Three Westminster students are traveling to 15 different cities in six states to provide disaster relief to victims of the recent Oklahoma tornado tragedy, as well as perform relief work in Joplin and Nashville and community service in Dallas, and to share the Westminster College success story with alumni, parents, students, prospective students and their parents.
Courtney Darkow, a recent Westminster graduate in biology from Columbia, MO; Michael Applegate, a senior political science and leadership major from Mountain Grove, MO; and Michael Greaves, a recent biology pre-dental graduate from Fenton Missouri; are the members of this Blue Jay Road Crew.
On Tuesday, June 4, the crew will survey Joplin, MO residents who were affected by tornadoes to provide support and to report their findings to the central office that provides relief. This initiative called Rebuild Joplin is sponsored by Americorps.
Rebuild Joplin is a non-profit agency partnered with the St. Bernard Project to provide long-term recovery and rebuilding systems. Through directed and coordinated services, Rebuild Joplin ensures that tornado-impacted residents have access to affordable and safe housing, delivered through coordinated, efficient and ever-improving construction systems and partnerships.
The next day, Wednesday June 5, they will help host a luncheon in Oklahoma City, OK to help bring relief agencies from all over Oklahoma together to access the damages and find cohesive ways to supply relief to those affected by the recent tornado disaster through the Infant Crisis Center. The Infant Crisis Center has been a leading organization in food, clothing and shelter to many in the area and specifically women and children in need.
Infant Crisis Services supplies life-sustaining formula and food as well as diapers and clothing for babies and toddlers in times of crisis, assisting more than 1,200 infants and toddlers per month. Road crew members will also meet and provide assistance to women and children supported by the Center and assist in stocking the Center's supply room.
The following day, June 6, in Dallas, TX, the Blue Jay Road Crew will stock the grocery area of Crossroads Community Service (CCS) and the women members of the crew will help those who need clothes in making some selections.
Established in 2001, CCS is an urban outreach ministry of the First United Methodist Church of Dallas. In 2005, the organization became the first agency in the nation to match the amount of food aid provided from each food group with an individual's age, gender and activity level as recommended by the USDA. Last year, 13,535 individuals benefited from CCS's 1.1 million healthy meals.
On Wednesday, June 12, the crew will meet with families who have been aided by Habitat for Humanity in Nashville, TN and help in organizing and stocking the group's ReStore. Established in 1985, the Nashville chapter of the national Habitat for Humanity movement began its mission to provide quality, affordable housing for low-income families and individuals.
The crew will be accompanied in their van by Sharon Mather, Westminster Director of Alumni Engagement and Event Management.
"We want our road crew members to provide a shining example of Westminster's commitment to service and we want the members of the Westminster community to have a deep connection with the College that goes beyond magazines and e-mails," says Mather. "So we are hitting the road to meet them where they live and work. Our road crew will bring people up to date on all the great events and accomplishments that are taking place at Westminster."
Members of the Blue Jay Road Crew will be blogging about their adventures on the road. Interested parties can follow the blog at http://www.bluejayroadtrip.com/.
The group began their journey with a kickoff event May 14 with a trip to St. Louis to join of over 900 Westminster people at a pre-game event at Mike Shannon's followed by a Cardinals game.
Then on May 15, they traveled to Quincy, IL
Other stops and events ahead on the tour include a summer reception in Jefferson City, MO-May 30; a Culinary Adventure at Inside Columbia magazine in Columbia, MO-June 1; a barbeque and beer tasting in Springfield, IL-June 3;a summer luncheon in Joplin, MO-June 4;a luncheon and ball game in Tulsa, OK-June 4; an evening barbecue in Oklahoma City, OK-June 5; a night at the horse races in Dallas, TX-June 6; a summer reception in San Antonio, TX-June 7; a summer reception in Houston, TX-June 8; a summer reception in Fayetteville, AR-June 9; a summer reception in Little Rock, AR-June 10; a summer reception in Memphis, TN-June 11; and a Habitat for Humanity visit and a summer reception in Nashville-June 12.
"We want to meet people, hear their Westminster story and tell them about all the wonderful things happening at our College," says Mather. "We hope everyone will join us."
Those planning on attending any of the Missouri events should rsvp to 573-592-5319 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.