Friday, June 17, 2011

Rising From the Ashes

As most of you know, our small city was hit by a killer tornado a few weeks ago. Suddenly, people from around the world saw images of complete devastation imparted upon our everyday venues - my children's schools, our neighbors' homes, our thriving commercial areas, even our church. Friends and family contacted us inquiring about our safety, and wondering what, if anything, they could do to help our town sort through the rubble left behind by this deadly storm.

Volunteers have flooded our streets and neighborhoods, semi-trailer loads of donations have come in from far and wide, even Tide's "Loads of Hope" paid us a visit! This experience has humbled us in ways we never imagined.

Fortunately, while we realize we could never have moved forward as quickly as we have without the help and support of paid laborers and city and government employees as well as the many dedicated volunteers who have flocked to our city, we have also taken matters for rebuilding into our own hands. Most importantly, we have worked toward our spiritual and psychological healing not only as individuals, but also as a community. This effort was demonstrated most recently in our Thursday night Downtown Art Walk.

Organizers found themselves in an unusual situation as they frantically worked to relocate artists to new, unoccupied galleries (many former gallery spaces have been rented out to businesses whose buildings were destroyed by the tornado). Restaurateurs and retailers beefed up their offerings for what they hoped would be a large crowd - and they were not disappointed. Musicians and artists brought forth their best offerings, while fund raising efforts received much-needed support. Throngs of people spilled out onto the streets as participants young and old socialized, laughed, and flat-out enjoyed themselves for perhaps the first time in many long weeks.

It was a much-needed respite for Joplinites who have all been working long, hard, hours in one way or another to help the city and its residents recover. I am glad I participated in what, in my opinion, has been the best healing experience our city has witnessed since The Tornado. Kudos to Joplin's Downtown Alliance for working overtime in order to ensure a successful evening for us all!

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