Purdy AmeriCorps Reading Coach program honored

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

The Purdy AmeriCorps Reading Coaches program were honored on Jan. 31 by the Missouri House of Representatives. The group was recognized for its role in assisting with recovery efforts following the Joplin tornado on May 22, 2011.

The Purdy Reading Coaches were one of 20 AmeriCorps programs from across the country that deployed more than 300 AmeriCorps members to Joplin following the tornado.

Representatives Bill White (R-Joplin) and Charlie Davis (R-Duquesne) are sponsoring the resolution, which was read on the floor of the Missouri House. It applauded the "history, goals and accomplishments associated with the AmeriCorps program and conveys to all of those involved this legislative body's most heartfelt commendation of their efforts in Joplin and Duquesne following the devastating EF-5 tornado."

Because of Purdy's proximity to Joplin, Purdy Reading Coaches were among the very first AmeriCorps members to arrive on site. Volunteers from Purdy manned the Red Cross telephone lines, were involved in search and rescue efforts, combed the shelters looking for missing persons and helped families with limb clean-up and debris removal.

"In a time of great need, AmeriCorps members came immediately and stayed for the long haul, providing vital support to the people of Joplin," said Robert Velasco, acting CEO of the Corporation for National and Community Service, AmeriCorps parent agency. "I salute the Purdy Reading Coaches for taking on this tough assignment and supporting an extraordinary national service response to a major natural disaster."

Renae Neill, executive director of the Purdy Reading Coaches program, said her group is honored to be recognized for its service and was humbled to have the opportunity to assist with the tornado recovery effort.

"We're proud to receive this honor that recognizes the legacy our AmeriCorps members have left on Joplin," said Neill. "The example of Joplin shows how powerful national service can be when diverse individuals from across the country unite to support survivors of natural disasters."

The Joplin tornado was the nation's deadliest in more than 60 years, killing 161 residents and destroying more than 7,000 homes, churches, schools and businesses.

Within eight hours of the tornado's strike, AmeriCorps members arrived in Joplin and began working with local authorities to establish a missing person's hotline. Over the past seven months, AmeriCorps members have continued to perform vital services, including managing the volunteer reception center, providing homeowner assistance and casework, removing tons of debris and operating donation and distribution warehouses.

More than 60,600 volunteers have been involved with the AmeriCorps' response since the tornado, providing more than 579,000 hours of service that equates to more than $17.7 million of donated resources.

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