The Missouri House of Representatives today (Tuesday, January 31) will pass a resolution honoring AmeriCorps members from across the country who have played an indispensable role in helping the city of Joplin recover from the devastating tornado that struck the city on May 22, 2011.
Led by State Representatives Bill White (R-Joplin) and Charlie Davis (R-Duquesne), the resolution commends AmeriCorps members from 20 organizations from seven states who served in Joplin in the wake of the tornado, the nation’s deadliest in more than sixty years.
“The members of the Missouri House of Representatives join unanimously to applaud the history, goals, and accomplishments associated with the AmeriCorps program and to convey to all of those involved this legislative body’s most heartfelt commendation of their efforts in Joplin and Duquesne following the devastating EF-5 tornado,” states Missouri House Resolution 244.
The first AmeriCorps members arrived within hours after the tornado struck, and more than 300 have served since then, providing vital services and mobilizing more than 60,000 volunteers who have been essential to the city’s recovery. AmeriCorps members deployed to Joplin from programs based in Arkansas, Colorado, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Texas, and Washington.
“In a time of great need, AmeriCorps members rushed to the scene and have stayed for the long haul, providing vital hope and help to the people of Joplin,” said Robert Velasco, Acting CEO of the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS), AmeriCorps parent federal agency. “Our commitment to the people of Joplin will continue through the work of additional AmeriCorps members who will serve over the coming year.”
Kate Raftery, Director of AmeriCorps NCCC, will join Missouri House members, AmeriCorps members, and representatives of FEMA, the Missouri Community Service Commission, and AmeriCorps programs active in Joplin in a ceremony at the Capitol this morning to announce the agency’s commitment of more than 30 additional AmeriCorps members who will serve in Joplin over the coming year. Over the past seven months, AmeriCorps NCCC has deployed more than 200 members who have given 49,000 hours of service, gutted or mucked 725 homes, and served more than 20,000 meals.
The new AmeriCorps members who will be serving in Joplin over the coming year include:
8 additional full-time members serving with AmeriCorps St. Louis, the primary coordinating body of the massive volunteer response; supported through a new AmeriCorps grant from the Missouri Community Service Commission;
18 AmeriCorps VISTAs serving full-time for the next year in conjunction with the PAVE Eldon Schools - Joplin Schools Bright Futures program and other area non-profits, who will implement and expand programming to improve the health, academic performance and well-being of the children and their families in the Joplin area;
1 or 2 AmeriCorps NCCC teams of 8-12 members each that will be deployed through July 2012 to bring hands on assistance to the ongoing recovery operations.
The House resolution highlights AmeriCorps’ immediate and ongoing response to the tornado, which killed 161 residents and destroyed more than 7,000 homes, apartments, churches, schools, and businesses. The first members from AmeriCorps St. Louis and AmeriCorps NCCC arrived in Joplin hours after the tornado and immediately began working with local authorities to assist in search and rescue and establish a missing person’s hotline.
Since then, AmeriCorps members have performed vital services including managing the volunteer reception center, providing homeowner assistance and casework, removing tons of debris, supporting the Missouri Highway Patrol and the Joplin Police Department with missing person inquiries, offering legal services, operating donation and distribution warehouses, and coordinating donations in conjunction with the Missouri State Emergency Management Agency.
The resolution commends AmeriCorps members for managing a large-scale volunteer operation that has recruited, facilitated, and supervised more than 60,600 volunteers who have given more than 579,000 hours of service and provided disaster assistance to more than 2,000 Joplin households.
Joplin city officials recently reported to FEMA that the city received donated resources and volunteer hours totaling $17.7 million dollars, the largest amount in Missouri’s history and the largest amount ever recorded in FEMA’s region seven, which includes Kansas, Iowa, and Nebraska. AmeriCorps members were instrumental to mobilizing this influx of volunteers and donations, which saved the city more than $17.7 million that it otherwise would been required to pay as part of its share of the reimbursement for federal disaster funds.
The House resolution recognizes the following AmeriCorps programs for their indispensable role in Joplin recovery efforts: AmeriCorps St. Louis Emergency Response Team, AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps, AmeriCorps VISTA, the Washington Conservation Corps; American YouthWorks; Minnesota Conservation Corps; Iowa Conservation Corps; HEAL AR AmeriCorps; Southwest Conservation Corps; Habitat for Humanity; Missouri Community Rivers Network; Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Missouri (Colombia); Grace Hill AmeriCorps Trail Rangers; the Purdy R-II School District/Purdy Reading Coaches; the American Red Cross: Prevent, Prepare, Respond; the Eldon R-I School District/PAVE AmeriCorps Tutoring Program; the Waynesville R-6 School District/AmeriCorps Waynesville; Equal Justice Works, and the St. Bernard Project.