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AmeriCorps Teams and Volunteers Celebrate July 4th in Joplin

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Disaster Response and Recovery

Volunteers motivate and inspire us. In the weeks following the tornado that destroyed much of Joplin, MO, we've received an outpouring of volunteers from various states and countries.

Volunteers and AmeriCoprs members stop for a group shot after completing work on a home that was cleared of debris completely to the foundation. (Photo by Scott Julian, 2011) From Left to Right: Thomas LaPlante (Volunteer), Chris McIndoo (AmeriCorps NCCC), Thomas Keith (AmeriCorps NCC), Stephen Holingsworth (AmeriCorps NCCC), David Hecht (AmeriCorps NCCC), Joe Knox (AmeriCorps NCCC), Gerard Brokerhof (Blue hat and blue shirt, Volunteer), Andrew Fijan (Volunteer), Skip Robinson (Volunteer), Gil Limas (AmeriCorps NCCC).

A large percentage of these volunteers have been from corporations who have organized thousands of employees to help with the disaster efforts. We've been honored to work with companies like Starbucks, Home Depot, Walmart, IBM, Expedia, and Wells Fargo.

Two volunteers from Wells Fargo demonstrated their dedication to Joplin by driving 19 hours from Arizona over the 4th of July weekend to help in the debris cleanup with AmeriCorps.

“They're out here sweating and getting dirty every single day. They always have a smile on their face and are joking around having a good time. As good of a time as you can have in this situation,” said Wells Fargo employee Skip Robinson about AmeriCorps members. AmeriCorps NCCC member works with volunteers to form a moving chain, passing debris from person to person. (Photo by Scott Julian, 2011)

Josh Saunders, an Expedia employee from Colorado, explained his motivation for volunteering by saying, “I live a very blessed life... I think that by passing those blessings onto others and helping them, in return, I receive blessings as well.”

Along with these selfless volunteers, we continue to work long days as part of disaster relief efforts in Joplin, removing and organizing debris from damaged homes and properties.

Last week, our teams logged close to 10,000 volunteer hours at more than 150 different properties. And as of July 2, we've served a total of 114,157 volunteer hours since arriving in Joplin on May 22.

A Visit from Congressman Long

On Friday, July 1, we had the pleasure of meeting Congressman Billy Long who represents the 7th District of Missouri. While addressing us he said, “It's an honor to have y'all here. And I really truly, truly appreciate your time and what you do.” Congressman Long attended our nightly debriefing and greeted AmeriCorps members and volunteers over dinner.

Congressman Billy Long paid a visit to the Volunteer Reception Center at Missouri Southern State University. He thanked AmeriCorps members for their hard work and posed for a picture with Shiela Smith, an AmeriCorps NCCC member. (Photo by Scott Julian, 2011)

On Saturday, July 2, AmeriCorps personnel and volunteers throughout the city were acknowledged at Cunningham Park where we celebrated “The Miracle of the Human Spirit” at a city event dedicated to volunteers of the tornado relief efforts.

To celebrate the Fourth of July holiday, we worked with volunteers in the morning and spent the evening with the Joplin community at their “Rockin' Fourth of July” event at Landreth Park

We have had the pleasure of meeting thousands of volunteers from all across the country but help is still very much needed. To find out more information about how to help AmeriCorps and their efforts, please call our Volunteer Hotline at (417) 625-3543.

All photos by Scott Julian.

Kelsey Wood is an AmeriCorps NCCC member with the Denver campus, currently serving in Joplin, MO.

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