Extreme Makeover: Joplin Edition

Unless you’ve been living under a rock this summer, I’m sure that you heard of the F5 tornado that struck Joplin on May 22nd. The tornado killed over a hundred and sixty people and devastated businesses, the St. John’s hospital, and at least one elementary school, that I know of. It was the seventh single most deadly tornado in U.S. history. Leaving thousands without homes and jobs, not to mention the broken hearts over lost loved ones.

Elementary School Across From The Extreme Makeover site

Amongst the rubble of devastation, Extreme Makeover crews came to bring a glimmer of hope. The well known television program took on its biggest task to date. Building 7 houses in eight seven days. Among the families that were to receive new homes where two best friends and neighbors both named Crystal, and in a cruel twist of fate and commonality, both lost children. Crystal Cogdill, ironically worked before the tornado, finding housing for others. Crystal Whitely worked giving personal care to the disabled and elderly, but above all else, she was a loving mother of three.

When they heard the tornado sirens, both followed their emergency plans and grabbed their kids, huddling into their bathtubs. Tragically, the storm overpowered them both. Cogdill lost her nine year old son, later finding his body under a utility pole, and Whitely lost her two older children, only being able to cling to her four year old daughter. Thanks to Extreme Makeover, they will once again be neighbors, and although, no one can bring back their children, they connected their homes with a “Healing Garden” in which they can remember their children in beauty and not tragedy. These two stories touched my heart more than any others. Perhaps, because of all the participants, they were the only families to lose a loved one , but also, because I too am a mother, and I cannot imagine a worser fate than losing one of my children.

The New Whitely House and to the Right the Healing Garden

Where do I fit in here? My part was small to say the least. I never lifted a hammer or a paint brush. I never got to hug these mothers and lend them my strength. I never even got to shake Ty Pennington’s hand. So, what did I do? I did what I could…I catered. I’m only serve safe. In fact, if I’d worry more about their safety if I had built something. I overheard my boss talking about volunteering to cater to the crews that worked all week to build these new homes, and I immediately wanted to help. Not knowing for who or when, but just that I had to do something. Donating my money, clothes, food, and diapers…those seemed like little things. It may sound preverse, but I also wanted to see the destruction first hand. Trust me, it was not a pretty sight, and it would weigh heavy on anyone’s heart. The saying is true. If you weren’t there, you wouldn’t understand.

Still, even after seeing it and hearing countless stories…I don’t think that I fully understand the heartache brought on by this act of nature. It was senseless to say the least, but blameless as well. Sure, many could blame God, but that’s like blaming God for the Nazis or the hole in the ozone layer. What good would it do?

Habitat for Humanity, which won’t have a nationally televised show to pronounce their good deeds has taken Extreme Makeovers efforts to the next level. While I am across the ocean on vacation, which seems frivolous to even announce, thousands of volunteers will be building ten houses in sixteen days with no more than a thank you for their efforts.

I know that I didn’t have a big hand in it, or any at all, just mostly to pass the story on through my blergh. It’s something I had to say before I started posting smiling pictures of my vacation. It’s a story that I couldn’t go without sharing.

Love and Hope,

L

xoxo.

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