‘Extreme Makeover’ homes bring hope

Lakin Adams


Home is the place where you are supposed to feel safe. For many, that feeling of security was shaken after the May 22 tornado.  

Homes were destroyed, neighborhoods unrecognizable and lives turned upside down. In the days that followed, the community opened their hearts and tried to help heal their home that was so badly broken.

 Since then, Joplin has worked hard to rebuild the areas that were destroyed and help restore hope within in the community.

On Oct. 19, Joplin received a little extra help. The show Extreme Makeover: Home Edition decided to bring the show to Joplin and build seven homes in just seven days. Thousands of people volunteered and 21 builders packed up and came to town eager to get to work on this amazing project.

 I was able to be on the site throughout the project, talking to various builders and volunteers about the different houses and  their experiences.

The common thread in all of their stories was hope. 

I heard no complaining, but only inquiries of what they needed to be done. To see hundreds of people working night and day for people they had never met was inspiring. 

“It really means a lot because I know how hard it is for people to come back in after such devastation. It brings hope,” Andrew VanHoesen, a volunteer from Ozark, Mo., said. 

VanHoesen was one of 10,000 volunteers that came to Joplin to help with the build. 

Everybody was so willing to help and do whatever they could to bring the community back to what it once was. Kyle Howard, one of the shows recipients, has worked for the Joplin Fire Department three years and was at one of the stations the night the tornado hit. 

“What makes him heroic is he knew his house was hit, but he was out helping people,” Kevin Theilen, captain for the Joplin Fire Department, said “Kyle deserves this a whole lot.”

The bulk of volunteers on the Howard house was made of up firefighters from the Joplin, Springfield, Overland Park, Kan., Fulton Park, Mo., and Iowa fire departments. 

Being a firefighter makes you a part of a brotherhood, an “extended family,” he said.  

When seeing all the red hats surrounding the house on one of their own, Theilen’s words rang true. 

Howard was just one of the seven families that was chosen for the show. Being able to see so many people working night and day, many working on homes for people they had never met just goes to show how tightly knit this community is. 

Talking to volunteers from the community and Missouri Southern about how they just wanted to give back makes me proud to say that I am from this area.  

This project just didn’t build seven new homes, it built confidence in the community again. It shows that we can rebuild and not let what happened define us. Joplin is strong and determined to move forward.We can’t change the past, but we can influence the future.