JOPLIN, Mo. — For one man, a brief stop to help clean up after the Joplin tornado ten years ago, turned into a permanent stay.
Air Force Veteran Ted Donaldson was living in San Antonio, Texas a few months after the Joplin tornado and was sent on a business trip to St. Louis. He decided to stop in Joplin and volunteer some of his time before making it to St. Louis. He was so taken with the community that he came back the next weekend and made the decision to stay.
Ted Donaldson, Founder, Compass Quest, said, “I was already looking for a place to move to and just felt like being part of a community that was going through a rebuild and that had such a great atmosphere of community, I just wanted to be part of that, a lot of the things we do in the military is about service and it was an opportunity into a community and continue that service.”
But he wanted to do more than just clean up work in the community, so he decided to start his own not for profit organization that advocates for veterans like him that were transitioning to civilian life.
The original goal behind Compass Quest was to prevent veteran suicide, but these days it has a number of different functions.
There were already some veteran groups is town but he says there wasn’t much communication between them. He’s worked ever since to change that and create a veteran friendly community to help make the civilian transition easier.
“The whole goal was to get these organizations working together because when we pool our resources, we can get so much more accomplished and we’ve accomplished that in a big way through several other programs we’ve done, Joining Community Forces Council, Veterans Accent, the Welcome Home to Joplin Veteran’s Recruitment Program and among many other things.”
But he’s not just trying to sell veterans on the Joplin region.
“More than 60% of military spouses have Bachelor or high degrees, and 25 to 38% are unemployed, and 50 to 55% are under employed, so you have to reach out to those people too and show them what a community like this offers.”
If you’d like to learn more about the organization visit their website.