JOPLIN, MO.--- The Joplin First Response Tornado Fund Committee explains how it spent nearly $1 million of tornado relief funding. The committee was able to distribute 98% of the funds as of today. Nearly $100 million has been given to the Joplin community through the city's tornado first response fund. This fund was created right after the May 2011 tornado, for a way for donors to give money to help the community.
"We are attempting in our small way, to provide the assistance where we felt like it was not only most necessary, but would achieve the most for the dollar that we were able to put into it," said Phil Stinnett, Chairman of the Joplin Tornado Fund Committee.
Now, just three years later, almost all the funds were distributed to local agencies and programs. The committee sought out to relieve tornado survivors, rebuild and restore infrastructure and enhance future disaster preparedness. The group was also able to assist Rebuild Joplin and Habitat for Humanity with $155,000 to rebuild homes.
"We have been able to complete 81 homes since then and we have four more that we will complete within the next month. So that will be 85 that we have completed in that three year process," said Barbie Huff, Habitat for Humanity, Director of Development.
Recently, the committee spent nearly $49,000 to move 11 of the FEMA shelters that the city received, to multiple non-for-profit charity organizations. The Joplin YMCA received almost $79,000 of the funds.
"Funds were done in three different capacities. Two of them primarily were within childcare, and then one that would go back to educate the community," said Cookie Estrada, Joplin Family YMCA, Executive Director.
The committee also worked with the Ozark Center, giving them $60,000 to create programs to help children effected by the tornado.
"All together, the CFO and the CFSWMO worked together. We opened 21 funds in total and raised about 11 million dollars in all of Joplin's recovery," said Louise Knauer, Community Foundation of the Ozarks, Senior Vice President.
The committee also funded almost $100,000 for 4,000 emergency weather radios to residents. Stinnett says 98-cents of every dollar they received, went back to directly help residents.
"This particular group of people that made the decisions, were the best working committee that I have ever been around. They really are. There was nothing, no prejudices, no special things from special people. It was an honest effort to use the money in the very best way," said Jack Golden, Joplin Tornado Fund Committee Council Representative.
The last 2% which totals just over $32,000 will be saved in case an agency would need further funding. To see a complete list of all the programs the committee funded, click here