|Helping Joplin Missouri|
|Sunday, 29 May 2011 15:43|
After an EF-5 tornado hit the town of Joplin, MO, I couldn’t help but be drawn into the pictures of destruction, the plight of it’s people, and had a heart-felt need to contribute. This was the first disaster of this scale that I had ever known a lot of people that were affected by the storm; St. John’s Regional Health Center of Joplin was one of our hospitals in the Mercy Health System that I work for, and I had worked with many of the folks there. As I watched news segment after news segment, my heart sunk lower with each mention of the severe devastation.
I have been in, and seen the destructive power of what Mother Nature can throw at you during hurricane Alicia in 1983, serving on a tugboat in Galveston Harbor where the eye passed less than 15 miles away, with gusts to 133 knots from our anemometer onboard. The pictures from Joplin told a much more horrific tale than anything I had experienced with Alicia; there was a lot of damage in Alicia, but not to the apocalyptic level shown in Joplin.
One of the first things that goes thru a person’s mind (or al least should) when they see folks who’s basic existence has been dealt such a life-changing blow, is “how can I help?” Mercy had set up a Relief Fund, so I gave to that; the Red Cross had a way to pay online, so I gave to that. Yet I still felt like I needed to do more, as donations, with the good that they can do, are so far removed from actually seeing the help they provide, I yearned to do more; was the “here’s some cash,” really making a difference.
On the Tuesday following the storm, after being without power for about 24 hours due to the storms that hit St Louis, while browsing around on Facebook, I found a Cause had been set up called “Operation BBQ Relief for Joplin,” it had teamed up Kooker’s Kare, a Kansas City Charitable Organization that cooks for hunger relief, and the Kansas City Barbeque Society (KCBS), along with some of the best barbeque teams around, to fill one simple specific need for Joplin . . . no victim, no volunteer, nor anyone helping the people of Joplin shall go hungry. Being a part of the barbeque community, I knew this was something I could help with and feel like I was contributing.
Mike Curry, who is the team captain for Porkin’ Ain’t Easy had recently had knee surgery, but wanted to assist too, so with him not having the knee up to speed, we knew that he wouldn’t be able to be on his knee that much onsite, so delivering supplies was what we came up with to contribute to their efforts. After tying up some loose ends for the weekend, on Thursday evening I posted the following on the “Operation BBQ Relief for Joplin,” wall on Facebook:
“I am with a KCBS Team called Porkin' Ain't Easy from Wildwood, MO, and I am able to bring supplies down on Sunday from the St Louis area. Who do I get with to find out your needed supplies, where to deliver to, etc. I see Charcoal as a need below, do y'all want lump, briquettes, etc. and your needs may change by then, I will monitor this over the weekend and we offer to haul stuff from St Louis Area on Sunday. Jus' le'me know; you folks are doing great stuff, and makes me proud to be a part of the Barbeque community.”
They put me in contact with Mike from Oakridge BBQ Thursday evening, who let me know of the needs of those onsite, the main of which at that time, was pork and charcoal. While talking at the office Friday morning about the barbeque effort and my intensions to go down to Joplin on Sunday, there were several folks that handed me some money and said to have that go toward supplies for the barbeque teams.
I received a call from Mike with Oakridge BBQ, who said they had worked out a deal between Sam’s Club (which was still operational in Joplin) whereby Kooker’s Kare would be able to purchase directly from there, without having to worry about separate refrigeration needs of donated meat items. They also had just received a pallet of charcoal, so meat and charcoal was now not one of the onsite needs; they did however need single serving chips, paper towels, and Styrofoam trays.
While working with Kyle, one of Mercy’s Senior Project Managers on some project work, I told him of my plans to go to Joplin, and he went to assisting me in soliciting donations of supplies. We approached the Sam’s Club of Kirkwood, MO and they gave us a store credit that we put toward the purchase of Styrofoam food trays, paper towels, and the needed chips. After loading up my Jeep with these items, we headed back to the office. At this point, we were still planning on delivering Sunday.
While at the office, someone overheard one of my conversations about going to Joplin, and my plans to rent a U-Haul to haul the barbeque stuff down there; they approached me to see if I would be willing to haul an e-ICU machine down there for them, as it was 6-foot tall and cumbersome. I told them I would be happy to take it. They said “good, as long as it can be there by mid-day Saturday, as it needs to be there for execution of the test plan of getting the Mobil Medical Unit up and functional.”
At that point, Kyle and I made the decision to leave immediately and haul everything down there Friday evening, as the trip now became a Mercy Health System trip with the barbeque items as the secondary function of the trip. After validating that the machine could be loaded in a laying down fashion, we loaded the device in Kyle’s Jeep, filling every nook and cranny around it with barbeque supplies and left for Joplin.
Once we got underway, I posted the following on the Facebook site, which was a direct-line communication to the folks that needed to know:
“We are delivering an e-ICU Monitor for St John's Mobil medical unit; however, SAMs in Kirkwood MO helped on the cost and we will be at cook site at 6:30-ish with the following donated supplies:
3 pkgs. – 12-roll paper towels (36 rolls)
2 pkgs. – 100 count Styrofoam Hinged Trays (200 Trays)
1 Pk. – 250 count Single Bun hinged trays (250 t...rays)
10 Pks – 50 count Single Serving Assorted Potato Chips, fritos, Cheetos, etc. (500 Servings)
1 pk. – 600 count heavy duty paper plates (600 plates)”
When we pulled into Joplin at 6 PM-ish, we were not in the disaster zone as we got to the cook site; they were preparing FEMA/Red Cross 4’x4’ “hot boxes” with trays of food for supper headed for some of the shelters. People lined up in efficient serving lines, building trays, stacking them in the “hot boxes,” then when full, a forklift would come and pick up the box and load it on a truck for transport.
I found Tim, who was currently in charge of the site, and said “I have trays, and single serving bag chips, for you.” As soon as I said the word chips, Tim stated, “we can really use the chips now, as we are down to our last box.” Kyle and I hauled the chips over, and into the FEMA boxes several of them went.
This was what my additional yearning to help was all about; giving a donation here, a donation there, though helpful to causes is swell, but I know that a $13.28 box of 50 single serving bags of chips, went to a good cause, as someone was going to make use of that gift within the hour, and I felt good about contributing the hauling of these items to the cook site, and helping to assure that who(m)ever was receiving that box had their choice of chips to go with their meal . . . and though this one little item seems as insignificant as a grain of sand on the beach, it takes all of those insignificant little grains to make a beautiful beach.
I have always said that the barbeque community was a great group of people . . . but seeing these teams, who generally compete with each other at barbeque competitions, come together to feed the Joplin community, with the well-orchestrated efficiency that I witnessed, I was simply in awe. It made me proud to be a part of a great community of people who have the caring and will to help those in need . . . all of those grains of sand were making a beautiful beach, and I was proud to say “I am a barbeque’r.”
After we got everything unloaded, I looked at the car containing the e-ICU machine and knew that the tough part of the trip was just beginning, as we were going to have to drive thru the disaster zone to deliver the device to St. John’s parking lot. After seeing what we saw in the disaster zone, I knew all the donations, the obtaining and delivery of supplies was worthwhile, as the people of Joplin needed everyone’s help.
|Last Updated on Wednesday, 15 June 2011 04:25|