburg, KS…. if anyone remembers what happened in Greensburg a couple of years back, there’s some irony there. The entire town was leveled by a twister. Now that those folks have rebuilt and moved on with the help of many, they are passing it on. Talk about close to home.
Pictured below is Misti. At the beginning of all this madness, she made mention that she had a little bit of storage space if anyone wanted to drop off a few donations. Since then, she has become one of Joplin’s largest donation centers. Every time she runs out of storage space, someone brings in another tent or another trailer and on it goes. ‘Misti’s Mission’ is also one of the longer running donation centers… while many other spots are having to close down or stop taking donations, hers keeps running. (If you’re interested in volunteering here, stop by their facebook page… they can always use a helping hand).
Her name tag, written up by one of her volunteers, reads ‘fearless leader’…
Manny is one of the regular workers at the mission. He’s been bouncing from place to place volunteering for the last 5 weeks…. now he’s here every day.
my sisters, sitting on one of the many mountains of bottled water you see throughout the city, nestled between two tractor trailers filled with boxes. They’ve been sorting clothes for the last several weeks.
This is my favorite ‘volunteer’ yet. His name is Eli; I found him patrolling one of the devastated neighborhoods at 6:30 on a saturday morning, watching for looters. I could tell he meant business when he asked to see my ID. This is a guy who doesn’t have a home himself; as a matter of fact, he doesn’t have a pair of shoes (nor would he let me buy him any). Yet he is protecting the belongings of others in the neighborhood he used to frequent. It’s hard to even know how to react to that.