Honors students to aid tornado ravaged area two years later

Tornado damage after the 2011 storm in Joplin, Mo.

Tornado damage after the 2011 storm in Joplin, Mo. Photo courtesy of MCT Campus.

By Ryan Meier.

While many DMACC students will choose to relax over spring break, eight honors students and two honors professors will spend the entire week volunteering.

These 10 individuals will be in Joplin, Mo. from March 18 through March 22 to aid in rebuilding and cleaning up from the EF-5 tornado that struck the town on May 22, 2011.

They will be working with the non-profit group, Rebuild Joplin.

The volunteering is fulfilling a requirement for Honors Course 150: Service Learning, which Professor Barb Schmidt instructs.

The class is being conducted online, via Blackboard.

In preparation for the trip, Schmidt is having students research and report on everything having to do with Joplin.

“Before they get there, I want them to have an idea of the town and the extent of the damage. But even that, I don’t think we’re going to know that until we see it,” Schmidt said.

Despite the destruction occurring close to two years ago, according to the Rebuild Joplin website, as of October 2012, there are still 90 families living in FEMA trailer homes.

The trip is estimated at costing each student roughly $150, but a donation of $250 from the Iowa State Education Association/DMACC Higher Education Association will offset some of those costs.

While there are two service learning courses, only the online course is making the trip. The other class has students performing their service throughout the semester.

While the semester-long volunteering may have it’s own benefits, Honors Program Director Jan LaVille, who is also taking part in the trip, believes the weeklong intensive service project has it’s own advantages.

“Anytime you travel with a group, it can really make you friends for life. I think these students will bond even further than they already have,” Laville said.

The group will spend each and everyday being put to work painting, roofing, and drywalling to name just a few jobs.

While there are no commitments for the group in the evening, Schmitt has looked at a not-for-profit in Joplin called Art Feeds.

Art Feeds’ website says their mission is to provide art instruction for 30-60 minutes a week to students who have undergone trauma in the Joplin area.

“If we still have energy left at the end of the day, it would be a different type of volunteering,” Schmidt said.

Even with all of this activity, the students will be expected to reflect at the end of each day on what they have learned and where they have grown.

“I hope it instills a sense of volunteerism for life. What you give, you’re going to get back, ten times over,” LaVille said.

LaVille also sees this as an experience for students to create a more-rounded education.

“This shows that you did something more than just go to class and get good grades.”

Schmidt expressed views similar to LaVille.

“The Service Learning course is not just about volunteering, but an experience to learn about being a team player, demonstrating leadership, and learning construction skills,” Schmidt said.

For Honors student Brad Beadle, it goes beyond just helping the community; he wants to be a good influence on his sons and daughters

“I want to have my kids see what I’m doing. I want to plant the seed in my kids that there’s more to life than just making money.”


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