Show-me gold lends a hand


Natalie Cossey

Candidate Bain and Candidate Wooldridge, members of MSSUs Show-Me Gold officer candidate training program, tear out pieces of sheet rock. Show-Me Gold teamed up with Home Sweet Homes USA Inc., Sept. 21, as part of thier community involvement.

A soldier is no stranger to hard work or lending a helping hand, especially with teamwork from comrades-in-arms. Missouri Southern State University’s officer candidate training program Show-Me Gold teamed up with Home Sweet Homes, USA Inc., on Sept. 21 as part of Show-Me Gold’s community involvement project. Dirt and dust flew through the air as the crews worked to give life to an old house that will soon be the home of Jon Sr. and Roxanne Ness.

The crew of seven candidates, two sergeants and Show-Me Gold’s Capt. Amanda Self helped in the beginning stages of remodeling a home for a veteran, his wife and their grandchildren. Their daughter, the mother of two of their grandchildren, has stage four cancer.

The Nesses have had their share of struggles, including the Joplin tornado that destroyed their home and left them injured under the rubble.

Jon Ness, Sr., a former Missouri Army National Guard member, hardly ever attended church on Sundays; the Sunday morning before the tornado he did. He recalls asking the preacher to save him in order to make sure he got to Heaven. His wife of 45 years, Roxanne Ness, recalls God and the military having always been there for them.

“An army husband and wife from another town six hours away came to our destroyed home and said, ‘You can’t stay here anymore. There is nothing left.’ They drove us to MSSU where we were safe,” she said.

Since the tornado, the Nesses can only afford to live in smaller homes unfit for the family they are caring for. Doug Wickstrom, president and founder of Home Sweet Homes USA Inc., heard the Nesses’ story and began a plan to ensure they would have proper housing. 

The home in Webb City, Mo., was donated to Home Sweet Homes USA Inc.

Home Sweet Homes USA Inc., was founded in 2009. The nonprofit organization focuses on the elderly and veterans. After the tornado, their focus shifted to those victims. Donations from Home Depot and community volunteers assist the organization.

“Having Show-Me Gold here to help today is so great. These soldiers are awesome,” said Wickstrom.

Self and Sgt. First Class Doug Weston instructed candidates of Show-Me Gold on their specific assignments. Some candidates cleaned specific areas of the house in order to disassemble previous framework and carpentry.

The Show-Me Gold troop began the cleanup on Saturday by tearing out walls, nails and unsuitable materials within the house. The troop worked in teams to safely tackle heavy lifting and the many loads of insulation and debris generated by the cleaning. By the end of the workday, candidates were covered from head to toe in dirt and sweat.

“To see the soldiers out here working like they are gets you right in the heart,” said Jon Ness. “Who else can you get besides the United States Army to come and help you? It makes me feel good to be an American.”

Squad leader and candidate of Show-Me Gold Shonna Bourne, 24, was an active duty member of the United States Army National Guard for four years before joining the Show-Me Gold program.  Bourne joined Show-Me Gold in hopes of becoming an officer in the US Army. Bourne spoke highly of her fellow candidates work throughout the day.  

“As soon as we all heard the story of the Nesses, we were so excited and determined to come and help out here today,” she said.  

Bourne said she believes the teamwork on the house has helped to boost morale within the Show-Me Gold program.

Self met Marchella Claar, volunteer coordinator for Home Sweet Homes USA Inc., at community day during welcome week at MSSU. They made arrangements for the Show-Me Gold program to assist with the Nesses’ new home.