One Year, One Community, One Direction
Submitted by Clare Holdinghaus, Year 18 ERT
This month I got to return to Joplin for the one year anniversary of the tornado. Being in the AmeriCorps Recovery Center, seeing the destruction and talking to homeowners again brought back all the stress and frustration and all the sadness that I knew in my two months serving in Joplin. I was also reminded of all the joys, the thrill of accomplishment, and the gratitude that I felt working for storm-affected residents. The strength of these emotions surprised me as they all came flooding back. During my time in Joplin, I plowed through my work every day, oftentimes putting in long hours in the office working on tedious tasks or doing physical labor out in the field. I ended each day exhausted. There was little time for reflection or sentimentality.
Returning months after I served in Joplin gave me space and perspective to reflect. I re-experienced the sorrow of hearing homeowner’s stories of their losses, the satisfaction of planting a healthy, beautiful tree in a homeowner’s yard, and the humility of seeing the strength and dedication of the volunteers we work with. I cried when people cheered AmeriCorps as we walked through the streets of Joplin. I knew I had put in the hours, and I knew I had put in the effort, but until returning to Joplin, I didn’t realize how much of my heart I had invested. I fell in love with Joplin. One year after the storm, and four months after leaving, Joplin is still in my heart every day.
Support disaster recovery in Joplin and other affected communities by donating to AmeriCorps St. Louis.