A few weeks ago I received an e-mail from the Energizer Corporation inviting me to attend a volunteer event here in Joplin. The invite mentioned that not only would the Energizer Bunny be on hand, but Cal Ripken, Jr. would also make an appearance and maybe even hammer some nails. I was so excited! At last I could learn first-hand what it was like for him to work with Will Ferrell on “Talladega Nights”. I wanted to know the answers to such burning questions as, “does Will have it written into his contract that he must do an underwear scene in all his movies, or is he simply drawn to scripts that include partial nudity?” and, “how long have you two been best friends?” and, of course, “do you STILL like your Jesus to party?”
So, imagine my surprise when I showed up at the Habitat for Humanity build site and couldn’t find Cal anywhere. Instead, they pointed to this guy and asked if I wanted to interview him.
OK, I’m totally kidding with you. OF COURSE I know who Cal Ripken, Jr. is. He’s a baseball hall-of-famer who still holds the Major League record for number of consecutive games played (that would be 2,632, thank you very much. OK, he told us that during one of his speeches, I didn’t really know that figure off the top of my head. Oh, and I also didn’t know that he is known as baseball’s all-time “Iron man”, so I completely missed that joke my friend, Kevin, was telling me about how my husband is the “Original Iron Man”. Actually, I’m not sure I get it even now.) But seriously, I did know he was a hall-of-famer. That’s why I invited my husband to come along with me. And no, I didn’t ask him any Will Ferrell questions (although I did tell one of the Energizer volunteers I was thinking of doing so. And of course he laughed. ‘Cause I’m funny like that.)
All kidding aside, it was very humbling to meet the 20-plus volunteers who came from St. Louis and Bentonville, AR to help build a couple homes for families who were displaced by last May’s tornado. The folks from Energizer were so gracious, and treated me like I was a super-star, when in reality THEY are the ones who are doing great things. As Cal said, these people are the ones who so graciously chose to spend their time to come and help others, and that is something that deserves recognition.
This year Energizer, whose global offices are in St. Louis, has partnered with Habitat for Humanity as part of its Positive Energy community outreach initiative. Energizer volunteers and Cal Ripken, Jr. will be helping Habitat for Humanity build homes in 13 cities, and Joplin was the first stop on the tour. All the volunteers told me they were excited about the opportunity to come to Joplin to work with Habitat because they had been searching for something more that they could do to help Joplin recover from the tornado. And all of them told me they were overwhelmed by the amount of destruction they saw in our city. We spoke at length about the storm and its devastation, and it touched me deeply when some of them got teary-eyed as I told them about so many of our friends' stories of survival. Hopefully I adequately described how important their volunteer efforts - and the efforts of the 90,000+ volunteers who have visited our city since last May - are to our rebuilding process.
I will never forget driving around town the week after the tornado hit. Power lines were down, debris was strewn about everywhere, cars were upended along the streets, and the remaining hospital and several make-shift triage units were overflowing with people seeking care for their injuries. All I could think was, “Will we ever be normal again?”
And suddenly people came pouring in. The first sign was the influx of emergency crews from all over the state and region. Next, my friend who is an ER doctor in Springfield led a crew of medical workers who provided relief to our over-taxed medical professionals and assisted in administering medical care to the thousands who were injured in the storm. Then the volunteers arrived. Everywhere we went we saw groups of people helping clear debris from the streets and neighborhoods. The traffic was unlike anything we’ve ever witnessed. And, guess what else? Our businesses thrived! Our fears that there would be dire economic consequences from the storm quickly subsided as we watched people from all over the country roll into the city and stay in our hotels, shop in our stores, and eat at our restaurants.
It was amazing.
I have been involved with numerous charity and volunteer efforts throughout the years, but nothing I have done can compare with the magnitude of the selfless acts of effort and kindness that we have witnessed here in Joplin over the past ten months. Families, co-workers, church groups, and students have all chosen to spend their free time traveling to our city to work (and I do NOT use this term lightly) and help us. These volunteers have no way of knowing how much we appreciate their sacrifice. Without them we would have to do all this work ourselves, and while we are perfectly willing to do this, the simple fact is that having so many people help out with the clean up and rebuilding process has provided us the opportunity to heal. I can’t imagine how broken our spirit would be if we didn’t have so many volunteers offering to give us a bit of respite from the grueling task of recovery.
|Volunteers from Florida|
So, to all those Energizer employees who came to Joplin on Wednesday, April 18, 2012, I say, “Thank you”. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for giving your time, energy, and talent to help total strangers. Thank you for being willing to step out of your comfort zone and learn about something new in order to help your fellow man. Thank you for raising awareness about the needs of people who are struggling to obtain a sense of “normalcy”. Your efforts will help provide a haven for families where they will be able to go and recharge in order to face another day, giving them the energy they need to be able to help someone else during his or her time of need. And thank you for allowing me to be a small part of your amazing day.
|You like? You can win!|
One last thing, Energizer is providing “Power Packs” to all the recipients of the homes they are building with Habitat for Humanity. And, guess what? I am giving one away here on this blog, too! All you have to do is follow the instructions on the Rafflecopter window below. The contest will start today and continue thru next Friday, April 27. Good luck!
a Rafflecopter giveaway