The Joplin Scottish Rite Masonic Center in downtown Joplin, Missouri, was spared damage from the tornado in late May. This deadliest storm in 60 years was almost a mile wide and tore a six-mile path through the city on Sunday, May 22; over 100 people were killed. Even though some of Scottish Rite Masons suffered damaged or destroyed property by the tornadoes, many of these same men showed up at the Center to see how they could help the people of Joplin who were also suffering from the aftermath of the disaster.
According to Ill. Richard Lowery, 33°, Executive Secretary of the Valley of Joplin, members just showed up and decided to put their large professional kitchen to good use. Reaching out to the first responders, they began the process of cooking breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
The first day was somewhat disorganized, as they figured out how to get things done. The Scottish Rite publicized that hot meals were available at the Center through Facebook and web sites and on radio and television. They contacted emergency personnel and volunteers and distributed a small flyer. In addition to first responders, the Scottish Rite Masons began distributing food directly to families in the affected areas. The Valley started out on the first day delivering about 300–400 meals, but this number grew quickly to 2,000 meals a day and reached a peak on Memorial Day with about 2,500 meals.
Bro. Richard said, “We believe the tornado recovery is moving into a new phase and clean-up will become much more important, especially on the weekends. We’ll close food preparation today (June 1st), re-open for the weekend and see if there is a need. The City has begun major debris removal today. Our tent with household supplies will remain open, but we plan to begin taking our supplies to places where it may be needed. I wish I could put into words the devastation I have seen after the tornado passed through our city. And I wish I could put into words the gratitude we have seen from just a simple hot meal delivered into the affected areas.”
For information on how you can help Joplin, contact the Valley of Joplin Scottish Rite Masonic Center, 505 S. Byers Ave., Joplin, Missouri 64801, [email protected], 417-623-3219, Facebook: “Scottish Rite, Valley of Joplin.”
Volunteers cooked and packaged up to 2,500 meals a day at the Joplin, Missouri, Scottish Rite Center kitchen. Amongst the destruction were some reminders of the resiliency of the human spirit.