On May 22nd, 2011, a massive EF-5 tornado changed everything in the Joplin area. Over 7,500 homes and businesses were destroyed, and nearly 10,000 individuals were displaced. Lives were lost and 1/3 of our town was gone.
From that moment on, a new direction began to take course. Tens of thousands of caring hearts from all across the country came to establish a new story of perseverance to tell. All efforts were daily fixed to bring relief to the dire situation that was our world.
Joplin Area Habitat for Humanity had been constructing houses for partner families in need since 1989 and took the necessary steps to grow to fit the large housing need. Thanks to countless partners and continuous work of many here and abroad, Joplin Area Habitat for Humanity made great strides in being an affiliate that rose to meet the massive need in front of us.
Since that day, Joplin Area Habitat for Humanity has:
- Constructed 115 new houses for partner families in need of better housing. 97 of those houses were built in the tornado zone.
- Offices and ReStore were moved from a 12,000 square foot building outside of Joplin to a 50,000 square foot building at a much better location on North Main Street.
- Began A Brush With Kindness program and completed over 100 repairs in three years.
- A 10 house blitz build, Ten for Joplin, initiated by Tulsa Habitat for Humanity, began our efforts in 2011. Our organizations did well together, and their support to us was tremendous.
- Churches came together following the tornado in such an incredibly inspiring and remarkable way. Local churches became relief stations and organized cleanup work from day one. 34 churches from here and abroad worked directly with Joplin Habitat on fund and volunteer support. Our second wave of construction was thanks to these good people and these good churches.
- Through the Governor’s Challenge, the professional sports teams of Missouri–Kansas City Royals and Chiefs, St. Louis Cardinals, Rams, and Blues, University of Missouri, and NASCAR Motor Speedway–and thousands of volunteers in large workdays constructed 35 houses through a 3.7 million dollar Community Development Block Grant from the State of Missouri.
- Many notable corporate sponsors, churches, the City of Joplin, and groups of individuals large and small made it possible to achieve the number of houses constructed.
- Thrivent Financial sent 20 global mission teams and funded 8 houses.
- A unique relationship began between Joplin Area Habitat for Humanity and The Salvation Army. In all, funds from The Salvation Army gave us the opportunity to construct 13 houses for partner families with 17 more on the way, assistance for our A Brush With Kindness program, and tornado shelters for families who were affected by the tornado.
Through it all, we learned some tremendous lessons, as experience will always prove to be your greatest teacher. Above all is that we were never alone.
A tornado can destroy and the work may be immense, but the grace of God is forever. It’s not a tornado that happened on May 22, 2011, that defines us. It’s May 23, 2011, and all the days that follow that tells a strong story of recovery.
Thank God for making all things possible.
On October 5, 2015, we celebrated our 105th house built in five years!