Saturday, November 19, 2011

Ten families impacted by Joplin Tornado move into new homes

(From City of Joplin)

Thanksgiving will have extra special meaning for 10 Joplin families this year. Just six months after an EF-5 tornado swept through their town leaving them without an affordable place to live, they now have a place to call home.

In partnership with Tulsa and Joplin Area Habitat for Humanity teams, the City of Joplin, surrounding businesses and organizations, and thousands of volunteers, the Ten for Joplin project built 10 new homes over a 16-day period. What’s equally impressive is the short amount of time – about 10 weeks – it took to raise more than $1 million in cash and in-kind gifts to fund the cause.

Habitat for Humanity handed over the keys to the families’ new homes today during a public dedication ceremony in Joplin.

For Thomas and Samantha Short, moving into their Habitat home marks a new beginning and added stability for their four kids.

“We no longer have to move around,” said Thomas, whose family lived in a two-bedroom apartment that was damaged by the tornado. “This Thanksgiving will be extra special because not only are we in a new house, but it’s ours. Now we can make our own traditions and our children will grow up remembering their first Thanksgiving in our own house.”

The families have an added reason to be especially thankful this year. In a surprise announcement during the dedication ceremony, Dr. Bruce Speck, president of Missouri Southern State University, told the families their children would receive full tuition scholarships for four years to the school.

“This project in itself is an amazing gift of kindness to our citizens,” said Joplin Mayor Mike Woolston. “Dr. Speck’s announcement adds to the generosity that has been ever present to our City since May 22. I want to thank Tulsa’s Habitat for Humanity for this project and bringing so many great volunteers to our community. It is another example of the amazing gifts that people bring to our citizens. On behalf of our City, I want to thank all who have been involved with this project.”

The extra funds raised for Ten for Joplin will be applied to future Habitat for Humanity builds in the tornado-ravaged area of Joplin.

“Ten for Joplin’s vision all along has been to ignite volunteer efforts to rebuild Joplin by setting an example of what can be accomplished when businesses and communities come together to help one another,” said Paul Kent, executive director of Tulsa Habitat for Humanity. “This is just a start. We know the need for housing in Joplin continues and we hope to see similar efforts follow ours.”

The Shorts are believers in the power of volunteerism now that they’ve experienced firsthand how it feels to receive an outpouring of help from others. In fact, they plan to visit Tulsa in March to help with another Habitat for Humanity build with the volunteers they now call their friends.

“I never volunteered before,” said Samantha, who along with her family and friends has put in hundreds of hours working alongside volunteers as part of the Habitat for Humanity program. “You don’t realize how thankful and happy the people who are getting the homes are. No words can explain how touched we’ve been by their generosity. We encourage everyone to take time out to help because you’ll feel good for it, too.”

In addition to a community developer sponsorship from the Habitat for Humanity International’s Women Build program, companies sponsoring houses are The Anne and Henry Zarrow Foundation, Arvest Bank, BKD CPAs & Advisors, Chase, Hilti, Samson and T.D. Williamson, Inc. Organizations that have signed on to sponsor a half house include Advanced Industrial Devices, Inc., Commerce Bank/William T. Kemper Foundation, Helmerich & Payne, Unit Corporation and Valley National Bank. Other major contributors include Asbury United Methodist Church, Bank of Oklahoma, Society of St. Vincent de Paul of St. Mary’s Catholic Church, The Home Depot Foundation, The Mary K. Chapman Foundation and Williams.

Companies donating gifts in-kind include Thermal Windows, Turner Roofing, TAMKO Building Products, QuikTrip and numerous others.

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