JOPLIN, Mo. — Eleven months after the May 22 tornado, the spirit of volunteers continues through Joplin's rebuilding efforts.
“I would say volunteer interest is still incredibly high,” said Scott Clayton, executive director of Joplin Area Habitat for Humanity. “There are a lot of times where unskilled labor can assist, and that's going to be great. But if you're a framer, if you have some kind of professional skills and you're looking to help Habitat, give us a call. We'd like to put you to work.”
After the tornado, a lot of people were stunned at what happened to Joplin, Clayton said.
“Slowly but surely, through months of organization and thousands of good people, we're in the stage now where we need to build. Habitat for Humanity will be building a lot more houses than we ever have before, but that's what our role is, and we're prepared to meet that with the partnerships of so many people. We're excited, and God willing, we're going to have a tremendous amount of production,” he said.
Clayton was working at 24th Street and Wall Avenue when Energizer and Habitat for Humanity launched a 13-city tour in which volunteers will donate more than $350,000 and 1,000 hours. Special guests in Joplin were a 10-foot tall, pink Energizer Bunny and Hall of Famer Cal Ripken Jr., who became known as baseball's Energizer Bunny while breaking major league baseball's consecutive game streak in the 1990s.
Ripken and Energizer's “bunny brigade” worked on a home, and the volunteers later canvassed the neighborhood and distributed home power kits that included tips and products promoting energy efficiency.
Elaine Sosnowski, general manager of Energizer lighting products, noticed a big difference in Joplin from last July, when she came from St. Louis to assist with cleanup efforts.
“This feels like the rebirth,” she said. “You can still see what had happened, but the environment and the whole atmosphere feels so much more positive. You see that it's flat, but it's like OK, we've brushed away the old and the bad, and we're building on this fertile ground for the future.”
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