Wednesday, July 6, 2011

MCC in the News: Joplin volunteering

When MCC-Longview continuing education coordinator Diane Mannion sent an all-employee email inviting colleagues to join her for a trip to Joplin, Mo., to help with clean-up efforts in the tornado-ravaged town, she probably didn't think it would land her on a live news broadcast at 6:00 on a sleepy Friday morning.

Mannion and Longview registrar David Fritz were featured in a live broadcast on KMBC 9 FirstNews before departing for Joplin in the wee hours of Friday, July 1. Meteorologist Lisa Teachman,
David Fritz represented MCC in one of two
live television spots on Friday morning
on KMBC channel 9 FirstNews. 
who has been covering the aftermath of the devastating May 22 tornado, spoke with Mannion and Fritz about their motivation to help with clean-up efforts.

Fritz, who had spent three days in Joplin a few weeks earlier, said he had personally experienced the devastating impact of severe storms when a tornado ripped through his hometown in Kansas in 2001.

Mannion said she and Terri Kelley, a program specialist at Longview, devised the volunteer coordination plan while looking through photos that Kelley had taken when she traveled to Joplin in June. The two chose July 1 as the date for MCC volunteers to help, and more than 70 MCC students, employees and family members signed up to make the trip.

The volunteers met at Longview early Friday morning and caravanned to Joplin, about 2.5 hours south of Lee's Summit.

Some members of the group helped with sorting of
donations that have poured in from all over the country.

"There were boxes on top of boxes of things that had been donated and needed to be sorted," said MCC accounting manager Izabella Sarkisian, whose teenage son and daughter also made the trip.

Other group members helped with debris clean-up on a residential street where houses had been flattened by the EF5 tornado. Heather Perez, community relations coordinator at Maple Woods, said the scene was like nothing she had ever seen.

"It was heartbreaking, truly heartbreaking" said Perez. "It was one thing for me to hear the stories when I was 150 miles removed from all of the devastation but it was another thing entirely to see it first-hand. To hear the stories of people who lost everything, including their families, really made me wish there was more I could do."

MCC volunteers, in the royal blue shirts, joined with volunteers from Texas, Indiana and Arizona to help with debris clean-up.

Most MCC volunteers stayed in Joplin until about 3 p.m. Friday. Several said they intend to return to help with continued clean-up efforts.

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