Joplin residents celebrated another milestone on their journey toward recovery with a grand re-opening of the Home Depot store, one of the sites hardest hit on May 22 when the tornado claimed the lives of an employee and several customers and destroyed the store.
Just as the Atlanta-based retailer had resolved to rebuild its own store, it also reinforced its commitment to rebuilding Joplin with The Home Depot Foundation awarding a $500,000 grant to the Joplin Recovery Fund. That funding will be included in a new housing grant cycle to be announced Jan. 12 by the Community Foundation of Southwest Missouri, Inc., the CFO’s largest affiliate.
“On May 22, we had a disaster that struck this community and we are part of this community,” said Ann Marie Campbell, president of Home Depot’s Southern Division. “As leaders and managers, there is no script to deal with that size of disaster. It continues to be one of the toughest things we’ve had to deal with as a company.
“That’s why we’re here today because of the spirit of this community that says there is hope; there is resiliency,” she said.
CFSWMO board members and CFO staff associate Michelle Ducre accepted the ceremonial check for $500,000 before store manager Steve Cope led the “ribboncutting” – actually powersawing a long board functioning as a ribbon.
“Wow, a half million to our community along with the commitment to come back,” Ducre said, in thanking Home Depot.
With flourishes including cheerleaders, a drum corps, a Color Guard, Home Depot leaders treated customers a a drop of hundreds of balloons filled with slips of paper to redeem for gifts, cupcakes, and grand re-opening sales throughout the store.
But the tragedy won’t stay far from the minds of employees and customers; at the store’s front entrance is a fountain and a stone marker “in remembrance of the lives lost, and to a future of rebuilding in their memory.”