JOPLIN, Mo. — Members of a Joplin organization recently spent the day working to improve one of the disc golf courses at McClelland Park.
For them, the work is about improving the city — and the lives of those who live there.
“As a veteran and a therapist, I know it’s difficult sometimes for veterans to go into the office and talk to people,” said James Childers, President, Joplin Disc Golf Club.
They will go “out in the woods” for a hike — so the Joplin Disc Golf Club has a program where they provide veterans with the discs they need and a partner.
“And sometimes that’s a huge difference in their life,” said Childers.
While there are other courses in the city, this course in McClelland Park is designed to be a tournament course, with plenty of obstacles.
But more obstacles mean more time making sure Mother Nature doesn’t reclaim the course.
“Basically, we had to design and then cut out the specific disc golf holes that we wanted to kind of turn this into a championship-caliber course,” said Andrew Jinks, Joplin Disc Golf Club.
That means workdays, like this one, where club members bring their own equipment and volunteer their time.
Joplin Parks and Rec Director Paul Bloomberg says volunteers like these make a huge difference for Joplin Parks and Recreation.
“Volunteers and organizations that work for the City of Joplin Parks and Rec Department are vital for us,” said Paul Bloomberg, Director of Parks and Recreation, Joplin.
He says first, Joplin Parks and Rec has a limited budget, and volunteers allow them to spend money elsewhere.
But it also helps relieve the strain on manpower.
“As everybody knows, the workforce is hard, it’s hard to attract, hard to retain,” said Bloomberg.
Bloomberg says in the end, groups like the Joplin Disc Golf Club benefit everyone in the city.
“They are trying to improve the quality of life of Joplin by providing a long-time sport that everybody can play, so they’re a great partner,” said Bloomberg.
Childers says the work isn’t always easy, but it’s worth it — because of the difference it makes for the city, veterans — and for him.
“I enjoy getting out here, and like I said, it’s about friendship, and everybody that I’m out here working with today are friends,” said Childers.
Jinks says the work done during their most recent volunteer day at McClelland Park is part of getting the course ready for the 18th Annual Four States Open.
That tournament will attract more than 200 disc golfers to Joplin for a two-day tournament later this fall.