Joplin Residents Appreciate Help

By Sarah Derouen

Lemke Newsroom

JOPLIN, MO.    Mary Ann Palmer sat on her front porch while her two grandchildren played in a large pile of gravel. “We don’t call ourselves victims here.”

Palmer and six of her relatives were in the basement on May 22 when an EF-5 tornado ravaged this southwest Missouri town.

To help residents like Palmer, the UA Associated Student Government along with University Advancement and the Alumni Associated are planning trips to Joplin. The ASG sponsored student trip will be Oct. 22.

“Earlier in the summer, ASG had planned on taking a trip to Joplin, and it just didn’t materialize,” Laura Weiderhaft, ASG director of service outreach who is organizing the trip.

The first 50 students who apply will be picked. The application is due today, Weiderhaft said.

The only requirement is that students must the co-curricular requirements, she said.

These requirements include that students must be considered full-time student, 12 hours of on-campus course work for undergraduates and six hours for graduate students, a 2.25 or higher grade-point average, and not be on academic probation, according to the UA student handbook.

ASG is partnered with AmeriCorps which has established a tornado relief center in Joplin.

“Most of the work, we will be doing is inventorying, so they had had tons of donations. We will just be inventorying and distributing those goods,” Weiderhaft said.

AmeriCorps works with organizations of all sizes to put AmeriCorps members and volunteers to work in improving their communities, according to the website.

Palmer is amazed by the volunteers who come to Joplin, she said.

“There were people from everywhere, and they would just show up. If I didn’t have something for that group to do, I would put some in my car and take them where I know there was someone that needed assistance,” Palmer said.

During the last ASG Senate meeting, the senate agreed to pay the budgeted $915 for the trip. This will cover the bus and gas to get there, snacks and drinks, and insurance. In the total, $760 will come from the Senate allocation budget and the other $155 will come from service outreach which is a part of the ASG executive board.

“It’s not thinking about yourself. It’s thinking about families that lost family members,” Palmer said of the storm, which ranked highest on the Enhanced Fujita scale.

Two blocks from here, two children died during the storm. I am just happy I can watch my grandchildren play, she said.

Her home should be finished by January.

“Rebuild isn’t hard. I get to come back,” Palmer said.