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Habitat volunteers join Joplin blitz build

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Volunteers from the Monett/Purdy affiliate of the Habitat for Humanity organization recently volunteered to participate in a 16-day "building blitz" called Ten for Joplin. The event was coordinated through the efforts of the Miami, Okla., and Joplin chapters of Habitat for Humanity. Pictured above, from left, are local volunteers Bill Van Eaton, Rev. Ron Stair, Jon Suit and Jerry Hudson. [Photo courtesy of Bill Van Eaton]
A group of local volunteers were part of the Habitat for Humanity's Ten for Joplin "blitz build" last week. That effort spanned 16 days and resulted in the completion of 10 homes for low-income families impacted by the deadly May 22 tornado.

Bill Van Eaton, Jon Suit, Jerry Hudson and Rev. Ron Stair, all volunteers with the Monett/Purdy affiliate of Habitat for Humanity, traveled to Joplin to participate iin the Ten for Joplin project and joined other teams from across the country in the process.

"We were working on house #7," Van Eaton said. "This was for a single mother and her three children. They sheltered in their bathroom and survived the tornado.

"The house we were building was located three blocks from the devastated Joplin High School," Van Eaton continued. "So, you can imagine what the area where we were working looked like."

A total of 25 volunteers were working on the house that day. Van Eaton and his companions worked at cutting siding for the home on one side of the home. Another crew was doing the same thing on the opposite side of the home.

Additional crews were inside working on electrical wiring and installing insulation.

Sheet rock was delivered to the site as the volunteers raced the clock to complete as much work as possible on the day's plan.

"There were anywhere from 200 to 400 volunteers working on the project each day," Van Eaton said. "To build 10 houses in under three weeks is a massive undertaking to coordinate that many people."

The Monett crew arrived at the scene before daylight and continued to work throughout the day.

"It was amazing," Van Eaton said. "In Monett, it takes us about four months to complete a Habitat home. Of course, most of us can only work on weekends.

"That also allows the family to put in their sweat equity on the home," Van Eaton said. "With these homes going up so quickly, it's hard for these families to get their sweat equity in."

Van Eaton said the hours did not necessarily have to be put in on the home construction, but fulfilled through a number of community service projects.

"What was amazing to me was people from all over the place were coming to help on this build," Van Eaton said. "The women working on the other side of the house from us were from New Jersey and Illinois. They came because they wanted to help.

"That includes church groups, individuals and civic groups," he continued. "People are coming from all over to help Joplin rebuild."

This is not Van Eaton's first experience in helping others following the devastating tornado.

"We went over two or three days after it happened, and I was sent to direct traffic at one of the donation drop-off locations," he said. "Trucks and cans and cars were coming from all over to drop off supplies to help the community. It was a really good feeling."

On their latest effort, Van Eaton was nearly at a loss for words in describing the feelings that come from helping others.

"There is something wonderful about going home after a long hard day of work, knowing you have made a difference," Van Eaton said. "We all felt that way. We had a real sense of satisfaction, or contentment, that we were able to help others in need.

"But that doesn't end with Joplin," Van Eaton said. "We continue that work through the Monett/Purdy Area Habitat for Humanity organization. It's a good feeling to know you've helped somebody right here at home."

For more information on the Monett/Purdy Area Habitat for Humanity organization, visit the Internet at www.monett-purdy-hfh.com, or call Rev. Ron Stair at the First Christian Church of Monett at 235-7233.

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