I’ve been on the ground now in Joplin for a little over 24 hours. As usual, when I try to come and help, I feel like I’m being blessed more than I’m blessing others. I met some terrific people since I’ve been here and I experienced a spirit of resilience that is out of this world. Joplin is a wonderful place where people care about each other and they put each other first. American Family Insurance sponsored my trip to Joplin as part of their commitment to reach out and meet the needs of the community. Remember, however, that many of the folks that responded were also at the mercy of the tornado and had their own challenges to overcome.
In addition to the amazing work done at the St John’s Hospital ER, the folks at The Ozark Center (part of the Freeman Hospital System) are doing an unbelievable job of meeting the needs of the community. As part of their Joplin Cares program, they have been sending mental health teams door-to-door providing Psychological First Aid. Affectionately known as “The Smirfs” because they wear blue t-shirts, these folks are out there day after day meeting needs and connecting people to resources. I spoke with one of them today and he told me that he even baked a sweet potato pie to take out to one of the people he met that needed a little extra love. No kidding. One of their most loved programs was taking “Cool Ties” to people. “Cool Ties” are wraps that people can put around their necks to keep them cool. They were made by people in the corrections facilities because they wanted to help as well! The Joplin Cares teams then delivered them to the community. They described a scene similar to the Ice Cream Man coming when they would show up with their coolers loaded with the ties. People would come running out of their homes to get one. It is a great example of people staying engaged and creatively meeting the needs of those that were struggling.
It is such a moving experience to see a community rally to meet the needs of those in need.