As you know, the May 22 tornado has changed day to day life in Joplin. There has been very bad days and much better days. With school fast approaching it is hard to believe it has been two months since the EF5 tornado tore through Joplin. Debris is disappearing and stores and home are being rebuilt. The Boys & Girls Club of Southwest Missouri has been supporting the Joplin community since 1957 and we will continue to serve Joplin by being a safe and nurturing environment for children.
We knew if there was one thing we could do it would be to create a normal environment for children in Joplin. In spite of 6 of our own staff losing their homes and belongings, two days after the storm we opened our doors to all children, regardless of age or membership, and charged nothing for our services. Instead of the regular 4 hour days where we serve only dinner, we were open over 12 hours a day and serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner. We quickly became a distribution center for the public. One of our gyms was packed with water, food, toiletries, hygiene products, clothes, and more.
Beginning June 13, we resumed our regular summer hours. Any family that lost their home, job, or has suffered extreme hardship due to the May 22 tornado has been able to attend our summer program free of charge. We have provided scholarships to over 50 children to date. Despite the amount of children displaced by the tornado, our summer enrollment is up.
Though it has been a struggle the past two months, we know that children need a safe place to be with staff they trust. The Boys & Girls Club of Southwest Missouri will continue to do everything we can to help support the children of Joplin and their families. Our mission to enable all young people, especially those who need us most, to reach their full potential as productive, caring, responsible citizens. With the help of volunteers and supporters, we will continue our services, grow with the influx of children, and help support the community that we love.