Volunteer efforts benefit community


Members of the Missouri Southern women’s track and field team, Shelby Newell, (left) Kaylee Morgan (second from left) and Emily Harris (second from right) perform volunteer landscaping work alongside two community volunteers for the Life House Organization in downtown Joplin as a part of College Heights Annual Day of Service on Sunday, Sept. 28.

Missouri Southern women’s track coach Patty Vavra has always looked at community service as a way to bring her team together. When she received news of an opportunity for the entire team to become involved with College Heights Christian Church’s Day of Service, Vavra jumped at the chance.   

“Community service is one of those things that’s great for the team,” said Vavra. “For one thing, it provides an opportunity to work together outside of the athletic realm and an opportunity to work towards a goal.”

While more than 2,200 people volunteered in all, the team specifically worked with an organization known as the Neighborhood Life House.

“It’s an organization for the neighborhood that it is in, for children to go to after school and participate in a number of different events,” said assistant coach Whitney Hardy. “You could say the neighborhood it is in is slightly impoverished and the parents are often working two jobs or don’t have a lot of money.”

The team painted, worked on the floors, took old things out of the house, cleaned out a garden area and did an array of other tasks for the organization.

“The particular projects we did may have taken a small group several months, but we were able to knock it out in a few hours,” said Vavra.

Every member of the team attended the community service day, which includes 43 athletes and three coaches.

Senior athlete Amber White loved that the entire team could make it out into the community together while helping others.

“We don’t always see certain parts of the team at practice, so being in a setting where all the team members are mixed with each other gives us a chance to get to know some different people and develop relationships with them that we wouldn’t have the chance to outside of that setting,” said White.

Junior athlete Kaylee Morgan shared a similar sentiment to that of White’s, but was also proud to play a part in helping the Life House Organization.

“It feels so good to know how much we truly helped them. It was amazing to see the difference of that building before we started and after we finished, “ said Morgan. “We finished so many projects and they were so thankful. I am just happy I got to be part of such a special project for the Life House organization.”